Whitstable Museum and Gallery

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Whitstable Museum and Gallery
Whitstable Museum by Pam Fray 002.jpg
Museum entrance
Established 1985
Location 5A Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1DB, United Kingdom
Type heritage centre; seafaring traditions museum
Collection size Diving, oyster trade, shipbuilding trade, Peter Cushing
Curator Joanna Jones
Public transit access Rail: Whitstable railway station
Buses: National Express; Stagecoach
Website Whitstable Museum web page

Whitstable Museum and Gallery is a heritage centre in Whitstable, Kent, and is notable for its displays showing the history of the local oyster trade started by the Romans and of historical diving equipment. It is open on Thursdays to Sundays in summer, 11:00am to 4:30pm. Admission is free for locals and £3:00 for visitors, with access for the disabled.


The present museum was established in 1985.[1] The museum received the Nautiek Award, for services to diving history, in 2001; the first time the award had been given to a UK establishment. [2] A recent Arts Council grant has enabled the museum to be repainted, with new lighting and a general facelift.

Entrance and building[edit]

The building is like the Tardis in that the tiny doorway opens up into a large hall of displays.[3] In 1881 the Ancient Order of Foresters bought the building, and inscribed "Foresters' Hall" over the door.[4]


The museum has collections and displays on themes of the natural world, local oyster trade, early diving and the actor Peter Cushing who lived locally,[5] as well as displays on the 1953 floods, shipwrecks and maritime archaeology. The collections are held under the following headings: social history, science and technology, maritime, land transport, fine art, decorative and applied art, archives and archaeology.[5][6][7]

The natural world display shows life on the shoreline, including plants, fossils, sealife and birds.[2]

The museum's largest object is Whitstable's first horse-drawn fire pump, which was manned by twenty-six volunteers. In 1867 the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society had donated it to the town.[8] The diving display shows Standard diving dress with Siebe Gorman helmet and the traditional red bonnet to protect the head against the helmet (see image below). The museum also contains relics from the East Indiaman Hindostan, which wrecked at Margate in January 1803.

In 2010 the BBC chose the Pudding Pan Pots from Whitstable Museum as objects illustrating the history of Kent as part of the A History of the World in 100 Objects project.[9][10][11][12]

The museum provides object identification services, and holds specialist publications on its collections. Facilities are available by advance booking for study of objects from the collections.[2]


The collection includes ship paintings on the theme of international and local trading links; town, shore and coastal views; the work of local artists; artworks borrowed from an international network of galleries.[2][5]


Oyster yawl, Favourite.


There are about six exhibitions per year: some local, some which have toured nationally, and some with associated public events.[14] In 2001 there was a special exhibition about art and water.[15] In March 2002 there was an exhibition in which visitors could handle historic diving equipment and watch films about diving.[16] There was a 2009−2010 exhibition on the last oyster yawl, Favourite, and a Girl Guides exhibition in 2010, finishing in March.[14] The museum takes part in the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival by hosting interactive exhibitions.[17] In September 2009, the museum had a World War II frontline exhibition.[18]


Workshops are provided for schools and colleges, and students can study with practising artists. Adult courses, and a children's "Little Oysters Story Time" are held in addition.[2][5][14] In 2007 there was a workshop in which children could make sock animals.[19]

Educational space[edit]

The museum re-allocated some of its space for education in 2009 on its frontage with Oxford Street.[20][21] In the event the Council voted in favour of this proposal.[22][23]


  1. ^ Information from museum spokesperson
  2. ^ a b c d e "Culture 24". Whitstable Museum & Gallery. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Fray, Pam (5 February 2010). "Geograph". TR1066 : Inside Whitstable Museum. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Fray, Pam (5 February 2010). "Geograph". TR1066 : Entrance to Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery, Oxford Street. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d "AboutBritain.com". Whitstable Museum & Art Gallery. 1999–2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "modellskipper.de". Whitstable Museum & Gallery. 2000–2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Evans, H.; Janet West (2009). "Maritime and Naval Museums in Britain and Ireland". Whitstable Museum and Gallery. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Fray, Pam (5 February 2010). "Geograph". TR1066: Whitstable's first fire engine. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Kent Messenger: Kent Online". Blue Town anchor plays a part in Kent's history. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "BBC: A History of the World". Roman shipwreck pots used for puddings. 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "YourCanterbury.co.uk". Kent's 10 objects that tell the story of history. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  12. ^ "Canterbury City Council Online". Roman pots play their role in world history. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  13. ^ Lilley, Jane. "British Marine Life Study Society". The Oyster and the Slipper Limpet. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c "Canterbury City Council Online". Exhibitions and Events (for Whitstable Museum). 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "Canterbury City Council Online". Double vision at Whitstable museum. 17 September 2001. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Kent Online". Chance to get insight into history of diving. 25 February 2002. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Whitstable Oyster Festival". What's On. 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  18. ^ "Kentish Gazette". Kent's exhibition to explore the Forgotten Frontline of World War II. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  19. ^ "Canterbury City Council Online". Family fun at Whitstable Museum. CCC. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  20. ^ Eyb, Lynette (8 February 2010). "The Independent". Canterbury's Roman Museum could fall victim to the credit crunch (Independent News and Media Limited). Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  21. ^ Finch, Graham (2008–2010). "Canterbury City Council Online". Agenda: Executive Thursday, 21st January, 2010 6.30 pm. Canterbury: Canterbury City Council. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  22. ^ Finch, Graham (19 February 2010). "Canterbury City Council Online". Agenda Council Thursday, 18th February, 2010 7.00 pm. CCC. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  23. ^ "Canterbury Museums & Hall". City of Canterbury budget 2010−2011. April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°21′22″N 1°01′28″E / 51.35611°N 1.02444°E / 51.35611; 1.02444 (Whitstable Museum and Gallery)