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Industrial   1700AD-1900AD

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Display Contents

Main Pier
Pier Surface
Jetty Entrance
Stone Fabric of Pier
Inner Harbour Wall
Weep holes in Inner Harbour
Beginning of Pier and Sea Defences
Droit Office
The Promenade
The Promenade Stores
Brick Built Workshops

The Pier Fittings

Historic Images

1953 Storm Damage

Margate Pier - The Pier Structure

Margate Pier

Main Pier
The present pier structure was built between 1810 and 1815.

1852 OS

It consists of five straight sections constructed of white sandstone over timber piles filled with an outer core of chalk blocks and an inner core of chalk rubble and gravel forming a curved structure.

Chalk core

The lower deltaic sandstone used to build both Margate and Ramsgate piers were quarried from Aislaby, three miles south west of Whitby in Yorkshire. The stone is resistant to weathering and was used in major buildings, ports and bridges in London (White 2004).

A wooden jetty designed by Jarvis for the mooring of Hoys and Steamers was added adjacent to the pier in 1824. This jetty was known as Jarvis' landing stage.

It has been suggested that the present pier may have incorporated the remains of the earlier pier within its fabric. The main structure of the pier has been repaired over the years where storms and bombs from WWII have caused damage to its structure.

The end of the Pier was undermined by wave attrition during storms in 1953 and collapsed. It was rebuilt in 1954 and additional sea defences were added to the Pier between 1954 and 1959 including the construction of a concrete Groyne on the outer harbour wall.

Concrete Groyne


Pier Surface
Few areas of original surfacing remain on the pier. Historic photographs indicate that the whole lower part of the pier was once surfaced with cobbles. A cobbled area adjacent to the promenade may be a relic of this surface but its present condition suggests that it may have been substantially repaired or could even be an entirely new construction.

Cobbled Surface


Jetty Entrance
The original pier was modified during 1853-6 to provide an entrance for the newly constructed iron and wooden jetty that replaced Jarvis’ landing stage. The outer harbour wall originally extended to meet land at the beginning of Section 1 of the pier at Bank Side.

The entrance to Jarvis’ landing stage was situated to the east of the Droit Office with a beach slipway between it and land. The new Jetty entrance involved the removal of part of the original harbour wall at the base of the Promenade steps to the west of the Droit Office.

1872 OS

Sea defences were added sometime after 1986 adjacent to the Droit House following the collapse and subsequent demolition of the Jetty due to Storm damage in 1978. These reinforcements were added to the beginning of the outer harbour wall where the original entrance to the Jetty had been situated

Stone fabric of  Pier
The north face of the pier is formed of coursed ashlar in a variety of styles. Sixteen courses were visible to the level of the sand when surveyed. The lengths and heights of the blocks vary, the largest are 1.6m in length by 0.4m high. The dimensions of the stones may reflect a random distribution of modular unit sizes which may give additional strength to the wall as no weaknesses would be caused by regular matches in jointing. The stones are generally grouped in three to four courses of blocks of equal height.

Outer Harbour Wall

The finish on the stones is variable but generally conforms to one of three styles. The predominant block work has an irregular rusticated face finished with a hammer, the outer edge of the blocks are finished with a smooth margin. Some blocks are finished with fine linear hatching at an angle of approximately 45º running down from left to right. The edges are again finished to a smooth margin. The third style is represented by blocks with smoothed margins but with the faces pecked away beyond the depth of the edges.

The last three courses at the top of the pier appear irregular and are slightly overhanging; these courses extend above the platform level of the pier and form the back wall of the promenade and its store rooms. The structure is capped with modular sandstone copings forming the edge of the promenade walkway.

The south face of the pier is made using similar mixed styles but tends to have less pronounced rustication except in a possible area of repair infilling the west end of Section 3. Fifteen even courses of blocks were visible to the level of the sand infilling the harbour.

Inner harbour wall

The south face of the pier was capped with two courses of coping stones incorporating weep holes to allow the drainage of sea water. The predominant style on the south facing structure is a fine tooled 45º hatching. Overall the southern face has a smoother finish reflecting its use for access to moorings and pier side structures.

South Face of Pier

In places the coursed structure was interrupted by adaptations and re-enforcements made for industrial furniture such as mooring rings and timber protective structures. An area of extreme weathering was noted where the joints between stones had been patched with slate

Slate Repaired joint


Inner Harbour Wall
The southern inner harbour wall is revetted with a system of coping stones, the lower of which forms the last course of the harbour wall and the upper single course which are raised above the edge to form a low revetment around the inner harbour. The stones of the upper course are chamfered along the long sides forming rounded edges. Breaks in the wall are finished with a curved terminal stone

Curved Terminal Stone

Both the upper and lower courses of coping stones appear to be laid in random distributions of modular lengths. Storm damage over the years has lead to the replacement of some of these stones with concrete, where the coping stones are completely missing along Section 3 of the pier the gap has been infilled using a wooden beam. Rows of granite paving abut the platform side of the pier.

Concrete coping


Weep Holes in Inner Harbour
The drainage of the pier surface has been facilitated by a system of weep holes formed by channelling the upper and lower stones. The lower part of the ends of the upper stones are cut away to form the upper element of a vent. Where the upper element of the vent is formed the lower coping stone has been channelled with a matching gully to form a roughly pear shaped vent. Some of the granite paving butting the coping stones have been channelled on an ad hoc basis to increase the efficiency of the drainage.

