Residents take action to fill in ‘hidden drop’ below water at ‘Winter Gardens’ slipway

Efforts to fill in the 'hole' caused by tidal patterns

Residents have rallied to fill in a  ‘hidden drop’ under a deceptively shallow-looking water area at the slipway behind the Winter Gardens in Margate.

The area has been the site of several incidents with children, adults and dogs becoming trapped because they are unaware of the depth of the drop.

It is caused by waves scouring the sand and tidal changes, which means the depth fluctuates rather than being constant.

Earlier this month resident Kerry September made a call for people power action after she pulled a toddler out of the tidal hole when the child fell in.

Also this month hairdresser Cassie Davey spoke of how her dog became submerged in the water and she then became trapped trying to rescue him.

Last year The Isle of Thanet News told how a little boy plunged under the water and had to be dragged out by his mum. Shortly after a distraught dog owner told how her rescue dog died after he went into water at the bottom of the beach slipway, but then got into trouble.

Sadly the experience proved too much for the dog and the water he had ingested resulted in kidney failure.

Although there is signage by the site, there have been calls for the hole to be filled in and/or greater safety measures to be installed.

Today (February 28) five residents – Kerry; Athelstan Road tenants’ association member Matt Shoul; Melanie Ball; Gemma Cole and Orla Morton Dollman – spent some two and a half hours shovelling sand into the pool to try and level off the drop.

The group cleared sand from the bottom of the concrete ramp and focused on filling in the deepest point of the puddle.

Matt said: “Following recent comments on social media, on the size, depth and potential danger posed by the growth of this naturally fluctuating tidal eddy pool, I suggested getting together to fill it in.

“This Sunday, five of us gathered at the bottom of the ramp and shifted around 3.6 metric tonnes of sand off the bottom of the ramp and into the deepest point of the puddle.

“After two and a half hours, we’d raised the deepest point, estimated to be between 4’-6’, to about 4” below the surface of the puddle at low tide.

“A second session is planned to finish off removing sand from the bottom of the concrete ramp and into the puddle on Sunday, March 7, around two-and-a-half hours after high tide – exact time not known just yet – but probably around 8:30am.

“Anyone with a spade is very welcome – social distancing on this breezy beach poses a minimal infection risk.”

Matt says a check on the depth of the ‘pool’ will be made in the week.

Photo Kerry September

Kerry also urged people to come to the next session, saying: “It would be great if more lovely volunteers/community of Margate could come forward and give up 2 hours of their time to help us fill it further.

“There was a great camaraderie this morning. It could be your child or dog but we can prevent something serious happening.”

Earlier this month Thanet council said ways to increase prominence of safety signs was being explored.

A council spokesperson said: “This location was last reviewed by our team of Coastal Officers in June 2020 as part of their risk assessments along the Thanet coastline. New signage, which will be reviewed annually, has been added to the railings at this area to warn people of the risks.

“The team is exploring other ways to increase the prominence of signage in this particular area, as well as a review of coastal safety signage more generally. It is particularly important to ensure that anything that’s added can withstand the impact of the sea. The team is also reviewing whether other options, such as extending the railings to the bottom of the slipway, are a viable possibility.

“Due to the nature of our coastlines, hazards can present themselves without notice. We advise people to ensure they consider the risks that might be involved when walking along our beaches, particularly during the winter months when daylight hours are reduced and there are changeable temperatures. People should also always be aware of the tides and use caution when exploring the coast, both in Thanet and any part of the UK.”

Devastated Eileen calls for action after dog dies following plunge into ‘hidden drop’ at ‘Winter Gardens’ slipway

Dog and owner rescued from ‘hidden drop’ below water at ‘Winter Gardens’ slipway


    • I think it’s harsh calling them “Muppets”.
      Nevertheless, it’s likely their efforts will have been in vain.
      See what happens to a sand castle when the tide comes in.
      There are signs, there are railings, it is the sea and we live at the sea side.

    • Your right Marva, although commendable for their social behaviour trying to prevent further accidents, the sand they are using will get scoured out again soon. Can I suggest they put the sand in sand bags first, not ideal but if the bags are plasticised or similar to stop rot, they won’t get washed away!

      • What a ridiculous idea. Instead of a hole in the sand we’ll have semi-exposed polythene littering the place!

        • That wouldn’t happen Peter, if there were sufficient sand bags, one on top of each other, bonded like bricks, or Would you prefer people drown then?

          • In the mid 70’s I was one of a number of government Assistant Civil Engineers to the Chief Civil engineer building a power station on the Isle of Grain. It was the biggest construction site in Europe with some 4,000 people employed, 600 of which lived in Spider Huts on site. My boss was concerned that there could be a tidal surge (this was about the same time the Thames Barrier was being installed) in which case it could demolish the Residential huts, so he instructed me to install a Tidal Indicator in the River Medway.

            I took a bearing from a Temporary Bench Mark (TBM) from a church about 2 miles away, and using a Theodolite, and a couple of labourers, bounced a level using “Rise & Fall” calculations, and installed the Tidal Indicator made of scaffolding at low tide, using quick setting concrete, which went off under sea water!

