Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858

Anthony Lee

The Fort Promenade.

The Fort on the cliffs overlooking Margate Harbour was originally the main defence for the harbour and for ships going round the North Foreland.1 Later, in 1804, a new role for the Fort was suggested by The Times:2

It has been suggested that it would be highly creditable to this watering place, to lay out some spot adjacent as a public walk, with some degree of taste. Weymouth has its Esplanade, Brighton its Sterne . . .  while Margate has only her present short and incommoded walk on the pier. The Fort Cliff might, at a trifling expense, be made perfectly easy of access, and a promenade might be formed upon it, which would yield to none in its command of marine scenery, and its consequent advantages of the cooling breezes from the sea. 

The area around the Fort also provided a location where new houses could be built for visitors, with fine sea views and away from the bustle and smells of the old town. These developments are shown on Edmund’s 1821 map of Margate. A carriageway on the Fort, Fort Crescent, had been completed, although there were still only three houses in the Crescent, Fort House, Cumberland House and Fort Lodge. Edmunds map shows three fields in front of Fort Crescent leading to the cliffs, with a fourth field to the east where Fort Paragon would later be built. The fields led directly to the cliff edge, where there was a simple wooden fence, as shown in a watercolour by Nixon, probably dating to the 1790s. In about 1840 the Commissioners asked permission from Edward Mottley, who leased the fields, to move the fence back from the cliff edge to make a proper promenade, the Fort Promenade; this path is shown in the 1852 ordnance survey map. The promenade land was rented by the Local Board at £12 per annum.3  The land in front of Fort Crescent, now a single meadow, was enclosed by a railing, with seats provided for visitors, and was rented, for £20 per annum, by Edward Mottley to keep his cows.3

Nixon Fort
Visitors on the Fort.
A water colour by John Nixon ca 1780s
Fort map
Map of the Fort 1852
showing the three lots put up for sale in 1852

At the meeting of the Local Board of Health in January 1852, William Brooke, a local solicitor and a member of the Local Board, proposed that the Board should purchase the meadow land on the fort, land that he owned. He told the Board ‘he thought that it was desirable that the public should be in possession of the land. Mr. Ring had bought that land now used as a promenade, but he had rescinded the bargain. He [William Brooke] had bought the meadow opposite Fort Crescent, and the triangular piece at the back of the Paragon and opposite Cliff Terrace. The meadow opposite Cliff Terrace could not be built upon, but the triangular piece was not restricted, and the houses in Cliff Terrace might be much reduced in value if any building were erected in front of them and intercept the sea view. He had bought the lots to prevent their falling into the hands of speculators’.4  J. E. Wright, the clerk to the Board, asked Brooke ‘to name the lots and put the price upon them — Lot 1, the Promenade, £170. Lot 2, the large meadow, £440. Lot 3, the triangular piece, £400’. It would also be necessary, Brooke suggested, to fence the property, at a cost of about £170, and he suggested that the money could be raised by a special district rate, ‘the property nearest adjacent to contribute the largest part’. The proposal was referred to a committee.4 At the following meeting, in February 1852, the proposal was lost ‘by a small majority’.5 However, in March the issue came up again at the Local Board.6 This time the issue was raised by Edward Mottley, a farmer and cow-keeper in Margate and, for a long time, the honorary secretary of the Margate Municipal Reform Association.6 Mottley said that he had raised the issue again as he thought that  the Fort promenade and the large field adjoining should be purchased by the Local Board. He described the Fort promenade ‘as one of the greatest attractions of the town of Margate, and the great resort of the visitors’. He thought that ‘to loose it would be to put out one of the eyes of the town’ and said the old commissioners took great pains with the promenade, and if the Local Board gave it up ‘they would be most unfavourably contrasted with their predecessors.’ The proposed purchase was then  referred back to the original committee, who, at the April meeting, were asked ‘to enquire as to the ownership of the promenade and from what source the money should be derived, whether from a district or special rate’; they were also asked to write to the General Board to get their opinion on the possible purchase.7

Edward Mottley, as chairman of the Committee, duly wrote to the General Board on 16 April asking their advice:8

The Margate Local Board of Health having the opportunity of purchasing two pieces of land on the Fort at Margate — Have deputed the preliminary enquiries and arrangements to a Committee. On behalf of that Committee I have to request the favour of your attention to the following statement – One of the pieces of Land has for a long period been used as a promenade and it is in fact the principal public walk for the visitors and inhabitants who resort to it in great numbers in consequence of its fine sea views —  and it has been maintained as a public walk by the late Commissioners of  Pavement — But from the fall of the cliff during a number of years the area of the promenade has become too limited for the public accommodation.

The second available piece of land is a meadow of about three and a half acres now let as pasture ground — a portion of this meadow is required to enlarge the public walk — and as both pieces of land are to be acquired at a fair price viz. £170 for the promenade (now rented by the Local Board of Health at £12 per annum) and the meadow for £400, now let for £20 per annum

The committee wish for information as to the power of the Board:

1st To Borrow money to effect the purchase either from the General Board, or by private Loan (at 4 per cent), on the security of the rates.

