I first came to Margate, age eleven, in 1967, on a family summer holiday.
I still remember every wonderful detail: dad’s brand-new, pale-blue Morris 1100 bowling down the Thanet Way; stopping for Coke and sausage rolls at a café just outside Birchington, where Frank and Nancy Sinatra were singing Something Stupid on the juke box.
Then on into Margate itself. Margate! Lazy days on the beach: hot sand; the Lido pool that kept the sea in when the tide went out; the Sun Deck on Margate Sands; picnics with ever-so-slightly gritty cheese and tomato sandwiches and Lyons’ individual fruit pies. Everything was perfect, even the Cliftonville guest house where at mealtimes the owner, in white jacket and black dickie bow, stood to attention in the dining room, his glinting false eye giving us boarders a sideways look.
Margate was wonderful. Then it died. Now it has come back to life. It was perfect then, but it’s even better now.
So this book is a celebration of a wonderful seaside town: of its secrets, and the many lesser-known stories from its sun-burned, salt-and-vinegar past.