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The Wantsum Morris Dancers visited Birchington on BOXING DAY

During a sunny respite in the stormy winter weather, a large crowd enjoyed a performance from this group of dancers.

Wantsum Morris Men formed as a club in 1967, with the members living both sides of the Wantsum Channel, which in former times separated Thanet from the rest of Kent.

The repertoire is drawn from the vast selection of traditional dances collected from the villages of the Cotswolds, complemented by some more recent dances in the Cotswold traditions as well as a few from the Welsh borders and a rapper dance from the North East of England.

The costume is knee breeches, tabard and a tricorn hat. The tabard is decorated with a St Augustines cross with a depiction of Reculver towers in the top left corner. St Augustine arrived in England at the Southern end of the Wantsum, and built an Abbey at Reculver at the Northern end.

Morris dancing has experienced a great revival during this century, due mainly to the enthusiasm of collectors such as Cecil Sharp, who between them saved this rich heritage from virtual extinction.

The original Morris was possibly a circle dance , often danced around a “female” figure. However, even in 1480 there were complaints that the dance had already degenerated.

These dances have disappeared into the mists of time, killed off by the Puritan attitudes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is a disappointing that we shall never know the local dances performed by a group of men around Canterbury in 1589, shortly before the mayor of Canterbury had the maypole pulled down from the Dane John.

The 1589 side were led by a musician called Henry Parkes, who played fiddle The average age was early twenties, although the “Mayd Marryon” character was played by a twelve year old boy. There seem to have been six dancers who had costumes including bells and “furnytur”. They did not seen to be cadging as they were retained for the fortnight around Mayday by a “Jencke of Herne”. Within this 14 days the side danced Canterbury and at least four villages covering some 12 miles. At one village, Chislet, they attended church on Ascension day, and therefore presumably did not consider themselves Pagans.

Our knowledge of this side come from the records of a case against them for dancing without a licence held at the Quarter Sessions. Details above were taken from extracts of the trial in Philip Edmonds article in “Hoath and Herne”published by K H McIntosh.

Wantsum Morris Men perform annual tours on Boxing day and May 1st. In addition they dance local villages and towns during the summer season, and occasionally venture onto foreign soils. Recent trips have included the Tarn valley in France, The Eastern seaboard of the U.S.A. and Poland.


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The Queen’s jubilee was officially handed-over to the people of Birchington by the Managers of the CO-OPERATIVE FUNERAL CARE Barbara Binding, Lisa White and Councillor Amelia West. The event was also attended by B.P. Councillors Jack Cohen Chairman, Bill Furness Vice Chairman, Marion Evans, Michael Jarvis and Bernard La Roche together with TDC Councillors Kay Darke and Clive Hart.


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Around 800 people filled The Centre in Birchington on Saturday to enjoy a model railway exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of trains arriving in the village.

Vistitors flocked in as soon as the doors opened to enjoy 13 model layouts, built in a range of scales by local enthusiasts and club members, as well as seven trade stands. Birchington Heritage Trust also displayed old railway photos from its collection. Outside, youngsters were also able to enjoy rides on a miniature railway operated by Frank Norton and a team of fellow enthusiasts.

The event, organised by the East Kent Model Railway Society on behalf of Birchington Parish Council, also saw announcement of the winners, and presentation of prizes, in the Trains In Focus photography competition.

This attracted dozens of entries in three classes and prizes were generously donated by Hornby Hobbies, SouthEastern Trains and Crampton Tower Museum, Broadstairs.  Parish Council Chairman Cllr Jack Cohen said: “It was a fantastic day for all concerned. The turnout was unbelievable and everyone I have spoken to has said how much they enjoyed themselves.”

EKMRS Chairman Nick Evans said: “We were bowled over by the attendance and there was a lively atmosphere with so much to see throughout the day.  “As I was taking down direction signs along Station Road, a lady stopped me and asked if there would be another exhibition next year as she hadn’t had the chance to get to this one!  “There certainly seems an appetite to hold one in 2014 so we will be discussing that over the next few weeks.”

