Plans are underway to create a larger and permanent exhibition space in the stable block remembering the Royal Marines, Marine Wrens and civilians who served or worked at the Royal Marines Depot, Deal. Currently, stained glass windows from the former Garrison Church of St Michael and All Angels are displayed upstairs. Downstairs is a revamped collection of Royal Marines uniforms and memorabilia, including personal property belonging to one of the eleven Royal Marines killed in the IRA bombing in 1989.
Given the museum’s background it is apt that part of this upstairs space, the Upper Gallery, is now given over to local industrial, trade and domestic history. Bottles from local shops, pie dishes from local bakers, a giant shoe used as an advertisement by a local shoe shop are all on display along with cutlery and plates from the South Eastern Hotel and Queens Hotel.
Also on view upstairs is a selection of the Museum’s collection of drawings including those by Henry Moses, sketches by J R Roget and engravings of JMW Turner’s illustrations of Deal. The original late nineteenth century Deal Hooden Horse, who roamed the town at Christmas is here, so too the emergency equipment of local doctor, and Sea Surgeon Dr. James Hall. They all reflect the wealth and diversity of this local history collection.
A small exhibition is dedicated to the former Kent Coalfield. Amongst the impressive collection of mining items and history are interactive audio-visual presentations telling the story of this local mining industry.
On the staircase leading to the first floor work is in progress on a wall of Famous Faces associated with Deal and Walmer. Historical names include eighteenth century author, ‘blue-stocking’ and resident of Deal, Elizabeth Carter, actor Charles Hawtry, entertainer Norman Wisdom, Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet, who started her dancing career in Walmer, authors J B Priestley, William Horwood and poet Robert Bridges. Also commemorated are Deal’s World War One Victoria Cross holder, Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall and Edith Appleton who nursed in France during that Great War.
From the smallest items of scrimshaw to the last Deal galley, The Saxon King, a wealth of nautical exhibits is located on the ground floor Maritime Gallery. Deal’s rich maritime history with its proximity to the Downs, to France and the notorious Goodwin Sands, stories of smuggling, heroic rescues, fishing as a way of life or leisure – all are captured here. They are reflected in the large collection of lifebelts hanging from the rafters; the ships wheels, bells, figureheads, pictures and artefacts around the walls and throughout the gallery. They link to the history of the RNLI and lifeboatmen, the local boatmen, the coastguards and Trinity Pilots and much more.
Our boatyard has become both a quiet and peaceful retreat and the outdoor home to several Deal boats including the Penny Ann (previously called Secret) a Deal beach boat; a Montague whaler, used by the Royal Marines and Deal Sea Scouts; as well as ‘Eleanor’, a sprat punt built in Deal in 1892.
The popular World War One re-creation George’s Trench is again on show in the Museum boatyard. It contains regularly updated notices: News from the Front, which list details of the local men who were killed throughout 1916, and Home Front featuring local domestic stories.
Amongst the sandbags and barbed wire of the trench scene is an audio/visual story explaining the story and effects of the war at home and abroad. It is narrated by Frances Fyfield, crime writer and BBC Radio 4 presenter.
Dunkirk and the evacuation of St Malo
The evacuation of Dunkirk in World War Two is the focus of an exhibition in the museum stable block. The installation also includes the story of Deal baker John Rogers who was evacuated from St Malo. An audio visual commentary is narrated by Frances Fyfield, crime novelist and BBC Radio 4 presenter.
Model Boat Room
On the first floor of the stable block is the Model Boat Room housing an impressive collection of small and large model boats and ships. Many have been donated by local people, acts of love in their creation and now detailed examples of maritime vessels for our enjoyment.