Herne Bay beach
The sign welcomed me to Herne Bay a Coastal Leisure Town. The decline of traditional coastal industries in the second half of the 20th century created challenges. Visiting any coastal town in the middle of December is a particular challenge but I was surprised how lively the place was. The fine sunny day attracted many strollers along the front. The pier still manages to dominate the view out to sea. It is distinctive as it is in two sections, the middle section collapsing in a severe storm in January 1978. An off shore wind farm is evidence of new industry in the area.

Marine Terrace

The sea front is a rich testimony to the town’s history in early tourism. In the nineteenth century no trip to the seaside was complete without a dip in the sea from a bathing machine which looked like beach huts on wheels. The grand late Georgian Houses at Marine Terrace were perfectly positioned so that bathers could be transported to the sea. The terrace is next to the Ship Inn dating back to the late 18th-century inn it served as the focal point for the small shipping and farming community which first inhabited the town. A band stand and Clock Tower complement the scene. The later is believed to be the first freestanding purpose built clock tower in the world.

The Clock Tower
Reculver Tower which is east of Herne Bay is clearly visible from the sea front. It was here that the bouncing bomb used by the Dam Busters of the 2nd World War was tested. Just east of The Ship Inn there is a statue to the memory of Barnes Wallis its inventor.
There is a Saturday Market on King’s Road Car Park. The stalls were mainly selling cheap goods from China, the kind that you can buy in any pound shop on the high street. I was surprised by one large stall that was selling wool. There would need to be an awful lot of local knitters to make it a worth while enterprise. The main shops are found on the High Street and Mortimer Street. The parallel main streets reveal the town’s Saxon past.
It was refreshing to see that there were no empty shops and there was a surprising number of independent shops. The old cinema is now an antiques emporium Briggsy’s which had some very interesting pieces and a good range of vinyl records which seem to be in demand again. The 40s and 50s background music added to its charm. Ram Collectable Toys had only been open for two weeks and is run by Mark Priest and his father. It had an interesting selection of retro toys for those kids that never grow up. Sew Lovely stock a large range of buttons, fabric, haberdashery and they also run sewing and craft classes. My final destination was back to the front to Makcaris for fish and chips. They were some of the best I have tasted and very reasonable.
Since my visit a storm has erupted, and even made the national news, between the local traders and the council. Traders and local residents have accused the council of providing the worst Christmas lights in the country and described them as an embarrassment. I left before dark so can make no comment.

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