Winners in the Trains In Focus competition were:

Adult winner:  Philip Knowles, Whitstable
Adult runner-up:  Alan Cox, Westgate
Highly Commended:  Rita Knowles, Whitstable
Highly Commended:  Sarah Scott, Westbrook
Highly Commended:  John Tearle, Ramsgate
Highly Commended:  Jeff Shalloo, Herne Bay

Special prize for best set of photos: Paul Norris, Birchington

Youth winner:  Louisa Webb, 16, Birchington
(no other prize in this class)

Children’s winner:  Jack Brown, 5, Margate
Children’s runner-up:  Thomas Reed, 8, Birchington
Highly Commended:  Phoebe Appleby, 5, Birchington
Highly Commended:  Matthew Taylor, 4, Margate

The competition was judged by Nick Evans, Cllr Jack Cohen and Mike Pearce, former Editor of the Isle of Thanet Gazette – and columnist.

Photographing Trains

Steam Railway
Photography Tips
It’s tempting to always focus on the bigger picture when shooting heritage railways. After all, the engines and their surrounding vistas can be truly spectacular. But there’s more to the railways than that. Much more. Every engine comprises hundreds of working parts, all of which have to be lovingly greased and maintained. Then there are the nameplates, shed plates and builder’s plates that give an engine its personality. Cogs, levers, rods… steam engines are living, breathing machines! So next time you find yourself up close and personal to a steam engine, try focusing on these details and start building up an image library of a very different type of shot. Use the FZ200’s macro mode to get in close and capture every little detail. You could even create interesting triptychs – a series of three images that work in sequence or to a theme – and take your snaps to another level. As they say, it’s the smaller things in life that make the biggest difference!

Queen’s Coronation 60th Year Celebration


More than 700 people attended an event at Epple Bay in Birchington on Sea to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.  It was held on Sunday, 2nd June and organised by the Parish Council for the people of the village.

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On this bright and sunny day there was skateboarding, football which was organised and run by PIPELINE and there were various stalls run by local charities, while Thanet’s top rock band DNA, played in the main marquee to an appreciative audience.

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The refreshments and the actual lighting of the torch was admirably and professionally done by the Adventure Scouts under the guidance of Mrs Anne Wells MBE.

Later that evening the parish beacon was lit and the large crowd spontaneously sang “God Save The Queen”. 

The event was slightly marred when the beacon accidentaly caught fire during the middle of the night and tumbled to the ground, much to the consternation of Joseph La Roche, who had hand-made the beacon. Les Langley of Bruks, the local tree surgeons, volunteered to cut the top squarely off to enable the metal basket to be placed back on in the future.

Pictured below is Joseph La Roche loading the basket with logs. Final photograph is of the beacon ablaze.

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Railway Exhibition and Photographic Competition

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Poster for the Railway exhibition.

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The photograph above is a model of a Crampton Engine and coaches built by local Birchington Engineer Frank Norton.


Railway Photography Competition

Rules, terms and conditions

All entries must reflect a railway theme – real or model – and must have been specially taken for this competition. If the judges believe any entries do not meet these two criteria, they will not be considered.

1)  By submitting an entry, you are deemed to have accepted in full these rules, terms and conditions.

2)  You may enter no more than three images for the competition.

3)  There are three categories in this competition:

    • Children, for those aged up to 11 years old
    • Youth, for young people aged 12 to 17 years old
    • Adult, for those aged 18 and over.

4)  Photographs may be taken either digitally or on film, using any make of camera or mobile phone. Digital photos must only be submitted via and NOT the email addresses of the parish council or its agents.  Electronic images must be in .jpg format and no larger than six megabytes each.

5)  Hard copy prints, no larger than A4 size, may be delivered by hand to Birchington Parish Council’s offices in Albion Road, Birchington, during its normal opening hours. No responsibility will be taken by the council or its agents for entries left outside of these hours or sent by post.

6)  Closing date for all entries shall be Monday 30 September 2013. Any entries received after this time will not be judged.

7)  By entering the competition, you give your consent to your entr(ies) being publicly displayed in print, on the internet and on social media. You may also be asked to take part in publicity of the competition itself.

8)  Photographs submitted must have been taken by the person whose name and contact details accompany the entry.

9)  The judges require name, age, address and either email or phone number of each entrant to accompany each image. Entries will not be considered without them. Should an entry not clearly state the entrant’s age, it will automatically be considered in the adult category.

10)  The judges will, to the best of their ability, consider all eligible entries upon their artistic and creative merit and award any prizes which, in their opinion, are the best. The judges reserve the right to withhold prizes if they consider entries are not of a good enough standard.

11)  In all instances, the judges’ decisions will be considered final and no discussion or correspondence, verbal or written, will be entered into. Any breach of the above rules will result in disqualification without prior notification.

17 June 2013