Tribute paid to Margate Museum Trustee and town history stalwart Ian Dickie

Margate Museum's Ian Dickie

Tribute has been paid to stalwart of Margate history Ian Dickie following sad news of his death, aged 72, yesterday (November 10).

Ian was a trustee and co-ordinator with the Margate Museums trust and a constant presence at the museum in the Old Town.

The grandad-of-two was found at his flat after a concern call to the fire service which was attended by firefighter and Ian’s friend David Gorton.

Speaking on behalf of Ian’s family his sister Marilyn Robinson said: “He was loved by all his family. We will miss his warped sense of humour and silly jokes which he sent every day without fail to cheer us up during these uncertain times.

“Even though he was in pain he always had an opinion that would raise a smile. God Bless you Ian.”

Margate Museums Trust Chairperson Robin Haddon said: “First and foremost, our sincere condolences to Ian’s family and we wish them strength and health at such a challenging time.

“We are facing a great loss, not only as a fellow human that was well-liked and admired by all that came to know him, but also to Margate Town as someone who loved the town and possessed an unparalleled knowledge base of its past and present.

“Ian was a fellow Trustee of the Margate Museums Trust (operating the Margate Museum and Tudor House) and the Museum’s co-ordinator. He was an unstinting servant to the Margate Museum initially under the auspices of Thanet District Council (Friends of Margate Museum) from 2010 until 2015 where he Chaired a voluntary group who steadfastly opened the old town museum to the general public, schools, films, universities and the ever growing visitors base to Margate.

“He was then instrumental in forming The Margate Museums Trust (Charity No: 1173031) in 2016 with the aim of establishing a best in class museum(s) right in  the heart of The Old Town of Margate.

“Under Ian’s guidance volunteers staffed the museum and managed the research exhibitions as well as guide visitors round the museum imparting their rich local historical knowledge.  Ian was often found at the museum after hours working closely with the local Kent Universities, TV Companies, film units and journalists. He certainly knew his way around the deep and heritage rich archives of Margate.

“Ian was quick to correct inaccurate historical facts including the Mods & Rockers recap by BBC South Kent where he pointed out that aspects in the Film Quadrophenia were Margate-based not Brighton!  He also published in 2013  “A Short History of The Theatre Royal Margate – A brief history of Theatre Royal from its days in Dane Valley to Fountain INN Stables to current site, with Pictures of changing building, plans and star attractions.”

Robin and Ian at the opening day/evening of Dreamland Margate June 2015

Ian was educated after school at Greenwich University. He further studied Business Administration/Management at Canterbury Christ Church University and his background covered training and assessment work for the British Nurses Association, Senior lecturer at East Kent College (health related) as well as an Inspectorate for care homes. Ian had also owned a professional Catering business and worked as a theatre director.

Robin added: “As chair of the Margate Museums Trust I speak on behalf the entire Trust and its volunteer base in that we are extremely saddened by this sudden loss to us as individuals and to our town and the history museum; we will no doubt feel this sense of disbelieve and confusion for some time.

“He loved Margate, understood its historical and heritage significance, knew all the facts and figures across all the world wars involving the Thanet populace and had a burning desire to see Margate Town grow and thrive again. He was disappointed not to be included n the Town Deal Team and the local People’s Panel team that he applied to but gave solace in the fact that progress was possible, and the Museums were short-listed on the panels list for further financial consideration.

“It is particularly poignant that Ian is not there with us on Armistice Day, a day he held in high regard and always appreciated those that gave their lives for our future generations; coupled with the unrelenting support he showed to the nurses in care home, nursing homes and hospitals across the board and the announcement this week of a potential Covid-19 virus vaccine… these events would have brought joy to his heart.

“Ian literally honoured the Museum each and every day and we do hope that one day, our Trust will be in a position to honour Ian’s memory by working out a solution with the local Council in order to achieve our aims and ambitions of a top-class local history museum, coupled with the mayors parlour (Old Town Hall), and Tudor House. Evolve and establish these historical locations as must-see visitor attractions and continue to be the pride and place of Margate, as Ian strived for over the many, many years!

