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24 September 2014

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Martin MacDonald. This Video
Film maker:
Martin MacDonald

Length: 2'55''
Date: 10th Mar 2005
Subject: "Margate"
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Title: Margate
Martin has seen great changes in Margate since he moved there. Dreamland has closed and the town is trying to become an artistic centre. How could the town improve its image?

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It's very sad to see Margate in it's present state. I moved here in 1972 a boy from Glasgow, and was amazed at the atmosphere. Busy beaches, Dreamland packed with holiday makers and daytrippers, and a healthy supply of hotels.To think those days will return by sticking an art gallery in, is not only naive, but dangerous. Margate has a large transient poulation of mostly young people, and the last thing they are going to stay for is a Turner center, with no Turners. as a sea side town with probably the best beach on the Kent coast. Most local children grow up knowing more about American ' trash' culture than the sea on thier doorstep. State of the art water parks, Sealife centres, a reinvented Dreamland, anything to make people want to stay for more than a few hours.But please, Thanet council, who do you think will want to visit a gallery that will probably end up as a under visited display of Tracy Emins "art".

A beautiful beach, with donkey rides and roundabouts and ice cream and kiss me quick hats for sale, traditional amusements, fish and chips or elegant restaurants, the winter gardens, the old town, art galleries opening up, buildings being restored. Still popular as a day tripper destination despite Dreamland's demise, poverty and a little neglect here and there. Is your glass half empty or half full? Still plenty to offer, good old honest Margate. When was the last time you really looked?

Whilst i agree with Martin McDonald that the main road along the sea front of Margate should be done away with, i do not share his devotion to the Turner centre. The money that has already been wasted on this totally usless and unrealistic project could have been better spent in providing more appropriate improvements in Thanet and i think heads should roll. Margate is just one town that suffers from lack of investment and all the time the local councils are building up Westwood Cross and building pipe dreams like the Turner centre our towns around Thanet will be left to flounder. i say lets invest in the towns that we already have and say goodbye to the Turner centre and Westwood cross.I have seen the Turner painting of Margate in the fog from the sea, quite frankly i thought it was rubbish.
Stephen Stock, long time resident of Thanet

How right Martin is to focus on the future instead of dwelling in the past. Towns are constantly changing - and they can go up as well as down. Those responsible for Margate must look at the world as it is now. How many residents of Margate support other English seaside towns - or do they fly abroad like everyone else? So don't expect holidaymakers to return to Margate. Plan for the future! PS loved the pedestrianisation idea - so simple yet what a dramatic impact.

I watched Martin’s video nation clip on Margate with interest. I lived in a large flat in Broadstairs in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and, even then, Margate was seen as the ‘poor relation’ of the Isle of Thanet. Although it attracted more day-trippers and had a better beach than Ramsgate, there was always the underlying idea that it was a shabby and tacky little place, fading from its days of genteel Victorian popularity. When I visited in late October, I hardly recognised the buzzing, bustling seaside town of my youth. The place has gradually fallen into a state of crumbling disarray.

I was born in Margate in 1983. I still visit the town regularly and i concede it is a depressing sight. From working with charities in London i have heard a lot about the drug problems in the town and i'm sure the social and economic demise runs far deeper than the 'Dreamland' saga. However some of my fondest childhood memories are from the fun park. I have always believed in Margate, it has many problems but it also has many people. I don't like the generalised nostalgia about the town, there is far more to Margate than the past. The Turner centre appeals to me as a london based architecture student and reads well in the international press, i think this is a brave and very positive move, however to ignore the rest of the town or picture it as a dirty shadow and a dying fair ground is unfair, especially as i expect the majority of the population will question the worth of such an expensive gallery. Many run down towns throughout europe have tried to kick start rege! neration through iconic architecture and applications to become the 'european city of culture'. I see this as a gamble, especially with british building costs and regualtions. I believe the turner centre should be built, i also want to see dreamland restored into a classic fun park themed around the scenic railway but for the town to have a real future the people who live their need to be empowered. fighting local social issues such as crime and drugs, should not be over looked. A turner painting is brilliant but some poeple just want a nice local shop in a street where less than half the shops are boarded up. I fear implanting major plans and iconic cultural buildings may not cause the over night miracle the town needs. Careful long term support to fight anti-social issues and to improve the life of people who live in the town would, in the long run, allow the towns economy to become independantly sustainable. The town needs 'depth' not a new 'face'. All of the towns i have visited who have based their reinvention on major arts build! ings sti ll have the underlying social problems, there just not on the sea front.
David Di Duca, London

I found this video extremely biased. I am a member of the Save Dreamland Campaign. Even living outside the area I know what the underlying reason for Dreamland's current plight really is. Put quite bluntly it's all about current land values and big business. Non-amusement park related activity on this site would offer far higher land values than in its present usage status.

I noticed Spenser's comments; living where you do now you may be aware that Miami's South Beach area was indeed very run-down about a decade or so ago. I spoke to a local guy there last November who said how he wished he'd taken some shots of that era now as the whole area has undergone a dramatic dynamic facelift, creating the now famed Art Deco area. Prime restaurants and hotels now grace the area creating a buzzing culture. No amusement park in sight there (as far as I know) but there is a fairly new classic Hurricane wooden rollercoaster not a million miles down the road!

My point is that with the right investment any area can be completely transformed. All it takes is some imagination and the will to succeed; with the correct operator I'm certain Dreamland can re-invent itself and draw sizeable crowds that no art gallery could ever achieve, in my opinion. Also, amusement parks have no class divides; open to all. That's how a real seaside resort should be, in my opinion.
Martin Porter Maidstone, Kent

Would just like to say that Dreamland has been going downhill over the last couple of years until this year when everything but the Grade II listed Scenic Railway roller coaster was left. But there is light at the end of the tunnel because on May 21st Dreamland is reopening Read more here:
Ian Collins

The closure of Dreamland has had a significant effect on Margate, particularly on local businesses involved in tourism. However many of the reasons for its demise are purely due to the wishes of the owners, who wish to redevelop the site as housing and retail for financial gain. The park can form part of a revitalised and vibrant seaside resort and under proper management would improve the tone of the area. Dreamland is due to open soon (21st of May 2005) under a 2 year lease with 15 major rides currently being moved onto the site. Hopefully this will bring people back to Margate and improve the situation for local business, but a longer term solution is needed. Margate is a seaside town and it is attractions such as Dreamland that will bring in large numbers of visitors. The Turner Centre is unlikely to produce the same volume of visitors and those who visit are unlikely to make repeat visits. No planning permission has been granted for the site yet; and a campaign to retain the park site for leisure use as well as retaining the Grade II listed Scenic Railway can be found at

I was born in Grosvenor Place in 1938, even during the war years Margate was a better town than that of today. And that's grand coming from someone who took off to Perth WA to give his kids a better life. We have been back 2002 and 2003. Look at the Lido - my heart breaks at the abject desolation of this area. Dreamland used to have fireworks every week-end, it was a place to be seen. It was alive with Londoners on a weekend. Coaches queued from Acol roundabout to get in. So sad to see it now. Used to have the Sundeck just off the Nayland Rock area - now you have a toilet block. There is nothing going for Margate, if it were a house you'd knock down and start again. Thank God I got out, your welcome to Margate 2005. Spenser Perth, WA

I grew up in margate and when i was a boy in the early eighties it was a sound place to live my parents even had a hotel because so many people would stay there. I now live abroad, maily because margate became so bad that I could not stand it. I have been once in the 15 years that I have lived outside and i think that i feel sorry for anyone still living there. sorry everyone.
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