Towns I am currently re-reading - Margate-sur-Mer

As you may know, Placeworks has been invited to contribute to a forthcoming book, Urbanism, to be published next year by Routledge. Here's what the Routledge website says:

"The Academy of Urbanism was founded in 2006 with a mission to recognise, encourage and celebrate great places across the UK, Europe and beyond, and the people and organisations that create and sustain them. This book is a compendium of seventy five places that have been shortlisted as part of the Academy's annual awards scheme which covers great Places, Streets, Neighbourhoods, Towns and Cities.

"Included are 75 places shortlisted between 2009 and 2013. Each has been visited by a team of Academicians who have spent time in the place, talked to officials and local people and sought to understand what it is that makes them special and how they have achieved what they have achieved. The Academy also commissions a poem, a drawing and a figure ground plan to understand and interpret the place. David Rudlin, Rob Thompson and Sarah Jarvis have drawn on this treasure trove of material to tell the story of these 75 places. In doing so they have created the most comprehensive compendium of great urban places to have been published for many years."

Writing the section on Margate was an excellent excuse to revisit this coastal comeback kid.

Margate is a town that Placeworks knows quite well, though not from the otherwise enjoyable film 'Mr Turner' where it was, of course, played by a stunt double*.

Dreamland had yet to reopen but there was lots more to see, including beautiful shadows and sea views at Turner Contemporary and the textiles-and-tarts temptations of Old Town, specifically Maxine Sutton's beautiful shop and Greedy Cow cafe next door.

Margate is a place of many parts. Coming out from the narrow shaded streets the sands stretched vast and sunny, though this being a midweek afternoon during term-time and BDR (Before Dreamland Reopened, as I assume this period will later come to be known) the painted swing boats in the Kiddies Corner stood empty. Also standing empty, in traditional seaside fashion, were several shop units on the hilly high street, though one of these, a beautiful Art Deco structure formerly home to Burton's, was lucky enough to be in the process of being up-cycled into a new arts space called Artoptikon. Lana, the driving force behind the transformation was busy up a ladder, but happy to come down for a chat about how she found the building and her plans for its future. Check it out online.

A few weeks later Placeworks was taking the traditional summer jaunt around the urbanist hotspots of the Brittany coast on Agatha Small Ship when we put into Douarnenez harbour. Physically this fishing town bears almost no resemblance to Margate whatsoever, but in spirit they are definitely cousins. More on this shortly.

*Worked out who plays Margate yet? Answers on a postcard. OK, email. First correct answer wins a special prize. Special if you like 19C Victorian industrial heritage.