Monday, 1 December 2008

Down to Margate!

On Saturday we all went to Margate for some Christmas shopping.

Once upon a time, Margate was a thriving seaside town, a favourite place for day trippers from London. There are even songs about the place, as this ethnic music from the east end of London shows:




But now? Well apart from a few weeks in the summer, the day trippers have gone. The funfair has gone and the scenic railway has been damaged by fire and is awaiting someone with a load of money to repair it. It has become a backwater where the main business is taking in refugees and immigrants from eastern Europe.

But in previous years we have been able to do a lot of good Christmas shopping there, though. It had a good collection of discount shops with the added bonus of a KFC restaurant!

This year? Well the recession has hit the place really hard. I guess a lot of the shops were running on fairly low margins at the best of times, and a lot of them are now empty. My daughter's favourite clothes shops were still there, so she was happy, but for the rest of us it was a bit of a disappointment. To make matters worse, the KFC was totally packed (the only shop that was), so we didn't even get dinner there!

And do you know the worst thing? With the town in this state, they are spending £50 million on an art gallery. Will this save the town? What do you think?

8 comments:

Jen said...

Wow. It's been tough for many people this year in many places around the world. You just don't think of it if it's not directly affecting you. We are lucky that we live in one of the states that the recession is not hitting too hard. It's the oil. . . . it's weird, but keeping our state above the money matters affecting so many. We have, thus far, been lucky.

I really wonder if and art gallery will save the town? It sounded as if it were fabulous when it was booming. Is that the wisest choice? I wouldn't even have a clue. . . ? I hope, for what it is worth, that it does.

James said...

Art gallery does seem a strange choice. Too far out from London to be on peoples tour schedules. I think would have been better locating some of the Olympic facilities in Margate instead, would have regenerated it better.

terri said...

How disappointing! And how sad to see a once thriving town collapse. I think it's probably happening in more places than we know.

Claire said...

It is very sad to see stores and homes empty - saw it happen when a recession hit the Houston, Texas area - there were 3 houses on our block boarded up - and more in other places. There are still new stores and restaurants opening here - so I hope that means I am "in a good place."

kenady said...

couldn't they invest that money into renovating the town? making it more appealing for day trippers again? hmmm...

sorry you didn't get KFC. that's a bummer!

Teresa said...

Is this the same KFC that you were leading your family to last year when you got *ahem* lost? LOL!! I think I remember something about climbing a fence...

That is sad when that happens to towns...for us over here we are seeing many many empty warehouse type buildings b/c they have closed down or moved operations to Mexico or China. Something that once represented jobs and income now just sits vacant. Sad really.

Chief Rock Chef said...

Jen - I guess you bare lucky to have the oil - Britain's oil has more or less run out :-(

James - You could be right! The gallery is the focus of an attempt to make the town more up-market. They designated a "cultural quarter" which so far seems to consist of a street cafee.

Terri - Yes, I think it is happening a lot - I think I noticed this more because it changed so much during a single year.

Claire - New places is a good sign. Things like this do seem to affect some areas worse than others. Good to know you are in a good place.

Kenady - I am sure that the money could be spent much better than this - art galleries are great but have a limited appeal to the general public. This town needs something that will really pull the people back again.

Teresa - No, different KFC. This one is right in the middle of the town, easy to find, unlike that other one. The thing of companies moving to places like Mexico and China is a big problem but is essential given the costs. In the UK, for example, we get to choose from Fender guitars made in 3 different countries - Chinese ones are less than £200, Mexican ones are around £400, US ones are £650 plus.

Sitting in Silence said...

I'm thinking probably not...xox