Built in the mid-19th century, the Deal Timeball served as an important navigational aid for mariners, and it is a significant reminder of Deal’s maritime heritage.
The timeball was originally installed in 1855, as a means of helping ships at sea set their clocks accurately. Each day, at precisely 1pm, a large metal ball would be raised to the top of the tower, and then dropped at the exact moment when the sun reached its highest point in the sky. This visual signal would allow ships to synchronise their chronometers, which were essential for accurate navigation at sea.
The Grade II-listed tower predates the timeball and the tower was formerly used as a semaphore tower and also as a telegraph tower and it was instrumental in relaying news of the naval victory at Trafalgar.
What to see at the Deal Timeball
Visitors to the tower can expect to see a fully-restored timeball mechanism, as well as a museum with exhibits on the history of the timeball and Deal’s maritime heritage.
You are also able to climb to the top of the tower, where you can take in panoramic views of the town and the nearby coastline. The interior of the tower also features interactive displays, including a replica timeball and chronometer, allowing you to experience what it would have been like to use these tools for navigation.
In addition to the timeball itself, visitors can explore the adjacent museum, which houses a collection of historic artefacts and displays on Deal’s maritime heritage.
The timeball drops hourly between 9am and 5pm when the museum is open and it drops every day at 1pm when the museum is closed. The timeball is also scheduled to drop at midnight on New Years Eve.
Visiting the Deal Timeball
The Deal Timeball is located in the centre of Deal facing the sea and most points of interest are no more than a five minute walk from here and from here it is only a three-minute walk to Deal Castle.
The tower and museum are open from late April to late September and entry costs £3.
The museum has a gift shop and its location near the town centre means that there are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby.