As one of England's earliest and foremost seaside resorts, it became a magnet for day trippers and holiday makers during the 19th and much of the 20th century. But by the 1970s its fortunes began to flounder as people deserted the English seaside in favour of cheap holidays abroad and the promise of guaranteed sun.
By the end of the 20th century, Margate, like so many other English resorts, had hit rock bottom. Lack of investment, poor quality accommodation and outdated and dilapidated facilities all contributed to its demise.
In 1999 an action plan for Margate's historic centre was developed to address some of these symptoms of decline.
How we were able to help
Over the last 15 years Historic England has been instrumental in making sure that the town's rich and impressive heritage has played a significant role in the regeneration of Margate.
The Margate Old Town Heritage Initiative (THI), which attracted funding of £1.2 million from the HLF, has helped to transform some of the previously neglected buildings within Margate's Old Town into attractive, vibrant properties.
At the turn of the millennium this area was in free fall with two thirds of its shops lying empty. Today it is a characterful area of narrow streets and historic buildings with very high occupancy rates. Many of the shop fronts have been renewed to historic patterns and the public realm improved. This highly successful initiative built on a number of earlier schemes funded by Historic England.
A conservation area appraisal for Cliftonville, funded by Historic England, has
resulted in this area of fine late 19th-century townscape to the east of the town undergoing a radical facelift. Repairs have been carried out to windows, doors and rendered facades and lost architectural features reinstated, transforming a terribly rundown area.
Our research into the town's heritage has helped identify a number of places, such as the seawater baths at Cliftonville, India House and the Nayland Rock seaside shelter, that are worth celebrating and protecting through listing, while others such as the Scenic Railway and Dreamland Cinema have had their listings upgraded to Grade II*.
And as part of MACH (Margate Arts, Creativity, Heritage), a project designed to support the growth of the creative sector in Margate, Historic England has helped heritage to play a starring role in the regeneration of the area. Our funding of a project officer over a five year period, has attracted more than £1.5 million in additional funding for heritage related projects in the town.
Today Margate is beginning to thrive once more and putting heritage at the heart of its revival has been an important factor in its success.