By the early 1700s, Deal ranked as a major English
naval port alongside Portsmouth, Plymouth and Rochester.
There was no harbour or docks though, only a dockyard
on land between the beach and today's Victoria Road.
James Cook landed at Deal in 1771 on returning from
his first voyage to Australia and Horatio Nelson stayed
in Deal in 1801. After closure of the dockyard in the
1800s, the land was redeveloped for housing.
Deal has a long association with the Royal Marines.
Because of its proximity to the continent and its strategic
naval dockyard, Marines from Chatham and Woolwich were
initially quartered in the town and, in 1861, the soldiers
moved into permanent local barracks. A brief history
of the Marines in Deal, creation of the Royal Marines
School of Music and private redevelopment of the barracks
can be seen on the WalmerWeb
website. Early on 22 September 1989, the Royal Marines
School of Music was bombed by the IRA, resulting in
the death of 11 bandsmen and the injury of 22 others.
On 26 March 1996, the Marines were relocated to Portsmouth
but they return every year to provide a concert on Walmer's
seafront memorial bandstand.
Deal has the only remaining complete leisure pier
in Kent. The third to be built on the site, it was opened
in 1957 and is a concrete-clad steel structure with
fishing decks and a new cafe at its head. The latter
was built in 2008 and has received plaudits for its
innovative design. Although the pier is often said to
be the same length as The Titanic, that ship was 882ft
in length and the pier is 1,026ft. The first pier was
designed and built by Sir John Rennie in 1838. A wooden
structure, it was destroyed by a gale in 1857 and replaced
by an iron pier in 1864. This survived until it was
severely damaged by a torpedoed Dutch ship, The Nora,
in January 1940.
Visitors to Deal will find that the Deal Maritime
and Local History Museum in St George's Road
has a range of exhibits recording the town's associations
with the sea and changing displays on aspects of local
history. The Timeball Tower Museum on
Deal seafront focuses on its former role in providing
accurate timekeeping for shipping. For more details,