A new find for Thanet ‘history detectives’ on a mission to preserve isle artefacts and heritage

Thanet history detectives Tony Ovenden, Frank Leppard and Carl Hudson

One of Thanet’s ‘history detectives’ has clinched a new find from Ramsgate’s past on eBay.

Tony Ovenden spotted a silver trophy during his trawl of sites looking for artefacts of the town.

The trophy dates to 1935 and is engraved “Ramsgate Concours D’elegance, July 13th 1935 . Veteran car class first prize. Presented by Mayor E.E Dye.”

Tony devotes time to discovering objects related to Ramsgate’s lost history.

In Margate Frank Leppard and Carl Hudson take on the history detective role unearthing everything from old tickets and flyers to steamer shards and even a mammoth’s tooth.

Tony said: “Since the fire at Ramsgate library in August 2004, Ramsgate’s heritage as told in object and art has been in steady decline – mostly through bad luck and negligence.

“Often Ramsgate heritage items appear on the open collector’s market. This has included items reportedly lost at the library during the fire or civic items that have no paper trail or a lost provenance.

“There is now an awareness to retrieve and reclaim lost heritage items as the heritage of the town enters a renaissance. It is a task that is going to be a long haul, starting with the proposed maritime heritage centre. There is a group of history detectives that scan the internet looking for anything that can be retrieved and returned to Ramsgate (and Thanet) as a public or private collectors item.

“Recently I struck lucky winning a silver trophy on eBay . The trophy was sold by weight suggesting it could have ended up in a melting pot. It is fortunate that the price of silver had dropped, leaving it open to be purchased as a collector’s item. The trophy was presented as a first prize at the Ramsgate Concours D‘Elegance in 1935. Ramsgate Concours was a motor car rally held annually at the Royal Esplanade in the 1930s. The events are well documented along with badges that were awarded to the vintage cars that entered the rally.

“Recovering a silver trophy such as this is unique. It is slightly damaged but nothing a local silversmith cannot repair. At present it is safe back in Ramsgate and will remain in Ramsgate.”

Frank with his amber and Mammoth tooth finds

Other finds amassed over the years included possibly the largest piece of Amber found on a Thanet beach so far – weighing 87.8g- and a Mammoth’s tooth discovered at Nayland by Margate grandad-of-two Frank Leppard.

He has also documented ammonite on the Stone pier and Nayland’s slope, which is in a public space for all to see, and dozens of historic steamer and jetty shards.

Frank has been collecting for some 15 years and says he is fascinated with Thanet history.

He added: “I started 15 years ago when I found a bit when looking for steam boat sherds. After that I just kept looking and collecting and think finding amber which has insects inside is interesting.”

Carl, who runs group Thanet Past and Present, has a varied haul including a Margate Corporation milk jug from around 1920 an a Hall By The Sea soup bowl, circa 1888, both found at boot fairs.

He also has a rare signed copy of Historic Margate printed in 1957, a ticket for the East Kent Road Car Company to travel by steamer or bus to Ramsgate/ Margate;  a history of St Nicholas school purchased from a shop in Margate Old Town and a cup from the children’s convalescent home which later became The Yarrow hotel in Broadstairs.

Carl said: “I have always had a keen interest in local history. I hunt out old items and documents and advertising literature to try and preserve local history that would otherwise be lost or sold out of the area.

“Old documents, pictures, advertising fliers also help with my research and validate the provenance of my collection. One day I will write book on local history. I have an extensive collection of documents and pictures, some of which have not been in the public domain.

“The book I write will be fresh in terms of information and a new source of research for the next generation.”

See more fascinating finds by joining the Thanet Past and Present page here



  1. Well done Tony – appalling that successive councils totally obtuse in protecting historical items. At least these blokes have retreived some of it.

  2. Oooh that’s a nice piece of amber. I found one that approximate size at Westgate 3 years ago. I gave it Monkton Nature Reserve’s collection. Wish I’d weighed it 😉

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