Westgate-on-sea and its immediate neighbour Westbrook are the focus of a second volume of nostalgic photographs and stories written by local author Nick Evans, which is to be published in mid September.
Mayfair By The Sea – The Story Of Westgate Volume Two follows on from the successful first book published nearly two years ago.
The story starts in the late Victorian era when Westgate had already attracted many wealthy residents from London but had fallen from favour as other coastal towns were springing up along England’s south coast.
A vital innovation – one we all take for granted today – revitalised Westgate’s fortunes. Investment in a mains drainage system, connected to Margate’s network, made life far pleasanter and removed the need for homes to have their own cesspool sewerage. The affluent had been saved from the effluent!
The 128 page book records holidaymakers enjoying sunny days on the beaches of West Bay and St Mildred’s Bay. Rarely seen photos of some of the town’s shops, schools and workplaces are also included with the story of Maurice House, a former Royal British Legion home on the Canterbury Road.
There’s a dedicated chapter to the history of the former Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, a cornerstone of Westbrook for more than 200 years and the nation’s oldest orthopaedic hospital until its closure in 1996. It opened in 1791 to treat patients with the scrofula form of tuberculosis which caused a range of bone deformities in children and adults. During the early days, many patients were brought from London via a bumpy two day journey on the Hoy boat.
Westbrook, the settlement between Margate and Westgate, was largely cornfields in the first part of the 20th century. The land was owned by the estates of the Bridewell and Bethlem Hospitals and it took some 20 years of persuasion by the local council before they agreed to sell it for much-needed homes for the newly-monied middle classes.
The work to build hundreds of houses began soon after the First World War and was just about complete by the beginning of the Second World War. A condition of the estate’s sale was that avenues should be named after benefactors of the south London hospitals – a list of whom appears in the book.
This is the fifth title Nick has written and published in less than two years about the histories of different parts of Thanet. In addition to his first Westgate title, he has written two about Cliftonville and another about Broadstairs.
Nick said: “My new book contains 160 illustrations and makes a nostalgic record of times past, when perhaps the pace of life was more leisurely, covering subjects which could otherwise be now completely forgotten.
“I’ve been very fortunate in being able to access Sunbeam photographs in the SEAS Heritage collection held by Thanet District Council. Some were taken for holiday guides of the 1950s while others appeared in the area’s local newspapers and have probably not been seen publicly since.
“This second volume of new material has been a delight to bring together and I’m grateful to all who helped me, including the council, Margate Museum, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University.”
Mayfair By The Sea – The Story of Westgate Volume Two goes on sale from Saturday 17 September when Nick will be hosting a launch event at Westgate Galleria, 29 Station Road, Westgate, between 11am and 3pm. Copies of the 128 page, landscape A5 format book will cost £12.50 each.
Copies can be pre-ordered online from the books section of Westgate Galleria via https://shorelinepartners.co.uk/product/mayfair-by-the-sea-the-story-of-westgate-volume-two/