The story behind an unusual sign at Margate Railway Station

The T S Eliot mural at Margate Railway Station Photo John Horton

If you have wandered into the waiting room on Platform One of Margate Railway Station a rather unusual sign may have caught your eye.

The mural – an anagram of writer T S Eliot’s name spelling Toilets – is also particularly topical in light of Thanet council’s sell-off of shut public loos, the closure of the ‘Clock Tower’ toilets due to structural issues and the proposal to run a community loo scheme with businesses offering facilities in exchange for payment from the authority.

The mural was designed by Oscar winning director Arnold Schwartzman OBE.  Arnold is an award winning artist and designer who grew up in Margate and supported the refurbishment of the Margate clock tower. He is also the Patron of the new Margate Art School project.

The porcelain tile mural  is 8.5ft by 5.5ft and was originally planned as a part of Turner Contemporary’s celebrations of T S Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land – part of which Eliot wrote in Margate sitting in the Nayland Rock shelter on the seafront in 1921.

The installation had been proposed as a painted stencilled mural on the seafacing side of the Nayland Rock toilet building.

But this plan fell through so producer and curator Kamilla Blanche asked if it could be displayed at Margate Railway Station.

Kamilla met with Arnold Schwartzman while working as a district director of Arts and Culture in his home city of Los Angeles.

Arnold, now in his 80s, was passionate about being involved in the project and so gave his time for free.

The T S Eliot mural was funded by the TS Eliot Foundation and Margate Civic Society for their 50th year anniversary.

The tile artwork was produced by Digital Ceramics Systems Ltd, which produces the porcelain tile murals for The London Underground.

All the tiles have been individually printed, mounted on a backing and then fixed to the wall.