Shottendane, Jan 13, 1924
In asking your acceptance of this map of lower High-street in 1840 I wish you to regard it as some small return for the hospitality extended by your
office to me in my researches on Old Margate. Mr Frights great knowledge of our old Rate-books has been invaluable to me.
Infinite pains has [sic] been taken to make the map thoroughly reliable, and I am not conscious that it contains any mistakes.
I felt that the names in High-street would give some idea of the trade in the town between 1800-1860 in the second period of the towns early expansion,
the first being from 1770 to 1800. Accordingly, I have made maps similar to this for 1800, 1820, 1840, and 1860 – a laborious but extremely graphic
way of writing the trading history of the town. I may say in passing that I am compiling a list of traders between 1500-1600, 1600 and 1700, and 1700
and 1800. This will make my record fairly complete.
The names underlined (six in number) are what I have called “Century-houses” i.e. houses in which the same profession or trade has been carried on for
a hundred unbroken years. I started with the idea that I might get six in all in the whole town: now I have over two dozen, and the end is not yet.
This alone gives a wonderful idea of the antiquity of the town.
The bathing-houses, inns, the famous Library, and the Bazaars are indicated by a different tint. It will be seen that Mr Bobby’s idea of carrying a
passage through to Cecil-square is not a new one, as shown by the Boulevard, now Bobby’s Library. Some of the gilded scroll work in the cornice of the
Boulevard still remains.
Mrs Hill’s house was in what is now known as Albert Terrace, a name dating only from 1868. She was a lady of means (and easy virtue), and her title to
fame rests on the fact that she invited the rising young painter, George Morland, to stay with her in 1784. The house was always given as in
High-street, and was reached through the still existing opening opposite Bobby’s Library. There was then a wall closing the opening, with wide gates
therein, and this was the entrance to her house.
Andrews’-place was formerly called Hazardous Row, and in the great storm of 1808 well it merited its name, for there was a yawning chasm 20 ft deep
below it, and the houses were hanging by their back walls alone.
It will be noticed that the Post Office at this date is at 4 Cecil-square, where the Baptist Chapel now stands, it having previously been on the site
of Mr Heath’s toy shop, from 1815 to 1834, when it was kept by Daniel Valder.
The Boulevard was built by Emanuel Levey, watchmaker, in 1820, and it came to an end in 1894, Miss Caslake being its last tenant. Jolly’s French
Bazaar started in 1823, and in 1861 was taken over by Charles Lord, the draper, his carpet warehouse occupying the site of the Bazaar. The London
Bazaar (of a much inferior type) began in 1830 and was finally swept away in the High-street improvements of 1880. In its last days it was a saleroom
and a workman’s club.
No. 29, on the south side of the entrance to the long passage leading to the London Bazaar, was the Railway Hotel, in 1860, kept by John Keris.
Quality Court is our Charles Square. In 1785, James Walker, the first M.C. [Master of Ceremonies] at the Assembly Rooms, dates his
advertisements of Bells from “my own house in Quality Court”.
The houses (Nos. 160-163) were low wooden structures, with small-paned bow-windows. I can remember them as such. Vaughan’s Library was the famous
Garner’s Library of 1789, and previously Joseph Hall’s Library (the earliest in the town) which was opened in 1765. It became the Globe Hotel, in the
Rate of 1865, and was pulled down when the Marine Drive was made in 1878.
The Bathing-houses have a history. The bathing machine was invented by Benjamin Beale in 1750, but we hear of no bathing rooms till 1763, when they
first appear in our Rate-books. They were swept away in the great storm of 1808, and were then rebuilt “in a greatly improved form”. These absurd
little wooden houses used to be called “the bird cages” from their squat and square shape. Dr Daniel Jarvis was once the owner of Mr Heath’s property,
and he had a clause put in the agreement that these bathing houses (some of which he owned) should not be raised higher than they were at that date.
And that agreement still holds good.
It is one thing to look as a map, and another to have it explained. I must apologise for the length of my commentary, but my idea was that you would
value the gift more if its inward meaning were made apparent.
Believe me to be, gentlemen, faithfully yours
(Signed) Arthur Rowe.