When you undertake a project like My Beauty, you are reliant on the generosity of others. So it really touches me when people want to take part and really get involved. The women who have been in touch via phone, online or face-to-face at events have been fantastic. They have enthused about the project, about their past and about Margate.
I have been invited into homes, loaned precious photographs and shown amazing pieces of Margate’s history. There have been crowns, hand sign-written sashes, programmes and trophies. There have been peals of laughter, happy memories and ‘I wonder whatever happened to her’ tales. Thank you all.
Events at Batchelors Patisserie and the Tom Thumb Theatre have brought large numbers of beauty queens and interested parties along. Some of the photos that have been shared with me have been stunning, with many coming from the Sunbeam Studios. Sunbeam was once based in Sweyn Road and their archive is now held by SEAS at Canterbury Christ Church University.
The next event up is at Dreamland this Saturday, the 18th of June. This marks one year since the park re-opened and is also the first day that the site will be free to enter for all. So do come along and say hello, bring memories to share and encourage your mum, aunt or nan to come and do the same. I shall be somewhere just inside the entrance. Ask at reception if you can’t find me. I’ll be there from 1-5pm.
It has been a busy few days in Margate and I have been dashing around meeting women who took part in beauty queen shows in the area.
Today I get to sit down for a while and meet beauty queen contestants and anyone interested in the project at the wonderful Batchelors Patisserie in Northdown Road. It’s the sort of venue a beauty queen would have hung out at in the 1960s or 1970s, sipping a coffee or enjoying one of their much-loved doughnuts or pastries (this was an era before size zero).
The furniture is still largely original, dating back to the opening of the famous bakery. Before that, the building was a travel agency, largely selling rail tickets. I’d always assumed it was too posh for me. I don’t think I went in until I was 40.
I shall be there from 1-4pm today (Thursday 9 June). So do come and say hello. I shall be taking the Roy Hudd role from this picture.
Below you can see Batchelors as it is now and as it was in the late 1950s.
I was pleased to have the chance to write an article about My Beauty for the Thanet Gazette last week. It has already paid dividends, with several beauty queens getting in touch after reading my call out for anyone who has taken part in beauty shows in Margate.
The article also detailed my first event, which will take place at Batchelors Patisserie at 246 Northdown Road, Cliftonville, from 1pm-4pm on Thursday the 9th of June. I’m offering free cakes and coffees for any beauty queens who come along. I wanted to use Batchelors as it is somewhere that still exists in Cliftonville from the area’s heyday. Hopefully some former-Miss Cliftonvilles will be enticed in.
So if you know any former-beauty queen contestants from any show in Margate (from the Lido contests to Miss Westbrook) who may like a bun or a doughnut, then do send them along. Or just come along and say hello and see how I am getting on with the project. It would be great to meet you.
I am seeking to collect memories, photographs and items such as programmes, judging cards and sashes. Everything will be returned and I can always visit people at home and pick items up. I’m also interested in hearing from judges, photographers, sponsors or promoters of shows.
More to come soon, including details of an event at Dreamland, Margate.