As one of only two surviving piers in Kent, Deal Pier still exists to a substantial length. Its Kentish counterpart at Herne Bay can only boast a shoreward end. The present Deal Pier is the third to have been built here, and is the only new pier in Britain to have been constructed after the Second World War.
Deal's first pier, designed by J. Rennie,was built in 1838 but due to financial difficulties suffered by the pier construction company, work was halted. At half the length of the original design, Deal Pier was opened to steamers for almost 20 years until severe storm damage unceremoniously deposited it on the town beach in 1857.
Eugenius Birch was responsible for the second Deal Pier design, with work commencing in 1863 when the first cast iron pile was driven into the sea bed. This pier was 1,100ft (333m) long, consisting of a decked promenade with seating along its entire length, and a three-tiered steamer landing stage at the head. A tramway was also installed to convey luggage to the pier head, and at the shoreward end two ornate tollhouses were erected. The official opening of Deal Pier was in the autumn of 1864, the ceremony being carried out by Mr Knatchbull-Hugessen, a local MP. Over the next 30 years various additions were made, including a reading room and salt baths in the 1870s and a smart new pavilion in 1886. Constructed at the seaward end, this became a popular venue.
Damaged by shipping on several occasions, Deal Pier required extensive repairs to be undertaken over the years. On 19th January 1873 it was struck by the 'Merle', and on 26th January 1884 by the 'Alliance'. Ultimately, it was the complete destruction by a ship that caused the pier's demise in January 1940. The Dutch vessel 'Nora' was crippled by a mine and was subsequently beached, south of the pier. The rising tide then lifted her clear of the beach, and proceeded to smash her repeatedly against the side of the pier's superstructure with the inevitable outcome that a bulk of the pier neck collapsed. Winston Churchill gave the army permission to demolish the remains of the Deal Pier, leaving only the shoreward tollbooths remaining.
In 1954 the surviving tollbooths were removed and work began on the construction of the third and present pier. Designed by Sir W. Halcrow & Partners and built entirely of reinforced concrete, the pier was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 19th November 1957. Although not as ornate as its predecessors, today's Deal Pier has a simple style and a certain charm. Seating runs along its 1,026ft (311m) length and ends at a three-tiered pier head containing bar, cafe and lounge. Interestingly, the lower tier at the pierhead is permanently submerged by the sea - was this intended or was this a 'mis-calculation'?