A new guidebook follows the old London, Chatham and Dover Railway’s route from St Pancras to Margate, highlighting over 400 buildings and places on the route.
Everywhere Means Something To Someone is the result of a project by Folkestone-based art organisation Strange Cargo, commissioned as part of the programme around the Turner Prize.
The organisation met over 400 Kent residents, and collected their stories, to compile the guide. As a consequence it takes in personal stories alongside the more famous connections.
Hubert Gregg, the man who wrote Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner, lived in Westgate, and the current resident in that house recalls his story. The owners of the 20th Century B&B in Birchington explain why scriptwriter Tudor Gates (of Barbarella fame), aviator Amy Johnson, and David Bowie inspired the themes of their rooms.
In Margate, we’re told that of the first shop selling skateboards in the UK, and about Arlington House‘s role as a radio tower. And we’re told the price of renting a pew in Westgate.
We find Edwardian whalebones in a pub garden in Birchington, Karl Marx staying in Margate, and an expert horticulturalist’s legacy in an avenue of flowering cherry trees.
Rather confusingly (and somewhat limiting its usefulness as a guidebook), the entries are in a random order, rather than being grouped together by town. So while this postcard-sized, brick-thick book is a fascinating collection of stories, it’s not really a guidebook at all. However, locations are given for all the places included, using both postcodes and the What3Words app (Arlington House is rather poetically treatable. typically. seagulls).
Everywhere Means Something To Someone is a fascinating glimpse of the towns from St Pancras via Rochester, Faversham, Whitstable and down to Margate. It follows in a long tradition of artists encouraging people to talk about the places they live (for other examples, look at Common Ground’s encyclopaedic England In Particular, Revolutionary Arts Seven Days In Seven Dials or the Caravan Gallery’s ongoing Pride of Place series).
And while it could easily have been an actual guide for travellers coming down from London or Kent residents wanting to explore their homelands, it’s nearly as good as a collection of quirky stories, forgotten facts and overlooked places.
Everywhere Means Something To Someone costs £10 and is available from www.steangecargo.org.uk