29 August 2009 I recently visited Dungeness after a forty year gap. My previous visits in my twenties, had beach fishing as their purpose and were mainly made at night in winter to take advantage of the warm water outlet from the power station. My latest visit on 21 August was to photograph this wonderful place after being prompted to do so by images seen on the web. I enjoyed my day immensely, first picturing the old boats and derelict sheds etc and finished by visiting Prospect Cottage. While taking pictures of Prospect Cottage from the road I was joined by a couple who asked if I thought they could wander around the garden. Having read the signs re: respecting the property boundaries, I replied that I did not think it right to do so. While we were chatting a gentleman came from the cottage (I thought to ask us to move on), and invited us to look around the garden. He was the father of the current owner and was spending a week at the cottage. We were able read John Donne's poetry on the side wall and visit the sculpture garden created by Derek Jarman. I took several pictures here but from ground level in a 2 dimensional image the scrap and driftwood sculptures tend to disappear against the vegetation. Readers should not view this as a general invitation. I am interested in those cottages based on rail carriages and in how old the carriages are and where they came from. I remember them as being old 40 years ago. I shall make more visits to record as many as possible. I did photograph one from the road near the new lighthouse and someone told me that while some of the carriages have broken down or rotted away or been otherwise removed, the exterior shape has been preserved in the existing buildings. Can anyone confirm this? I am surprised at the prices of the property there but not greatly so. I did not expect to find myself (a lover of hill walking and mountain country even at 62), enjoying this flat and at first glance, seemingly barren (and in poor weather very grim), place so much yet Dungeness grew on me and I very quickly changed my thoughts from "why would anyone choose to live here" to "what a wonderful magical place, truly different from anywhere else I've seen". There is something very special about Dungeness. I hope it remains so. On the question of rubbish on the beach. – well I don't live there so maybe I "don't get a vote", but photographically it is all part of the "different beauty" of Dungeness. Strangely, I would have been annoyed to see such as sweet wrappers or crisp packets and drink cans around and I would have removed them from any scene which I was to photograph (and taken them away as is my practice). However, I was careful not to remove or even move "to a better place in my picture" anything of the long dropped and windblown general detritus of the fishing industry. This scene of desolation and rotting dereliction and decline of the fishing industry is a major draw for photographers and sightseers who no doubt contribute to businesses on the beach area. The bare shingle beach, old (and new) cottages, unusual but lovely vegetation, derelict boats, sheds, rails and winch gear and the wildlife reserve all set against the power station is an anachronism but that is the magic of Dungeness. There is much more for me to see and I will return soon and perhaps make regular visits through the 4 seasons. If any reader is interested I have to date just a few pictures in colour and B+W on a photo website called "Perfectly captured" to which I shall add daily over the next few weeks.
The easiest way to see them is to link to my own gallery there: http://www.perfectlycaptured.com/showgallery.php/cat/500/ppuser/228
For my part I shall have to search out a copy of the book, Dungeness remembered.
Finally, may I say what a pleasure it is to enter "railway carriages, Dungeness" into my browser and find such a mine of local information as in this newsletter.
Many thanks. Vic Chapman.