Margate a town of two pools.
The first tucked in by the prom, a moments walk from the station and overlooked by the imposing Arlington House and the shimmer of the Turner Contemporary
– alas no longer the domain of the wild swimmer.
A large delicious expanse of seawater, now sadly designated as a boating pond.
I was drawn magnetically to this elemental artifice, where untamed waters meet a controlled concrete geometry, waves temptingly lapping the walls.
Would that it could be open again to the town’s swimmers.
I am latterly reliably informed, that the pool is well used by local aquarists, despite the Local Authority’s prohibitions and ministrations – bravo!
The second at Walpole Bay still open to the swimmer and what’s more it’s listed.
Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, one of two tidal pools designed by Margate’s borough engineer in 1937, constructed in concrete blocks reinforced by reused iron tram rails, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Structural engineering interest: an ambitious project because of its scale, the weight of each concrete block, and that work needing to be carried out day and night because of the tides; * Scale and design: impressive in scale and shape, occupying 4 acres and three sides of a rectangle, the sides 450 feet long diminishing towards the seaward end which was 300 feet long; * Social historical interest: provided an improvement to sea bathing at the period of the greatest popularity of the English seaside; * Degree of intactness: intact apart from the loss of the two diving boards which do not often survive; * Group value: situated quite near the remains of the 1824-6 Clifton Baths (Grade II), an 1935 lift and the other 1937 tidal pool.
Idly meandering through Cliftonville, along Northdown Road, I chanced upon the most delightful of cake shop windows. Being something of an aficionado of cakes, shops and windows it seemed like an ideal opportunity to snap away, with customary broad-smiling, wide-eyed enthusiasm. Furthermore why not go in? I was met with the most charming of receptions from the patron Stuart Turner and staff – not unreasonably inquisitive regarding my impromptu picture taking, I explained my particular interest in the patisserie. The interior of the 50’s bakery, shop and café is perfectly preserved, with a little sympathetic restorative work. Well upholstered and formica topped the furniture is the finest of its kind, each table graced with fresh flowers, condiments and loving care and attention. An exquisite array of breads, pastries and cakes, resting on delicate doilies, displayed in glass fronted cases. I encourage you to visit, take tea, take cake, take away the fondest of sweet memories.
There’s a world going on underground.
At ground level.
Fenced off, rather poorly though.
Not much here to deter even the faint hearted urban explorer.
Find a gap and get in.
Join the taggers and lollygaggers,
Mr Turner came here way back when,
The same sea lapped a different shore,
A gallery stands where he passed,
If passing pop in,
Or wander the perimeter in search of a sense,
Of well being, or otherwise,
Seeking a link with some not too distant past,
When a different sea lapped the same shore.
I’ll try anything twice.
So off I went to Margate, on a train, again.
Rushing out of the station agog, eager, looking for a long lost friend.
An impudent exclamation mark at the end of a rowdy Georgian row.
A mad amalgam of angles, incautious concrete surfaces and glass.
Entranced, enchanted, we both stare out to sea and eye each other admiringly.
Should you, as I did wander down Northdown Road, Cliftonville, you will chance upon Pottons at 262.
By now however, ingress is more than somewhat inhibited.
The most exciting and extant period fascia, once gave way to oak fittings and fixtures festooned with all manner of menswear, exotic and plain accoutrements, now inaccessible.
A few sad remnants were on sale, administered in their final days by Lorraine, employed for 35 years in a family business, whose trade had once included made to measure, fine millinery and quality accessories for the discerning gent around town.