Just round the Kent corner from Dover the pier gives wide views of the long beach,the pretty front,a touch of the white cliffs one way and Ramsgate the other. The pier’s rather dubious claim to fame is that it is the last seaside pier built in Britain. And unfortunately the ugliest. Eugenius Birch’s original construction was badly damaged by a drifting ship and Churchill had what was left destroyed in the War. The 1950 brutalist modern pier is spiritually twinned with London’s ugliest bridge,Wandsworth and countless post war council estates of which it is a contemporary.
But hey, it a working pier,and although the cafe was closed when I went(opening again soon) they were repainting the hand rails and rebuilding the benches.
And Deal? A little darling.(see link above) My hunt of the UK’s fifty plus piers has taken me to several resorts, many of which have tell signs of decay and low life. Deal seems to have achieved what others aim for.The resort that has a charm and range,as every saint, a history and as every sinner a future.
The high street is full of interesting small shops and eating places. I ate at the very classy Rose. Typically on the next table were three designers discussing the fabrics and colours for next year. Across the room was the “middle aged” lady in shocking blonde hair and dark glasses. All the charming waiters came and kissed the lady. She settled down with two glasses of wine. On another table sat a rare family of hippos.
The town’s history is intimately involved with the Navy and the Marines.Deals’s favourite son is the comedian Norman Wisdom who spent his childhood in the town. I had a drink at the Sir Norman Wisdom on my way back to the station. It was run by Weathespoons and my ginger beer was half the price I pay elsewhere. How do they do it?
Overall with its pretty front complete with dinky well painted houses,gracious pubs and smart hotels Deal reminded me of certain Welsh resorts which have kept their shape even as holiday habits h ave moved against them. Deal’s lack of sandy beaches,its wide pebbles go on forever,mean it can never be a kiss me quick place and being 90 minutes from London means it can never be a Brighton. Maybe its lack of size is one of its saving graces.Along with Cromer it is one of my finds and I will return. Along with Lyme Regis it is a middle class,middle aged resort.
And personally the fact that its historic brewery(now closed) was Thompsons of next door Walmer charms the place even more. Its symbol was a lighthouse with the cheeky headline “A friendly light”.
Here are my other reasons why Deal is a success story.
Few empty shops
No beggars or tattooed men clutching cans of special brew
No child mums smoking and pushing carts with more than two children
Few very fat people
More “art” than fish and chip shops
Good places to eat and drink
No amusement arcades
No Polish or pawn broking shops
Three small but perfectly formed museums,plus several art galleries.