A post-Christmas visit to Dungeness

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Dungeness, Christmas 2009. The first and penultimate photos are Julie’s – the rest are mine

Dungeness is one of my favourite places on the coast round here, and so as the day after Boxing Day dawned cold and windy but with occasional gaps in the clouds we drove down for a meal of locally caught fish and deep-fried chips, and for a stroll on the gravel bank.

It’s an extraordinary place. The site of a classic English South-Coast beach-launched fishing fleet, we’re told that it is the largest area of beach shingle in the world, and that it has been classified as an arid desert. A small community lives here in a variety of wooden huts, many of which are built around condemned railway carriages, and of course there’s the astonishing miniature Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway to provide colour and entertainment.

On a day with better light than we had it’s also a gift for photographers, for as the gravel area has slowly grown, a variety of old boats,  sheds, boilers, winches and other leftovers from generations of fishing in the area have been left behind on the landward side.

At the top of this post I’ve added some fairly self-explanatory shots (readers will notice the tubby and hard bilged-lines  typical of traditionally-built South Coast beach boats), but at the bottom I’ve added a couple of photographs of a restored tanning boiler that has been refurbished as a monument to three local men and their industry – the plaque includes at least one local family name that I recognise. I’m reminded that there are said to be people in the area who still remember and occasionally sing a local version of the song The Wreck of the Northfleet. If anyone is out there who can help me, I’d love to get in touch with one of them! Please contact me at gmatkin@gmail.com .

The locally caught fried fish (and chips) is excellent at the Pilot Inn, and there’s usually fresh fish available to take home from the local fishermen, and when it’s open the old lighthouse is worth a visit. All in all, if you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend calling by for a look round. It’s a grim kind of spot as you’ll see from the photos, but I’d happily live there – though I daren’t say so too often as my family already think I’m half potty.

2 thoughts on “A post-Christmas visit to Dungeness”

  1. Missed you down there by a couple of days! We bought (delicious) lobster tails from the shop opposite the Pilot – it's still owned and run by the Richardsons, one of the families mentioned on the tanning copper. Actually, Char Richardson is one of the people remembered for singing 'Wreck of the Northfleet'. All the best for the New Year

  2. Happy New Year Gavin and anyone else about.

    We spent some time at Hythe a few years ago. The locals stared as we swum most days. Pebble beaches strange after Aussie sand.

    Great fish market right on the beach and some excellent photo opp's of trawlers and gear on the beach. Wonder where they are?

    Can't say what my favourite thread was, but the site is a treaSURE TROVE.

    Thanks Gav

    Jeff

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