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
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
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 new award-winning Jasin's 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
The town is well served by supermarkets but more interestingly
you will still find speciality traders selling everything
from fresh fish to duck eggs.
Property in Deal and the surrounding area is still amongst
the best value for money in the South of England. That may
change as Kent's high speed train link and increased services
linking Deal to London begins to make a real difference to
the county's transportation infrastructure.