            A few years later, after I moved on promotion to another site, I received a phone call from a former colleague to say my Tidal Indicator worked, and that the 600 men in the spider huts were evacuated during the night! There was a tidal surge, but it was relatively calm, but at least no one was hurt!

            So you see, without surveying this particular problem, my suggestion would be to get the Fire Brigade to pump out the area at low tide, lay bagged up sand bags criss crossed to fill the hole, then get a few Ready Mix trucks to pour quick setting concrete over them, capable of going off under water. That could work as a cheap measure for a few years, or until a more solid solution is found!

  1. One way keep fit. Fill in, wait 72 hours for the tide to empty it again, and repeat.

    Although i do admire the determination of these folk…

  2. Surely TDC can find some funding to put a line of boulders along that section of wall to stop the holes from happening. Other areas can do this for safety reasons, why not here?
    The Margate Town Deal team could source it easily enough.

  3. I am sure the master of groynes and coastal defences, TDC Officer, Mike Humber will have a solution.

    This is a job for a civil engineer.

    Sadly, the pack of serial commenters have done little better than mock those who have brought this issue to the attention of the Council and public in a perfectly acceptable local news format.

    They are called news stories!

  4. Surely thanet district council could quickly borrow a digger to use the sand to fill the hole in as they use it on the big main sands margate so y can’t they use it there to fill the hole in

    • It would be washed away again within days.

      I think some people commenting really need to take regular walks on beaches to see how much they can change even on a daily basis. That’s why (for example) the remains of the Valkyr which sunk off Minnis Bay in 1919 is sometimes exposed and then disappears for months.

      • peter, i think you are wasting your breath, it seems as though some people don’t understand that the sand will get washed away as soon as the tide comes in, still it’s good exercise.

  5. I can see why they are trying to fill it in, but if the sand is only going to wash away again, why don’t the council put some boulders in and around it?

    • For the same reason I stated above. This is a working ramp that is used by boats. Any boulders/rocks submerged by the tide could damage/sink them.

  6. What baffles me is why people assume the sea is benign. It’s not, as the RNLI tell us in campaigns every year.
    If you don’t know how deep the water is, or what’s in it, then venture into it very carefully.
    Got a child or dog in your care? Then keep rhem under close control.

  7. Oh my goodness I needed a laugh this morning, 😂they are well meaning, but surely the sand they’re putting in will just get washed away again?

  8. If you put boulders in the hole, at high tide they might be invisible. An unsuspecting teen jumps (or worse, dives) in, and suffers serious injury.
    It’s really not rocket science. It’s the sea. It’s potentially dangerous. If you’re unsure, stay out, and keep vulnerable children and pets under control (just like you would on the main road).

  9. Why can’t they just extend the railings to the end of the slipway. It shouldn’t interfere with the launching of boats and it might prevent people stepping off the slipway into the hole.

  10. Why not just extend the railings to the end of the slipway. It shouldn’t interfere with the launching of the boats and it should prevent people stepping off the slipway into the hole.

  11. Waste of time as tide will rip out whatever is put there. Better to spend money on signage for the unaware, but thinking there can’t be alot of them after the bad press. I used to live on Morecambe bay. Not sure how you stop quicksands or a fast tide.

  12. What’s obvious to most locals who’re genuinely familiar with the beach around the winter garden slipway is that, as some have pointed out, the sand constantly shifts, quite randomly, tide by tide, never being the same twice – once upon a time, approx. 2-3 years ago, there was another big puddle, directly at the bottom of the ramp, making getting onto the beach impossible without wading through it!

    Natural tidal activity completely filled in this old puddle & for about a year there wasn’t one, of note, to mention.

    About a year ago what became the current big puddle began to form & unlike previous big puddles hasn’t naturally been filled in by the tides & storms.

    Often, there’s not all that much sand piled up on top of the ramp itself, but this, like all beach sand varies from tide to tide & storm to storm.

    Human intervention is always going to be a temporary fix, given the random nature of constantly shifting sands & random tidal & weather activity.

    Hopefully, after a 2nd, or 3rd session, the danger posed by this latest big puddle will be mostly, albeit temporarily, filled in and averted. The puddle will naturally return, in some guise, or other, as dependably as the tide itself & when it does, be it in a few weeks, months, or years, those with a mind & a spade to do it, can fill it back in before it reaches *critical mass* & evades being naturally filled in by tidal action unaided by people power…

    Queue the professional & unprofessional trolls alike:

  13. These pot holes are possibly attached to a hole in the tunnels that run around the lido. They connect to the winter gardens and as far away towards “what was the first and last pub”. Near St. John’s church and all these surrounding areas. This slip should be re addressed with BLOODY BIG SIGNS. You are never going to fill this in. Sorry to be a spoiler. Lived here for 50 years. That slip owes me my pocket money too

  14. Sometimes, after a NE Gale, the wind and tide cut a “step”, as much ad a metre deep, in the sand. At high tide, this us invisible. An unwary person, paddling in ankle deep water, could suddenly find themselves waist deep!
    Within a few days, the tide will have washed away all signs of the “step”, and the beach will be back to normal.

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