Margate Washhouse

Status: Meanwhile Use

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We are uncovering the layered history of this single storey building on the oldest part of Margate High Street. The shop, along with many others at the lower end of the road, was originally a Bathing Rooms which, prior to the creation of Marine Drive (1880-1890), would have backed on to the sea. Bathers would have exited the building onto a balcony at the rear and then descended a wooden staircase to the beach. From there, a ‘bathing machine’ would have taken them out to the water.

Likely the replacement for a similar structure destroyed in the storms of 1808, the existing building dates from shortly after that. Amongst its many subsequent incarnations, the shop has operated as the premises for at least three different bootmakers, as a self-service launderette and as an amusement arcade.

Working with Studio Sam Causer who have carefully surveyed the structure and uncovered its history, we have delicately removed recent low quality interior layers to uncover surviving earlier finishes. A design scheme and pattern of use will evolve which takes best advantage of the opportunities and discoveries offered up by the building.

We plan to reimagine the lost shop front, reinstate the top light previously provided by the large roof lantern discernable in the structure, and provide safe access to the atmospheric glazed brick basement.

As the scheme evolves and works are planned, the building will be occupied in its ‘rewound’ state by ‘meanwhile’ traders who we hope will engage with the building’s unfinished aesthetic.