The day before I visited Whitstable there had been a public meeting organised by the Save Whitstable Shops campaign. On my way into the town I noticed a free bus to Tesco so assumed that this again was a case of the supermarkets undermining the High Street. A conversation with the shopkeeper of the hardware shop soon put be right. The landlord is putting up rents by a staggering 80-120%. This increase has been calculated on what some of the chains that have moved into the High Street are willing to pay. Whitstable is known for its thriving High Street with individual shops. It seems counter-productive to increase rents so much that only chains can afford them.

It must be one of the few High Streets that can boast three green grocers and three butchers. I saw Medlars on sale in one of the greengrocers. Medlars are a hardy fruit that look like a cross between an apple and a rose-hip. They are not edible until they have started to rot. I doubt if you will find them in a supermarket. You will also struggle to find the range of artisan cheeses that you can find in the Cheese Box on Harbour Road.


Outside Herbert’s cycle shop I spotted a child’s bicycle that had a knitted coat all over its frame. I was intrigued. Outside Keam’s Yard there was a doll’s pram which also had a knitted coat all over its frame. This was the work of Incogknito Graffiti who ran a campaign to brighten up the community with graffiti made from knits. If you want to join this movement you can learn how to knit at the local wool and craft shop Buzz4.

Keam’s Yard is a popular seafront shop run by local artist Bruce Williams. Bruce was painting local fungi when we visited. He is quite the expert on foraging mushrooms and he supplies The Sportsman in Sea Salter. In his small gallery and shop you can buy his paintings as well as interesting pieces of bric a brac. Whitstable has a thriving artist community. The Whitstable Biennale is a festival that features new artists. Every weekend there is a craft and art market in the harbour.


Also on Horsebridge Road is the original Royal Oyster Store 1793 which is now a restaurant. The Horsebridge jetty was where the Thames barges would wait to be loaded and unloaded. The pebbled beach is separated by large wooden breaks. You can stroll along the beach from the harbour to West Beach. You will come to Cushing’s View named after the actor Peter Cushing who lived in the town.

Advertisements