VM_365 Day 356 Historic Margate ancient and modern

VM 356The image for day 356, which continues our intermittent Our Thanet series is a panoramic view of part of Margate, taken across the roof of the Margate Winter Gardens and facing the terrace of houses standing on Fort Hill. The roof top of the Turner Centre, overlooking the historic Margate Pier can be seen on the far right of the image.

Although much celebrated for its recent arty renaissance in association with the Turner Contemporary Galery and the the Dreamland theme park which opened its doors again this weekend, this area is one of Margate and Thanet’s richest areas for the archaeology of the Iron Age and Roman period.

An Iron Age burial lying in a circular pit cut into the chalk geology was found during the demolition of parts of the former Cobbs Brewery complex and the construction of a  Police Station which stands behind the last buildings at the right hand end of the terrace.

The remains of post built structures and pits also dating to the Iron Age indicated that a settlement had been present and a fine La Tene style decorated vessel found in a large pit nearby demonstrated something of the high status of the settlement.

Behind the houses at the centre of the image, in the area of Trinity Square redevelopment has revealed a dense cluster of Iron Age and Roman features cut into the chalk, these include several storage pits and at least three more pit burials. Roman cremations contained in pottery vessels were found in construction work in the 19th century, in the area behind the right hand end of the terrace of buildings shown in the picture.

The terrace of houses in today’s image follows the crest of one side of the deep valley that carries the Dane Stream to the Bay at Margate. On the downslope beyond the terrace are the subterranean passages of the Margate Caves and the Shell Grotto.

Until it was  sealed in a culvert in the Early 19th century the Dane Stream ran along the base of the valley parallel with the terrace in the image. The water supply for the Reeves and Co. Soda Water plant was drawn from this stream. Nearby, at the junction with Trinity Square and King Street at the bottom the valley is the restored 15th century house, formerly known as the Old House but now called the Tudor House. Adjacent to the house are the remains of a 17th century Malt House, which was  associated with Cobbs Brewery which extended over a large part of the valley slope at Fort Hill.

Margate continues to occupy a place in the nations heart as a quintessential seaside town. The image of the knife we posted on Day 95  shows that even the town’s newer attractions like  Dreamland, restored and re-opened as an attraction to a new generation of visitors produced its own historic artefacts to be  discovered by contemporary archaeologists.

Such a significant gathering place generates its own archaeological footprint and the ancient discoveries from the same area show that the landscape around Margate has been a place of gathering for over two millennia.

VM_365 Day 355 Farewell to all that

VM 355

Today’s post for Day 355 of the VM_365 project features a series of images behind the scenes at our Friendships and Fallouts, Waterloo to World War One TimeTunnel, which has featured in the last four days of VM_365.

Day 351 took you through the first stage of the Tunnel, exploring Britain at the time of Waterloo, Day 352 took us to the Victorian period and the Crimean War. The industrial era and the age of Inventions in the 19th century featured on Day 353 and we entered World War One on Day 354.

Today’s picture shows how we built the flats that featured in the Time Tunnel and some of the scenes along the way, as well as some of the lighter moments of setting up and running the Time Tunnel experience.

Once again we had great fun at Bradstow School and we hope that we gave an interesting and educational experience to our travellers through time.

It all over now, and it isn’t even Christmas

VM_365 Day 354 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 4

VM 354

Today’s image for Day 354 show the final stages in our TimeTunnel journey from Waterloo to World War One that we have been delivering to local schools at Bradstow School, Broadstairs this week.

Day 351 covered the first stage in the TimeTunnel journey from the battle of Waterloo to what life was like in Britain in 1815; Day 352 described the second stage which took us from Queen Victoria to the Crimean War and Day 353 covered the Industrial Revolution and the growing threat from a unified of Germany.

