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Margate, Kent: Old Photos And Film

Margate beach, Kent, UK

Margate’s sandy beaches made it popular with holidaymakers throughout much of the 20th century. Both visitors and residents enjoyed the amusement parks and this is reflected in the many home videos taken.

Trouble first appeared in the 1960s, with infamous tension between the mods and rockers. From the 1980s onwards foreign holidays drew away many of the visitors and both the town and amusement park have experienced difficult times. 

Margate Pier, also known as Margate Jetty, was designed in 1856. The first major threat to its existence came with a storm in 1877 which left up to 50 people marooned until the next day. By 1976 it had been abandoned and was almost totally destroyed by the storm of 1978, which is documented in some of the videos below. 1998 saw the final pieces of the structure being dismantled and removed.

Old Pictures

Margate 1814 -1890

Old prints of the seafront.

Published on 21 Feb 2010 by steve freeman.

Margate Trams, 1900’s – Film 4530

Colour postcards pictures from the past.

Published on 14 Oct 2014 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

Margate Sea Front 1890 – 1930

History of Margate Sea Front 1890 – 1930: a Picture Presentation by steve freeman. Montage of postcards and pictures.

Published on 25 Feb 2010 by steve freeman.

Old Margate Beauty Contests 1938 – 1969

Snapshots of competitions held in Margate over the years for the following categories: Miss Grace and Bearing, Miss Sports Girl, Miss Calf and Ankle, Golden Garter Girl, Miss Charming, Miss Personality, Miss Shapely Silhouette, Children’s Competition, Miss Safari, Miss Kensitas, Miss Harp, Ocean Princess, Miss Lovely Legs, Miss Physical Elegance, Neatest Figure, South Sea Sirens, Military Maids, Happy Snappy Girls and more!

Published on 7 Aug 2009 by 12cant.

DREAMLAND Margate – Recalling its HEYDAY – The Funshine Capital of the South-East .wmv

Dreamland Amusement Park dates from 1863 when buildings opened as a restaurant and dance hall.  Known then as the ‘Hall by the Sea’, the business was sold in about 1870. Circus Boss ‘Lord’ George Sanger eventually became the sole proprietor of the site together with further adjacent land to the rear.  A menagerie and circular riding machines were some of the early features of these Pleasure Gardens. Following Sanger’s death in 1911, the site was subsequently acquired in 1919 by amusement entrepreneur John H. Illes.  He renamed the site ‘Dreamland’ after visiting the Dreamland Amusement Park at Coney Island, Brooklyn NY. The Illes family already owned and operated amusement facilities both here and abroad. The first new major adult riding machine was opened to the public in 1920.  The ‘Scenic Railway’ was a flanged wheel coaster with an on-board brakeman. This ‘Call-Bird’ of a ride was soon joined by a host of other juvenile and adult riding machines, supported by other attractions such as The Wall of Death. The Illes family remained in control of Dreamland until 1968.  There followed a number of owners, each with their own ideas for cementing the future of this amusement park. Eventually, the site was sold to the Town Centre Regeneration Company in 2005 when its’ gates were finally closed to the public. A plan to restore the Park to its’ former glory has already received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Classic riding machines have been donated from various sources to the Dreamland Trust. Let us hope that this Amazement Park will again thrill and entertain all three generations of the family.

Published on 26 Dec 2012 by earlyamusementimages.

In The 1920s And 1930s

Fairground Scenes At Margate (1920-1939)

Published on 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé.

Broadstairs and Margate Items (1930) | Britain on Film

Joss Beach, 1930.

Published on 22 Jul 2015 by BFI.

In The 1950s

Enjoying A Beer, 1950s – Film 91533

Enjoying a beer in the 1950s. Thames ship taking holidaymakers down to Margate and Southend.  Tower Bridge in the background. Tourists sit on the deck and are served glasses of beer. A waiter serves a beer to two male customers in the outdoor restaurant of London Airport. The waiter carefully pours a bottle of beer into a glass, with a white napkin draped over this arm. All very formal for beer! Brief clips of other people all enjoying a beer. A rural scene with farmers taking a rest from haymaking.  A man out fishing on a boat. A pleasure boat on a canal is loaded with crates of beer. An agricultural show where people sit at outside tables with a beer. Horses pass the post at Royal Ascot. Two men pour beers in celebration. View of rowing boats at Henley. Riverside diners are served beer. Concert Hall of the Bronston Working Men’s Club at Leicester, busy with drinkers. The Chairman raises a pint standing at the podium. The waiter places bottles of beer on a table.