2nd Whether the Local Board may let the part of the meadow not required to enlarge the promenade walk which would leave it at their disposal at some future time.

3rd And whether a Special District Rate may be levied to erect and maintain the fence in front of the Fort Paragon, the Local Board being memorialized to that effect by the principal owners and occupiers of the Property.

The General Board replied that this would be possible: ‘the Local Board have powers under the 73rd or 74th section of the Public Health Act to purchase so much of the pieces of land described in your letter as they may require for the purpose of public walks or pleasure grounds, but that such purchase must be with the approval of the General Board, and only of so much of the land in question as is need for the purpose in view’.9  

The committee presented their report to the May meeting of the Local Board.10 The committee were in favour of purchasing the Fort promenade and the meadow in front of Fort Crescent, but not the piece of land behind Fort Paragon, presumably with the aim of keeping down the price at least a little. The Kent Herald reported that ‘considerable discussion took place’ at the meeting.10 As described elsewhere (8. The Margate Board of Health], John Boys, Chairman of the Local Board, was very unhappy about the proposed purchase, both because it involved purchasing the land from a member of the Local Board (William Brooke) and because he thought there were higher priorities for the Board, such as improving the health of the town. Eventually, the Board rejected the proposal, but only by one vote.10 At the following meeting Edward Mottley brought up the purchase again and this time the board voted 15 in favour of the purchase and 6 against, even though John Boys had announced that he would resign if the purchase was agreed to.11 John Boys immediately resigned as Chairman of the Board, to be replaced by Dr. David Price.

On 21 June 1852 Edward Mottley wrote to the General Board on behalf of the Fort Promenade Committee, informing them of the resignation of John Boys and arguing that Boys’ complaint that ‘the Committee agreed to purchase land from one of its own members’ was in fact untrue, as William Brooke was not a member of the Committee and, now, was no longer a member of the Local Board.12 At the next meeting of the Local Board in July, with David Price as the new Chairman, a letter was read from the General Board saying that they would send a surveyor, William Lee, to Margate to report on the suggested purchases.

On 16 August William Lee held his enquiry in the Town Hall, where he took evidence from David Price, James Standring, Edward Mottley and John Harvey Boys, all members of the Local Board, William Brooke, Samuel Lewis, registrar of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company, William Smith and Frederick Boyce, a local tailor and general thorn in the side of the Local Board.13 A copy of Lee’s report to the General Board on his inspection is given in Appendix I below. He considered carefully the question of whether William Brooke had or had not acted properly in offering the land to the Local Board, and concluded that he had. Frederick Boyce argued that William Brooke was acting in his own interests and William Smith did not think that the sale was a bona fide sale. The inspector, in his summary, concluded that the charges against William Brooke did not stand up and that Brooke ‘was activated by a sincere desire to promote the interests of the town, and to prevent the loss of one of its chief attractions.’ The inspector gave Boyce an opportunity to withdraw his allegations, but he refused.14 His final conclusion was as follows:

Recommendation as to Public Walks:

I have no hesitation in saying that it is worth much more to the inhabitants of Margate; and it is my duty therefore to recommend that your Honourable Board should comply with this part of the memorial, by sanctioning the mortgage of the General District Rates for the sum of £690 for the purchase of land and for its conveyance etc. — and, that you should sanction the mortgage of the Special District Rates for the sum of £150 for fencing and other required improvements.

The following day the Local Board discussed the Inspector’s visit.15 Edward Wright asked why Frederick Boyce had been present at the inquiry, where Boyce called himself ‘a representative of a section of the rate-payers’; Wright suggested that Boyce ‘only represented himself’. In reply, Edward Mottley said ‘he wished Mr. Boyce to attend the enquiry, as he thought both sides should be fully heard. Mr. Boyce was against the purchase, and he (Mr. Boyce) elected himself the representative of the inhabitants of Margate. Mr. Boyce had some charges to make against Mr. W. Brooke and himself, and he was anxious that he should detail them to the gentleman who came from the Board of Health’.15

Boyce, however, was unhappy about how his accusations had been treated by the Inspector, and wrote directly to the Board to complain:16


To prevent the General and Local Boards of Health from falling into disrepute, it is necessary that great discretion should be exercised by the General Board in giving their sanction to the borrowing of money by the Local Board. That the mover of the original proposition (for the carrying out of which the money is required) should be free from all personal interest, gain, or profit, except as one of the Public enjoying the improvement. That no bargaining, or jobbing, should be allowed to take place between the Local Board and the person making such proposition.

If these ideas be correct, which are, I think, in strict accordance with the 19th section of the Public Health Act, how stands the question  of the purchase of the Fort promenade and the two pieces of land adjoining which has been brought before your honourable Board.

This is a complete job, for the vendor fixed a public sale of that property in common with 5 other lots on the 18 of Sept. 1851, while the first election for members of the Local Board was proceeding, and after getting a person to run up the price all he could at the sale.

