Spotlight on: Deal
- Credit: Archant
Deal has a lovely seafront, beach and pier and it’s been named the The Telegraph’s ‘High Street of the Year’
Deal truly lives up to its motto of ‘befriend the stranger’, as the first thing you notice as you step foot into this charismatic, compact town is how friendly the people are.
Spring is the perfect time to visit, and you can see just how far Deal has come since the 1200s when it originated as a small fishing village.
Its coastal location acted as the perfect front during the era of the Napoleonic Wars in which a dangerous underbelly of smuggling, vice and prostitution formed.
These activities centred mostly on Alfred Square and Middle Street – and even today ‘contraband tunnels’ under the pavements are still being discovered.
Tourism caught on in the mid-19th century, allowing fine houses to be built. It expanded again during The Boer War and First World War troop movements stimulated the town’s growth, as did Kent’s growing coalfields in the 1920s.
Pier and seafront
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The main seafront is comprised of Prince of Wales Terrace and Beach Street, from where the quarter mile long pier overlooks the historic, colourful beachfront and offers fishing facilities plus great views from the glass-fronted café at its end.
On Beach Street, near to Dunkerleys’ excellent hotel and restaurant, is a fine flower-filled promenade area, while the Timeball Tower and Museum (closed until summer) is the striking building with an iron ball and mast on its roof.
Award-winning high street
Brandon Lewis MP, speaking about his and fellow judges’ choice of Deal as winner of the The Telegraph’s ‘High Street of the Year, 2013’, said: “Without being either cheap and cheerful or twee and gentrified, Deal feels like the quintessential English seaside high street.
“They have the right mix of shops and local businesses, twice-weekly markets with traders selling local produce that attract visitors and locals alike, and dozens of independent shops side by side.
“To mingle with these, we also have the bigger high street names like M&S, coffee shops and restaurants, packed at all times of the day.”
The High Street and Middle Street run parallel with the seafront, linked by smaller roads, and much of this area is pedestrianised.
Two excellent golf clubs are Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club (01304 374007, CT14 6RF) and Walmer and Kingsdown Golf Club (01304 373256, CT14 8EP).
Tides Leisure Centre (01304 373399, CT14 9UU) is a multi-purpose sports and leisure centre, while Deal was recommended in a ‘Where to Cycle by the Sea’ feature in The Times. The seven-mile route from the town to Ringwould was described as ‘short and sweet’ with ‘a bit of everything’.
Fowlmead Country Park (CT14 0BF) has a two-mile tarmac cycle track, leisure paths for cycling and walking, plus woodlands, wetlands and reed beds full of wildlife.
At the bottom of town is Deal Castle (CT14 7BA), with battlements, passages and interactive exhibitions. Walmer Castle (CT14 7LJ) is the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, and is surrounded by fine gardens. See also feature on page xx.
Eat, drink and sleep
Good hotels that also have fine restaurants include: Beachbrow Hotel and Waterfront Restaurant (01304 374338, CT14 6HY), Dunkerleys (01304 375016, CT14 7AH) and The Royal Hotel (01304 375555, CT14 6JD). Some fine restaurants are: La Bouche (01304 368881, CT14 7DP), 81 Beach Street (01304 368136, CT14 6JB), and for an enjoyable drink try The Ship Inn (01304 372222, CT14 6JZ) or the Deal Hoy (01304 363972, CT14 6DU).
The Astor Community Theatre (01304 370220, CT14 6AB) has a varied programme throughout the year.
Deal Classic Car and Motor Show Kent (24-25 May) is at Walmer Green, Deal (CT14 7DX).
Deal Festival of Music and Arts (27 June-6 July) is at venues in Deal, Walmer and Sandwich.
A cut above the rest
Aaron Dawkins is a young businessman who has lived in Deal all his life and loves the town.
He established Men’s Style by Aaron (01304 373202, CT14 6EH) in 2005, a barbers and hairdressing shop for men (of all ages) at two premises: the High Street and Queen Street. They also offer a mobile service and a ladies’ ‘walk-in’ cut and style service.
Aaron and his father Paul are keen supporters of local charities and raised £850 for Prostate Cancer Research by way of ‘Movember’ in 2012, and a further £1,500 for Cancer Research UK in 2013.
They also sponsor local organisations, including the local football team Thompson Bell, and Deal and Walmer Rugby Club.
Aaron says: “We offer anything related to men’s hairdressing, barbering and beard trimming, and supply free coffee, Wi Fi, TV and a Playstation for the youngsters – and we support a charity event each autumn.
“Being a Deal town enthusiast, I love our wonderful community and shops. Deal really does have so much to offer. The seafront is my favourite part of town, and it’s so close to the High Street – ideally placed for kayaking with my friends.
“The Astor Theatre is always well worth visiting, with lots of different shows and workshops. I personally like the Ship Inn on Middle Street, which is perfect for a cosy drink. There’s also a very good band scene, with fantastic musicians, and plenty of good bars and pubs.
“In Deal we are very lucky to have such a nice community, all within a vibrant and growing town. Deal is fantastic and I know it’s just going to keep getting better.”
Chris Spencer, vicar of St George’s Church
What did you do before ordination?
Before ordination I was an advisor to commercial vegetable growers; an expert in runner beans!
Tell us about St George’s
St George’s (CT14 6AZ) is in the centre of town, a magnificent Queen Anne building, home to its worshipping community and also used to host different kinds of events, including concerts, fashion shows, public meetings, workshops and theatrical performances.
Originally a new church for the new town, St George’s began to be built in 1706, but after erecting the walls the money ran out and it wasn’t finally completed until 1716. It’s perfect for our lively congregation and a great facility for the wider community.
I’ve been one of the vicars here for 16 years, and my family and I live just off Deal High Street.
What is ‘Turning the Tide?’
We use the strap line ‘Turning the Tide’ to describe the calling of St George’s to help the people of Deal discover the God they may have forgotten: it’s about finding hope in knowing Jesus Christ and discovering real purpose.
St George’s is truly multi-generational – from babes-in-arms to people in their nineties.
What do you love about Deal?
My wife Joy and I love the character of the town, and the fact that you can really belong to it. There’s always something happening, on the seafront or at the Astor Theatre, or at the bandstand on the High Street, and there are so many places to choose from if you want to pop out for coffee, a drink or a meal.
We love to walk or ride our bikes beside the sea. Middle Street is magical – where else can you wander between lovely Georgian houses, on streets with no parked cars, and where every house is different?
Deal in a sentence or two?
Deal is a gem of a town, set by the sea, which has been a wonderful place for our family to grow up. And of course it’s great to belong to the church that’s in the best High Street in the country!
Deal is on the east Kent coast, midway between Sandwich and Dover. The most straightforward route is via Dover, linked to the A2 and the A20, which join the M2 (A2) and M20 respectively; these meet the M25 at junctions 2 and 3. From Dover take the A2 (north) and then the A258. The nearest station is Sandwich (4.5 miles).
Satnav postcode: CT14 6BB (town centre)