Margate - The Original Seaside

Where beach holidays and modern art are seriously cool.


The seaside town of Margate in Kent has based its livelihood on the sea since its beginnings, during in the Middle Ages. But its appeal doesn't end there, with its beaches and proximity to the metropolis of London, it was one of the first places to be re-developed as a seaside resort during the Georgian era and its ability to attack visitors year upon year simply can't be disputed. 
During the 1800's, Margate's sandy beaches became popular with Londoners first with the advent of steam packets in 1815 and even more so after the railways arrived later in the nineteenth century.
The changing pattern of holidaying in the UK during the late twentieth century led to a decline in the fortunes of Margate in the latter years, but in recent times the town has seen an upsurge of visitors, redevelopment including new developments such as the Turner Contemporary Gallery. But the history of Margate runs deep, in his book author Andy Bull 'Secret Margate' reveals the hidden history of Margate (, from the foundation of the world's first sea-bathing hospital and the playground of Regency royalty, to the creation of Dreamland.
But Margate is more than a playground for the haute monde and the aspiring society of merchants of London to vacation. Instead. this town has long been the haunt of artists, writers and actors, and boasts the most haunted theatre in the country. But the book goes deeper still, 'Secret Margate' further explores the lesser-known episodes and characters of the town through the centuries, and will appeal to all of those with an interest in the history of this town in Kent.
But history isn't Margate’s only attraction, these days. Margate fizzes with artistic energy. The internationally-acclaimed Turner Contemporary, brilliantly showcasing historical and ultra-modern work. It’s brought together pieces by JMW Turner, so famously inspired by Margate's stunning seascapes, and avant-garde local artist Tracey Emin.
The regeneration continues with the revival of Dreamland. 'The UK's original Pleasure Park' with historic rides, classic sideshows, eateries and evocative spaces set within a landscape ideal for hosting themed festivals and special events.
Margate's Old Town rejoices in a funky vibe. Here chic eateries, galleries, vintage shops and chilled-out cafes rub shoulders with traditional seaside delights: candyfloss stands; fish and chip shops; seafood stalls. The reinvigorated Harbour Arm is home to stylish spots to eat and drink.
Just 5 minutes from the Old Town you will find emporiums of everything antique, old fashioned and unusual at RG Scott's Furniture Market and Junk Deluxe.
From family-holiday nostalgia to historic sights, you don't have to travel far to realise that Margate's rich history is brimming everywhere around you. Where else can you rediscover childhood toys in the Hornby Visitor Centre and in the same day explore the Shell Grotto's subterranean, shell-lined passages followed by tackling the challenging, 18-hole Strokes Adventure Golf? 
If music is your thing, rather than antiques and coffee shops, then Margate still has something to offer you. For more than 100-years Margate's Winter Gardens have drawn big-name acts, from the Beatles to the Kaiser Chiefs and other current big names. During the summer months, the music doesn't stop. August brings an explosion of colour and sound, as Margate’s vibrant, annual carnival procession snakes and glides to a heartbeat of rhythm through the streets of the town during the Margate Soul Weekend.
Looking to be entertained? Then you’ve come to the right place, the town's Theatre Royal is the second-oldest in the country, while the Tom Thumb Theatre is one of the smallest theatres in the world is likely to beguile you with theatrical splendour.
Overall, how would anyone describe modern-day Margate? Well on one side it provides a rich vista of traditional, holiday-town charms, added with a world-class art gallery and musical delights. But then on the other side, it is there to splash the visual palette with sandy beaches and sparkling bays, all of which add a cool café culture, eateries and tempting retro shops worthy of exploration.
What isn't there to love, admire and be invigorated by in Margate? It's exciting, energising, enriching and you're invited to take part in this charming seaside town which is a mere short journey on the train or by car from London.

A Date with The Sun, Margate 1965