Where do nuns go on holiday?
(obviously Nuneaton - ed. Sorry!)
Well, in times gone by Herne Bay was apparently a favourite destination.
It is not as far fetched as it may seem, for the town was once home to several convents. The nuns of La Sainte Union in Avenue Road – who later founded what was to become St Philip Howard school – owned several properties including the huts.
According to local legend, early in the morning they could be seen processing from the convent to the huts, just a short walk away opposite the gardens at Lane End, for a day of sombre sunworshipping and the odd paddle.
The huts have been boarded up for years but were given a new lease of life as part of the Herne Bay Coastal Park project. Thanks to a grant from the People’s Millions, young and old residents teamed up to create a mural to brighten them up. The top of the huts also provides a safe, flat surface for people who use wheelchairs or who are less mobile on the shingle to enjoy the seafront.
Huts are a key part of the history of Herne Bay and their first incarnation was as bathing machines, introduced in the early 1800s. There were public baths at both ends of the seafront, both with their own machines, and in 1912 Herne Bay Urban District Council opened the East Cliff bathing cabins.
Some of the commercial bathing machines were then positioned on stilts above the beach, and over time they evolved into the huts we see today.