Published on 26 Jul 2018 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

Seaside Day (1954)

L/S of beach early in the morning.  L/S fishing boats. L/S bridge between cliffs. Various shots early swimmers diving from the jetty.  C/Us of swimmers in the water. M/S woman swimmer climbing out.

L/S  row of boarding houses.  Various shots chamber maids putting out deck chairs in the hotel garden.  M/S of empty prom. M/S of men uncovering stacks of deck chairs on the promenade.   M/S woman opening tea shack. M/S two seaside photographers with cameras walking out of another shack.  M/S woman opening beach huts. L/S men towing pedal boats onto beach. M/S donkeys being herded along the beach.

C/U couple walking along prom.  Various shots holidaymakers arriving on the beach.  M/S woman putting out postcards at a stall. M/S men stacking sticks of rock outside a shop.  M/S photographer taking the first photo of the day. Various shots hoards arriving at a crowded beach. Good shots kids making sandcastles and paddling.  Lovely shots of kids watching Punch and Judy show. C/U girl sunbathing. Various shots older couples sitting on deck chairs and having picnics.  More shots kids making sandcastles. M/S kids having donkey rides. C/U putting the flag into a sandcastle.

Various shots pleasure ship “Royal Sovereign” arriving at Margate, bringing more tourists from London and Southend.  Various shots people at funfair: boat rides, helter-skelter, roller coaster, and other rides. Various shots of beauty contest by outdoor swimming pool – possibly at a holiday camp.  

M/S little girl looking in rock pools.  Various shots families leaving the beach at the end of the day.  Good shot deserted beach with empty deck chairs. A man collects deck chairs, others pick up rubbish.  L/S sea and litter-strewn beach.

Published on 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé. Margate, Kent.

Margate Railway Station 1950’s. Archive film 

An electric train arrives at the railway station and people get off.  Then a look at the beach.

Published on 31 Jul 2015 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

Margate in the 1950s & 1960s

If you ever took a holiday or a day trip to Margate during the heyday of this Kent seaside resort, my compilation of film and stills should bring back happy memories.  The core of the material featured is an 8mm home movie that I took in 1961 on a day trip from Southend-on-Sea aboard the steamer, MV Royal Daffodil, and I’ve cut in some earlier filmed clips from other sources.  Much of the action is centred on Margate’s famous amusement park, Dreamland – and includes footage of the legendary Scenic Railway and many other rides – some of which had thrilled generations of holiday-makers – as far back as the 1930s.  The accompanying music is the appropriately titled ‘I’m Drifting Back To Dreamland’ played on Hammond Organ by Ken Griffin. Enjoy!

Published on 28 Jul 2008 by kester1940.

In The 1960s

Wilf Watters – Clifton Baths Cliff Railway (Margate) [1960s]

Published on 17 Jan 2010 by slapavisionarchival.

A very rare look at the former cliff railway (funicular lift) at the Cliftonville Lido complex in Margate, Kent – once the shortest and steepest in Britain. This rare cine film has been taken from the Online Video production ‘Cliff Lifts of Great Britain’, an in-depth look at the country’s surviving and lost cliff railways / lifts.

The cliff railway was designed and installed at the then Clifton Baths by Messr R Waygood and Co in 1912. The company had completed the installation of the tunnelled funicular lift at Viking Bay in Broadstairs in 1910. The company also built the 3 vertical shaft lifts at Ramsgate, the Walpole Bay Hotel lift in Margate, the Granville Hotel lift in Ramsgate, the Leas Cliff Lift and additional lifts in Folkestone. Clifton Baths were later redeveloped into the Cliftonville Lido, which the cliff railway continues to serve.