In January Mr. Brooke the vendor, brought the subject before the Local Board (he being one of its members) and offered to sell to the said Board the above mentioned property, protesting that he purchased the same at the sale on behalf of the Town, when there was no Board, to keep it out of the hands of speculators who might cut up the walk, and build upon the open space or field, and spoil the view of the row of houses called Fort Crescent, Aldby Place and Cliff Terrace; he knowing that the property was restricted from being built upon, except the small piece in the rear of the Paragon. He asking a higher price by £150 than the 3 pieces had been knocked down for at the sale.

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Local Board 20 Jan. 1852 “A proposition was made by Mr. William Brooke to sell to the Local Board of Health for Public Walks, the present Fort promenade on the Fort for £170, The field in front of Fort Crescent west of the Paragon for £440, And the field in the rear of the Paragon again for £400, And estimated the costs of erecting an iron fence on the south and a portion of the east and west sides of the fields at about £200”.

This I think must be considered jobbing with the Board almost as soon as it was formed, and that by a lawyer who ought to have known better.

A Committee was appointed to inquire into the propriety of making the purchase, among whom was Mr. Mottley, who it appears was appointed Chairman. He also has violated the 19th section of the Public Health Act. For being interested in one of the fields as tenant and part of the fence in a dilapidated condition, and finding that the Local Board was averse to the purchase, that it was considered, adjourned, reconsidered and referred again to the Committee. He contrived to make it more palatable by rejecting the purchase of the piece of land in the rear of the Paragon: the piece in which he was not interested, as some other person hired it, but the very piece which it was the more necessary to purchase, because it is free to be built upon, whilst the piece which he hires is restricted. But where is Mr. Mottley’s consistency as a good improver of the Town? Is it in getting the pasturage of his cows protected at the Public expense, with a fence beautiful to behold whilst a few feet further in the very same row, a wattled or hurdled fence, such as are used in the fields for sheep, and more unsightly than that which surrounds his own, is considered good enough. But no sooner than the Local Board rejected the affair altogether, than  he starts a memorial under the pretence that a fence cannot be obtained without purchasing the land, and obtaining a few signatures from the locality and mustering his partisans together he upset the Resolution or decision of the Local Board at their very next meeting.

One of the arguments used to induce the purchase was the narrowness of the Fort Promenade and the making of it wider. That your honourable Board may have some criterion whereby to judge of the comparative widths of the five public promenades, I have taken a rough measure of them which is nearly as follows

Fort promenade average width 43 feet
Lower Pier average width with 2 stands for carriages 36 feet
Upper Pier the admission to which is one penny 18 feet
The Jetty or Low Water Landing Place  15 feet
New Road Promenade  16 feet

The Jetty at low water and the Pier at high water have all the traffic to and from the steam packets &c., in addition to several hundreds of persons who are there for pleasure or to see their friends while the Fort promenade has comparatively few. Notwithstanding it was represented to Mr. Lee that the place was crowded, that thousands promenaded there, especially after Church service in the evening on Sundays. Being surprised at such statements, I thought I would ascertain for myself the correctness of them, and went there about 8 o’clock and counted about six hundred persons, and found the number to vary in different countings between the hours of 8 and 9 o’clock (the time represented as being most crowded) from 600, to 450, 350, 250, some coming and some going all the time, this was on the 22 of August, on the 29 of Aug. they varied from 470 to 200, and on the 5 of September from about 490 to 250  in 4 times counting, but on this evening the greater number was there before 8 o’clock as the evenings were darker. I cannot perceive myself that the Town will be improved, or the public benefited by the proposed purchase, except in getting a decent looking fence for about half the extent to which it is required as regards improvement in view or appearance.

Are not Mr. Brooke and Mr. Mottley liable to the penalties inflicted by the 19 section of the Public Health Act.

As Mr. Lee wished me to give him leave to erase the evidence I gave him, I thought he might do so himself, or not give it sufficient attention, as he appeared to be prepossessed in favour of the purchase. I have therefore sent your honourable Board a few further particulars, and hope that you will not confirm any jobbing or Bargaining contrary to the spirit of the Public Health Act.

F. Boyce
Hawley Street, Margate

Boyce received a brief reply from the General Board.17,18

Sir—I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 13 inst., and in reply I am to state that the General Board, AFTER FULL EXAMI­NATION, have sanctioned the purchase in question.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
T. TAYLOR, Assistant Secretary.
To Mr. F. Boyce, Hawley Street, Margate

Board of Health 1852 Poster
Poster published by Frederick Boyce [1852]

To keep up the pressure Boyce issued a poster including his correspondence with the General Board and some additional comments:18

Oh ! how exquisite does the affair appear when the answer is compared with the consent, or sanction. Behold! and Wonder! Oh! ye Rate-payers of Margate. A superintending Inspector (that is a Gentleman) sent expressly from London to make a full and impartial inquiry; probably at 3 Guineas a day besides travelling expenses, and what is the result? simply this, — that sanction is given to buy three things for the price of two, without one word or hint that the price is too high, or that the price of two is sufficient for the three.

