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Herne Bay was founded in the early nineteen hundreds and was a popular holiday destination for Londoners. It was during this period that a wealthy London lady gave the town its distinctive 80ft Clock Tower. The first pier was erected in 1832, followed by steamboats in 1834. In World War II the bouncing bomb, was tested off the shore near here. One of the prototype bombs may be seen in the Herne Bay Museum today.
Herne Bay's seafront is home to the world's first freestanding purpose-built clock tower, built in 1837; until 1978, the town had the second-longest pier in the United Kingdom.

Whether you are looking for relaxation and the chance to unwind or for something more active including great hand's on fun for the younger family members then Kent is the place for you. With many award winning attractions featured together with the best known places to visit and many smaller less well known attractions.
Choose from enchanting gardens, historic houses, mysterious castles, cathedrals and country churches, fascinating museums, animal parks, steam trains, amazing maritime heritage and much more.
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Shopping in Herne bay
There are hundreds of independent retailers situated in the Kent, offering an array of worldwide brands to locally sourced products. Each and every one of them offer a customer service that just can’t be found on the high street.
Check the Herne Bay Directory
Herne Bay Museum
This coastal museum features the history of the Victorian seaside resort of Herne Bay and its surrounding area including finds from nearby Reculver Roman fort, mammoth tusks from local beaches and a Barnes Wallis Bouncing Bomb prototype from World War 2.
Themes include seaside holidays and attractions, the town's piers and the development of the resort. The art gallery has a regularly changing temporary exhibitions programme featuring both touring exhibitions and local artists.
Herne Bay Poster
Dining in Herne Bay
Whether you want to relax over a cappuccino, enjoy a light lunch, have a fun family meal or indulge in a taste sensation, Kent caters for every occasion.
customer service that just can’t be found on the high street.
Check the Herne Bay Directory
Herne Bay
Herne Bay is a seaside town in Kent, South East England, on the south coast of the Thames Estuary. It is 7 miles (11 km) north of Canterbury and 1 mile (2 km) east of Whitstable. It neighbours the ancient villages of Herne and Reculver and is part of the City of Canterbury local government district.

The town began as a small shipping community, receiving goods and passengers from London en route to Canterbury and Dover. The town rose to prominence as a seaside resort during the early 19th century after the building of a pleasure pier and promenade by a group of London investors, and reached its heyday in the late Victorian era. Its popularity as a holiday destination has declined over the past decades, due to the increase in foreign travel and regular flooding that has prevented the town's redevelopment.
The town of Herne Bay derived its name from the neighbouring village of Herne, two kilometres inland from the bay. The word herne, meaning a place on a corner of land, evolved from the Old English hyrne, meaning corner. The village was first recorded in around 1100 as Hyrnan. The corner may relate to the sharp turn in the Roman Road between Canterbury and Reculver at Herne.

One of the oldest buildings in Herne Bay is the late 18th-century inn, The Ship, which served as the focal point for the small shipping and farming community which first inhabited the town. During this time, passenger and cargo boats regularly ran between Herne Bay and London, and boats carrying coal ran from Newcastle. From Herne there was easy access by road to the city of Canterbury, or to Dover, where further passage by boat could then be obtained across the English Channel to France.

The 1801 census recorded Herne Bay, including Herne, as having a population of 1,232. During the early 19th century, a smugglers' gang operated from the town. The gang were regularly involved in a series of fights with the preventive services until finally being overpowered in the 1820s. In the 1830s, a group of London investors, who recognised Herne Bay's potential as a seaside resort, built a wooden pier and a promenade on the town's seafront. This and the subsequent building of a railway station led to the rapid expansion of the town; between 1831 and 1841 the town's population grew from 1,876 to 3,041. The London businessmen intended to rename the town St Augustine's, but the name was unpopular with residents and the "Herne Bay" remained. In 1833, an Act of Parliament established Herne Bay and Herne as separate towns. Local landowner Sir Henry Oxenden donated a piece of ground for the site of the town's first church, Christ Church, which was opened in 1834. In 1837, Mrs Ann Thwaytes, a wealthy lady from London, donated around £4,000 to build a 75 feet (23 m) clock tower on the town's seafront. It is believed to be the first freestanding purpose built clock tower in the world.

During the 1840s, steamboats began running between Herne Bay and London. There was a type of beach boat unique to Herne Bay and nearby Thanet, known as the Thanet wherry, a narrow pulling boat about 18 feet (5 m) long. These boats were mainly used for fishing; however, with the advent of tourism and the decline of fishing, they became mainly used for pleasure trips. A document dated 1840 records the town as having the following schools, all of which are now defunct: Haddington boarding school, Oxenden House, British School, Prospect Place and Herne Street school. The village of Herne was often called Herne Street around this time. The same document also mentions the still-existing Rodney Head, The Ship and Upper Red Lion inns.

The original wooden pier had to be dismantled in 1871 after its owners went into liquidation and sea worms had damaged the wood. A shorter 100 metres (328 ft) long iron pier with a theatre and shops at the entrance was built in 1873. However, it was too short for steamboats to land at. The pier proved to be unprofitable and a replacement longer iron pier with an electric tram began to be built in 1896. At 3,600 feet (1,097 m), this pier was the second longest in the country, behind only the pier at Southend-on-Sea.

The town's heyday as a seaside resort was during the late Victorian era; the population nearly doubled from 4,410 to 8,442 between 1881 and 1901. Much of the resulting late Victorian seafront architecture is still in existence today. In 1910, a pavilion was added to the landward end of the pier. In 1912, the first "Brides in the Bath" murder by George Joseph Smith was committed in Herne Bay. By 1931, the town's population had grown to 14,533. At the beginning of World War II, the army cut two gaps between the landward end of the pier and the seaward terminal as a counter-invasion measure. The pier was restored however after the war. During World War II, a sea-fort was built off the coast of Herne Bay and Whitstable, which is still in existence. The coastal village of Reculver, to the east of Herne Bay, was the site of the testing of the bouncing bomb used by the "Dam Busters" during the war.

1963 marked the end of steamboat services from the pier. In 1970, a fire destroyed the pier's pavilion and plans began to replace it with a sports centre, which was opened in 1976 by former Prime Minister Edward Heath. The centre section of the pier was torn down by a storm in 1978, leaving the end of the pier isolated out at sea. It has not been rebuilt due to the cost; however, residents and businesses in the town have campaigned for its restoration.

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If you have wandered through the Kent Downs whether on foot, by horse, bicycle or car will have, at one time or another, pondered over the meaning of place names of towns , villages or hamlets that we normally take for granted in our everyday lives. Places such as Pett Bottom, Bigbury and Bobbing conjure up all manner of intriguing images as to the activities of former inhabitants, while others such as Whatsole Street, Smersole or Hartlip appear completely baffling.
Although most place names may appear at first sight to be random elements of words thrown together in no particular order, most are surprisingly easy to decipher with some elementary grounding in Old English. Over the centuries most of the Old English words have themselves corrupted and changed to appear as we know them today.
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Modern Kentish dialect shares many features with other areas of south-east England (sometimes collectively called "Estuary English"). Other characteristic features are more localised. For instance some parts of Kent, particularly in the north west of the county, share many features with broader Cockney.

A Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect and Provincialisms: in use in the county of Kent' by W.D.Parish and W.F.Shaw (Lewes: Farncombe,1888)
'The Dialect of Kent: being the fruits of many rambles' by F. W. T. Sanders (Private limited edition, 1950). Every attempt was made to contact the author to request permission to incorporate his work without success. His copyright is hereby acknowledged.
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