Historical Timeline:

The Royal Marines in Deal and Walmer

Early 17th Century

Establishment of a Naval Yard (responsible for the logistical support of warships anchored in the Downs) in the area immediately to the north of Deal Castle.


A company of the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot (raised in 1664 and the antecedent of the Royal Marines) was deployed to Deal during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Its main task was to protect the Naval Yard. Although it is not certain that there was a continuous marine presence in Deal from 1665, it is reasonable to assume that marines were required to guard the Naval Yard and to be prepared to embark for service afloat.


Outbreak of war with France. This triggered the construction of two new barracks for the Army:

  • North Barracks (to the north of what is now Canada Road) for an Army hospital and for infantry units.
  • Cavalry Barracks (to the south of what is now Canada Road) for a cavalry unit. The original Cavalry Barracks were later expanded and the site became known as South Barracks.


The Admiralty purchased an existing civilian hospital for seamen; this was designated the Royal Naval Hospital.


The Royal Naval Hospital was struck by lightning. Most of the Hospital was then demolished and rebuilt. The site of the rebuilt Hospital was known as Hospital Barracks although the buildings there were not exclusively dedicated to hospital purposes in subsequent years.

Illustration of Royal Buildings and Barracks


Construction of a combined chapel/school building in North Barracks (then owned by the Army).

1861 (7 May)

Establishment of the Depot Royal Marines, Deal in Hospital Barracks. The Depot trained recruits destined for the Royal Marine Light Infantry; those destined for the Royal Marine Artillery were trained at Eastney.


Closure of the Naval Yard; it was sold off and demolished in the following year.


Expansion of the Depot Royal Marines, Deal into North and South Barracks (the Army surrendering its ownership of these sites in exchange for the transfer of sites in Woolwich from the Admiralty).


Establishment of the Physical Training School.


Golden Jubilee of HM Queen Victoria marked by the erection of the Jubilee Gates at the east entrance to South Barracks.


Establishment of the Depot Band (initially 17 musicians but strength increased to 25 from 1900).


Swimming bath (on site of what is now the Cedars Surgery) completed.


Acquisition of land to the west of South Barracks for use as a drill field.


A new Infirmary was opened on a site to the west of Hospital Barracks that had been used previously as a drill field. This location was known as Infirmary Barracks. The former Hospital Barracks were re-designated East Barracks and were modified to provide accommodation for 300 men. 

Circa 1900

Construction of the Globe Theatre in the south-west corner of North Barracks and of a new guardroom at the Canada Road entrance to North Barracks.  


The Admiralty acquired the freehold of Kingsdown rifle range by compulsory purchase.


Consecration of Depot Church of St Michael and All Angels.


HRH The Prince of Wales (later HM King George V) visited the Depot.

1914 (August and September)

Mobilization of the Royal Naval Division in Deal, Walmer and Betteshanger. The Division comprised two Royal Naval Brigades (mainly naval reservists surplus to the mobilization requirements of the Fleet) and one Royal Marine Brigade (deployed very briefly to Ostend at the end of August).

1914 (October)

The entire Royal Naval Division was deployed in an unsuccessful attempt to help prevent the German capture of Antwerp. Following its return to England, the Division was relocated to Blandford and it fought at Gallipoli in 1915.   


Recruit training at the Depot was reduced to six weeks.

1918 (7 March)

HM King George V visited the Depot. He inspected the preparations being made by the 4th Battalion Royal Marines for the forthcoming raid on Zeebrugge. He directed that henceforth:

  • The senior squad under training at the Depot should be designated the King’s Squad.
  • The best recruit in each King’s Squad should be awarded a King’s Badge (to be worn throughout subsequent service).

1918 (23 April)

The raid on Zeebrugge. The exploits of the 4th Battalion Royal Marines during this action resulted in the award of two Victoria Crosses to the Battalion, the recipients being selected by ballot.


Amalgamation of the Royal Marine Artillery and the Royal Marine Light Infantry. This made the Depot responsible for the basic training of all recruits to the Corps. Basic training at this time lasted a year but was reduced to 30 weeks in the 1930s.


Closure of the Depot schools in North Barracks (the children being transferred to St Saviour’s School).

