7. History of Smugglers and Barges - Central Parade

This anchor is similar to the barge anchor used for barges to transport coal from the North of England to Herne Bay and then return to the north with wood from Blean Forest. The anchor has been donated by local businessman, Michael Khoury.

The development of Herne Bay as a town didn’t start until 1814, but coastal trade in the form of barge traffic and fishing flourished long before. This was thanks to the ease in which heavy goods could be transferred from horse-drawn vehicles to sailing craft on the flat sands at low tide. Moreover, owing to the lack of habitation, smuggling, proved to be an even better business.
Because of the embargo on the export of the finest wool in the world (English Wool) for the duration of the wars with France, and the increasing taxation of spirits, lace, tobacco and tea, it became a lucrative pastime to bypass the revenue men.
There was, of course, a two-way trade in the business; wool was one, and a strange export - escaped French prisoners of war. It was recorded that the same Frenchmen passed through the area no less than three times.

In 1809, seven French prisoners escaped from Chatham, two of whom stole a boat at Herne Bay and made their way to Reculver, where they stole a larger boat to take them to Margate - where customs officers apprehended them.
In March of 1821, a band of between fifty and sixty smugglers bound and gagged the sentry at the coastal blockade station (at the seaward end of Albany Drive) then proceeded to land the cargo of a French galley before their captives’ eyes