DEAL - a town by the sea
Ask most people from outside the area where Deal is and the chances are you'll get a quizzical look and a shrug of the shoulders. Tucked away on the A258 out of Dover past where the White Cliffs fall away into St Margaret's Bay, you'll find Deal the small town that huddles by the English Channel.
In 1702 it was described as one of the four great ports of England, along with Portsmouth, Rochester and Plymouth. Back then the town was a vital stronghold in the defences of what became known as "the invasion coast".
Commanders, Captains, Admirals, Masters, Warrant Officers, Ratings, and Press Gangs, have all passed through its warren of nooks and crannies at one time or another. The town's notorious reputation as a haven for the 'midnight trade' of smuggling, rife in the 17th and 18th centuries has also played its part in creating Deal's rather 'unique and special' character.
Today, history sits lightly upon Deal, tucked away in a corner of SE England that modern tourism has largely overlooked. The town might be better known if it were situated in other, more fashionable, parts of the country. If, for example, Deal were somehow transported to Devon or Cornwall - where it would not look out of place - it would quickly become another tourist honey pot.
Deal is remarkable in being a port without a harbour, providing an historic anchorage, the Downs, for ships waiting for a change of wind to carry them through the channel, which runs between the shingle foreshore and the watery graveyard that is the Goodwin Sands.
These days, Deal is a peaceful town and an architectural jewel, with attractive narrow streets and fascinating buildings. Middle Street and its restored period houses and cottages were designated the first conservation area in Kent. The Timeball Tower, on the seafront, was built in 1821 as one of a chain carrying semaphore messages along the coast about the nasty doings of smugglers, and contains a display of marine communications. Deal Maritime & Local History Museum in St George's Road has a fascinating collection of boating paraphernalia and interesting prints from the glorious days of sail. And then of course there are the castles built by Henry V111 to defend the coast from the French.
Deal is a favourite spot among sea fishing folk who make the most of the town's pier. It's a delight on a sunny day to take a stroll along its deck, turn, and soak up the view of pretty houses that line the beachfront. At the head of the pier is the Pier Restaurant - just one of Deal's fine eating places.
Perhaps the activity the area is most known for internationally is golf. The Royal Cinque Ports is a first rank course and is within walking distance of the town, located along the Saxon shoreline. Perhaps the most famous of the area's courses is The Royal St George's the home to the Open Championship on a number of occasions. The third course in the area is Prince's.
The town is well served by supermarkets but, more interestingly, you will still find speciality traders selling everything from fresh fish to duck eggs. The vibrant High Street, which was declared "High Street of the Year" by the Daily Telegraph in 2013, continues to thrive and offer a wide range of local shops and national stores.
Property in Deal and the surrounding area is still amongst the best value for money in the South of England. That said, it has not escaped the national trend for rising property prices and the benefit of the high speed train link and increased services linking Deal and Walmer to London.
Facts and figures
|2011 Census: Change in local population from 2001 to 2011|
|Deal Urban Area||2001 Census||2011 Census|
|2001 Density||2011 Density|
|Total 4 Wards ||28,768 ||30,085||1,317||4.6%||1,701||16.91|| 17.69|
|Middle Deal |
|7,236|| 7,414||178||2.5%||956||7.57|| 7.76|
|Mill Hill ||7,614|| 7,851||237||3.1%||283||26.90||27.74|
|North Deal||7,225|| 7,386||161||2.2%||132||54.73||55.95|
|(source: 2011 census data published by Kent County Council)|
Ordnance Survey grid reference: TR375525
Administration District: Dover
Region: South East England
Post town: DEAL
Local telephone dialling code: 01304
UK Parliamentary Constituency: Dover and Deal
Town twinning: Deal is twinned with Saint-Omer, France, and Vlissingen, The Netherlands.