The Dungerness Estate

It’s a rather extraordinary place to live, and yet people do. I’d be tempted to live there myself if I hadn’t spent 2 hours – yes, you read that correctly – sat in traffic to get through the 2 mile long bit of beach at Camber earlier this month in order to reach it.

Dungerness is on a headland that juts out into the sea just below the English Channel. Access to it is via the low-lying area of Romney Marsh where you’ll pass through an area managed by the RSPB. It’s all a bit wild and empty – apart from Camber. It’s so rare to find a proper sandy beach in this country – most of what passes for beach here is shingle and pebbles – that when the sun does shine, vast numbers of people head to the coast, and Camber is a favourite with those who like to feel the sand between their toes.

But back to the main event. You’ve probably heard of Dungerness … because of the nuclear power station. Hence why I say it’s a rather extraordinary place to live. But there’s no denying there’s a certain feel to it and, until very recently, it had a rather neglected look which gave it a most distopian air. It was shabby and run-down, yet there were new, modern homes mixed in amongst the faded wood and rusting metal. It appears to be more desert than anything else, and the wonderful light means it’s been a popular destination for photographers and filmakers, having appeared on the cover of a Pink Floyd album, in multiple music videos, and in the film ‘The Time Bandits’.

It’s was recently sold to the energy giant EDF Energy, who own the power station. And I think there’s been a bit of a campaign to clean it up. Here are some photographic before and afters …

People started out by buying old railway carriages and converting them into summer ‘cottages’ and a number of the more ‘traditional’ homes do appear to be seasonal or weekend dwellings. There’s a nice mix of screamingly modern alongside the more typical seaside dwellings …

Is there somewhere off-beat you like to visit? How do you feel when your favourite somewhat seedy areas get gentrified?


© Debra Carey, 2018

10 comments

  1. A beautiful post, Debs, but permit me to point out that it is Dungeness not DungeRness! Yes it is a place of a rare eerie beauty. Many years ago when I was in my early teens we had a family holiday near Hythe, and the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Raliway track passed at the bottom of the garden. It was fun rushing out to see the trains pass by and I ‘collected’ all the locomotives except No4 ‘The Bug’ and one other which were ‘shedded’ and undergoing repairs. We spent some time at Dungeness when the power station was still a novelty. I have been back once as an adult and took some photos – strangely enough similar to yours! 🙂

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response, I’ve obviously ‘done something’ on WP as notifications aren’t being emailed.

      Alan, I hang my head in shame. Maybe if I’d used the photograph I took of the sign on the gate, I may have noticed that ghastly error … but then again, maybe not!

      I’m so glad you share my view of the place and yes, it’s a lovely little railway line. We’ve taken it once and I think I might suggest we do so again, although it was a strain for Himself fitting his 6′ 4″ frame in with any degree of comfort.

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  2. I’ve never seen photos of railroad carriages converted into cottages. Most interesting. I have mixed feelings about seedy being gentrified. I like the creative aspects of it, but only if they don’t come at the cost of displacing impoverished people who have nowhere else to live. That’s the problem around here.

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    1. Couldn’t agree with you more Ally, although in the case of the Dungeness Estate, the prices were pretty high even before EDF purchased it and cleaned up. Mind you, by the time I knew of it, Derek Jarman’s place there had already caused increased cachet; it may have been more affordable before that time.

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    1. Hi Roland, so glad that my depiction rings true. Your message has inspired me to go off and google about the protests – thank you!

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      1. The protests were in part organised by CND, although anti-nuclear energy was the main theme. They included a bike ride from places like Brighton – which was how I got there. (In about 1980-1981, I think.)

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    1. Thanks so much for the link Alan, it is a lovely and unusual garden, but then the conditions do provide quite the challenge! The poem on the side of the building is rather more worn now and hard to notice unless you are looking for it (which we weren’t). We discovered it when Himself was fiddling with one of his photos in post-processing.

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