“Ian will always be remembered – rich in knowledge yet humble in attitude.  One of Ian’s sayings included:

“No matter how big your house is,

How recent your car is,

How big your bank account is,

Our graves will be the same size… Stay Humble!”

Ian among those welcoming to the Museum Admiral Lord Boyce…. Together with Sir Roger Gale and Stuart Piper Battle of Margate 1387 curated by Felicity Stafford

Margate Mayor Mick Tomlinson said: “Such a shock to hear of the sad death of Ian. He has been a close friend for many years. I first really got to know him, when colleagues tried to win the Licence for Local Radio in Thanet, we were based in the upper floor of what is now a car repair garage in Nash Road. Friends and I would put out the programmes, with Ian behind the scenes, we sadly did not get the licence, but the fun all of us had, I will never forget.

“Ian ran a Bistro in Hawley Square Margate and also kept the Broadstairs Carnival alive, but moved on to get involved with the Margate Museum in the Old Town. His knowledge and love of Margate was amazing, I would pop in and have a coffee and chat on occasions just for a few minutes but stayed sharing our stories about our great town.

“It is so sad that Ian will not see how the Museum is moving on. He is a great loss to the town and his many friends.”

Former Thanet council leader and Margate mayor Iris Johnston said: “I am sorry to hear such sad news of Ian’s passing in the community as only a few days ago he seemed in excellent form. “Passionate about the Margate Museum and town’s history… his knowledge was unsurpassed.

A great loss to all of us and that for the town and I send my deepest sympathy to his family.”

‘Grandad cup’

Jamie Ingram and Heidi Cadby, from the Mad Hatter tearooms where Ian was a regular, said: “Ian was the first person we met in Margate Old Town, our friendship turning to one more like family. Our children gave him his own Grandad cup to use when he came into the tearoom.

“We will miss his frequent visits, funny stories and advice. He was a truly kind and wonderful man, who put everybody else before himself. We will treasure the storybook collection he wrote for us about our tearoom. Not long after we first opened Ian began writing little anecdotes on the back of our napkins, which he later turned into stories about the escapades of The Mad Hatter and our cakes! Ian was one in a million and we shall miss him greatly.”

Loyalty and boundless enthusiasm

Friend and colleague Mick Minter said: “Ian will be sadly missed for all the hard work and loyalty to the Museums. He was not in good health recently but persevered and kept the faith in looking forward to the re-opening of the museums with the volunteers after the national lockdown.”

Andrew Perloff – Chairman, Panther Group PLC – Patron for Margate Museums Trust added: “I was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Ian Dickie, who I first met nearly 10 years ago.

“It was his boundless enthusiasm, encyclopaedic knowledge, and energy for all things Margate and, in particular, Margate Museum, that encouraged my brother and me to donate to the museum.  Ian’s managerial skills allowed the museum to become a charity, and an important feature of Margate’s prominence.

“He worked tirelessly in promoting the museum in the interest of Margate, which in turn encouraged more visitors to the resort’s attractions. He will be sadly missed.”

Ian with the Admiral Lord Boyce, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, in 2017


David Gorton, who owns The Old Cottage in Margate High Street, says Ian’s historical knowledge led to many of the discoveries at the pub.

He said: “When I arrived in Margate 10 years ago, one of the first people that drew me into realising its history and hidden treasures was Ian. He showed my partner around “his” Margate museum like an excited schoolboy. Never missed an inch. Our interest was rewarded by then being shown other areas which the public don’t see.

“Ian’s sadness over the historic “boxed up” artefacts that couldn’t be displayed and the condition of the roof of the abandoned Old Town Hall as he walked us round, was palatable. His philosophical kindness was infectious and despite his health issues nothing seemed to deter him. In the Old Town of Margate he negotiated everything with long term use of crutches to walk and yet a friendly smile for everyone.

“He was the finest and most knowledgeable ambassador for Margate and its visitors the town has ever had, or is likely to have. He is hugely respected for all he did and tried to do, in preserving Margate’s historic past, and indeed, its present.”