Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Margate
Margate comes from the Old English ‘mere’ meaning ‘sea or water’ with ‘geat’ as ‘gate’; therefore, a ‘gateway to the sea’. Records in 1254 show Margate as Meregeat.
Margate parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint John the
Baptist. The Monks of St Mary’s Minster built the first church in 1050 as a Chapel-
In the 15th Century, Henry VI added Margate as a limb of in the confederation of Cinque Ports. In 1753, Benjamin Beale introduced a modified bathing machine to Margate and transformed a small fishing town into a traditional holiday destination for Londoners drawn to its sandy beaches.
In 1815, the new harbour enabled steamers to use Margate. With the steamers came
the visitors, so much so, that, by 1841, six steamboat companies vied for the passenger
traffic. Despite the arrival of the railway, steamboats continued until 1967.
The first railway to arrive was a branch line from the South Eastern Railway’s (SER) main line at and opened as ‘Margate Sands’ on 1 December 1846. Not being a direct route from London meant visitors needed to change trains at Ashford also trains had to reverse from the terminus at . Despite that, it proved popular with even greater numbers of visitors adding to those arriving by steamboat. In 1863, the SER lost its monopoly, when on the 5 October the , completed its North Kent line and opened ‘Margate West’ station. Following the forming of Southern Railway in 1923, Margate West lost the suffix, and the route to Ramsgate closed…. more
In 1887, the town built a clock tower to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Potts of Leeds installed the clock while John Warner cast and hung five standard bells.