No Public Notice was given of the time or place at which each inquiry would be made.

The abettors of the scheme moved that the Clerk of the Local Board be instructed to obtain the consent of the General Board to the Mortgage of the General District Rates, for £690, to purchase a part of the Fort Promenade, and the Field in front of the Paragon. Also of the Special District Rates, for £150, to make a Fence, together £840. The Local Board asked for two, the General Board gave their sanction for three, without sanctioning the money for the third, which would require for fence, &c, about £550 more. HOW IS THIS TO BE UNRIDDLED? Is it a scheme between Mr. Lee and Mr. Mottley? The former managing his part in London and the latter in Margate; which he did by moving that the purchase of the third part be referred again to the Fort Committee. Whether this be the case or not these Gentlemen best know, if not, how comes the blunder after a "FULL EXAMINATION?" Besides a debt of £1400 without any permanent improvement, or none of utility, will be a fine way to introduce the Public Health Act, and swell the estimated £30,000 into £60,000, a nice opening for jobbing in a variety of forms. £1400 wasted without a Drain or Sewer, without removing or cleansing a single filthy or dilapidated House, how many of such houses might that sum have swept away with the besom of destruction, while the purchase of the Fort Property is like adding water to the sea.

Substance of Report which was rejected on the 18th of May, carried June 15th. "The Committee recommend the Board to apply to the General Board for Authority to purchase the Fort Promenade, for £170; and the Meadow in front of the Paragon for £440; and after widening the Promenade to resell the remainder, and to erect a Fence around the Meadow, to defray the expense by a Special District Rate, to be levied upon the adjoining property."

Taking the hired part of the present Promenade even at £170, and one fifth of the £440 for the Meadow, £88, (that being the width or extent the Committee intended adding to the Promenade), together £258; with conveyance and all perhaps about or under £300. Then where is the justice to the Rate-payers, (much less the "gain") in taxing them to the tune of £690 and Mortgaging of the Rates, whereby the cost will be still further increased in the shape of interest. But then there is the selling of the remainder. Oh yes! after an expenditure of £840 and the fence in good trim, THE REMAINDER is expected to realize a little over or under £250. Tremendous gain! to pay between £20 and £30 a year for interest instead of £12 in Rent, which is very high for an acre and 1/8.

The following Letter was sent to the Local Board on the 28th of Sept., 1852.

"To the Margate District Local Board of Health."

"As several persons, Fly-drivers and others have been prosecuted for not complying with the New Laws.  Justice requires that those Members of the Local Board who have violated the Law should not be allowed to do so with impunity.  The 19th section of the Public Health Act, prohibits under a penalty  of £50, any Member of a Local Board of Health from making a Bargain or Contract with the Board, or being concerned in any Bargain or Contract with  the Board, except as a Shareholder in a Public Company, in which case HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE ON ANY QUESTION RELATING TO SUCH COMPANY WHICH MAY  BE  BROUGHT BEFORE THE LOCAL BOARD.  Mr. W. Brooke while a Member of your Board, did offer to Bargain with the said Board for certain pieces of Land on the Fort, contrary to the 19th section of the Public Health Act. Also that Mr. E. Mottley, a Member of your Board, being personally concerned in one of the pieces of the aforesaid Land, did use his endeavours to induce the said Board to complete the aforesaid Bargain, by which the Pasturage of his Cows would be  protected at the Public Expense; in so doing he has violated the 19th section of the Public Health Act, rendered himself liable to the Penalty of £50, and forfeited his right to sit as a Member of your Board; and at which he is no longer legally entitled to sit."

"Notice is also hereby given to the Local Board, that if the Land on the Fort is purchased by the Board, and the expense of defraying the same is charged to the General District Rate, instead of being defrayed in the manner  conformable to the 6th George IV, chap. 20, sec. 16, the Rate will be opposed or appealed against. The above section authorizes one third to be paid by the Town, and the other two thirds by the Houses and Property benefited by the improvement. F. BOYCE, Hawley Street, Margate”

"To the Local Board of Health."

Notwithstanding the reading of the above Letter just before the Votes were taken on the Question of Granting Power to the Pier Company to Build a New Jetty, and reduce the Bond-holders rate of Interest from 5 to 4 per cent.  So little regard have some of the Members for the Law, that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Barker both voted in favour of the motion; although they are both Share-holders and Directors of the Pier Company, and could no longer plead ignorance of the Statute after their attention had been called to it by the Letter.

