A Day at a British Beach

I’ve taken the fast, modern train from London to Canterbury several times in my travels. After my latest trip, it occurred to me that the train continues on and terminates a half an hour later at the beach town of Margate. A trip to Margate, at $8 roundtrip, to see the Brits at the beach was definitely in order.

Wikipedia reports that “Margate is a seaside town on the north coast of Kent in south-east England. The small town is 16 miles north-east of Canterbury, has been a significant maritime port since the Middle Ages, and was associated with Dover in the 15th century. It became a popular place for holidaymakers in the 18th century, owing to easy access via the Thames, and later with the arrival of the railways. Popular landmarks include the sandy beaches and the Dreamland amusement park. During the late 20th century, the town went into decline along with other British seaside resorts, but attempts are being made to revitalize the economy.”


When I was doing a little pre-trip research, two things struck me about Margate. First, it has one of the best beaches in the UK, because it’s a sand beach. Yes, beach sand is not usual here; UK beaches are generally made up of small stones. So, getting some “sand between your toes” is apparently a novel experience. And, the main Margate beach includes something I’d never seen before: a tidal swimming pool.

This is a very large concrete-sided swimming pool plunked right down on the beach and, owing to the big tides, it’s overrun and filled with sea water twice a day. It looks like quite the swimming experience, only six-feet deep at most, and quite calm.

Other than that, Margate is a typical beach town. It has all the amusements, casinos, fast food, and souvenir shops you might expect and a main drag along which folks can “cruise”, showing off their hot cars, convertibles, and motorcycles.

This magnificent tower was built in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

The beach itself has many rental and food vendors. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and even “wind protection”, aka the cloth fencing shown below that many people use to fence off their section of beach.

It was a very popular day for going to the beach, what with a national heat emergency declared for later in the week. Brits flocked to the shore to enjoy the sun and the light breeze.

Beach towns are full of graffiti and strange art, and Margate was no different. As I made my way back to the train station, I passed some interesting art displayed in the window of a house. It was emphatic, as it appeared in the windows on both floors. Your guess is as good as mine:

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