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Stone Fabric of Pier
Inner Harbour Wall
Weep holes in Inner Harbour
Beginning of Pier and Sea Defences
The Promenade Stores
Brick Built Workshops
The Pier Fittings
1953 Storm Damage
Pier - The Pier Structure
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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
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.
|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.|
|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
|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
|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.
|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.
|Beginning of Pier and
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
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.
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
|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
|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.|
|The topmost course incorporated a cut
stone lintel forming the upper
curved arch of entrances to the store rooms contained below the
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.|
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.
|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.|
|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.
Version 1. Posted 24.02.06
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