Our final stage in the TimeTunnel allowed our visitors to find out what life was like in the First World War both at home and abroad. In the image show in the top left of the picture our factory wall holds a number of posters that were pasted up around towns and cities encouraging men to join up to fight in the war and women to contribute to the war effort by working in munitions factories. Even chickens were enlisted into the war effort to provide eggs for wounded soldiers! On the opposite face of the wall pictures of women working in munitions factories gave our visitors an idea of what it was like for women at home and a series of pictures of troops from different parts of the empire, in particular the South African 1st Infantry Brigade and Indian Bicycle Troops who both fought at the Somme emphasise that it was not just European soldiers fighting and dying in this war.

That the war was now no longer restricted to the battle field but could also threaten the lives of people at home through bombing from both aeroplane and Zeppelins, which were relatively recent inventions, was highlighted in the next vignette of a bomb damaged house (image top right).  Here our visitors were told of the Zeppelin attacks on the local area including Bradstow School itself and that nearby Ramsgate was the most bombed seaside town in World War 1.

Our final vignette showed our visitors what life might have been like living in the trenches. Food was most likely taken from a tin and probably consisted of Bully Beef or Irish Stew, other items also came in tins including tobacco, like the vintage ones we had on display alongside an example of a corned beef tin, similar to the ones used in the trenches.

As we entered the recreation of a World War 1 trench we explained how the camaraderie of soldiers under stressful conditions of battle would have forged some of the most important friendships among service men. To give a sense of the uncertainty of their lives our young visitors were invited to leave the trench at the sound of the officers whistle, leaving the TimeTunnel to return to their lives in the present.



VM_365 Day 353 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 3

VM 353The VM_365 post for Day 353 shows the third two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs in which we trace the changes in British society from the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo to the beginning of World War 1.

Yesterday’s post for Day 352 of the VM_365 project followed the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne, her marriage to Prince Albert, the expansion of the British empire and also took a brief look at the Crimean War.

In today’s image you can see the third two stages of our journey through the TimeTunnel into the Industrial Age. Using our specially constructed chimney, shown on the right, (which includes real smoke) we introduce our visitors to what life might have been like in our Industrial towns as more people were now living in towns than in the rural countryside. Coal was being burnt to produce steam power which in turn allowed more steam powered machinery to be used, leading to higher volumes in manufacturing of all types of goods.

Our visitors then explore where coal comes from and we emphasise that children as young as ten had full time jobs working in coal mines, often for long hours so that they could contribute to the family wage. Our modern day visitors then have an opportunity to pass through our short section of coal mine, avoiding the coal carts running on rails within the tunnel which is shown in the image on the left.

After exiting the coal mine safely (we hope) our visitors are then shown some of the major inventions of the industrial and early modern age which include the car, the zeppelin and the aeroplane; machinery that was later put to use in World War I.

Our visitors are also given a taste of the Boer War where Khaki uniforms and trench warfare are used for the first time. The circumstances of the establishment of Germany and the insecurities that the development of such a potentially powerful state caused among the other countries in Europe are then explained. The creation of new allies and friendships against the threat from the newly formed Germany are briefly introduced as well as a new fallout in the Royal family between Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V, King of England, who were first cousins and both grandsons of Queen Victoria.

Tomorrow we will explore the last stage in our Time Tunnel and find out what happened in World War I and where the most important friendships were made………



VM_365 Day 352 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 2

VM 352The VM_365 post for Day 352 is of the second two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs in which we trace the changes in British society from the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo to the beginning of World War 1.

Yesterday’s post for Day 351 of the VM_365 project followed the early years of the 19th century from the French revolution to the Battle of Waterloo to what life was like for rural Britain at that time.

In today’s images you can see the second two stages of our journey through time. Using the easel shown in the image on the left we introduce Queen Victoria who came to the throne in 1837, and her marriage not long afterwards to Prince Albert, a prince from a small German state. The German origins of the British royal family are explained and also Queen Victoria’s familial relationship to many of the European Royal families. We also highlight Prince Albert’s promotion of liberal reforms and new industries and innovations from across the British Empire.

In the second vignette shown on the left we introduce the Crimean war which began in 1853 and ended in 1856.  We highlight that Britain was now allied with France as well as Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire against the Russian Empire. We emphasise the harsh conditions in which the allied troops were fighting particularly in terms of the cold winters and poor medical care and describe the contributions made by Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole to improving and professionalising nursing of wounded soldiers. We highlight that although the two women were from very different parts of the British Empire both travelled to the Crimea to help.

