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Shingle - a mass of small rounded pebbles. Longshore drift - the movement of material along a coast by waves which approach at an angle to the shore but recede directly away from it.

Dungeness is a headland located at the south of England in the county of Kent, jutting out into the English Channel. The area has been formed by

longshore drift, and when these pebbles aren’t being returned to the sea by the current, the accumulation of more and more builds new land and becomes colonised by plants. Dungeness is the largest shingle beach in Europe, boasting an impressive 3,950 acres of Ice Age flint throughout the length of the shoreline. Bungalows stretch up the coastal road owned by residents, but continuing on towards the power station these bungalows begin to become scarce apart from a few every few hundred feet, including late film maker Derek Jarman’s ’Prospect Cottage’ where he lived out the later stages of his life.

The beaches of Dungeness are incredibly unique. The habitat is used by a wide range of wildlife. A third of all plant life can be found in Dungeness, with over 600 species. Insects such as moths, beetles and spiders also found here can be so rare that they cannot be found anywhere else in Britain. The beaches also provide a natural form of defence from flooding. Dungeness is of high importance regarding conservation both nationally and internationally. This having been recognised is now protected by SPA (Special Protection Area) and SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and is also a part of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Importance) of Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay.

On a clear day France is visible over the channel from Dungeness, while trawlers and cruise ships are frequently silhouetted on the horizon. There

are two lighthouses left standing at Dungeness although only one is fully operational. The High Light Tower, built in 1901, was first lit in 1904 and is now a visitor attraction. The fifth lighthouse was built in 1961 and operates as the main navigational aid to ships.

“My dad fought that, all the fishermen did. But we didn’t get anywhere”. Christine Thomas. Talking from childhood memories.


here are two power stations in Dungeness. The first, power station A was built in 1965 and was in use until 2006. The second, power station B built in 1983 has had its licence to operate extended until 2028. They are both built within a wildlife sanctuary with local birds flourishing in the heated water from the stations outflow. Power station B is open as a public visitor’s attraction. Tours were stopped in 2003 after the events of the September 11 attacks in 2001 but as of 2013 EDF has begun re-accepting visitors.


ishing is Dungeness’ greatest historical industry even under the shadow of two nuclear power stations. Fish and shrimp thrive in the unnatural thermal pools from the power stations warm water outlets. Winter sees an influx in the number of cod, dab, whiting and flounder while the warmer summer months’ welcome pout, bass, sole and eels.

Winches are used to pull the boats up the shingle beach from the surf after a day of fishing in the Channels’ deeper water.

A fisherman’s gear lies exposed to the elements, packed into an open box at the apex of the headland.

Looking past the hostile, apocalyptic habitat of Dungeness, wildlife thrives. A huge amount of vegetation grows in a single area, and on the shingle beaches alone, Sea kale and Viper’s bugloss are not uncommon. Invertebrates such as Emperor dragonfly and Small copper butterflies can be seen around the plants and more frequently further inland. Common Tern, Smew and Wheatear birds also migrate to Dungeness to breed and nest.

“Dungeness, a strange land of extremes, one of the most valuable and yet vulnerable nature conservation sites in Great Britain� Firth, 1984

“The people who live here, are not local. They’re from London. It started with Derek Jarman. What he did with his life was his business, but he was a lovely fella.” Doreen Thomas 89, lived in Dungeness since she was 21.

Dungeness has a selection of dwellings in various habitable states. From quaint converted train carriages, to rubber coated houses making them

more economical in the desolate landscape. Dungeness was originally inhabited by fisherman and their families, unknown to a lot of people. Derek Jarman was the most infuletntial pioneer to move to Dungeness from London, bringing the area to the attention of other creatives seeking a hiatus.


erek Jarman was a filmmaker, gardener, set designer and gay activist. He moved to Dungeness from London in 1986. Here he created an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ style garden, large standing stones and wild flowers give the garden an enchanting awe. Jarman passed away from an AIDS related illness in 1994, his residence ‘Prospect cottage’ still stands, owned by Jarman’s partner, and still draws gardening enthusiasts to the area.

The 200ft acoustic mirror. The largest of the three (20ft, 30ft, 200ft) located at Denge, Dungeness. ‘The Listening ears’ are acoustic mirrors that were used in the Second World War to provide early warning of enemy aircraft approaching Britain from the English Channel. They were successful installations but the use of radar detection made them unneeded.

Britain's Only Desert  

A book dedicated to the area of Dungeness in the South of England.

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