F. BOYCE, Margate, October 22nd., 1852.

* * *

The Local Board received the consent of the General Board in September sanctioning the purchase of Lots 1 and 2, the Promenade and the field in front of Fort Crescent.19,20 There was, however, some confusion, as the consent also included the purchase of Lot 3, the field in the rear of the Paragon, but the cost of this purchase was not included in the sum that the Local Board was allowed to raise.20 However, Edward Mottley suggested that it would, after all, be a good idea to purchase Lot 3 as well as Lots 1 and 2, the purchase being funded by a Special District Rate on the properties in Cliff terrace.21-23 This was agreed to.24 The Local Board also got agreement for an improved fence of ‘more permanent and handsome character than was at first intended’.25 The ‘owners and occupiers’ of the property around Fort Crescent presented a petition  saying that they were happy with the idea of an improved fence, at a cost not exceeding £400.26 In May 1853 the Board advertised for tenders to build an iron fence to enclose the field in front of Fort Crescent.27 In May 1854 the tenders were accepted of a Mr. Sisley for £26 to build 300 ft. of new fencing and of a Mr. R. Hurst for £26 to remove 500 ft. of old fencing.28 A memorial was also received by the Board from the owners of the Fort Paragon and Fort Crescent properties, ‘complimenting the Board on the improvements made in their vicinity’.28

The problem remaining for the Local Board was how to pay for it all. In September 1854, the Clerk to the Local Board reported that ‘he had advertised in the Times several times and in one county paper, and he had copies of the advertisement sent   to several Insurance offices for the amount required, to be paid off, principal and interest,  in 10 years, but without effect.’ He also reported that even Messrs. Cobb did not want to advance the money, ‘but they would lend it for 7 years, to be paid, principal and interest, in that period’.29 In February 1855 the Rate Committee suggested that they raise the required funds by a rate of 2s. in the pound on the Cliff terrace district ‘for the field and fence’ and a rate of 1s. in the pound for the Fort crescent properties, ‘for the fence in front of it,’ which was subsequently reduced to 6d. in the pound.30 This came as a shock to those who would have to pay the Special District Rates for the fence (the Fort Green Improvement Rate) and the land in front of Cliff Terrace (the Cliff Terrace Improvement Rate) as they had expected the debt to be paid off over thirty years rather than seven years.31 Petitions were produced by payers of both rates and sent to the General Board, the first signed by twelve ratepayers and the second by eleven, although, in fact, several people signed both:31

To the Honourable, the General Board of Health

The memorial of the Rate Payers of the Fort Green Improvement, Margate
Honourably Sheweth

That in 1853 a Memorial was got up by several leading members of the Local Board of Health at Margate, with the concurrence of the Board, and taken about by the members of the Board, to the owners and occupiers of the property surrounding the Fort Green, a good portion of whom were induced to sign the Memorial, under the promise that the green should be purchased by the Board and paid for out of the General rate, if the owners and occupiers of the property would sign that Memorial for the adjacent property to be assessed, to pay for an iron fence, in front of Fort Crescent and the Paragon and that the repayment should extend to 30 years and would not exceed an annual 4d. rate.

That at the express wish of the Local Board a standing committee of the Rate Payers was appointed to meet and consult with the Committee of the Local Board, and with their full concurrence a 6d. rate was this year levied and collected.

That without consulting this standing Rate Payers Committee, the Local Board at their last  meeting proposed to impose an additional 1s. rate to be levied on this property, with the intention of paying off the debt in 7 years in violation of the promise, made by the Board  to the Rate Payers to induce them to sign the Boards Memorial.

That your Memorialists complain of this injustice, breach of public faith, and injury to the property on which the burden falls.
And humbly appeal to your Board for redress.


To the Honourable, the General Board of Health

The memorial of the Rate Payers of the Cliff Terrace Improvement, Margate
Honourably Sheweth

That in the year 1853 the proprietors and occupiers of property in Cliff terrace, Margate, and Fort Paragon by the persuasion of several leading gentlemen of the town and members of the Local Board of Health, at Margate, joined in a Memorial to the Board to purchase certain land in front of Cliff Terrace, and back of the Paragon, and to assess the property with the repayment of the money, and, to extend the time over a period not exceeding 30 years.

That your memorialists regret having to complain of the injurious manner the Local Board have managed this matter. First by connecting the purchase of the land with law charges which were considerably augmented by litigation and proportioned by the Board to the injury of the private Improvement Account. And secondly, by now attempting to impose a 3s. 6d. rate on the property, in addition to a 2s. rate made, and collected this year, with the full concurrence of a Committee of Rate Payers formed, at the express wish of the Local Board to be a permanent Committee, to confer with a Committee of the Local Board, and which rate payers Committee have had no meeting, or been consulted concerning this additional 3s. 6d. rate.

That the object of the 3s. 6d. rate is to pay off the debt in 7 years much to the injury of the properties and the rate payers, several of whom are aged tenants for life.

That the property is heavily rated and taxed already; that the property consists of lodging houses, that the owners’ means are limited; and the season being below the average: the enforcement of the contemplated additional rate, would cause much suffering.

Your memorialists therefore appeal to your Honourable Board for protection.

In his covering letter to the General Board, George Solley, the secretary of the Rate Payers Committee explained that ‘a great portion of the occupiers and owners are widows, getting their livings by lodging letting, are very humble in their circumstances, and although respectable, are, altogether unable to meet such a heavy demand’, and that ‘the property is not adequately represented in the Local Board, the two or three members holding property liable, are not listened to and parties having no interest in the property inflict these taxes’.31 Although it is not known for certain what response was made to these petitions, it was unlikely to have been helpful, as the usual response was for the General Board to simply refer such matters to the Local Board. 

