14 Jan History of Broadstairs Kent
Broadstairs, Kent is part of the parish of Broadstairs and St Peter’s with the inland village of St Peter’s being established as early as 1080. On the adjunct coast was a cliff top shrine, the ‘Shrine of Our Lady’ in a place called Bradstow(e) which literally means ‘broad place’ this was most likely due to the wide bay.
In the 14th Century a fishing village was established around the shrine and this was later to become Broadstairs. The Shrine of Our Lady no longer exsists and in its place is St Mary’s Chapel.
Harbour street 1400’s
Aptly named due to the fact it leads directly to the Sea and Harbour. In 1440 George Culmer built an archway across the track which leads to the sea and in 1469 the first wooden pier was built. It was later replaced in 1538 by a more durable structure when the road leading to the seafront know as Harbour Street was cut into the chalk on which Broadstairs was built.
During this time Broadstairs was a considerably important fishing port with catches being landed as far as Great Yarmouth, Hastings, Folkestone, Dover and Torbay.
In 1795 York Gate which was original constructed by another George Culmer in 1540 to defend the threat from the sea and subsequently defend the town, need renovation to help protect the threat of French Revolutionary Wars.
During this time smuggling was an important industry and there is many a story of the men of Broadstairs and St Peters outsmarting the customs agents of the time. The aim was to get around the high duties that existed on such products as tea, alcohol and tobacco. Broadstairs still to this day is honeycombed with smugglers caves and tunnels.
With the development of steamboats the trade between London became much more frequent and this brought a new prosperity to Thanet. This lead to a number of professional class moving to the area, this lead to the population reaching approximately 3000.
During this time it was also widely believed that the fresh air that it provided a good rest bite for children and this lead to a number of convalescent homes being opened.
Broadstairs, Kent was fast becoming a popular holiday destination during the Victorian era, but it was not actually connected to the railway system until 1863. Prior to this Broadstairs relied on the coach connections from Whitstable having developed the rail connection from 1830.
1900’S and present
By 1910 the population had reached about 10 000, Broadstairs was widely acknowledged as being modernised.
Today Broadstairs is still extremely popular with tourists and it is still very proud of its history, relishing every opportunity to celebrate it.
Featured image: Postcard of ‘the Sands’ curtosy Ian Knight