Sort file:- Herne, September, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 12 September, 2021.


Earliest 1830s

Diver's Arms

Open 2020+

Tower Parade (Marine Terrace 1862) (Central Parade 1938)

Herne Bay

01227 367717

Diver's Arms 1888

Above photo, circa 1880, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Captain Dawson (centre) hosting the annual Boatman's Supper. The licensee, William Holness, is the chap in the bowler hat on the far right.

Divers Arms 1900

Above photo, 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe. When it was supplied by Bushell, Watkins and Smith's Westerham Brewery.

Diver's Arms 1902

Above postcard, circa 1902, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Diver's Arms postcard 1915

Above postcard, circa 1915, kindly sent by Michael Coomber.

Diver's Arms 1952

Above photo, 1952, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Diver's Arms 2011

Above photo 2011 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.

Divers Arms 2015

Above photo, February 2015.

Divers Arms inside 2012

Above photo 2012, kindly supplied by Doug Pratt.

Divers Arms inside 2012

Above photo 2012, kindly supplied by Doug Pratt.

Diver's Arms sign 1991Diver's Arms sign 1992

Above sign left, July 1991, sign right, June 1992.

With thanks from Brian Curtis

Diver's Arms sign 2011

Above sign 2011.

Diver's Arms sign 2020

Above sign, 2020, kindly taken and sent by Roger Pester.




The "Diver's Arms" states the number of miles from the pub to the North Pole, for anyone requiring such information. The house was opened by an ex-smuggler, probably with the proceeds of his ‘runs', after he returned from transportation in the 1830s and became a deep-sea diver.


From the Herne Bay Museum, referred to in article Exploring the Past, re Kent Museums

William WOOD, “one of the town's more colourful characters, who in 1830 was sentenced to penal servitude and transported to Australia for smuggling. He returned, some say after escaping from Botany Bay, to join a local salvage and diving business. From his share of silver dollars recovered from the wreck of a Spanish galleon off the Irish coast, he opened the "Divers Arms" public house, whose name still stands.


From The South Eastern Gazette, Tuesday, 21 September, 1858.

Unexpected Explosion of a Submarine Shell.

On Wednesday last this town was thrown into a great state of alarm by the bursting of a newly invested submarine shell on the beach. It appears that this shell is the invention of Captain Harvey, R N., who the week before intended to make an experiment with it, and afterwards give a lecture on it in the Brunswick rooms.

For the purpose of the experiment he obtained an old cutter, used by the coastguard, but recently condemned, and having furnished her up, purposed one fine afternoon to illustrate the force of his infernal machine by blowing her to pieces. Unfortunately, however, when the proper moment came, it would not go off, so the explosion had to be adjourned until last Wednesday, when everything was got ready for the trial.

The cutter was anchored, and awaited its final doom. The captain, with two or three of his friends in a boat, took out the shell, and all was anxious expectation. The shell is made of zinc, and is about the size of an ordinary geometer. In the present instance it contained twenty-six pounds of gunpowder and a quantity of sand. At the top was placed some detonating powder, and into it was tightly fixed a glass tube containing sul­phuric acid. This tube striking against any hard substance such as the side of a ship, breaks, and the sulphuric acid running into the detonating powder an explosion is the result. By some oversight Captain Harvey placed the sand in the top instead of at the bottom of the shell, and the consequence was that it floated bottom upwards, and the tube being under the water did not strike the cutter at all.

The captain, in the boat, with a long rope attached to the shell, tried in vain to cause it to explode, and at last he became so excited at the failure that he was obliged to be removed. Shortly after, however, a seaman named Wood, thinking it harmless, took the rope and commenced hauling the shell on shore.

No sooner, however, had it touched the beach than it exploded with a terrific noise, a dense volume of smoke shooting up into the air.

The excitement and alarm in the crowd of spectators on the leach were intense. Fortunately no serious injury to life or limb resulted, but the concussion was sufficient to blow out the face of the clock tower in the immediate vicinity, and to smash nearly every pane of glass in the shops of a neighbouring pastry-cook and linen-draper, and also of the "Divers’ Arms" public-house close by.

In addition to this, windows were broke in every house in St. Augustine’s-terrace, and other houses adjoining. In the pastry-cook’s the glass jars containing the confectionary were all broken, and the confectionary strewn about the road. Altogether the damage done is estimated at between £30 and £40.

A shower of beach stones and salt water was thrown over the spectators, but nothing more. Had the shell taken a slanting instead of an upright direction, it is feared many lives must have been sacrificed.


From the Kentish Chronicle, Saturday, 10 September, 1859. Price 1½d.

