Herne Bay is a seaside town in Kent, South East England, with a population of 35,188. On the south coast of the Thames Estuary, it is 7 miles (11 km) north of Canterbury and 1 mile (2 km) east of Whitstable. It neighbours the ancient villages of Herne and Reculver and is part of the City of Canterbury local government district. Herne Bay's seafront is home to the world's first freestanding purpose-built clock tower, built in 1837; until 1978, the town had the second-longest pier in the United Kingdom.
The town began as a small shipping community, receiving goods and passengers from London en route to Canterbury and Dover. The town rose to prominence as a seaside resort during the early 19th century after the building of a pleasure pier and promenade by a group of London investors, and reached its heyday in the late Victorian era. Its popularity as a holiday destination has declined over the past decades, due to the increase in foreign travel and regular flooding that has prevented the town's redevelopment.
The town of Herne Bay derived its name from the neighbouring village of Herne, two kilometres inland from the bay. The word herne, meaning a place on a corner of land, evolved from the Old English hyrne, meaning corner. The village was first recorded in around 1100 as Hyrnan. The corner may relate to the sharp turn in the Roman Road between Canterbury and Reculver at Herne.