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Homes demolition plans to transform Deal from the villainous and filthy place described by William Cobbett

By Mercury reporter

When William Cobbett visited Deal in 1823, he wrote “Deal is a most villainous place.

"It is full of filthy looking people. Great desolation of abomination has been going on here; tremendous barracks, partly pulled down and partly tumbling down and partly occupied by soldiers.

"Every thing seems upon the perish. I was glad to hurry along through it, and leave its inns and public houses to be occupied by the tarred and blue-and-buff crew whose very vicinage (vicinity) I always detest.”

A mid-1800s print looking northward along the Pier Parade
A mid-1800s print looking northward along the Pier Parade

By 1834, the townsfolk of Deal wanted to start making an effort to prevent any further decay of the town.

Pavement Commissioners’ accounts showed Deal’s general collapse into turmoil.

Receipts showed that in 1815 they amounted to over £1,584, while in 1864 they reduced to £848. Some felt the government should help, while others believed that the Admiralty might be able to further develop the Naval Yard. But it soon became clear that it would be down to the townsfolk of Deal to prevent further decay.

As part of the improvements a Committee purchased and demolished all the houses on the eastern side of Beach Street that had existed between King Street and the mansion (later the Temperance Hotel).

View looking south along the Pier Parade and Beach Street
View looking south along the Pier Parade and Beach Street

These houses were part of the estate of the See of Canterbury, and the Committee anticipated the archbishop would not oppose demolition.

It was soon proposed to form a building company to construct an esplanade of around 590 feet in length, that would be protected by a seawall topped with an iron fence.

The following year the Pavement Commissioners appointed an Improvements Committee chaired by Captain Edward Boys its chairman, who had originally suggested that a company should be established to furnish and improve the state of many of the dwellings around Deal, especially those properties that were situated on the seafront and were first to be seen by newly arriving visitors to the town approaching from the sea.

Captain Boys proposed three improvements: Firstly from King Street to Broad Street, the second consisting of a parade immediately to the north of The Crown Inn, that was situated at the northern end of Beach Street, and thirdly the widening of the central part of Beach Street.

Cobbett said Deal is a villainous place: Properties along the northern part of Beach Street
Cobbett said Deal is a villainous place: Properties along the northern part of Beach Street

With these proposals adopted by the Commissioners it was necessary to raise a loan of £4,000, with £2,500 devoted to the south end improvement and £1,500 to the north.

The Pavement Commissioners purchased these various properties and then demolished them to allow for the plan of road widening and improving the streets.

However, they had no authority to use public money in building a seawall and instead issued an appeal for public subscriptions, which eventually raised £870.

This led to the construction of the South Parade (Pier Parade) and the North Parade (Pilots Parade). The North Parade had not existed for many years because a shop stood directly opposite Broad Street and a capstan plot lay between that area and the property that was considered as the mansion.

In 1837, plans were envisaged to purchase the shop and the capstan plot to build a library, reading room and bath, until a private company opened the Adelaide Baths.

In 1858, the same shop and capstan plot were purchased by the Commissioners and the parade continued to the garden wall of the mansion. It was not until 1892 that the Deal Corporation constructed the road and parade, which connect Pier Parade and Victoria Parade.

It was at this time the capstan plot in front of the Timeball Tower was purchased and the bandstand was erected.

Beach Street and the Shrubbery to the right
Beach Street and the Shrubbery to the right

To widen the central part of Beach Street the Commissioners purchased and demolished the Rodney public house, close to the beach between Oak Street and Brewer Street. By 1912, Deal Town Council had purchased most of the properties along the seaward side of Beach Street in order to demolish them, and wanted to begin creating a long and open parade north of the Royal Hotel.

The Shrubbery along the north promenade
The Shrubbery along the north promenade

However, one of the properties situated along Beach Street had been subject to a lease, which resulted in a large amount of compensation being paid to surrender the lease. It was finally taken by jury under the provisions of the Deal Pavement Act 1812, with the jury hearing the arguments and evidence on behalf of the lessee and Corporation in 1913 at Deal Town Hall. As part of the improvements to this promenade there were two separate shrubberies built and laid, which each had low level hedges surrounded by ornate low level fencing and provided all round access for two glazed shelters with seating.

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