Keeping one step ahead of that blasted flame (oh worship the flame cone – its on fire…) finds me in Margate where there are three incongruities. The first is the train, once, this part of Kent was served by the worst rolling stock that British Rail could muster added to which it took an entire lifetime to get here. Now a sleek high speed Javelin train sits purring by the Victorian platforms like a bad bank advert whisking you from modern Britain to here…Margate, which I hope is like the past not our future as this is the place the early 80’s didn’t leave. Except for the second incongruity which is the the new Turner gallery. This building doesn’t photograph well (Adolf Loos thought this the mark of good architecture) but it is in fact a fine new building, beautiful even, limpid I think is the word. It’s a pale blue rather than the grey in photos and clad in glass. It’s finely made although the project manager tells me not good enough for the architects. It’s incongruity may say more about the state of British building than of Margate because this well made building is a pebbles throw away from the very worst urban deprivation I have seen in a while (since the 80’s in fact) if you started a little chart of Alice Colemanesque signs of deprivation (an app would be useful) it would be filled up in a pace or two. This is the dogshit capital of wherever. The only thing I didn’t see was a burnt out car but maybe because I stayed near the seafront (in Margates best hotel : thanks tripadvisor for the bites, I’m sure chipperfield or Mary portas didn’t put up here)
finally the third incongruity: this one from 1963
This tower dominates Margate, it is quite vast, back in 63 someone had some vision no doubt backed by a Telly Savalas style soundtrack about taking Margate into the future.
It has (had) its own shopping centre and a vast car parking platform
It recently mad an appearance in the BBCs tales of lost love which were all set in Margate and featured as the most stylish taxi drivers flat of all time. I know I have never been in a taxi drivers flat but I do spend a lot of time in taxis. If I was in a flat with a taxi driver I would assume I was about to be murdered.
The tower is next to Dreamland which for anyone who visited margate since 1935 WAS margate. Dreamland is now derelict having suffered an unfortunate electrical fire. The site is/was owned by the same chap who owned Folkestones Rotunda amusements which was my heaven in the 1970’s. The rotunda suffered an unfortunate electrical fire.