On a lighter note,  in this second vignette we also introduce another item of clothing, a knitted full face covering which was designed to protect soldiers faces from the bitter cold and show the many ways in which it could be worn. This item of clothing was later named the Balaclava Helmet after the battle at which it was first worn.

More stages in our travel in time from Waterloo to World War 1 tomorrow………..



VM_365 Day 351 Waterloo to WW1 event Stage 1

VM 351

The VM_365 post for Day 251 is of the first two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs.

In the Tunnel we trace the changes in British society from the century following the end of the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the early years of World War 1. The journey focuses on friendships and fallouts between nations, population and families.

In the first two stages of the trip through time we have two vignettes where we explain the ideals and the effects of the French revolution and the reaction of the other nations of Europe, which culminated in the confrontation with Napoleon’s Army at Waterloo. The local connections with Wellington’s Army and Thanet’s ports are part of the story told at this point in time and a lighter note is introduced deciding whether the Duke of Wellington lent his name to a form of waterproof boot or to informal running shoes. Anyone heard of the Duke of Trainers?

The second station explores the way of life of most of the people of Britain in the early 19th century,  at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. The majority of the population lived in rural communities or small towns and industry in our region was concentrated on manufacturing of supplies for the Navy such as the production of Gunpowder in the Faversham area. We explore methods for preserving and transporting country produce  in barrels and casks and the innovation of sealing food in cans which transformed the preservation and transport of food in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Canning started as an experiment with the Napoleonic French Army and was taken up with enthusiasm by the British Army. The theme of canned food is taken up again later in the TimeTunnel in the trenches of the Western front.  Bully Beef for Tommy.

The final theme in this pre-industrial era is to point out that the principal sources of power remained that of the muscle power of humans and animals, especially horses. Now is it possible that we were able to get two fully grown horses into the Time Tunnel? Follow the journal posts this week to find out…


VM_365 Day 350 Virtual Museum TimeTunnel for School Event

VM 350

Today’s image for Day 349 of the VM_365 project was taken as the Trust set up a Virtual Museum TimeTunnel, ready for four days of workshops for schools to be hosted at Bradstow School in Broadstairs from the 15th to the 18th of June 2015.

The Heritage Lottery funded event ‘Friendships and Fallouts, from Waterloo to World War One’ will see as many as 500 children pass through the workshops and activities in the grounds of the school. The event commemorates both the bicentenery of the battle of Waterloo and the continued marking of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.

The TimeTunnel will take children on a journey through the changes that took place in British life in the hundred years from the defeat of Napoleon to the outbreak of a conflict that reached every part of the world.  The TimeTunnel visits  a series of scenes that explore the changes from industrialisation to the great inventions of the early 20th century which created the means to make global conflict possible.  As the journey through the tunnel takes place, the friendships between nations, families, working people and soldiers are investigated and the fallouts that provoked conflict between people and nations are revealed. The journey through the TimeTunnel ends in the battlefields of the Western Front with the fate of all the travellers left undecided.

Journal articles over the next four days will reveal the secrets of the VM TimeTunnel and follow the progress of the event.

VM_365 Day 349 Miller & Co. Codd bottle from Broadstairs

VM 349-1Today’s image for Day 349 of the VM_365 project shows a late Victorian/early 20th century Codd bottle manufactured for a soda water company from Broadstairs. Soft drinks bottles from other companies in Thanet have previously featured on Day 347 – Reeves & Co. Ltd and Day 348 – Philpott’s of the VM_365 project.

Codd-neck bottles were used for carbonated drinks; their unique design patented by Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London in 1872,  included a pinched neck enclosing a glass marble and a rubber washer. The bottles were filled upside down and the pressure of the gas used in the carbonation forced the marble against the rubber washer sealing the gas in. The pinched neck of the bottle incorporated a small chamber for the marble to move into so that it did not obstruct pouring.

