The destruction of Margate jetty in the great storm of January 1978

Margate Jetty Photo Thanet Hidden History

Devastation was caused in Thanet 40 years ago by a storm which destroyed Margate’s famous Jetty.

It was January 11-12, 1978,when a storm surge battered the east coast of England.

In Thanet Margate Jetty, also known as Margate Pier, was one of the casualties. The pier, designed by Eugenius Birch in 1856, had suffered damage from the sea over the years.

On 1 January 1877 it was sliced through by a storm-driven wreck that marooned 40 to 50 people. They were not rescued until the next day.

Photo Thanet Hidden History

The jetty closed in 1976 on safety grounds but the structure survived until 11–12 January 1978, when it was hit by another storm.  This surge destroyed much of the pier with planks washing up on to Margate beach. It also isolated the lifeboat station.

Thanet Hidden History

Following the storm the RAF air sea rescue Wessex helicopter from Manston, landed some of the lifeboat crew onto the station and after checking for damage to the lifeboat slipway, the boat was launched and taken to Ramsgate.

Thanet Hidden History

The wood from the pier was burnt over several days to try and clear the beach, with many residents gathering up what they could and taking it home. The wreck of the pier remained for several years, surviving numerous, failed attempts to blow it up, The final pieces of the pier head structure were finally dismantled in 1998.

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Margate Jetty is now categorised as a lost pier.

The Cliftonville Lido also suffered damage and granite blocks were battered from Ramsgate harbour’s East Pier wall and lost in the sea.

With thanks to Thanet Hidden History for Margate Jetty information and storm pictures

1 Comment

  1. I remember the night well and waking up on the morning after to see the mangled structure of the pier was UN believable
    As a 12 year it was quite exiting,my mother was the landlady of the Britannia PH on fort hill which took a direct hit when a rogue iron rivet that was blown from the pier when the demolition team was blowing up the wreck flew through a upper window and bedded itself in the wall
    The rivet is mounted on a plaque which now hangs on my wall

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