Fort Needle Case
The Fort illustrated on a Needle Case
Paragon and Fort Crescent Newman
Paragon and Fort Crescent
[Lithograph by John Newman & Co., ca 1870]

Despite all the worries about its ethics, the purchase of the land on the Fort was obviously the right thing to do for the long term prosperity of the town. The field in front of Fort Paragon was eventually to become the Winter Gardens and the triangular piece of land behind Fort Paragon is still there, as a rather forlorn grassed area behind a low wall.



1. Anthony Lee, Margate in the Georgian Era, Droit House Press, 2012.

2. The Times, September 19 1804.

3. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Edward Mottley to General Board, April 16 1863.

4. Kent Herald, January 22 1852.

5. Kent Herald, February 12 1852.

6. Kent Herald, March 4 1852.

7. Kent Herald, April 8 1852.

8. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Edward Mottley to General Board, April 16 1852.

9. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Reply from General Board to Edward Mottley, April 20 1852.

10. Kent Herald, May 20 1852.

11. Kent Herald, June 17 1852.

12. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Edward Mottley to General Board, June 21 1852.

13. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Report by William Lee on purchase of Land at Margate, September 6 1852.

14. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Frederick Boyce to the General Board, September 13 1852.

15. Kent Herald, August 19 1852.

16. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Frederick Boyce to General Board, September 13 1852.

17. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from General Board to Frederick Boyce, no date.

18. Poster,  Jobbing – The New Board, issued by F. Boyce, October 22 1852.

19. Kent Herald, September 16 1852.

20. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from J. Harvey Boys to General Board, January 2 1853.

21. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from J. Harvey Boys to the General Board, January 27, 1853.

22. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from J. Harvey Boys to the General Board, February 3, 1853.

23. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letters from J. Harvey Boys to the General Board, March 14 1853.

24. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from William Lee to General Board, March 14 1853.

25. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Local Board to General Board, May 31 1853.

26. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Petition to General Board, May 31 1853.

27. South Eastern Gazette, May 31 1853.

28. South Eastern Gazette, May 2 1854.

29. Kent Herald, September 21 1854.

30. Kent Herald, February 1 1855.

31. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Letter from Secretary of Rate Payers Committee to General Board, October 23 1855.


Appendix I

Public Health Act 1848

Report to the General Board of Health on a Memorial from the Local Board for the District of Margate for the purchase of land for Public Walks, and for the purchase of property to widen a public street there. By William Lee, Superintending Inspector.

9 Duke Street
6 Sept 1852

My Lords and Gentlemen

In obedience to your directions received on the 2nd of July I have visited Margate and have made an inquiry and inspection, as to certain pieces of land proposed to be purchased by the Local Board of Health for the purpose of forming public walks and pleasure grounds there, and also as to the purchase of a house for the purpose of widening High Street, and I now beg to present to you my report.

I append all the correspondence between your Honourable Board and the Local authorities; and also the whole of the evidence and minutes of my investigation. This will render it unnecessary for me to do more than state the principal circumstances, and the conclusions at which I have arrived.

I also append a plan of the proposed public walks and contiguous property to which I beg to refer your Honourable Board.


The land at the west end of the plan, uncoloured, and bordering upon the sea has long been the property of the town, and was in the hands of the Commissioners, whose powers have been transferred to the Local Board of Health.

The land coloured green and marked Lot 1 was occupied by the commissioners at a rental of £12 per annum, and has been used as a public promenade for at least 20 years. The commissioners have within a few years expended a large sum in fencing, seats, and concrete pavement of this promenade; and its maintenance is of the greatest importance to visitors; –– and, on public grounds, to the town at large.

Circumstances which have led to this memorial:

During the preliminary proceedings for the application of the Public Health Act and shortly before the first election of a Local Board, the land was advertised to be sold by public auction. The commissioners of the town, whose functions were about to be suspended, did not feel it to be their duty, under such circumstances, to purchase the land on behalf of the public, and there was some danger that Margate might be deprived of one of its greatest attractions.

The two lots (No. 1 and 2) now offered to the Local Board, were purchased at the sale by John Ring Esq. and William Brooke Esq., and the sums which your Honourable Board is asked to sanction, are the sums at which the lots were knocked down to those gentlemen.

Mr. Brooke was shortly afterward elected a member of the Local Board of Health, but immediately, when the subject of purchasing the ground was brought under consideration, vacated his seat; and ceased, consequently, in May last, to be a member of the Board.

Opposition to the purchase:

I have though it necessary to give this brief epitome of the proceedings because in some of the correspondence with you, and in one portion of the evidence contained in the appendix, the conduct and motives of Mr. Brooke were called in question.

The circumstances do not bear out such a charge, but prove, on the contrary, that he was activated by a sincere desire to promote the interests of the town, and to prevent the loss of one of its chief attractions, at a time when other sea-bathing places in the vicinity of the metropolis were making great exertions to draw and accommodate visitors.

