If a sea side town is what your looking for, look no further than Whitstable. With its working harbour and narrow streets of fishermans cottages, situated just seven miles from Canterbury on the North Kent coast.
Famed since Roman times for its oyster, Whitstables fortune has always been linked with the oyster industry. At the turn on the century, more than 100 smacks and 500 people were employed in gathering and selling Whitstable oysters.
After several years of decline as the result of disease, pollution and over fishing, Seasalter Shellfish (Whitstable) Ltd is now the biggest producer of seed oysters in Europe, suppying literally billions of native and gigas seed oysters and clams to concerns throughout the British Isles, Europe and Africa.
In addition to its oysters, Whitstable is credited with having the first regular steam railway passenger service in the world. This came about with the opening of the railway to Canterbury in 1830 and the building of the harbour in 1832, both events greatly improving the town’s prosperity. The new port could accomodate 20 sailing ships of up to 150 tons, and the railway sidings up to 80 trucks. Coal was the main cargo but, in the harbour’s heyday, sailing ships from Whitstable went to destinations all over the world, carrying cargo of all kinds.
Whitstables character is stil; strongly influenced by its maratime past. these links with the sea provde interest to residents and visitors alike and are the basis of many of the fascinating displays at the Whitstable Museum, at 5a High Street.
Whitstables past may have formed its character, but changing times have meant new activities and interests. these days, the town is becoming known as the venue for water sports, with national championships in windsurfing and water skiing being held regularly. both activiies adding to the towns established popularity as a centre for sailing.
Increased tourism has meant a crowded calendar of summer activities, inuding the anual Oyster Festival in July, Harbour day in June and in August, the carnival and regatta.