Deal in Kent: the charming seaside town
- Credit: Archant
If getting away from it all is high on your agenda, then little unassuming Deal may well be the perfect spot, with its lovely beachfront, buzzing High Street and warm community feel
The charming seaside town of Deal is a real gem. Relatively inaccessible and with the coast of France visible across the Channel, it’s easy to feel as though you really have escaped the rat race in this faraway corner of Kent.
Topping polls including The Daily Telegraph’s High Street of the Year and Best Coastal Town in 2014, as well as being named ‘best hipster holiday destination for Londoners’ by the Evening Standard last year, little Deal is making a big impression. Its mix of traditional seaside resort, independent shops and great places to eat, as well as its appeal to artists and creatives, make this town a place you simply must experience.
It’s easy to fill a weekend with things to do and see. Deal has a thriving community theatre, The Astor (www.theastor.org), and a fascinating Victorian Timeball Tower which was used to signal 1pm precisely each day.
It was also once an important port and is home to one of Henry VIII’s coastal defence forts, Deal Castle (www.english-heritage.org.uk).
Deal has had three piers over the years but the current one was opened in 1957, making it the only completely new post-war pier in the country. Strikingly built from steel-reinforced concrete, it ends with a three-tiered pier head and is the last remaining fully intact pier in Kent.
Grade II listed, the pier-head was rebuilt to include a café (Jasin’s, 01304 366830) in 2008. It’s a popular spot for game fishing, with plenty of room on the fishing deck, and it’s a great spot to look back at the view of Deal from the sea. Not the prettiest nor the oldest pier in the world, but it seems appropriate for a unique place like Deal.
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Eating and shopping
There are plenty of great cafés and restaurants. Try 81 Beach Street (01304 368136), Victuals & Co (01304 374389), The Dining Club (01304 373569), Dunkerley’s Hotel & Restaurant (01304 375016) and The Lane (01304 448283), while for a really unique place to enjoy tea and great cakes, visit Mileage Tea Station (01304 363311); a wonderful combination of vintage store and tea room in a 1950’s-style setting.
As an award-winning High Street, it’s no surprise that Deal is packed with independent shops. Some of our favourites are vintage and arts store Taylor-Jones & Son, the French deli No Name, wine shop Borough Wines and the clothing boutique Tamarisk.
Linwood Youth Hub
The Linwood Youth Hub in Deal was opened in November, having cost close to a million pounds and taken 18 months to complete. The build came after a successful local campaign to save youth services in the area, which were put at risk 2011 with proposals to close two youth centres.
The town’s young people will be welcomed six evenings per week and the new building, next to the skate-park at Victoria Park, offers a large social area with computers, a pool table and a café, run by the young people themselves. It also has an art room, a music room and a digital media suite with a recording studio.
KCC Cabinet member for Community Services, Mike Hill, said: “I am delighted that this superb new youth hub has come to fruition, providing a wide range of services and facilities for the district’s young people. We are grateful for the support of the district council, both in the planning process and in its financial commitment to the project.”
Property prices in Deal remain reasonable. The market is currently starting with one-bed flats averaging at around £130,000 and two-bed terraces at around £175,000. Three-bed semi-detached homes are on the market for £165,000 to £350,000. At the top end there are detached five-bed homes for sale up to around £800,000.
Mark Robson, owner, The Just Reproach micropub
Tell us a bit about you
I run The Just Reproach micropub in with my daughter, Bronwen. We were inspired in the idea by visits to Martin Hillier’s Butcher’s Arms in Herne (the original micropub). Neither of us had any experience of running a business but, having talked to the few micropub owners there were at the time, we felt this was a venture whose time had come. The wisdom of that decision was proved sound when, in December, we celebrated the fourth anniversary of the business having become very much part of the Deal community.
So what is a micropub?
A micropub is different to a pub in many ways. They do not serve gastro (or indeed any other) meals, though you may well get locally sourced pork pies or cheese. They do not serve fizzy, standardised beers from large corporations but beers brewed with passion and enthusiasm in microbreweries. You can also expect to find locally produced ciders and we also stock excellent Kentish wines from a nearby vineyard.
They encourage interaction between customers by forbidding mobile phone conversation (a ringing phone incurs a £1 fine for Pilgrims Hospices) and they don’t have bars; table service is provided and staff and customers mingle with each other, breaking down the ‘them and us’ mentality.
Why are micropubs so successful?
Four years ago we were the fourth micropub in Kent and the ninth in the country. Now there are about 30 in Kent and 160 in the UK, and by the time this article is printed there will be more!
People are drawn to the micropub as owners because it is possible to start a business with relatively low set-up and running costs and as drinkers, because you should be able to always guarantee a changing selection of good-quality beers and lively conversation. Without the distraction of TV, music, fruit machines and mobiles, a micropub is refuge from the onslaught that a trip to a more ‘traditional’ pub can be.
What about community activities?
Our customers have raised more than £10,000 for good causes. The Pilgrims Hospices is our main fundraising cause but we have supported a host of other local and national charities such as the Prostate Cancer Support Association, RNLI, Royal British Legion, British Heart Foundation and Go Commando. We have also fundraised to build a school in Kenya. A few quiz nights, hosted by customers, and some other fundraising saw £1,500 collected, which bought the land and saw the building of classrooms so that pupils could move out of the pig sties they had been taught in beforehand. The generosity of our customers never ceases to amaze us.
Northbourne Park School
Steeped in history, Northbourne Park School celebrates its 80th year as a school this year (see also page 87). Formerly the Betteshanger Estate, it was bought in 1832 by Sir Walter James, the first Baron Northbourne.
He employed well-known country house architect George Davey to remodel the main building and it remained the family home for many years.
In 1936 it was decided to let the house to a new preparatory school. It started with just five pupils, one of them being the current Lord Northbourne, who maintains strong links with the school.
By 1979 the nearby Tormore School in Deal was suffering from dwindling numbers and in April 1980 the two schools merged at Betteshanger to become Northbourne Park School. The school was progressive and the children were instilled with a love of learning and enthusiasm for discovering the world around them.
Eighty years after it was first opened as a school and the same values still remain at Northbourne Park, with a strong emphasis on pastoral care as well as extra-curricular activities, including a Forest School and an innovative leadership programme.
International pupils have been welcomed for more than 20 years and help make the school community a more varied and interesting place.
The school has plans later this year to celebrate this milestone in its history, drawing together past and present pupils to share in their experiences of school life.
An Open Day is also planned for 7 May.