The situation of the ground is the most eligible in the district, — and the price at which it is offered very reasonable.

Recommendation as to Public Walks:

I have no hesitation in saying that it is worth much more to the inhabitants of Margate; and it is my duty therefore to recommend that your Honourable Board should comply with this part of the memorial, by sanctioning the mortgage of the General District Rates for the sum of £690 for the purchase of land and for its conveyance etc. — and, that you should sanction the mortgage of the Special District Rates for the sum of £150 for fencing and other required improvements.

Widening of High Street:

High Street in Margate is the principle business street and thoroughfare in the town. It is generally narrow, but improvements have been made by the Commissioners whenever an opportunity presented itself of purchasing and setting back any of the buildings. The consequence of these improvements is that, at present, the street has a very irregular appearance, being in some parts much wider than in others. The house proposed to be purchased and taken down by the Local Board, projects considerably beyond the property above and below; and the improvement will be so obvious that I heard of no opposition whatever to the expenditure. The premises consist of a house and front shop occupied by a grocer and dealer in earthenware. The annual rent paid is £25, and the purchase money agreed upon is £600; to which is added £50 for conveyance etc. By setting back any new building to the line of those above and below, the street will be widened at that place, an average of more than 8 feet, and I have no doubt that the remainder of the land and the building materials will re-sell for a considerable part of the sum required.

Recommendation thereon:

I have therefore to recommend that your Honourable Board should sanction the borrowing on mortgage of the General District rates for such purpose the sum of £650 asked for in the memorial of the Local Board.

I have the honour to be
My Lords and Gentlemen
Your Obedient
William Lee
Superintending Inspector


Margate Loan: Inspectors Minutes

Town Hall
16 August 1852

William Brooke Esq., Solicitor, Examined said

“Some time ago I became the purchaser of Lot No. 2 on the Fort Terrace. The purchase has never been completed. I am of course answerable to complete the purchase and the land is now offered to the Local Board for public walks. I was elected in September last a Member of the first Local Board of Health in Margate. I have ceased to be a member, having become disqualified by non-attendance. That is since this question was first mooted. I absented myself because this question was mooted. If I had attended and voted it would have been carried. I have only asked the Local Board the same sum that I have to pay to the previous vendor. If there had been any legal difficulty, I could have thrown it back upon him. I have not attended the Board since last March.

I am the Solicitor to the Reverend Archibald Cameron, the original vendor of Lot No. 1. He instructed me that unless the ground was purchased wither by the person at present in treaty, or the Local Board, he should give the Local Board notice to quit. He thought the town was standing in its own light.

The uncoloured plot west of the fence at the west end belongs to the town, and is in the hands of the Local Board. The town, by the late Commissioners, has had possession of this land at least 20 years.

The piece of ground east of Fort Paragon is part of that which I have treated to purchase from Mr. Cameron, but it is not included in what is before the General Board. The present promenade passes over the eastern corner of it. If the public purchase be restricted to the part coloured green there, the vendor of the part coloured green will grant a way 10 feet wide along the fence of the Clifton Baths from the Cliff to the public carriage way. This 10 feet way is coloured yellow at the east end of the plan.”


Examined a Book called the “Signature Book” containing the names of the members present at each meeting. The last signature of Mr. Brooke is on the 10th February 1852.

Mr. Brooke “I have no doubt that was the last day I attended.”

Mr. Brooke therefore ceased to be a member on the 10th May.


John Berry Flint examined;

“I am a member of the Local Board. With reference to the statement of Mr. Boys that the support of the 20 houses will be thrown upon the town, I do not think the statement fair because the land in front does not belong to the same as the houses, and the Local Board will only have to attend to their own.”


Dr. Price examined;

“I wish to state as a professional man and well acquainted with the town and its requirements, that this promenade on the Fort is vitally important to the town as regards its interests. In the highest degree useful to the invalids visiting the place, inasmuch as they are able to be drawn in Bath chairs close to the sea. Of my own knowledge persons who come here now would not come if they were deprived of the use of that walk. I would just take leave to draw your attention to the expense which the late Commissioners, of which I was a member, were put to. I believe it was £70 for fences, tarred surface, pavement, and seats, all of which would be lost if the walks be lost to the town. As the town is now emerging from a very uncomfortable state, and about to make sanitary improvements, I think we should endeavour to make it one of the most attractive places on the coast.”


Samuel Lewis esq., examined:

“I am a proprietor of one of the houses on the Fort Crescent and have had the care of the Green 21 years, from 1827 to 1848 when our lease expired.

I think it essential to Margate as public walks, and equally advantageous to the town at large as to the proprietors immediately opposite the ground. A Committee of 5 of the owners of houses took it upon themselves to lease it for 20 years, and used to collect to keep it in repair. 5s. per house per annum was paid. That was for keeping the fences in order round lot No. 2. Lot one has been kept in repair by the Commissioners ever since 1825. They rented it at £12 per annum. The Commissioners or the Local Board being already on the same plot of ground, I think it quite right that the whole should be under their jurisdiction.

