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  • Writer's picturesarahhawley

Margate: Out of Season

In the fall of 2023 I travelled to England and on one of my daytrips, I found myself in Margate on the East coast. It was a dry, bright sunny day and not too cold for weather in autumn, but it was very windy to say the least. A small group of us walked up the edge of the coast on the upper cliff walk from Broadstairs heading North to Margate, following along the coastal trail. The walk took the full day and unlike London, the coast is a natural environment with the smell of salt in the air, wide open fields and sandy beaches, white cliffs, tall grassy areas and of course breathtaking views. Towards the end of the day we came into Margate. It must have been late in the afternoon as the sun was just starting to drop in the sky. I was only there for a short time, as it was the end point of our journey, where I caught a train back to London.

It was clear to me that we were tourists visiting out of season. It seemed pretty deserted, with not many people around. My initial impression was a forgotten seaside town. We walked past buildings and other structures that seemed abandoned, covered in graffiti and rust. There was a few gaming arcades, mini-golf, an amusement park and a wide empty beach. After walking around a bit and seeing what was there, it lead me to believe that this place must be full of life in the summertime when the children are out of school and families want to take a summer holiday outside of the big city for a little getaway. I was glad to have visited Margate out of season, because I came to the coast for a little peace and quiet, a long nature walk and to photograph a part of England that is not the city. I got to see Margate as it actually is, and get a sense of what it’s like during most of the year as the locals know it, not as a tourist in the middle of the busy chaos of summer.

I think so far I have not painted a great picture of Margate. Yes there is an emptiness, its, quiet with few residents and not much to do unless you like the beach, arcade games or carnival rides, however, I quite enjoyed my time there, as short as it was. For someone like me who lives in landlocked Ontario, Canada, I have not seen the sea very often. I liked being on the coast, it gave me an idea of what it’s like to live in a place like this. Things like the atmosphere, culture and people who live in this kind of setting, it’s a very strong contrast from the type of life I lead in North America. It’s these differences that I was drawn to and sought them out in order to capture the uniqueness of this town through my photography.

I found myself taking pictures of the architecture, landscapes, graffiti, and the beach. The seafood cart parked close to the shore not far from the lighthouse on the pier, lined with a string of stranded boats that were suck on the shore when the tide was out. The light from the sun was perfect as we were there during golden hour. There was a beautiful sunset that lit up the sky and lots of little details tucked in and around the town. I took photographs of things I found interesting about Margate and I am sharing them here with you.

I hope to visit the English coast again in the future to see other seaside towns and to compare their similarities and differences.

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