1928 (May)

HRH The Duke of York (later HM King George VI) visited the Depot.


The Royal Naval School of Music relocated to Deal and was primarily accommodated in East Barracks. The Depot Band stood down.


HRH The Prince of Wales (later HM King Edward VIII) visited the Depot.

Edward Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) inspecting Royal Marines at Deal c 1930's


The Admiralty purchased 30 acres of land at Coldblow for playing fields (cricket, hockey and rugby) and a pavilion.


Completion of a major expansion and refurbishment of the 19th century gymnasium in South Barracks.


Women’s Royal Naval Service contingent billeted in the ‘Fair Maid of Kent’ hotel in Dover Road.


The Royal Naval School of Music and many recruit training activities were evacuated elsewhere. Over the period 1940-43 the residual presence in Deal was designated the Royal Marine Holding Battalion.


A Royal Marine Siege Regiment was responsible for two 14-inch cross-Channel guns installed near St Margaret’s at Cliffe. The Regiment also manned three 13.5-inch railway guns until these were handed over to the Army in 1943.


A Non-Commissioned Officers’ School was located in East Barracks. Students made use of training facilities established in Kingsdown holiday camp.

1942 (14 February)

Volunteers for the first Royal Marine Commando unit (later designated 40 Royal Marine Commando) began to assemble at Deal. The 446 volunteers who had passed initial training and testing at Deal left for commando training in Scotland on 5 April 1942.

1944 (2 March)

48 Royal Marine Commando formed at Deal from the 7th Royal Marine Battalion.

1945 (14 February)

Ceremonial conferring the Honorary Freedom of Deal on the Royal Marines.

Late 1940s

The organization and roles of the Royal Marines after the Second World War had a major impact on the training conducted at the Depot. The Depot now conducted only Phase 1 training for Continuous Service (CS) and National Service (NS) recruit squads, members of these squads moving on to other locations to complete subsequent phases (including commando training). As an example, it is known that CS squads in the early 1950s spent 12 weeks at Deal and a further 28 weeks elsewhere (ie a grand total of 40 weeks exclusive of leave between some phases).


The Royal Naval School of Music returned to Deal and was re-designated the Royal Marines School of Music later that year.  The Commanding Officer of the Depot assumed the additional appointment of Commandant of the School. The School included the Headquarters of the Royal Marines Band Service.


Extensive improvements to the infrastructure in North Barracks, culminating in the opening of a new accommodation block by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 23 May 1956.

From 1950

Former chapel/school building in North Barracks taken into use as a concert hall and the adjacent former school rooms became musical theory rooms.

From 1956

Conversion of accommodation within East Barracks into practice rooms, offices, music library and other facilities supporting the Royal Marines School of Music.


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Depot.

1958 (1 January)

The Physical Training School was re-designated Physical Training Wing. It remained responsible for the training and re-qualification of 130 instructors deployed worldwide.


In anticipation of the end of National Service (the last intake was in 1960), a Junior Entry (JE) scheme was introduced for recruits aged 16 and 17. Until 1969 the Junior Marines did their Phase 1 training in Junior Wing alongside Junior Musicians and Junior Buglers before moving on to subsequent phases elsewhere.


Return of a Women’s Royal Naval Service contingent to Deal; accommodated in ‘A’ and ‘B’ Blocks in South Barracks. Members of the Service had served at Deal previously during the First and Second World Wars.


Events to commemorate the centenary of the Depot included the ceremonial opening of Centenary Gates (a gift from the people of Deal and located at the Canada Road entrance to North Barracks) by the Mayor of Deal on 11 December 1961.


Retirement of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vivian Dunn KCVO, OBE, RM (Principal Director of Music Royal Marines since 1953).


Adult and junior recruits destined for commando training were grouped together in Commando Wing; all recruits training to be Musicians and Buglers formed Music Wing.

1971 (October)

Commemoration of the centenary of the establishment of the Physical Training School.

1972 (17 April)

Appointment of General Sir Norman Tailyour KCB, DSO* as Captain of Deal Castle. The post had been vacant since the death of Field Marshal Lord Birdwood GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO, CIE, DSO in 1951. Sir Norman died on 28 December 1979.


Retirement of Drum Major Charles Bowden BEM (Drum Major of the Band of the Royal Marines School of Music since 1950).

