Article written by Robert Crook
In 1920 and early 1930 the trade in Sandgate was flourishing – ‘board and lodgings’ and houses were full to capacity and there were many excursions from London, Sunday School trips from London and various firms outings.
At very busy times my Grandparents would often erect a stall on the beach at the back of their house selling drinks, sweets and souvenirs.
My Grandmother used to make toffee apples and I used to see her stirring a huge saucepan of hot toffee. I often helped my Grandfather with making sticks for the apples. Customers especially enjoyed them when they bought them early and they were still warm.
On the beach starfish could always be found and I often helped to collect them. My Grandmother would treat them in a certain way – I think in the oven and then she would attach to each one a piece of ribbon and a little card with a picture or just the word ‘Sandgate’ or sometimes, when she could get them, a calendar from a newsagent.
They became a very popular souvenir from the seaside and we sold many. As well as all this one window of our shop was always full of Crest China, souvenirs of Sandgate, and had to be restocked so often. We were always so proud that we were the record holders for the sale of ‘Sandgate’ rock in the district.
There were many shops in Sandgate that depended on the sale of souvenirs and of course serving refreshments. The brisk trade by visitors was Sandgate’s life line. Unfortunately in the winter there was very little trade. As well as our shop we also had boarders and from Easter to the end of September it was always 30 people.