Margate’s ‘lost’ jetty inspiration for Dreamland’s new Mural by the Sea

Margate Jetty Photo Thanet Hidden History

Dreamland Margate has announced the third of its artist commissions for the Mural-by-the-Sea project at the amusement park.

The new artwork for Dreamland’s Mural-by-the-Sea project follows the popular ‘Everyday Plastic’ mural by Daniel Webb.

Latest commission Save Yourselves is an image constructed at the original mouth of Margate’s lost pier.

It has been created by Emma Gibson of Open School East in Cliftonville with photographer Rollo Hollins and will go on display from Saturday, May 26 until Sunday, July 16.

The artwork captures a site that was originally the beginning of the vast 1,100-foot wooden jetty that brought Margate huge prosperity over 100 years – launching SS steam ship cruises, housing an octagonal pier-head and pavilion, as well as a lifeboat station.

Save Yourselves

Emma’s artwork will feature a horseshoe lifebuoy that reads ‘Save Yourselves’, serving as a metaphor for the fair-weather favour of seaside towns. Forty years ago, the pier was severely damaged during a storm, and was eventually dismantled. Resdents salvaged the wood and pieces of the jetty still exist all over Margate.

Emma said: “The piece is reflective of seaside townsfolk and life. Time and time again we save ourselves through reinvention, resilience and the ever-turning tides of favour. On a personal note the message is about survival, but the ring’s horseshoe shape also symbolises hope and acknowledges more widely that we also save each other – not to mention those who save lives at sea.

“I’m honoured to have my artwork on display in such an iconic but also historically relevant site in terms of reinvention as Dreamland. I look forward to sharing this important story about Margate with the park’s visitors and the local community, mapping out a life before our time.”

Rebecca Ellis, Senior Creative Producer at Dreamland Margate, said: “Mural-by-the-Sea has been a fantastic success so far; not only for Dreamland but for artists from local studios and soon to be, nationally.

“We always strive to give people new and exciting reasons to visit Dreamland and providing artists with commission opportunities continues to support this.

“The artwork that follows ‘Save Yourselves’ will be the first one to come to Dreamland outside of Margate, as we will work with Spike Island in Bristol. This will be followed by an exciting nationwide open call for the final artwork.

“Anyone can enter an idea to potentially have their work displayed at Dreamland, it’s a hugely exciting project for all involved!”

The Margate Jetty – fact file

Thanet Hidden History

In 1824, the Margate Pier Harbour Co built an 1,100 foot wooden jetty called the ‘Jarvis Landing Stage’. It was only accessible at low tides and needed regular repairs.

On November 4, 1851, it was breached in two places by a storm. The company commissioned a new ‘jetty’ and work began in 1853 to the design of Eugenius Birch.

It opened in 1855 (the first iron pier) but was not completed until 1857. In 1875/8, it was extended and a new octagonal pier-head and pavilion were added. On November 24, 1877, a drifting vessel caused £4,000 damage. Further additions were made in 1893 and 1900.In World War II, the jetty was used for troop and supply movements. Steamer services resumed after the war, ending in 1966.

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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.

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.

Some relics of Margate Jetty can be found in Margate Museum, including the entrance plaque, a piece of railing, some decking, and pier memorabilia.

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