William Browning, 13, was charged with having stolen, a silver dessert spoon, the property of Mr. William Wood, of the “Divers' Arms,” Herne Bay, on the 25th alt. prosecutor deposed that the prisoner had been in the habit of going to his house every Friday with butter and eggs, for the past two years. On Friday week he went as usual, and proceeded into the kitchen, where some spoons were lying on the table. Prisoner was there about ten minutes, and shortly after he was gone, witness missed one of the spoons. He identified the spoon produced as his property. John Higgins, watchmaker, of Peter's Street, Canterbury, deposed to buying the spoon produced of the prisoner on the previous Wednesday for 2s. The prisoner told him that he found it twelve months back, and that his brother wished him to sell it, adding that his name was William Port. Sergeant Mayhew K.C.C., apprehended the prisoner at the ville of Dunkirk on Thursday afternoon. He said that he found the spoon outside the prosecutor' side door. Witness searched the prisoner and found 1s. 4d. on him, which he said was a portion of the 2s. he received for the spoon. The prisoners grandmother (with whom he had lived for three years) gave him a good character, and said that up to that time he had been very honest.

One months imprisonment.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 8 September, 1860.


This was the annual general licensing day for the various public-houses situate within the Home Division. All the old licenses were renewed, and there were the following applications for new ones.

William Wood, for the "Divers' Arms," Herne Bay.

Mr. J. Cullaway supported the application.

The applications were granted.



In 1869-70 the pub was part of a consortium who were advertising their goods of selling tea in response to grocers' selling beer and wine. (Click for further details.)


From the Whitstable Times, 5 November, 1870.

At the Police Court on Monday, Abram Mount was summoned before Captain Slarke for making use of threatening language to George Ottoway, the landlord of the “Divers’ Arms,” and refusing to quit when ordered to do so by the landlord. Fined £1; costs, 5s. 6d.; in default, committed for twenty-one days in St. Augustine's Gaol.


From the Whitstable Times, 10 November, 1900.


Mr. J. S. White, of the "Royal Hotel," Herne Bay; applied for the transfer of the license of the "Diver's Arms," Herne Bay, to himself from William Holness.

Superintendent Jacobs pointed out that the applicant was already the holder of the license of the "Royal Hotel," and said that he promised to sell the hotel before the present date.

Mr. White said that he could transfer the license of the hotel to his sister, who was part owner with him and was managing the house for him. He was quite capable of conducting the two houses. He slept at the "Diver's Arms."

The Chairman:- Are you in negotiation with any one?

Mr. White:- Yes, I am in negotiation to sell it. The action taken a little while ago has prevented my selling before.

The Bench granted the application.


From the Whitstable Times, 17 November, 1900.


William Holness was summoned for selling half a pint of brandy at Herne Bay on the 8th October which had been adulterated by the addition of water.

Defendant, who was represented by Mr. R. M. Mercer, pleaded guilty.

Mr. Mercer said that his client was landlady of the "Diver's Arms" at the time the half a pint of brandy was purchased. He had been before the Bench for a similar offence a short time ago. He was an experienced man, but was bound to plead guilty as he was legally liable though not morally so. Defendant broke down the spirits six months ago to 20 degrees below proof. The limit was 25 degrees below proof. He had never touched the brandy since. No one had access to the cellar where the spirits were kept except one man who was in the defendant's employ. It was very peculiar that after the brandy in question was bought defendant had the other spirits in the cellar tested, and the brandy was found to be 30 degrees under proof, and the rum 34 degrees under proof. The defendant had not touched the spirits himself since he broke them down. He was quite capable of breaking them down properly, for he had been in the trade for a great many years.

William Holness stated that he had been a licensed victualler for upwards of thirty-five years. He had had great experience in the manner of breaking down spirits. He had always done it himself. He broke the brandy down himself six months ago to twenty degrees under proof as allowed. He had not touched it since. He had only his niece, a barmaid and a barman in his house at the time. They were the only persons who helped in the business.

The Bench said that they could not help whatever defendant's advocate pleaded, they were bound to convict. The defendant would be fined 40s. and 11s. costs.


From accessed 17 June 2015.


The Ghost Search team established four ghosts haunting the "Diver's Arms." A Mr Alfred Potter, a short woman dressed in a long black Victorian style dress and bonnet and two children. Mr Potter is a fat man wearing a black suit, who had been a former bank manager in Herne Bay. The two children seen running around inside the "Diver's Arms," people say, to have died in an accident, either at the pub or in a house nearby. The two children, a boy and a girl scamper around. However, when anyone makes a comment, they stare at them and disappear. The woman in Victorian dress is believed to have been the mother or grandmother of the two children. Legend has it that a shuffling figure is frequently seen on part of the nearby pier, which has been cut off since the storm of 1979. He has been recognised as a former customer at this pub. The "Diver's Arms" people called after William Hooper Wood. He was a smuggler in the 1830s, which went to prison and a diving company later employed him. He opened this pub on his earnings.


