Turner retained an affection for Margate throughout his life. As a boy he had stayed in the town with relatives of his mother and in later life he rented rooms there overlooking the harbour and pier. Before the development of Britain's
rail network, Margate was the most convenient seaside resort from London, accessible by steam packet, and Turner often used it as a base from which to explore the Kentish coast. It appeared
in numerous oils and watercolours throughout his life although none with a dawn scene as magnificent as this one.