Disintegrating Dungeness

May 19, 2020  •  1 Comment

Disintegration at Dungeness

After seeing Dungeness in a TV documentary in ~2011, I thought it looked fascinating and I wanted see the place. I finally managed my first visit in early 2012 and now, I try to go back about once a year.

Dungeness is a place with much to recommend it. It's really quite picturesque, if you look in the right direction.

At the tip of the headland is that distinctly ugly 1960s Dungeness (A and B) nuclear power station. Dungeness has two nuclear power stations, two lighthouses, two pubs and one narrow gauge railway.

It is also an internationally important conservation area with important plant, insect (invertebrates in general) and bird communities. It’s a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area and is part of an area of Site of Special Scientific Interest. There have also been two pieces of Banksy art there, giving Dungeness the highest per capita Banksy access anywhere in the world, the first piece was stolen shortly after completion and the second piece was removed for preservation after EDF energy set out plans to clean up the beach. Other artists and photographers live in the hamlet and of course, Derek Jarmon once lived there.

In addition to being popular with beach fishermen and birdwatchers, Dungeness is also popular with photographers and film makers. What draws them is the hamlet (some houses made from old railway carriages) and an array of derelict fishing boats, and their associated gear and buildings. Unfortunately, among the people going there to take photos, one group thought smoke bombs would be a good idea and burned the boat Molly Rose to the ground. It was also appalling to see that someone else had done a wire wool shot next to one of the other boats. 

The most photographed of the derelict boats has lost its deckhouse and another, the Our Cathlene, that had been in reasonably good condition has been knocked about very badly.

What struck me after a couple of visits, was that the boats and buildings on the beach aren't just decaying because of the weather and time, they have also been deliberately damaged. Now, as much as anything I'm recording the slow disintegration of what is left.

Diamond navigation marker.

I think this marker was erected after the nuclear power station was built. It was washed away at the end of 2019.

navigation marker that has now gone.Dungeness DiamondA general view of a navigation marker on the Western end of Dungeness beach. The marker washed into the sea during storms in 2019. Photographed on black and white film.
 

Molly Rose

Molly Rose was a fishing boat in use from 1968 into the 2000s.

In May 2016, people with cameras wanted to use smoke bombs for a photograph and burned the boat to the ground.

The fishing boat Molly Rose at Dungeness before its destruction.Fishing boat Molly Rose before its destructionMolly Rose was one of the derelict fishing boats found on Dungeness beach. It carried the FE119 registration letters, indicating the boat had been registered in Folkstone. Molly Rose had been in use from 1968, possibly up to 2009. In May 2016, the boat was destroyed by fire after people with cameras decided to throw smoke bombs onto the boat. Photographed in March 2012 on black and white film.

Abandoned fishing gear on Dungeness beachMolly Rose in 2012A general view of the fishing boat Molly Rose on Dungeness beach, surrounded by abandoned fishing gear.

The remains of a fishing boat after it was destroyed by fire.The remains of the Molly RoseGeneral view of all that remains of the the fishing boat Molly Rose on Dungeness beach, photographed in January 2017 on black and white film. Molly Rose was one of the derelict fishing boats found on Dungeness beach. In May 2016, the boat was destroyed by fire after people with cameras decided to throw smoke bombs onto the boat. Photographed on black and white film.

 

Our Cathlene

Dungeness has no harbour so its fishing vessels were launched from the beach using ropes, winches and bulldozers. The boats, were less than 10 metres in length, had a design that allowed them to allow them to be run up onto the shingle beach on their return. The RX boat registration letters indicate that the boat was registered with the port of Rye. RX435, Our Cathlene operated between 1964 and 1997.

When I saw the boat for the first time, it was intact. It looked like it had fresh varnish on her and even had oars strung on either side and I thought if was a working vessel.
Our Cathlene on Dungeness beachFishing boat Our CathleneA general view of the Dungeness fishing boat Our Cathlene taken in 2012 on black and white film.