Pier Drainage


Beginning of Pier and Sea Defences
Railings were originally fixed to the coping stones on Section 1 of the inner harbour wall in front of the Droit Office. At the eastern end of the pier these railings were fixed to a large curved quoin stone which marked the beginning of the pier.

Engravings from 1936 show railings connecting to this stone where the Pier adjoined land and extending along Bank Side/The Parade. Photographs from 1870 indicate that the land surface dipped below the level of the pier between the beginning of the pier and the inner harbour slipway. The revetting wall between the pier and the slipway are of a similar construction as the pier suggesting a similar construction date. A photograph from 1889 indicates that this surface was levelled between 1871 and 1889 and topped with railings.

Following storm damage in 1953 cast concrete seats with drainage holes were added the length of Margate sea front from the Pier to Marine Parade to act as an additional sea defence for the road. The quoin, infilling of the land surface and the concrete seats are clearly visible in the existing structure

Beginning of Pier


Droit Office
The Droit Office was originally constructed in 1828 as an office for the collection of Harbour dues by the Pier and Harbour Company. Maps, engravings and photographs indicate that the structure was originally rectangular in plan and the rear of the office faced directly to the sea on the outer harbour wall.

The wood and iron jetty constructed between 1853 and 1856 extended to the rear of the Droit office. Extensions were added to the rear of the original Droit Office between 1852 and 1872.

In the 1940’s the Droit Office was destroyed by German bombing and was subsequently rebuilt in 1947 on the original footprint according to the original architects plans. The building extensions to the rear of the Droit Office do not appear to be replaced at this time and a separate rectangular building was constructed on the Jetty entrance.

The current Droit office has an extension to the rear constructed at the end of the 20th Century and now serves as the visitor centre for Turner Contemporary.

Droit Office


The Promenade
The promenade was accessed by a flight of ten stone steps from the Section 1 of the pier west of the present Droit Office entrance. Originally the Outer Harbour wall continued above the pier surface along to the Droit office until the construction of a wooden and iron jetty replacing Jarvis’ wooden jetty which necessitated the construction of an access point through this segment of the harbour wall

Promenade Steps

The promenade was constructed as an integral part of the pier structure in the same materials. The original platform was raised above the main deck of the pier by a south facing wall formed of seven courses of finely faced ashlar with a lightly pecked surface. 

Inner Promenade wall

The stone edging along the edge of the promenade facing the inner harbour has been lost and this would originally have supported angled metal flashing, possibly lead; shown in early photographs which would have channelled water away from the Promenade stores below and from the Promenade walk way itself.

Promenade walkway

The topmost course incorporated a cut stone lintel forming the upper curved arch of entrances to the store rooms contained below the promenade

The Promenade Stores
Beneath the promenade platform on Section 2 of the pier are six separate entrances to small rooms and the suggestion of a possible window at the end of Section 3. The rooms were used to store fishing nets and other equipment.

Promenade Store

Possible Window

It is clear from observing engineering test pits excavated within the store rooms that the floor level was originally sunk approximately 0.5 metres below the level of the pier surface and access probably gained by a step. The original floor surface was constructed of flagstones butted closely together.

Original store floor

In recent years the store room floors were raised level with the pier surface and concreted. It is probable that the store room floors were raised to prevent flooding of the rooms with sea water during bad weather.

Concrete floor

The front wall of the store rooms originally consisted of a wall one ashlar block thick. Both store rooms investigated had been reinforced by constructing a breeze block wall across the full width of the room against the ashlar blocks and across the entrance. This also served the purpose of completely sealing the empty rooms presumably to prevent water penetration.

In both store rooms the eastern and western walls had been rendered with concrete and were probably constructed from red brick. The back walls of both store rooms were constructed of eight courses of chalk blocks of varying sizes. The store ceilings was vaulted and had been rendered to a smooth finish.

Internal view of store


Brick built Workshops
The brick workshops at the beginning of Section 4 of the pier are constructed of yellow stock bricks with reinforced concrete slab roofs and wooden doors. The bricks and concrete slabs have been eroded by sea water.


Previous buildings on the site of the workshops have included a gabled life boat house shown on maps from the 1870’s followed by earlier workshops. It would appear that the current workshops on this area of the pier probably date from around the 1930’s.

1934 OS


The inner harbour has suffered from silting by mud, detritus and seaweed which creates an unpleasant smelling aroma at low tide. The silting of the harbour seems to be a problem long associated with the pier, mud is labelled on the OS maps of 1896 and 1907 in the inner harbour.

1907 OS

The original design of the pier incorporated an arched tunnel beneath Section 2 extending from the outer harbour wall to the inner harbour. The tunnel or sluice was designed to enable the inner harbour to be ‘self cleaning’; the tide comes in faster around the outer harbour wall and water running through the tunnel would push out detritus from the inner harbour.

Harbour sluice

A local story is that at the turn of the 19th Century a drowning in the tunnel lead to the tunnel entrance on the north side of the pier being blocked using stone similar to that of the harbour walls.

Emma Boast
Version 1. Posted 24.02.06

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