Friday, 28 August 2015

Postcard from Dungeness

The 20ft and 30ft Sound Mirrors at Dungeness
Dungeness, a shingle-beached headland on the coast of Kent, has been on my list of places to visit for years, decades even. So, I was excited to finally get there on a grey and wet August day. (Walking head down in the sometimes driving rain it was difficult to take seriously the designation of Dungeness as the UK's only desert.) The weather did mean that I didn't explore the area as extensively as I would have liked to, but the gloom added to the delicious bleakness of the place.  I did manage to see the key 'sights' - the nuclear power stations, the lighthouses, Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage and, best of all, the sound mirrors. The sound mirrors were a pre-radar system designed to detect enemy aircraft. Built 1928-30, sound waves were caught by the concave concrete structures and relayed via microphones to an operator. There are 3 mirrors: a 20ft dish, a 30ft dish and a 200ft curved wall. 
A strange and beautiful place.
Watch an extract from the BBC's series Coast in which the mirrors are tested.
Click on images to enlarge.
The old lighthouse and the nuclear power stations
The new lighthouse
The boardwalk to the sea
Shingle, sea, sky
The view to the sea (Click on image to see full panorama)
Power stations and lighthouses (Click on image to see full panorama)
The 30ft Sound Mirror
The 200ft Sound Mirror
All the Sound Mirrors
Prospect Cottage - Derek Jarman's former home

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