Deal, Kent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Seal, Kent.
Deal seafront.jpg
Deal is located in Kent
 Deal shown within Kent
Population 30,085 (2011 census)
OS grid reference TR375525
   – London  83.9mi 
District Dover
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DEAL
Postcode district CT14
Dialling code 01304
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Dover
List of places

Coordinates: 51°13′21″N 1°24′02″E / 51.2226°N 1.4006°E / 51.2226; 1.4006

Deal is a town in Kent, England which lies on the English Channel, eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate. It is a former fishing, mining and garrison town. Close to Deal is Walmer, a possible location for Julius Caesar's first arrival in Britain.

Deal became a 'limb port' of the Cinque Ports in 1278 and grew into the busiest port in England; today it is a seaside resort, its quaint streets and houses the only reminder of its history. In 1968, Middle Street was the first Conservation Area in Kent.[1] The coast of France is approximately twenty-five miles from the town and is visible on clear days. The Tudor Deal Castle, commissioned by King Henry VIII, has a rose floor plan.


Deal is first mentioned as a village in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Addelam. It is referred to as Dela in 1158, and Dale in 1275. The name is the Old English dael meaning 'valley', cognate with the modern English 'dale'.[2] Deal developed into a port by the end of the 13th century. Sandown, Deal and Walmer castles were constructed around the town by Henry VIII to protect against foreign naval attack. In 1861 a Royal Marines Depot was established in the town.

Maritime history[edit]

The proximity of Deal's shoreline to the notorious Goodwin Sands has made its coastal waters a source of both shelter and danger through the history of sea travel in British waters. The Downs, the water between the town and the sands, provides a naturally sheltered anchorage. This meant that, despite the absence of a harbour, the town became a significant port (both for merchant ships and for the Royal Navy) with transit of goods and people from ship to shore conducted using smaller tender craft. Deal was, for example, visited by Nelson and was the first English soil on which James Cook set foot in 1771 on returning from his first voyage to Australia. The anchorage is still used today by international and regional shipping, though on a scale far smaller than at other times in the past (some historical accounts report hundreds of ships being visible from the beach).

In 1672, a small Naval Yard was established at Deal, providing stores and minor repair facilities.[3] On the site of the yard there is now a building originally used as a semaphore tower linked to London, and later used as a coastguard house, then as a timeball tower, which remains today as a museum of time and communication.

The Deal Maritime and Local History Museum is housed in an historic complex of light-industrial buildings in St George's Road, dating from 1803. It contains a series of displays and artefacts, narrating the town's maritime, industrial, domestic and leisure history.[4]


By the time Dickens came to Deal it had been largely forgotten how the government of 1784, under Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, ensured that the Deal boats were all set ablaze, suspecting some of the Deal luggers of being engaged in smuggling. Pitt had awaited an opportunity that January, when the boats were all 'hoved up' on the beach on account of bad weather, to send a regiment of soldiers to smash and burn them. A naval cutter was positioned offshore to prevent any of the boatmen escaping.[citation needed]

The boatmen's ancestors had the right, under charter, freely to import goods in return for their services as Cinque Port men in providing what had been long recognised as the sole naval defence of the realm. These men continued to risk their lives and their boats, in saving the lives of shipwreck victims. The irrepressible spirit of the Deal boatmen remained undaunted by these events throughout the Napoleonic Wars, and they continued to assert their hard-earned right to trade. From these activities news of the events unfolding in France would reach England quickly and regularly, with about 400 men making a living off Deal beach at that time. The war only made the boatmen’s efforts more profitable, so that afterwards the Government immediately turned a part of its naval blockade into a coastal blockade, which lasted from 1818 to 1831.[citation needed]

Naval and Military[edit]

The Navy Yard[edit]

A Naval storehouse was built in Deal in 1672, providing for ships anchored in the Downs. In time, the establishment grew to cover some five acres of land, to the north of the castle. There was also a Victualling Yard on site. In contrast to other naval yards, there was no place for ships to dock alongside at Deal, so instead a number of small supply boats were maintained at the yard; these would be launched from the shingle beach, carrying supplies, provisions, personnel or equipment as required. The Yard closed in 1864.[5]

Due to its location as an embarkation point for vessels anchored in the Downs, Deal has been closely associated with the Royal Marines ever since the corps was founded in 1755. Records from the old Navy yard at Deal show that Marines from Chatham and Woolwich were on duty in Deal; they were quartered in the town until a RM Depot was established in the barracks in the 1860s.

