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Margate

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Margate is a town in the Isle of Thanet in Kent and sister town to Ramsgate and Broadstairs. It has seen a revival since the Dreamland amusement park reopened in 2015, and the development of an art scene including the Turner Contemporary gallery.

Understand

Margate is on the whole a rather depressing mixture of fading Georgian and Victorian seaside grandeur and squalid 'bedsit-land' although there are new developments and some pleasant residential suburbs. Margate has a severe problem with litter, which adds to the 'squalid' feel. There has been a decline in the tourism industry for which Margate was famed until the 1980s when many families opted for overseas holidays as living standards rose. Since the completion of the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, the Old Town area has developed a thriving retro retail presence.

Get in

The best way to make the comparisons is by bus if you do not arrive by car. There is a bus called the 'loop' which runs a circular route around the Isle of Thanet, including Margate. Fares are cheap and the service runs in the main daytime every 7-10 minutes in each direction linking with Broadstairs and Ramsgate and the Westwood Cross shopping centre.

  • 1 Margate railway station. Margate is easily reached by train from London Victoria in under 2 hours or from St. Pancras International HS1 in under 90 minutes.

The nearest major international airports are at London Gatwick (approx 84 mi/135 km) and London Heathrow (approx 104 mi/168 km).

Get around

See

  • The seafront and clock tower area are close to the seafront, beach and Margate rail station and is a typical example of a busy but 'tacky' English seafront with a string of amusement arcades, coffee houses, pubs and bingo establishments.
  • Further along the seafront towards the Turner Contemporary, there are more bars and cafes, souvenir shops and restaurants.
  • The beach has dry sand even at high tide and proves popular with Londoners who often come for day trips.
  • There is a link with the artist J M W Turner and a visitor centre close to the harbour where you can examine the facts behind his links with the town.
  • 1 The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, CT9 2BU. Tucked away in one of Margate's most squalid back streets is the shell grotto, a mysterious cave decorated from floor to ceiling in shells.
  • 2 Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, Rendezvous, CT9 1HG. Tu-Su and bank holidays 10AM-6PM. Modern art gallery (opened in 2011) near the harbour, with a small selection of paintings by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), who for a while stayed on the site of the gallery. A good gallery with changing exhibitions that takes an hour or so to see. Free.
  • 3 Walpole Bay Hotel Museum, Fifth Avenue, Cliftonville, CT9 2JJ. A whacky collection of 20th-century everyday objects are dotted around this hotel. Open to non-residents during the daytime.
  • 4 Hornby Visitor Centre, Westwood Industrial Estate, CT9 4JX. daily 10:00 - 16:00. Exhibition of Hornby model railways, Airfix models and Corgi car models. See traditional British children's toys. £5.
  • 5 Draper's Mill. Windmill open to the public

Do

Apart from visiting the beach, you can enjoy the British standard arcade amusements, venture into the old town and up the high street to visit the shops, or simply head to a different beach along the coast. Botany Bay and Joss Bay are popular with locals.

  • 1 Dreamland, 49-51 Marine Terrace, CT9 1XJ, ☏ +44 1843 295887. Amusement park including a listed wooden rollercoaster.

Buy

Margate is famous for being the first sea bathing resort, its stick of rock (a boiled sugar confectionery) and novelty items.

Eat

There are many places to eat near the seafront and on the harbour arm. For further choice of food, head into town. The Old Town has pubs, a Thai restaurant and Mullins Brasserie. Sadly, the Mad Hatter's tea rooms has now closed.

  • 1 The Ambrette, 10 Fort Hill, ☏ +44 1843 231504. Notable Indian serving a fusion of English and Indian 'haute cuisine'.
  • 2 The Riz, 49 Northdown Rd, ☏ +44 1843 293698. Kerala and Sri Lankan restaurant

Drink

There are many pubs and clubs throughout the town but beware of rowdiness and aggressive behaviour late at night in the town centre.

  • Harbour Arms Micropub, Stone Pier, ☏ +44 07776 183273. Small pub on the far side of the harbour, with local ales and views back to the "mainland".

Sleep

Many bed and breakfasts line the shore. With expensive hotels on the high street and a budget one near Margate Train Station.

  • 1 The Reading Rooms, 31 Hawley Square, ☏ +44 1843 225166. B&B
  • Cliftonville Townhouse Bed and Breakfast, 40 Gordon Rd Cliftonville, ☏ +44 1843 228 164, ✉ bookings@cliftonvilletownhouse.com. Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 11am.
  • 2 Sands Hotel Margate, 16 Marine Dr, ☏ +44 1843 228228.

Go next

  • Whitstable for a different kind of coastal town.
  • Faversham for the national fruit collection and breweries.
  • Canterbury
  • Broadstairs
  • Ramsgate
  • Sandwich
  • Deal



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