The cliff railway at the lido fell into major disrepair having been exposed to the elements and tidal activity immediately on the shore until later sea defences were constructed along the coastline. Built upon the ever-eroding chalk cliff and carved to run adjacent to the drop, the ramp, and plant room structure beneath was later strengthened and re-supported by concrete as seen in the archive film.

The cliff railway was ultimately closed, demolished and in-filled sometime in or after the 1970s. However, evidence of the structure and mechanical gear can still be found on the site, including the cable fly-wheel which has been filled in with concrete to block access to the engine room beneath. A small section of the original track foundation can be also seen.


“Dreamland  and Garden of Light  MARGATE 1960s—My Wife and Daughter in this film I have the camera  –this is DREAMLAND”

Published on 9 Nov 2011 by GRAHAM WHITE.

Margate and Ramsgate Kent, United Kingdom 1962

An English family holiday in 1962.

Published on 14 Dec 2012 by Tina Watson.

A Date with The Sun, Margate 1965

A tourism promo film about Margate, featuring Kenneth Horne.

Published on 10 Jan 2012 by Defcon Six.

Whitsun Playtime Aka Mods & Rockers Clash At Margate (1964)

Published on 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé.

Full title reads: “Whitsun Playtime”.

GV Crowded beach at Clacton, Essex. LV People laying on beach. SV Woman asleep in a deck chair. SV People laying in deck chairs. SV Children in water. CU Small child with no trousers on. SV Young girl swimming in water. GV Crowded beach. CU Youth waving at camera. CU Girl combing her hair smiles at camera. 

LV Zoom in. Policemen standing on corner. LV Two rockers crossing road. LV Two policemen walking along. LV Two girls sitting on wall. SV Group of policemen. SV Policemen carrying walkie talkie. TS Roundabout fairground. SV Small boy on roundabout. LV Pan another roundabout going around. GV Crowd of children watching Punch and Judy show. LV Crowd of children. SV Punch and Judy show. SV Children. CU Small boy. CU Punch and Judy. CU Small girl. CU Punch and Judy. CU Girl yelling. 

GV Elevated. Brighton beach. GV ditto. SV Pan Two boys throwing another into the water. CU Man asleep in a deck chair. CU Boy eating candy floss. CU Man looking through binoculars. LV Yacht being launched. LV Children’s Merry-go-round. SV ditto.

GV Margate beach, Kent. SV People on pier. GV Zoom in to LV crowd of mods gathered on beach. LV ditto. LV Policemen walking along. SV Policeman standing by van. CU Sign on van ‘Kent County Constabulary’. GV Rockers on motorbikes. GV Police chasing youths in the crowd. GV Crowds gathered on the beach. SV Policemen reviving a man laying on the beach. LV Group of yobs fighting. One on the ground gets punched and kicked when he’s down. SV Two boys rolling in the sand fighting. Another man is trying to part them. SV   The man manages to part them. LV Police escorting one of the yobs to the van. CU pan ditto. SV As he is pushed into the van.

Mods and Rockers Clash at Margate – 1964

1964 UK newsreel footage of bank holiday tourists enjoying the seaside…until it gets nasty due to invading mods and rockers.

Published on 16 Aug 2011 by VIDEOBEAT dotCOM.

Dreamland Margate in the 60’s

A small clip of my Mum Dad Nan and young sister walking around Dreamland in the 60’s.

Published on 12 Dec 2012 by ronayling2.

The electric boats, train rides sideshows and pony ride, happy days…

ronayling2 on YouTube

Margate Resort 1960s Archive Film 31537

Published on 25 Feb 2015 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

A film promoting Margate as a tourist resort.

A red vintage car with open top drives along the M2 motorway.  Its occupants wear period costume. She holds onto her pink hat.  Shot of a blue motorway distance sign – “Margate 34 Dover 35” – from the moving car.  The car drives into Margate town centre, with the beach on the left. The pavements are crowded with pedestrians.  View looking down shows a very crowded sandy beach. Dreamland amusement park is in the foreground. On the beach, people sit in striped traditional deck chairs.  Two girls in swimming costumes run down to the sea with an inflatable beach ball. They play with it at the edge of the water. Children play in a shallow pool near the water’s edge.  Others build sandcastles with buckets and spades. The beach ball girls jump on trampolines. Close up of a man jumping somersaults. A sun parasol has the name “Jiminies” on it. The trampolines are just below the marine sun deck.  The girls go for a ride in a boat called “Jet Spray”. The girls smile. Long shots of the boat speeding round in the bay.