1977 (30 September)

Closure of the Depot Royal Marines, Phase 1 training for both adult and junior recruits aspiring to earn the green beret of the Commando Forces having been transferred to Lympstone.

1977 (1 October)

The Royal Marines presence in the Barracks assumed the designation Royal Marines Deal and comprised:

  • 41 Commando Royal Marines (reprieved from disbandment and filling most of the accommodation and other facilities vacated by the Depot).
  • Physical Training Wing (pending relocation to Lympstone; this happened in 1978).
  • Royal Marines School of Music (with the Principal Director of Music Royal Marines assuming the additional appointment of Commandant of the School).


Inauguration of the Prince’s Badge for the best all-round Musician or Bugler completing training each year. This commemorated HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s first 25 years as Captain General Royal Marines.


Salerno Company (which had been detached in Malta) joined 41 Commando Royal Marines.

1980 (19 June)

Appointment of Major General Ian Harrison CB as Captain of Deal Castle (following the death of General Sir Norman Tailyour KCB, DSO* our on 28 December 1979). Major General Harrison died on 2 April 2008.


Disbandment of 41 Commando Royal Marines (march through Deal on 14 May 1981 and final disbandment parade on 20 May 1981); this left the Royal Marines School of Music as the sole occupant of the entire Barracks complex.

1982 (1 November)

A General List officer (Lieutenant Colonel D Watson RM) was appointed Commandant of the Royal Marines School of Music, thus allowing the new Principal Director of Music Royal Marines (then Major G A C Hoskins MVO, RM; appointed on the same day) to concentrate on the musical aspects of his duties.


Sale of Infirmary Barracks which were then demolished, the site becoming a new housing estate.

1989 (22 September)

Detonation of a bomb that Irish Republican terrorists had planted in a changing room in North Barracks close to the former chapel/school building. The explosion caused the deaths of 11 members of the Royal Marines School of Music.


Sale of 1 and 2 Royal Buildings (but the residence comprising 3/4 Royal Buildings remained the home of the Commandant Royal Marines School of Music until 1996).

1992 (1 September)

The first female trainees joined the Royal Marines School of Music.

1993 (2 May)

Opening concert and handing over ceremony at the Deal Memorial Bandstand on Walmer Green.

1996 (22 March)

Final beating retreat in South Barracks followed by the massed bands (Royal Marines School of Music, Royal Marines Portsmouth and Britannia Royal Naval College) marching to East Barracks.

1996 (29 March)

The Royal Marines School of Music closed at Deal and became operational at Portsmouth the next day. On arrival at Portsmouth, the Principal Director of Music Royal Marines assumed the additional appointment of Commandant of the School.


Relocation of a stone Royal Marines badge (that had once adorned the main accommodation block in North Barracks) to serve as a gate guardian at Deal Parochial (Church of England) Primary School. A second stone badge from the main accommodation block is now in the Memorial Garden in North Barracks.

Gate Guardian at Parochial School


A fire in the former chapel/school building in North Barracks left only the north wall still standing. This wall is the backdrop to the Memorial Garden that commemorates the victims of the 1989 bombing.


Following the death of Major General Ian Harrison CB on 2 April 2008, arrangements were put in place whereby the Captaincy of Deal Castle is to be held ex officio by successive incumbents of the post of Commandant General Royal Marines. The first Captain of Deal Castle under these arrangements was Major General Garry Robison CB; he was Captain for a few months at the very end of his 2006-2009 service as Commandant General.

2014 (28 October)

Formal opening of a memorial erected by the residents of homes in the former North Barracks to commemorate the 350th birthday of the Royal Marines and to pay tribute to the victims of the 1989 bombing.

2016 (22 September)

Re-dedication of the restored and improved gate guardian at Deal Parochial (Church of England) Primary School. 

2018 (23 April)

Ceremonial in Dover and Deal to mark the centenary of the Zeebrugge raid and to launch the Royal Marines Heritage Trails (Deal and Walmer). The Collingwood Band of the Royal Marines and a guard furnished by 42 Commando Royal Marines were on parade in Deal and exercised the privilege of the Honorary Freedom of Deal by marching from Deal Castle to Deal Town Hall.