This clear glass example is from a company called Miller & Co. ,which is moulded along one side of the bottle, moulded on the other is ‘Broadstairs’.  The glass marble and rubber washer are still intact which is relatively unusual for these bottles as they were often broken by small boys to retrieve the glass marbles! Glass marbles from bottles such as these used to be a frequent chance find on local beaches popular in the late Victorian and early 20th century and were also frequently found in fields used as Victorian rubbish tips.

A clean water supply was important to our local towns in terms of hygiene and health both for locals and holiday maker alike and Broadstairs had been favoured with improvements to the town water supply in 1859 with the construction of Crampton Tower which featured on Day 262 and a new reservoir which featured on Day 263 of the VM_365 project.

VM_365 Day 348 Philpott Mineral Water Company, Ramsgate

VM 348Today’s image for Day 348 of the VM_365 project shows another early 20th century glass soft drink bottle from the Trust’s collection from a local manufacturer.

The bottle is made of olive green glass and was found with its screw cap stopper still intact. The roundel reads ‘Philpott Ramsgate 1911’ with the company logo in the centre.

This bottle was produced for the Philpotts Mineral Water Company who were established in 1850 and operated from 1A Cavendish Street, Ramsgate. Presumably the company drew their water from a draw well, noted on the 19th century 1:500 town map of Ramsgate, and aerated it on site in a similar way to Reeve & Co. Ltd who featured in yesterday’s post for Day 347 of the VM_365 project.

In 1878, Philpotts opened a shop at 16 High Street from which they sold their products.  The census for 1881 indicates that Stephen Philpott, owner of the mineral water company employed 4 men and a boy.  The shop closed in 1905 and the company itself ceased to trade in 1920 when it was taken over by the Ozonic Mineral Water Company, the soft drinks arm of the Tomson and Wotton Brewery.


VM_365 Day 347 Reeves and Co. Ltd, Margate

VM 347

Today’s image for Day 347 of the VM_365 project shows a glass soft drinks bottle from the mineral water manufacturers Reeves & Co Ltd who operated between 1849 and 1964 at Margate. This bottle probably dates from around the late 19th century to the early 1900’s and reads ‘Reeve and Co Margate’ in the outer oval and ‘Trade Mark’ in the inner oval.

The Reeve and Co. Mineral Water factory was established within an enclosed yard at Hawley Street in 1849 where they constructed a purpose built facility to draw spring water from the Dane Stream via a well or a culvert which was then carbonated on site. The carbonated water was a popular beverage among holiday makers at Margate.

In the later 19th century Reeve and Co. engaged in a tremendous variety of trades centred around wholesale trade, processing and distribution and also had a retail shop on Hawley Street, the frontage of which can still be seen pronouncing 70 years in operation which dates the shop front to around 1909.

A lively narrative of the operation of the plant was given in the local newspaper, Keble’s Gazette in January 1889 describing how as many as 120 people were kept employed in a range of processes that required very different skills among the staff from fish gutting to cutting and soldering tin cans for storage. The key to Reeve’s business was the procurement, storage, processing and distribution of commodities. It is clear from the description in Keble’s gazette that the factory bridged a gap between the labour intensive trades of the fisheries and agriculture that supported the rural economy, and the intensive division of labour that represented the new industrial manufacturing processes of the later 19th century. In the final passages of the description it is implied that the factory was also fulfilling a social role in providing a continuity of employment in the towns population whose traditional working patterns were diminishing in importance and who were being driven into poverty.

Reeves and Co. Ltd connected the historic import and export functions of Margate as a sea trading port and the seasonal products of the local agriculture and the fisheries with the increasing demand for food in the growing cities, particularly London. Much as London exported its leisure time to the coast, the coastal and agricultural products were sent back along the trade networks to the city, preserved, bottled and tinned.

With the general decline of Britain’s industrial cities and trading networks in the period after World War Two the type of fetching and carrying business Reeve and Co. were engaged in had to compete with increased international imports and declining demand from the failing industrial towns. The niche markets and local networks were no longer sufficient to support it and the company closed in 1964.