Margate grotto.  A blonde girl peers around the corner in a dramatic way.  She walks through the shell encrusted tunnels and arches – “a labyrinth of underground passages”.  She gazes at the shells with her red painted fingernail on her chin. Close up of the patterns on the wall.

Pink apple blossom, lambs in an orchard – Kent “the garden of England”.  Cherry blossom trees in Margate streets. Floral displays near the seafront – tulips, primroses.  The two girls walk in North Down park by a pond surrounded with paving. Dane park has green lawns and more spring flowers.  A grand ornamental fountain has a gravel path around it.

A 15th century timbered building in old Margate.  A triple square oast house just outside the town. A mill house is by a stream.  Other villages in the area – Patrixbourne (other names are mentioned, but it is not clear which are illustrated).  General views of village high streets with pubs and small shops. Canterbury Cathedral viewed through an arch. The entrance gate to the grounds next to the Cathedral Tea Rooms.  Close ups of the carved and painted decoration above the gate.

Back on Margate beach.  Blonde girl parades past man sitting in a deck chair reading a newspaper.  As she passes he gives the camera the thumbs-up sign. Apparently he is Norman Vaughn – appearing at the Winter Garden Theatre “with a host of other top-line stars”.  View of the Winter Gardens and the pier. The Cliftonville lido is nearby and people swim and play in the water. View of the harbour and of the pier. Children paddle in small kayak type canoes at the yacht club dinghy park.  Margate town viewed looking down the hill. Shot of the information centre.

Blonde girl drinks orange squash through a pair of straws.  She sits at an outside cafe table under a sun parasol with a chap – they are in Cliftonville.  On the beach two teams of men wrestle over a huge ball. Onlookers sit in deckchairs watching the strange sport.  The charming village square at Birchington has a pub called the Pewter Pot. Shots of more sandy beaches – a less commercialised area with beach huts in the distance.  Blonde girl sits on a grassy bank overlooking the sea. Shots of coastline taken from an aircraft over the sea – Cliftonville, Margate (harbour and pier). Brief shot of blonde girl looking out of the window of a light aircraft.  View of Margate town, Westbrook, Westgate and out to Birchington.

The blonde girl now grins inanely as she enjoys an aerial ride at Dreamland.  General views of the rides and people enjoying them. A car ride, horse merry-go-round or carousel – she, of course, goes side-saddle.

Margate promenade at dusk – the annual carnival procession – floats and a marching band form part of the four mile long parade.  “Glamorous” girls from London boroughs and other seaside resorts compete to be queen of queens. Sunset over the sea. Margate at night is illuminated by coloured lights and neon.  Illuminated signs point to Dreamland. The rides are lit up as people continue to enjoy the amusements. Outside the Winter Gardens, a fountain is lit up. Inside girls compete in the final of Miss Margate beauty queen contest.  Bathing Beauties parade on stage carrying identification numbers and walk down a catwalk through the audience. Of course, blonde girl has entered. Shot of Barbara Windsor (one of the judges along with Ian Hendry) looking amazed.  Other judges are Janet Munroe, Norman Vaughn and the Mayor of Margate. Norman Vaughn presents the prize to the runner up. The audience applauds. The winner is given a sash, trophy, and cheque by the mayor. The audience smile and clap.  The winner “lucky girl” parades towards the audience. A firework display outside – aerial pyrotechnics and Catherine wheels. Blonde girl drives off in the red vintage car which has a sign on the back.

Margate 1968 The Barnes Family cine movie

The Barnes Family in 1968

Published on 31 Dec 2017 by Andy Barnes.

Dreamland Margate 1968 Super 8mm Cine Film

Published on 12 Apr 2012 by Gadget.

“My late dad shot this and I thought it would be nice to share it.”

