Deal Pier

Deal Pier

Deal Pier as it is today is actually the third to be built on this spot and access to the pier is the easiest you could wish for, especially for anyone disabled in any way.  No narrow turnstiles or the like to squeeze through and the council staff that run the pier are some of the most helpful I have ever come across anywhere!  If you live out of the area give them a ring and they will give you up to date information about weather conditions, what and what hasn't been caught.  Great when planning a trip to know what is happening or what to expect instead of turning up and guessing.

The first pier at Deal was designed by engineer J. Rennie and built in 1838.
The Deal Pier Company who built it were awarded £21,000 by the government to complete the pier but after spending only £12,000 they then ran in to financial difficulties and that is why only 250 feet of the planned original 445 foot was completed. 
In those early days steamers used to dock alongside the pier and one can only imagine the positive impact both financially and helping to put the town on the map it had.  Unfortunately over the following 20 years or so the weather and tides played a big part in the demise of the structure and in 1857 after a storm the pier was washed up on to the beach and was subsequently the scrap sold for just £50!

In 1863 a new pier was commissioned and started by the Deal and Walmer Pier Company. This pier was built to a length of 1100 feet and included amongst other things a 3 tier pier head with a steamer landing stage.  This pier was designed by Eugenius Birch and included a tram that carried luggage and goods up the the landing stage with seating that was placed along the full length of the pier for the convenience of it's patrons.  Two Toll Houses were built at the entrance, a pavilion was built on the end in 1886 that was used for concerts and also angling and salt baths and a reading room were added in the mid 1870's.
Didn't the Victorians know how to do things in style?

In the meantime two ship collisions occurred, one in 1873 and the other in 1884. The first collision was by the 'Merle', it was built by Westwood Ballie and Company for the West Indian sugar trade.  Weighing 315 tons she would have been capable of causing a lot of damage.  The second collision was by the schooner 'Alliance' which ran in to the pier during another storm.  Both sets of damage were subsequently repaired and the pier remained an important attraction for the town and was eventually bought by Deal Town Council in 1920 for just £10,000!  Wonder what the cost would be today?

The Dutch vessel ‘Nora', on January 29th 1940 having been beached following damage by a mine, drifted into the pier, destroying 200 feet of ironwork.  This was despite warnings from local fishermen that it was a probability because she only lay about 50 yards, partially under water, on the south side of the pier! 
The army was given permission to demolish Deal Pier by Winston Churchill to allow coastal guns a clear line of sight.  The only remaining feature were the two Toll Houses at the entrance which were eventually removed in 1954, the year work on the present pier commenced.

Built from reinforced concrete, the present structure is now 1026 feet long and was opened on November 19th 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. 
It was designed by Sir W Halcrow and Partners and had cost £250,000 to build.  It has four shelters on either side of the pier, spaced at intervals, that today are utilised mostly by the angling fraternity that use the pier.   It is a very popular venue for anglers of all ages and abilities as it has very easy access and a tackle shop at the entrance run by local angler Fred Leach who took over from Steve Allmark, one of the UK's top anglers.  Fred also sponsors the 'Heaviest Fish of the Month' competition run on the pier with a prize of a £20 voucher to be spent in his angling shop.
Pier fishing is a great way to introduce youngsters to our fantastic sport. 
Deal Angling Club (1919) run competitions all year round and have a junior section that caters for both boys and girls under the age of 16.  There are annual Junior Pier Festivals in which there are plenty of trophies and prizes to be won, run under the supervision of adults who are only too keen to help and advise the younger anglers.  Saying that, it often the case were the pupil can often teach the teacher!  This year alone, (2010) over 60 competitions have been organised for boat, pier and beach fishing.  By anyone's standard, that is a lot of competitions to enter and organise.

The angling club has its own fully licensed club house on the Sea Front, catering for 800 senior members and 120 juniors, the club house can also be hired out for private functions.  The angling club also rents a cabin on the bottom deck of the pier which is available for club members use only, with running water for washing and a pay meter for lighting and tea making facilities.  How easy do you want it ?

In 1998 a 300cm high bronze statue, 'Embracing the Sea', by sculptor John Buck  was commissioned and placed at the entrance to the pier.  November 2008 saw a new cafe built and opened.  The new cafe features timber frames, edge walls made of glass and a range of environmentally-friendly features.   Sat in there looking out over the south east coast and sea is a real treat.  The pier has international recognition as an angling venue and was named Pier of the Year 2008 by the National Piers Society, beating 23 other nominated piers in the twelfth annual poll of the Society's 600 members.  It is a credit to the council that the pier is run so enthusiastically by the staff and a former member of the staff actually runs his own website dedicated to just the pier itself, independent of the council.  The pier boasts first class toilets including a disabled one, a fishing tackle shop at the entrance to the pier, shelters and of course the newly refurbished cafe.

I believe this shows why it has remained such an asset and an attraction to visitors as well as local residents.   Long may it remain - Deal Pier.