E: Margate / Cliftonville

The excitement of seeing different coloured street signs that meant that we were nearing the seaside is still vivid; my brother and I would compete to be the first one to ‘see the sea’. In the 1970s Margate was brash and Cliftonville quite posh, and as children we enjoyed this mix – we even sometimes played at the Cliftonville bowles club along side the retired bank managers and their wives. During the day we would sometimes explore Kent, visiting castles, gardens, preserved railways (mainly for my brother, which always annoyed me), but often spend the day on the beach, regardless of cold winds and seagulls. When I was about six my Great Aunt gave me and my brother shrimping nets, and we spent hours trawling for the poor creatures. The hovercraft came ashore just down the coast, and we loved going to watch it swoosh up onto the beach. As a teenager I visited Margate with friends on day trips from London, and discovered the arcades and funfair (and pubs which turned a blind eye to underage drinking!). I have always loved the sea, but although I now generally visit genteel and picturesque seaside towns, even the names Margate and Cliftonville bring back a wave of nostalgia. Frequent visits to Reculver and other historic costal sites also sparked a life-long passion for history.