The current pier is the third to be built at Deal. The first pier at Deal was built in 1838 to the design of J.Rennie. Planned at 445 feet, just 250 feet was completed due to financial problems. Steamers did call, but the pier decayed due to storm damage and sandworm attack. It was washed away in 1857 and its remains were sold for £50.
Work on a new 1100 foot pier began in Spring 1863. It was designed by Eugenius Birch and opened on 8th November 1864. A reading room and salt baths were added in the 1870s and a pier-head pavilion in 1886. Ship collisions in 1873 and 1884 caused damage that was subsequently repaired. Deal Council bought the pier for £10,000 in 1920.
On January 29th 1940, the Dutch vessel ‘Nora’, having been beached following damage by a mine, drifted against the pier, destroying 200 feet of ironwork. (See British Pathe Newsreel). Winston Churchill gave the army permission to demolish the pier to allow coastal guns a clear line of sight, leaving only the tollhouses remaining. These were removed in 1954, the year work on the present pier commenced.
Built from reinforced concrete, the 1026 feet structure was opened on November 19th 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. It had been designed by Sir W.Halcrow and Partners and had cost £250,000.
In 1998 a 300cm high bronze statue, ‘Embracing the Sea’, by sculptor John Buck was commissioned for the entrance to the pier.
In November 2008, a new cafe designed by renowned architects Niall Mclaughlin and built by Barwick Construction, was opened. The cafe’s award winning design features timber frames, edge walls made of glass and a range of environmentally-friendly features, and was hailed by RIBA judges as “A beautiful addition to the town and seascape. It provides perfectly the experience a pier building should, that of being part of, as well as framing, views of the sea.”
Owned by Dover District Council the pier has international recognition as an angling venue and was named Pier of the Year 2008 by the National Piers Society, beating 23 other nominated piers in the twelfth annual poll of the Society’s 600 members.
In December 2009, very strong winds combined with a high tide caused waves to crash through the lower deck, knocking out 127 timber boards and damaging some railings. The lower deck had to be closed. The go-ahead was finally given for repairs to the lower deck in February 2011.
In March 2013, the pier suffered its worst damage for “at least 15 years” in extreme weather conditions, with the lower deck losing more than 100 boards and a section of railings being torn off. Damage over a wider area caused angry residents to question the adequacy of the district’s coastal defences.