One man’s TikTok video bid to gain likes and follows by ‘reviewing’ Margate has provoked a mixed reaction.
Phil Carr, who creates spoof videos on towns other than his home of Epsom, has given his verdict on Margate after visiting the summer seaside spot on a drab day in winter following an invite from a Kent reporter.
Phil highlights areas including Arlington House tower block – which he says is ‘striking’ in response to comments on his social media account – the High Street, seafront, Turner Contemporary and Cliftonville.
The social media post has created a bit of a stir with some agreeing with Phil’s analysis while others call it ‘lacklustre grift’ or simply tell him to ‘p*ss off home.’
Whilst skipping the nicest parts of Thanet and declaring that the visit has not made him change his negative view of Kent, he does raise some issues that residents have voiced themselves.
Phil says Arlington House shows Margate is ahead of the game and ready for when we all live in a ‘grim dystopian future’ although he also admits it is ‘quite cool.’
Arlington House divides opinion. It does need an external spruce up, a wash and a lick of paint.
But, inside the flats are spacious – although you will only see inside the upper floor properties if the lifts are actually working – and the views are amazing. The Brutalist block was designed by architect Russell Diplock, who also designed the Brighton Centre and nearby Churchill Square, which included far more simple residential towers.
Arlington House was completed and opened in December 1963, less than three years after it was first announced and photos from that time show it looking quite bright and white.
That said, the block does also have its issues with the aforementioned lift breakdowns and in 2019 leaseholder Freshwater was handed an enforcement notice by Kent Fire and Rescue for 15 fire safety failures. Some residents say knock it down while others love the imposing architecture.
The Brutalist tower block that marked the start of 1960s redevelopment in Margate but was ‘ahead of its time’
A quick mug shot of UKIP founder Nigel Farage is helpfully flashed up to remind out of towners where they might have heard of Thanet before.
Farage ran in the 2015 election for the South Thanet seat against former Ukipper turned Tory Craig Mackinlay – who won by a 2k margin, prompting Farage to leave unceremoniously before speeches were over – and other candidates including the Pub Landlord Al Murray, the actual (Ramsgate) pub landlord Nigel Askew and of course the Nation of Ooog who all wore some pretty fancy hats to the election count and then had some colourful words in their speech.
We haven’t seen much of Nigel in Thanet since that date although he did pop by in 2017 to support local UKIP candidates and have his trademark pint.
Phil describes Dreamland as ‘quite a basic amusement park.’
It is true that the park has sold a lot of rides, including the thrillseekers that were installed in 2018. Punters have commented that there was a lack of rides at the site during last summer.
On the other hand it is a pretty big music venue and has welcomed everyone from Gorillaz to Billy Ocean, the sadly departed Terry Hall and The Specials, Happy Mondays, The Libertines – you get the picture.
And, as Phil points out, it was the base and focus for the Sam Mendes movie Empire of Light, which goes on UK general release this Monday (January 9).
Phil says if awards are won, Margate will never shut up about it. He’s probably right on that one, and why not, it is bringing global attention to the isle, provided some £4m in a boost to the local economy, and hopefully will attract tourists who might want to give Visit Thanet’s film location guides a peek and follow the Olivia Colman/Micheal Ward trail while spending their cash in our shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and attractions.
Margate Old Town
Phil says the Old Town is ‘slowly being gentrified by hipsters from London’ and is basically ‘just tribute tax to Brighton.’
So, gentrification is a conversation for Margate. Properties getting snapped up by people moving to the isle does contribute to the issue of residents being outpriced. However, incomers also bring money and, often, new businesses so there is a flipside. The Old Town is a miniature version of this but there are many locals with businesses there too.
The area does house our Margate Museum and some decent places to eat and drink as well as galleries and the country’s only Crab Museum but the doors of The Bulls Head pub have now shut and the Old Town Hall is being marketed with plans for a boutique hotel seemingly favoured.
Turner Contemporary is always guaranteed to split opinion. Some love it, others are not fans of the seafront gallery.
The artworks also split opinion although there have been Turner paintings on display and lots of local works, including Fantastical Worlds by Royal Harbour students which is in the gallery’s ‘warm bank’ area.
The art gallery opened in 2011, 10 years after the organisation behind it was first formed, on the same site as the boarding house where artist J. M. W. Turner stayed when visiting the town.
It is true that it cost £17.4m of public money -funded by Kent County Council (£6.4m), Arts Council England (£4.1m), the South East England Development Agency (£4m)] and Turner Contemporary Art Trust (£2.9m). Thanet District Council provided the land.
And there has been a lot of public funding since, including the £1.6m maintenance programme currently taking place, as well as yearly Kent County Council and Arts Council grants and income from other funders.
But, the gallery is also credited with bringing in visitors, rejuvenating the town alongside Dreamland and helping to bring about a huge boost to the local economy.
As we enter the 13th year for Turner Contemporary there is a focus on whether the centre should be self-sustaining, charging an entry fee perhaps, and the gallery bosses note in their accounts that there is a need for less reliance on ever-decreasing funding and more on developing a sustainable income.
Cliftonville as the 8th coolest neighbourhood in the world
Phil calls ‘bull**it’ on this label from Time Out magazine and it’s one that a lot of folk have branded as nonsense.
Cliftonville does have some cool places, the Margate Caves, Shell Grotto, Walpole Bay, excellent escape rooms and plenty of established businesses and shops like Dalby Café, Scotts and Lovelys gallery and art supplies as well as new, flourishing shops, restaurants and bars.
On the downside, the Winter Gardens is shut, Cliftonville West is ranked 4th out of 32,844 areas in England for deprivation, 1 is the most deprived and 32,844 the least.
The ward ranks as one of the lowest for income, employment, education and training with high rates of poor health, disability and crime as well as high rates of child poverty and fuel poverty.
Like many places across the country, Cliftonville – and Margate as a whole- is a place of contradictions. Wealth sits alongside poverty, second homes and Air BNB’s are sited near Houses of Multiple Occupation and homes of varying quality have rents out of reach of many people.
Margate Tidal Pool
Phil likes it (a win, hooray). Yes, it’s cool and not the only tidal pool on the isle with others at Walpole Bay and Western Undercliff. The Walpole Bay one is especially interesting when undergoing its six-monthly emptying as part of its general maintenance.
The pool is four acres in size and contains seven million gallons of seawater. It is bigger than the two largest listed seawater lidos, Penzance and Lymington. It is 137m long and 2.13m deep at the seaward end.
During the draining a bounty of creatures are revealed.
Marine life included a lobster in berry (eggs), brittlestars, shannys, sea urchins, shore crabs, spider crabs, gobies, peacock worms, sponges of all sorts of colours, white looking long-clawed porcelain crabs, spider crabs, eels. bootlace worm….and many more can be found.
Is Phil’s video spot on or a load of rubbish? Well, it’s a whizz around Margate by a comedian who does videos in the same vein for lots of towns, so we reckon take it with a pinch of salt, chuckle at the funny bits, ignore the rubbish bits and then move on to the next reel or video that comes up on your feed.