The barracks[edit]

Deal Barracks (also called Walmer barracks) were constructed shortly after the outbreak of the French revolution. They originally consisted of adjacent cavalry and infantry barracks (later known as South Barracks), alongside which were separate hospitals for the Army and Navy. In due course the hospitals were also turned into barracks (known as North Barracks and East Barracks respectively). From 1869 the complex served as a sizeable Depot for the Royal Marines; latterly it was known in particular for the Royal Marine School of Music, which had moved there in 1930.

The South barracks originally consisted of the officers' accommodation (with clock and cupola) flanked by separate infantry barracks and cavalry barracks. The buildings still stand (converted to residential apartments in the early 21st century) and are said to be "one of the most complete late C18 barracks in the country".[6] The 15th Light Dragoons were accommodated there from 1792-1815 (a convenient base during the Napoleonic wars). Part of the South barracks was used from 1815 as the quarters for the 'blockade men', drafted against a threat of local smuggling. The South barracks became a coastguard station thereafter, and this duty continued until 1840. Thereafter they accommodated various Line Infantry regiments until the Royal Marines moved in in 1869, where they remained for over a century and a quarter.[7]

The North barracks was originally an Army hospital (built 1797, one of the first military hospitals in Britain). Little survives today beyond a number of houses built to accommodate officers or surgeons.[8]

Admiralty Mews (formerly East Barracks).

It was the East barracks which accommodated the School of Music; originally it had been built to serve as a Naval hospital.[9] The Royal Naval School of Music was formed at Plymouth in 1903, but moved to Deal in 1930, replacing the original depot band formed in 1891. The institution became known as the Royal Marine School of Music in 1950.

During 1940, at St. Margaret's Bay, close to Deal, the Royal Marines Siege Regiment came into being and manned cross-channel guns for most of the remainder of the war. On 29 October, a Home security Report detailed in the RAF's Campaign Diary was made: "Army Stations 29thU October 1940 Deal: At 1640 hours three HE bombs were dropped in the barracks, the casualties being 1 Officer and 7 other ranks killed, 6 Officers and 6 other ranks wounded."

The bombing was made by a solitary aircraft of Corpo Aereo Italiano employed during the Battle of Britain. These casualties are buried in the Hamilton Road Cemetery. Deal Barracks was closed in 1996, and its buildings converted for residential use. In 2005, the Old Gymnasium (in the Barracks) was renovated and it won the Building Renovation category in the Kent Design Awards.[10]

IRA Bombing[edit]

At approximately 8:20 am on 22 September 1989, the Royal Marines School of Music was bombed by the IRA, resulting in the deaths of 11 bandsmen, and injuries to 22 other marines. The memorial garden is situated in the grounds of the old barracks where the bomb went off. This was built in remembrance of the 11 that died and was then restored after an arson attack a number of years ago. Every year the families and friends of those that died join together at the garden to pay their respects and lay flowers in a memorial service.

On the evening of 26 March 1996, the Deal populace were privy to a special ceremony, the Beating Retreat, coming from the South barracks, as the Royal Marines Band Service were commanded to vacate their ancient Kent depot and move to new quarters at Portsmouth. The Marines every year come up to the bandstand and put on a display which attracts over 10,000 people.



The 1957 Deal Pier

The seafront at Deal has been adorned with three separate piers in the town's history. The first, built in 1838, was designed by Sir John Rennie. After its wooden structure was destroyed in an 1857 gale, it was replaced by an iron pier in 1864. A popular pleasure pier, it survived until the Second World War, when it was struck and severely damaged by a mined Dutch ship, the Nora, in January 1940. This was not the first time the pier had been hit by shipping, with previous impacts in 1873 and 1884 necessitating extensive repairs.

