Location: Scotts Department Store, Margate
Walk: 0.5m (0.9km). Short. Steep hill.
Keeper: Sarah Vickery
Status: Installed
Note: RG Scotts is open 10am-5pm, closed for lunch from 1pm-2pm, and closed Wednesdays and Sundays.

From Margate Pier cross Marine Drive at the traffic lights and turn left next to Barnacles pub (where scenes for the movie Last s were filmed) down King Street. This is the easterly side of Margate Old Town and is full of fading clues to its half-forgotten past.

Here’s one: coming up on your left is Alkali Row, so-called because pits were dug here to burn kelp from the beach. Alkali, the resulting ash powder, was an important export from Margate in the 1700s; today we call it potash.
At the junction with Hawley Street cross over – taking great care as this road can be a bit hairy – and continue straight down King Street. The Tudor House is on your left, a wonderfully restored sixteenth century house that was once owned by notorious gambler Lord Holland. He was forced to sell his considerable estates to pay off his debts and the local council own the building now. It’s only open to the public when high days, holidays and a blue moon coincide, but don't let that stop you from letting yourself in through the gate, wandering around the garden and peering in through the windows.

Pressing on down King Street the gas holder appears on the horizon. This is Margate’s last remaining industrial ironwork structure, which, admittedly, doesn’t sound all that exciting. But this is a beautiful skeleton and I love wandering past it and putting flesh on the bones: I first encased it in glass and created an art gallery; then tented it and shipped in acrobats and clowns; and am now installing a 3-D cinema screen and packing it with
terrified kids.

I digress. Keep walking until you reach a little road on your left called Grotto Hill. Turn up here and start climbing out of the valley. On your right is the Shell Grotto, a place that I struggle to describe concisely, despite living and working here. It’s a strange and wonderful thing, a series of underground passageways decorated with millions of shells that form symbols and patterns that no-one really understands and that may be hundreds or thousands of years old.

Farther up the hill is your destination: Scotts is an emporium of really interesting stuff, piled high over three floors, in a rambling old building that used to be an ice cream factory.
This is where you'll find all those necessities of life that you never knew you needed. How did I live without a leather and satin pyjama case? Or a bottle of holy water (empty) from Lourdes? Or a chef's hat and a fortune telling cup? It's all here, or, at least, it was until I bought it. On entering turn right and keep edging your way through the treasures until you find the far wall. Turn around and there’s the box, the only thing in the building that’s not for sale.

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