Gadget on YouTube

In The 1970s

Thanet Publicity Films – ALL GO MARGATE (with Michael Aspel) [1971]

This promotional tourist information was made in 1971 for the local council. The original 16mm print materials are now secured and digitised at Screen Archive South East in Brighton. 

Published on 20 Oct 2012 by slapavisionarchival.

Margate – Dreamland – 1975

The Holiday town of Margate in Kent. With the iconic Dreamland fun park in its centre, along with its beach and hotel talent competitions made Margate a popular UK  holiday spot. First transmitted on13/02/1975.

Published on 8 May 2016 by ThamesTv.

Margate 1975

Family holiday to Margate in the summer of 1975, Rocket Ride at Dreamland and trampolines on the beach. Bit bleached out in the middle sadly which I believe was film of the Twister Ride.

Published on 20 Jul 2014 by tonysutton64.

Margate Beach (1977)

Holiday scenes at Margate Beach, Kent. Great shots people on beach: in deck chairs, having donkey rides, building sandcastles, on merry-go-rounds, having picnics and sunbathing on sand (lots of intrusive extreme CUs of girls sunbathing in bikinis).  

Published on 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé.


Published on 25 Dec 2011 by salvager2010.


Published on 25 Dec 2011 by salvager2010.



Published on 18 Aug 2018 by malcolm allwood.

In The 1980s

Dreamland Margate 1980

1980 saw the opening of a 240-seater 148 ft high Big wheel.

Published on 31 Oct 2011 by stablestaple.

Dreamland, Margate 1980s

Published on 15 Oct 2012 by Kevin Gray.


Published on 25 Dec 2011 by salvager2010.


Published on 13 Nov 2011 by salvager2010.

Dreamland Margate 1984 – Bembom Brothers Amusement Park

Vintage super 8mm footage of Dreamland Margate in 1984, when it was then known as the Bembom Brothers Theme Park. Lots of fond Margate 1980’s memories here of the Looping Star, the Mary Rose and the big wheel.

Published on 18 Apr 2019 by Midlife Madness.

Dreamland Margate 1987 (silent cinefilm)

Wobbly dodgy cine film footage of Margate’s Bembom Brothers Dreamland amusement park filmed by me in 1987. Footage of The Looping star, Mary rose, Big wheel, Tri Star plus many more.

Published on 23 Jul 2014 by imansfield.

Scooter Rally/Run – Margate 1980s

Margate scooter run 86 & 87.

Published on 28 Dec 2011 by JuicyFatMuffin.

“The campsite was on wasteland for two years. Although I did prefer this one to the park campsite in following years LOL.”

JuicyFatMuffin on YouTube

Scooter Run – Margate 1989

TVS Local news item about Margate Scooter Rally 1989.  Features Maidstone, Medway and possibly Ashford Scooter clubs.  Includes Peanut’s famous broken fingers.

Published on 22 Aug 2006 by ArmandT.

Bembom Brothers Margate July 1989

A day at the Dreamland amusement park in Margate in 1989. Some nice footage of the rides at the park at the time including the Scenic Railway, Looping star, Enterprise, Troika, Melody swings and Apollo.

Published on 27 Jul 2011 by imansfield.

In The 1990s

Sling Shot Margate 1997.

Here is a video of Sling Shot the reverse bungee at Margate, filmed by Andrew Marshall 1997.

Published on 9 Sep 2015 by psyclonesteve.

In The 21st Century

Scenic Railway, Dreamland, Margate – Front Seat POV

Front seat footage on the Scenic Railway roller coaster, Dreamland, Margate – filmed at the Save Dreamland Convention, 2003. This coaster has been closed since 2008 and was badly damaged by fire but is scheduled to be rebuilt and open again in 2015.

Published on 24 Jul 2012 by davidjellis.

The Margate Independent Shops and Shopkeepers Photo project

The first part of a non commercial project to record: The local independent  Shops and shopkeepers In Margate From Fort hill to High street Margate All these shops are within walking distance of each other, over the next few months and years I will visit and document any changes in time to come this should become an archive of Margate in 2014 over the last two years things have changed so much we all expect more change to come.

Published on 2 Oct 2014 by John Newton.

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Thanks to Max Letek on Unsplash for the Margate image used for this page.