The present pier, designed by Sir W. Halcrow & Partners, was opened on 19 November 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. Constructed predominantly from concrete-clad steel, it is 1026 ft (311 m) in length (a notice announces that it is the same length as the RMS Titanic, but that ship was just 882 feet in length), and ends in a three-tiered pier-head, featuring a cafe, bar, lounge, and fishing decks. The lowest of the three tiers is underwater at all but the lowest part of the tidal range, and has become disused. The pier is a popular sport fishing venue.

Deal's current pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent and is a Grade II listed building.[11] Its structure was extensively refurbished and repaired in 1997, with work including the replacement of much of the concrete cladding on the pier's main piles. Work began in April 2008 to construct a new pier-head with a modern restaurant, with the restaurant opened in December 2008.


Deal has several museums; all are related to Deal's maritime history. Both Deal Castle and Walmer Castle are operated by English Heritage - Deal has a display on the events in the reign of Henry VIII that led to the invasion threat which caused its construction, along with some material on its subsequent history, whereas displays at Walmer concentrate on Walmer's post-Tudor role as the Lord Warden's residence. There is also a ruin of the third Tudor castle, Sandown Castle, in North Deal. The Deal Maritime and Local History Museum has exhibits of boats, smuggler galleys and model naval ships. It also contains extensive histories of the lifeboats as well as local parish registers. The Timeball Tower Museum, on the other hand, focuses on the importance of timekeeping for ships, and the role the building it occupies played.

Notable references[edit]

Diarist Samuel Pepys recorded several visits to the town, being moved on 30 April 1660 to describe it as "pitiful".[12]

Deal was notorious in the 17th century as a location for smugglers, and Daniel Defoe wrote of the town:

William Cobbett passing through in September 1823 noted in his book Rural Rides:

In fiction[edit]

Dickens, who had visited the town, had Richard Carstone garrisoned here in Bleak House,[13] so that Woodcourt and Esther's paths can cross when Woodcourt's ship happens to anchor in the Downs at the same time as Esther and Charley are visiting Richard:

Deal is the setting for local novelist George Chittenden's smuggling saga, which is set in the late 18th century when the town was a haven for criminal gangs smuggling contraband across the English Channel. In Chittenden's debut The Boy Who Led Them a child rises through the ranks to control the biggest smuggling gang on the Kent coast, fighting wars with rival gangs and revenue men at every turn.[14]

In Chittenden's next book The Boy Who Felt No Pain he takes the reader on a journey back to the dangerous coastal town of Deal, fleshing out the back story of main characters from the first novel whilst also raising some interesting new questions.[15]

In Jane Austen's Persuasion,[16] the town is mentioned as the only place where Admiral Croft's wife Sophia Croft was ever ill, as it was the only place she was ever separated from him, whilst he was patrolling the North Sea.

  • A renamed Deal served as the setting for the William Horwood book The Boy With No Shoes.[17] It is also the setting for part of his earlier novel The Stonor Eagles.
  • It is the (renamed) setting of Frances Fyfield's crime novel Undercurrents.[18]
  • It is the setting for David Donachie's book A Hanging Matter, a murder and nautical mystery.[19]
  • North & South Deal were swapped round in the semi-autobiographical novel The Pier by Rayner Heppenstall.
  • Deal features briefly in H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds.
  • Deal is mentioned as the destination for a Marine recruit from Edinburgh in the novel Guns of Evening by Ronald Bassett. "What's Deal?" the recruit replies having never heard of it.
  • Deal is the setting for Ian Fleming's 1955 James Bond book Moonraker. Villain Hugo Drax has built his Moonraker rocket just outside Deal, where Bond has to go and investigate a murdered undercover operative.
  • Characters in the Aubrey-Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian frequently stay in Deal waiting for their ship to be ordered to sea.
  • Horatio Hornblower (in The Commodore, by C. S. Forester) departs from Deal on his voyage to the Baltic.

Deal is also the setting for the book After Dover - a short story about a serial killer travelling from Dover to Deal (by Luke Ryman). Further local references include Oxney Bottom and Ringwould.

Local media[edit]


Deal has one paid for newspaper, the East Kent Mercury, published by the KM Group. Free newspapers for the town include the Dover Extra, part of the KM Group; and yourdeal, part of KOS Media.


