It looks as if the building between the tennis courts that now houses the toilets might have been the original coast guard lookout point.
As Whitstable’s importance as a maritime trading town grew, then so did the requirement to keep an eye on the shipping channels together with detection of smuggling activities. The row of houses behind the tennis courts housed the officers and to the front a look-out post. They appear enclosed by the fence but all have rear accesses from Island Wall.
There would have been much smuggling of a petty level, mainly in French perfume and spirits. An oyster smack guarding the oyster beds overnight might just meet up with a ship travelling to London and a few ‘treats’ would exchange hands.
For serious smuggling goods were more likely to be landed further west on the Seasalter marshes in the dead of night.
In the early 20th century smuggling declined and in 1923 Coast Guard became a safety and rescue agency with the ‘policing’ role going to HM Customs.
Looking to your right along the coast you can see a row of houses called ‘Wave Crest’. Once again, when these were built in the 1890s, there was no sea wall. These houses are more like an outer London terrace, with three floors, the lowest of which was for the servants. The above photos show you what they looked like 100 years ago. Peter Cushing (see stop 3) lived in No. 3 at the far end, and a Blue Plaque now commemorates this fact.