I first became aware of the existence of Herne Bay as a child when I came across a photograph of my Dad relaxing on the beach there with two floral-clad ladies with wartime hairstyles (neither of them my mother!). He was stationed in the area during the Second World War. Herne Bay had a part to play during the war when the stretch of beach towards Reculver was used as a testing ground for the bouncing bomb of the type used in the Dambusters raids. A statue of the inventor of the bomb, Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, has recently been erected near the site of the tests. Herne Bay Museum has a prototype of the Bouncing Bomb, as well as finds from the Reculver Roman fort and mammoth tusks from the nearby beaches. Another point of interest is Herne Mill, dating from 1789.
Herne Bay was developed as a resort in the 1830s, with a distinctive clock tower and bandstand as the centrepiece of the seafront. The resort had its heyday in the Victorian era, which is reflected in the style of many of the buildings on the seafront, but went into a decline partly because of the growth of tourism to foreign countries and partly due to problems with flooding. That said, it is becoming more popular again as Londoners head here for the weekend, drawn by the smart seafront with its colourful beach huts and what was the second longest pier in Great Britain. The pier was destroyed in a storm in 1978, leaving only a stub at the landward end, but there is a bid underway to restore it to its former glory.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 David Bolton | more info (via: Wylio)