The local radio station for Deal is KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country. Deal is also served by the county-wide stations Heart, Gold and BBC Radio Kent. Deal Community Radio[20] is an online radio station with music, interviews and information on upcoming activities at The Astor Community Theatre along with the latest news from around Kent.

Sport and Leisure[edit]

Deal has a Non-League football club Deal Town F.C., which plays at The Charles Sports Ground.

The Rugby Club, Deal & Betteshanger Lions plays at the old RM Drill Field off Canada Rd.

There is a Farmer’s Market on Wednesday which sells local produce, as well as a long-running market on Saturday. The town has an independent retail sector in the North End of Deal High Street, and a number of chains on the High Street, though there are some retail voids.

The Astor Theatre in Deal offers musical performances, live theatre, exhibitions, movies, classes and clubs, and more.

Deal, used to have two cinemas up until 1981, but these finally closed in the 1984 with the closure of the Cannon Classic in Queen Street and although a small cinema re-appeared in the former Cannon Classic Cinema building, that too closed in 2007. Deal's former bingo hall the Regent another art deco cinema building closed in 2008 and has been sold by the local council to reopen as a branch of Silver Screen Cinemas. As of January 2013, the building remains shuttered.

Twin towns[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

Comedian Norman Wisdom, writer Simon Raven, television presenter Karl Pilkington, jazz musician Dick Morrissey, and actors William Hartnell, Charles Hawtrey, Geoff Bell, Neil Stuke, Richard Cant, Bernard Hepton, Jerry Anderson, and Jack Scanlon all lived or live in Deal. Notable people born in the town include James Arbuthnot, John Hulke, Elizabeth Carter, John Stanton Fleming Morrison, and Bruce Montague, playwright Gregory Motton.


The nearest UK Met Office weather station is in Dover. Deal has a temperate maritime climate, with comfortable summers and cold winters. The temperature is usually between 3 °C (37 °F) and 21.1 °C (70.0 °F), but the all-time temperature range is between −8 °C (18 °F) and 31 °C (88 °F). There is evidence that the sea is coldest in February; the warmest recorded February temperature was only 13 °C (55 °F), compared with 16 °C (61 °F) in January.[21] [22]

Climate data for Dover (Nearest station to Deal) (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Average low °C (°F) 3.3
Record low °C (°F) −5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 74.9
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 12.3 10.6 10.6 10.5 8.1 8.2 8.2 8 10.2 11.6 12.6 12.7 123.5
Average relative humidity (%) 88 86 84 81 83 84 84 82 82 84 87 88 84.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 66 83.4 117.5 185.2 214.7 213.3 221.6 223.4 159.4 126 76.7 55.8 1,743
[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Deal Middle Street". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.140.
  3. ^ Lavery, Brian (1989). Nelson's Navy. London: Conway Maritime Press. 
  4. ^ "Museum website". 
  5. ^ Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet. Swindon: English Heritage. 
  6. ^ Good Stuff. "Building 129 (Guard House), South Barracks - Walmer - Kent - England - British Listed Buildings". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  7. ^ listed building report
  8. ^ Good Stuff. "Building 68 and Attached Rear Wall, North Barracks - Walmer - Kent - England - British Listed Buildings". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "WalmerWeb: Local History - The Royal Marines". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Top design award for converted rail shed". 2 December 2005. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Deal Pier - National Piers Society". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "Monday 30 April 1660". The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Chapter XLV
  14. ^ "The Boy Who Led Them: George Chittenden: 9781849631280: Books". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Boy Who Felt No Pain: George Chittenden: 9781849634489: Books". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Chapter 8
  17. ^ William Horwood (2004). The Boy with No Shoes: A Memoir. Review. ISBN 978-0-7553-1317-4. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  18. ^ Frances Fyfield (4 October 2012). Undercurrents. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-4055-2048-5. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  19. ^ David Donachie (1 April 2002). A Hanging Matter. McBooks Press. ISBN 978-1-59013-016-2. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "Deal Community Radio - Something for everyone". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "Deal climate". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "December Climate History for Dover - Local - Kent, United Kingdom". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 


External links[edit]