From the By Gerry Warren, 29 October 2015.

History teacher Tim Platt says horrific attack outside a Herne Bay pub in Central Parade has left him traumatised.

A history teacher says he is too frightened to go out in Herne Bay at night after suffering a vicious, unprovoked attack which left him with broken cheekbones.

Tim Platt was badly beaten by two thugs after being lured out of a pub by claims his car was being vandalised.

But when he got outside, he was beaten to the ground, repeatedly punched in the face and robbed of his phone, digital camera and car keys.

Tim Platt 2015

Tim Platt pictured in hospital after the attack.

He was so badly hurt that he needed reconstructive surgery to his face and is still recovering at home in the town three weeks after the attack.

The assault happened on October 2 outside the Divers Arms, where Mr Platt, a guitarist and singer, was due to play a gig.

The 52-year-old, who came to England from Perth, Australia, a year ago and teaches history, says he has travelled all over the world and never before been assaulted.

He said: “I was just setting up my gear in the pub when a chap, who seemed quite friendly, said some kids were spray-painting my car. I went outside with him and noticed another man following behind but just thought he was coming to help.

"But as soon as we got outside I felt a big bang on the back of my head which knocked me to the ground and I briefly passed out.

"When I came to, the first man was on top of me and smashing me in the face with his fists, demanding my phone.

"He literally tore the pocket off my jacket to get at it and also took my camera and keys, before the pair of them ran off.

"I lay there covered in blood and feeling quite stunned, not quite believing what had just happened to me.

“I staggered back into the pub and must have looked quite a mess because immediately people came to help and called an ambulance and the police.”

Mr Platt, who lives in Oxenden Park Drive and teaches at Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs, said: "I would like to thank passers-by and the pub staff for their kindness and help because I felt pretty awful.

"Now I feel too frightened to go out in the town at night, which is a pity because I’m a Liverpool supporter and like to watch the football in the pub.

"I just don’t understand how someone can use that level of violence just to take my phone and a camera, neither of which were particularly valuable.

"I was in quite a lot of pain afterwards and had to undergo surgery on one side of my face, where the cheekbone was badly damaged.”

He added: "It’s a bit frustrating that the police investigation seems to have dragged on and I have had to email them several times to find out what’s happening.

"I know they are busy but I was told the case had been passed to another officer and then that he had gone on holiday.

"But anyone who can use that level of violence needs to be caught quickly before someone else gets hurt."

Police spokesman Jon Green said: "Police have spoken to a number of witnesses and inquiries are ongoing."


From the By Marijke Hall, 11 September 2017.

Thief walked into Divers Arms pub and strolled out with £9,000.

A brazen thief is being hunted by police after walking into a busy Herne Bay pub and pocketing almost £9,000.

The intruder went into the Divers Arms and boldly strolled through the bar area and to a back office where he took the money before making a quick exit.

Manager Debbie Knight says he was in and out of the Central Parade pub within four minutes.

Debbie Knight 2017

Debbie Knight, licensee at the Divers Arms in Central Parade, Herne Bay.

“I’ve looked at our CCTV footage and the person just walks straight through and round to the back to the private accommodation, where my office is, and helps himself,” she said.

“There’s an alleyway next door to us with CCTV too, and it shows the man looks through the window before he did it, so he was planning it.

“He knew what to do and where to go so it is someone who knows the pub. He came in and got what he wanted. He was in and out within four minutes and took between £8,000 and £9,000.

“It’s a massive amount of money to lose for the business.

“And it all happened when we were open. It was bank holiday so it was quite busy.

“You just don’t expect something like this to happen – it’s quite a shock and very upsetting.”

Police were due to go to the pub to look at the footage yesterday (Wednesday) and she hopes if the pictures are able to be released someone will come forward with information.

“We believe the man is quite recognisable so I’m hoping someone can help,” she said.

“He’s someone you would notice so if somebody had seen him they might remember something.”

Police spokesman Scarlet Jones said officers are investigating the burglary at the premises, which is owned by Shepherd Neame.

The theft is believed to have taken place between 10.30am on Monday, August 28, and 11.30am the following day.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 01843 222289 quoting ZY/40782/17.



WOOD William Hooper 1830s-62+ (age 55 in 1861Census)

ROGERS to Nov/1863 Kentish Chronicle

HARVEY George Nov/1863+ Kentish Chronicle

OTTOWAY George 1869-71+ (age 43 in 1871Census)

HOLNESS William 1874-99+ (age 50 in 1891Census)

WHITE James Stephen 1901-05+ (age 43 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

WHITE Emma E Mrs (wife of above) 1913-17+

STONE Eleanor Mrs 1922-30+

INGRAM Ernest Frederick 1938-48+

KNIGHT Debbie 2017+



Kentish ChronicleKentish Chronicle

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-