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Whitstable at War - World War II

 .... Preparing the Coast


Preparing the Coastline...


World War II presented the danger of invasion and the Kent coast was the most vulnerable area. In line with other Kent towns, Whitstable’s beaches were prepared to meet the threat. John Harman explains…..


In 1940, there was, of course, a threat of invasion and strict measures were taken to fortify the beach. All small boats and beach huts were removed.... leading to the demolition of the original Red Spider Cafe at West Beach.

Invasion defences and other measures had been put in place all along the coast. These included......

·        6 foot tall concrete pillars at the top of the beach - spaced approximately 7 feet apart and strung together with coils of barbed wire

·        a continuous stretch of steel scaffolding at the bottom of the beach (in the water) from which mines were hung   

·        pill-boxes at strategic locations - including one at the front, west corner of  The Neptune  and another on the West Head of the harbour.

·        a curfew for those who worked on the water

As time went by, we kids established points where we could crawl through the barbed wire and climb on to the scaffolding close to the mines. Fortunately, they were of a type that had to be hit hard from the front to explode!

John Harman (Canada)


Pillboxes were placed at strategic points. John tells me that one was built facing the sea on the concrete apron of the harbour's West Head. The apron disappeared when the West Quay was constructed in post-war Whitstable. 

Whitstable's seafront mixture of maritime industry and residential cottages meant that some installations were built on private land... including gardens....   


"The family have put me in my place about my statement that an anti aircraft gun was placed in the garden of Vine Cottage during the war! 

It seems it was a machine gun post to mow down  invaders as they made their way up the Vigilant beach." 

Vanessa Tramleasure


Some of the town's fleet of oyster smacks were withdrawn for protection...


'Rosa & Ada', 'Gamecock' and the 'Wild Rose'.  were hauled from the water for the duration of the war. They rested on the beach near the Vigilant.

John Harman
British Columbia


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