About Whitstable Museum and Gallery
Whitstable has a gem of a museum in the centre of the town, in Oxford Street, where you can discover the town’s unique seafaring history: from shipbuilding and oysters to diving and wrecks. The town is well-known today for its celebrity residents and visitors, and the Museum celebrates the life of one of the first of these famous residents: Peter Cushing.
Where now people sunbathe on the town’s beaches, there was once (in living memory) the cacophony of ship- and boat-building: the sound of sawing timber and blacksmith's hammers, celebrated in the museum from ship portraits and figureheads to boat models and a chest of tools.
From an oyster grotter to 1920s film, the museum marks the shellfish harvest (once a cheap food for the London masses) which now forms part of the distinctive draw for the Whitstable visitor.
The Museum is a world-wide pilgrimage site for diving fans, as the Deane brothers are believed to have invented helmet diving in the town in the 1830s (the helmet and suit system displayed in the Museum persisted until after World War Two). Not only did the Deane brothers work as divers across the world, but they also found the Mary Rose in 1836 and salvaged various items from it. This national icon was then ‘lost’ again for almost 150 years!
Other museum displays celebrate: the little shops of Whitstable, the steam-driven Canterbury-Whitstable Railway, shoreline natural history and fossils, the town’s horse-drawn fire engine, and pottery from a Roman wreck.
Art among the displays includes Cathy Miles’ wonderful tools ‘drawn’ in wire and a boat automata and a giant fish by Total Pap. The Museum and Gallery hosts a programme of regularly changing special exhibitions and activities for families.