Over the last 15 years, Margate’s lost industry has seen something of a miraculous revival. Against all the perceived wisdom, Margate has created a very 21st-century take on the British seaside.
Uniquely in Margate, the Caves tell the story of how landscape, ecology and geology first brought tourism to the town and the Caves act as a reminder of how that industry has impacted on the town’s rich social and cultural history. For the first time, with the creation of our new visitor centre, community rooms, and an activity programme, we will not only sustain and transform a part of Margate’s heritage but also ensure the heritage of the Caves will be interpreted, explained and shared with more people and a wider range of people.
Margate is defined by landscape: the coastline, natural harbour, cliffs, lost rivers, rock pools and so on define the town and what happens in it. The Caves allow people to see, experience and understand that landscape in a real way. With careful planning, we will ensure people have opportunities to experience our heritage in ways that meet their needs and interests.
Importantly, the Caves are located midway between the beach, Turner Contemporary and the regenerated Old Town – and the Northdown Road and Cliftonville areas which are the current focus of regeneration efforts. Reopening the caves and activating them in the ways we envisage here provides a bridge: between past and present, between old and new, between different communities in one town.
The openings and closings of Margate Caves through the town’s 300 years as a seaside resort directly match the town’s own rises and falls. With the reopening of Margate Caves; with an exciting and iconic new build to mark them above ground; and with an interesting activity programme, they’ll be part of Margate’s continued growth and will remain an important part of the town for generations to come.