It had been many years since I have had the opportunity to return to the Heren Bay, 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 to a lesser degree exposure to flooding that has prevented the town’s redevelopment.
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.
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.