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James Walter Hart MM

“My father - James Walter Hart (sitting) on the left of a small group working on restoration of the Winter Gardens in 1946 following war bomb damage. Dad was a plasterer’s labourer right up to my own childhood, when I would hear him return from work each evening, long before he came into sight. His whistling could be heard from our home in Laleham Road when he was dropped off from a van outside the King Edward public house in Dane Valley" - Clive Hart


Remembering the late James Walter Hart MM.

Clive Hart is a former Council Leader who stood down from TDC in April to join NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group. He is also a long-time member of Margate Civic Society and served for a number of years on the Society’s Committee.

In recent years, Clive was unable to get to many of our meetings due to his heavy Council commitments but he and his wife Sandra did come along to our meeting last May for the illustrated talk on Margate’s part in Operation Dynamo (the evacuation of the allied troops from Dunkirk in 1940) given to the Society to mark the 75th anniversary of that momentous event. At the end of that talk, Clive told the speaker that his father, after the war had finished, had worked on repairing the bomb damage to the Winter Gardens.

As the Winter Gardens had featured large in the story of Margate’s part in Operation Dynamo and had been very badly damaged by enemy bombing in the Second World War, your Editor was only too pleased to accept Clive’s kind offer to supply some old photographs of his father for publication in our Newsletter. It is as much the people of Margate as it is its fine architecture that have made the town what it is today. Indeed, it is due to the love of the town by people like Clive and his father, James Walter Hart, that Margate Civic Society continues to thrive.

From a personal point of view, it is good that local politicians of all political persuasions join our Society and take an interest in the Society’s activities and local concerns. It is particularly pleasing that amongst our new members this year, we have two members of Margate Charter Trustees. According to my reckoning, that makes a total of five Charter Trustees as members out of a total of 17. It would be even more pleasing if some of the other Charter Trustees - particularly those who live in our area - were also to join the Society and demonstrate their support of our aims and purposes.

Clive is very proud of his father and his service in The Buffs in the second world war.

Clive wrote “He was orphaned at a very young age and fibbed to get into the army so we're not quite sure of his date of birth but he was somewhere between 71 and 73 when he died".

Anyway, these are the photos and press cutting kindly supplied by Clive together with his very personal captions. I feel sure that readers will find them of interest. If you can identify any of the other men in these photos, please do let me know.

“The ‘Winter Gardens Team’ is exactly that - the team that restored the Winter Gardens after war damage. My father (middle row - sixth from the right - set back between two others), is the coolest looking dude in the team wearing a dashing Indianna Jones hat. I remember Dad saying that they repaired the ornate ceilings in the main hall” - Clive Hart

The report of the death of James Hart as it appeared on the front page of a copy of the Isle of Thanet Gazette published in 1989.

The above press cutting records that the late James Hart was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry at Dunkirk and that he was decorated with his medal by HM King George VI at Buckingham Palace. James Hart was also awarded a bronze oak leaf emblem after being mentioned in despatches for outstanding bravery in North Africa. Yes, he well deserves the title of ‘war hero’ and, Clive, you are right to be immensely proud of your father.


Several more pictures of the Winter Gardens bomb damage appear in the Margate Civic Society newsletter.

Clive Hart
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