If that spot be improved, which is very desirable, all the property round will of course be improved. It depends upon whether the Local Board make the place attractive whether or not the houses at Fort Crescent will be improved in value. The mere purchase of the land by the Local Board would not afford any additional protection of the houses from the incursion of the sea. I do think however the fact of its being public property will cause it to be better care taken of. If the sea wall should at any future time be erected the owners of the houses would have to bear two thirds of the expense, and the town one third.”


Mr. Frederick Boyce examined:

“I am an inhabitant of Margate. Soon after the Local Board was elected these 3 properties were offered to them for sale. I allude to Nos. 1-2, and the land east of the Paragon. On the 18th Sept. these properties and others were sold by auction. Lot 1 was knocked down for, I believe, £160. Lot 2 was knocked down for £430, and the piece at the east end for £270, making altogether £860. They were offered to the Board at £1010. The persons names who was put down as the buyer of Nos. 2 and 4 was Mr. John Woodward. Lot 1 was knocked down to Mr. John Ring. When the question was first brought before the public it was stated that Mr. Brooke had done it from patriotic motives, but when it appeared that he was asking £150 more than was given, it appeared that the motives were anything but patriotic. Mr. Brooke said that in the interregnum, when the Commissioners were dying out and the Local Board just about to be elected, he had stepped in to save it to the town and keep it from any speculation. I believe that the plot north of the paragon was bought by Mr. Woodward for £100 at the same sale. That is building land. 

I think the promenade there is of great consequence to Margate, but at the same time I think it is at the present time sufficiently wide for the use that is made of it. I cannot see that Lot No. 2 would be of any public advantage. It is well known that near the sea shrubs will not grow so as to come to perfection. It can only remain a field. The fence ought to be maintained in good condition by the owners. The extra cost of a fence for ornamental purposes should be incurred under a district rate.

I consider this business is brought on mainly for the advantage of two persons, the vendor and the tenant of No. 2. I approve of the proposal to purchase Lot No. 1 but not No. 2. If the vendor should refuse to sell No. 1 without No. 2 he might keep it all. If 1 and 2 is to be bought I think Lot 3 should also be purchased.”


Mr. Brooke said, in addition

“No. 1 lot is not mine it belongs to Mr. Ring, it was bought by him at £170 and is offered at the same sum. Lot 2 was bought by me for £440 and is offered at the same price.

The price that was to be obtained for No. 3 was £400, and that price not being offered I bought it in, for the proprietors of the Cliffe terrace. At present I have it on my own hands at £400.”


James Standring Esq.:

“I am a member of the Local Board. I think the present promenade is very frequently crowded to a most inconvenient extent, so as to render it highly desirable that it should be widened. I also think that the town should not be at the mercy of a tenant who might at any time  raise the rent, seeing that it is quite necessary that the town should have the land at any price, and that we should  make some reserve in case the sea should wash a way any part of the cliffe.”


[Next section is crossed through in the manuscript]


Examined the Promenade at the Fort Crescent and Cliffs.

Examined the House proposed to be purchased in High Street. It is Bramah’s property and in the occupation of Robinson Earthenware Dealer and Grocer.  Purchase money £600. Could get possession immediately with the tenant and give him notice. Will widen 7-8 at the lower end and more at the upper. Rent £25. Very desirable and should be sanctioned.

Tho. Dalby Reeve, Clerk of Works.

[end of crossed out section]


Mr. William Smith Examined:

“I live at 7 Aldby Place. I am a rated inhabitant of Margate. I was at the sale of the property in front of Fort Crescent and Cliff terrace. Lot 2 on this plan was knocked down at £430. I do not think it was a bona fide sale. A friend of mine was bidding until he saw a gentleman take his pencil from his mouth. That was to be a signal to cease. It was my friend’s bid at £430. As to the present walks Lot No 1 I have it knocked down at £160 to a gentleman of the name of Ring. My friend bid at that also. I believe that was bona fide sold. I know that Mr. Brooke had to do with it.

It is very desirable that some great improvement should be made there. The fences are abominable at the farther end. I have gone there and seen it crowded, but not so as to be very inconvenient. I have never observed it to be insufficient. I certainly think it would be an improvement if there were more room. I was one of the memorialists to the Local Board to purchase the land, and assisted in getting it up.”


Mr. Harvey Boys Esq., Solicitor, examined:

“I was a member of the Local Board but have resigned. I am here now merely as a ratepayer. I may possibly be appointed Clerk to the Local Board, but at present hold no office. I think it will be highly advantageous to the Town to purchase Lots 1 and 2 on the plan, for public walks. Limiting the purchase of Lot 1 to that portion westward of Fort Paragon, because as I think it would be unwise to purchase the field at the back of Fort Paragon, I think it will be inadvisable to purchase that portion of Lot 1 which is northward of Fort Paragon, because as the sea in course of time must  take away the frontage north of Fort Paragon the Local Board would have nothing to fall back upon. My impression is that it would be right to purchase the Lot 2 and then to set back what would be required and sell the remainder.”