I travelled for about two and a quarter hours and then lugged by camera gear across the shingle beach to get sunrise photos of the boats and I'm pretty glad I did.
Fishing boat silhouetted against the rising sunOur Cathlene at sunriseA colour image of the Dungeness fishing boat Our Cathlene silhouetted against the rising sun in late December 2015.

By January 2017, the mast was gone and the deck house was over to one side too. 

Dungeness fishing boat in disrepairOur Cathlene starting to fall apartBy January 2017, Our Cathlene had lost its mast and the deck house was over to one side

By November 2017, the deck house and mast of Our Cathlene had gone altogether. Another boat had had the deck house removed and placed to one side, so this wasn't weathering.
The hull of Our Cathlene with the deck house missing.Our Cathlene in disrepairBy November 2017, the deck house and mast of Our Cathlene had gone altogether. Another boat had had the deckhouse removed and placed to one side, so this wasn't weathering.

Both of the boats in the image below had deck houses in place at my previous visit. The deck house remains on the ground in the foreground hadn't blown there in a storm, it had been placed there. 
This photo had been photographed on time-expired Kodak colour film.  I'd tried some other time expired film before and it was great, but this stuff was a disaster.

Damaged boatsDamageDerelict fishing boats on Dungeness Beach. Both of the boats in the image had deck houses in place at my previous visit. The deck house remains on the ground in the foreground hadn't blown there in a storm, it had been placed there. The fishing boat Our Cathlene had also suffered the removal of its deck house. Photograhed on time-expired Kodak colour film.

 

The Net Shed and the Dungeness Fishing Boat

the Net Shed, was a fisherman's hut close to what is arguably the most photographed of the Dungeness fishing boats is the one in nearest to Prospect Cottage.  It stands beside a narrow gauge railway railway that was used to transport fish across the shingle beach.

When I first visited the beach, there, the net shed was shabby, there were lots of nets around it and lots of stuff inside, but it was still upright. There was also a small shed beside the boat, next to the winding gear.

Abandoned fishing gear on Dungeness beach.Dungeness beach and the most photographed relicsA general view of the most photographed of the boats on Dungeness beach with the Net Shed in the background. The foreground is full of the remains of another shed and lots of abandoned fishing gear. This digital image is available in colour.

The Net Shed in March 2012, still largely intact.

Dungeness Net ShedThe Net Shed in 2012A general view of the Net Shed at Dungeness taken in March 2012 when the shed was still largely intact.

Dungeness net shedDungeness Net ShedLooking towards the most photographed Dungeness fishing boat from the Net Shed. Photographed in December 2012 on black and white film.

Disintegrating fishing gear on Dungeness beachDisintegrating fishing gearA general view of the most photographed of the Dungeness fishing boats with the remains of the winding gear shed beside it and the disintegrating Net Shed in the distance. The disused light railway runs passed the boat. A view of the Net shed in poor conditionThe Net Shed in poor conditionThe Net Shed at Dungeness was a fisherman's storage shed built beside the narrow gauge rails on the beach, not far from the most photographed of the Dungeness fishing boats. Disintegrating fisherman's hutThe disintegrating net shedThe Net Shed at Dungeness was a fisherman's starage shed built beside the narrow gauge rails on the beach, not far from the most photographed of the Dungeness fishing boats. The fishing net that had been on the shed at my previous visit had gone. Photographed on black and white film.

By December 2019 it was gone.

Pile of debris The net shed goneA general view of the scattered remains of the Net Shed at Dungeness. The shed was a fisherman's storage shed built beside the narrow gauge rails on the beach, not far from the most photographed of the Dungeness fishing boats. Over the time from 2012 to 2020, the shed disintegrated more and more, very possibly helped along by visitors. By 2019, the shed was gone and was just a small pile of planks and fishing nets.

As an aside. The small shed beside the boat had been decorated with a cartoon. All of the debris was removed, so that little art work is gone too.

Colourful graffitiColourful graffitiColourful graffiti of an android like being painted on the side of some fisherman's equipment on Dungeness beach. The graffiti was photographed in December 2012, the structure that had been painted has since collapsed and the artwork is now lost.

Once the current corona virus pandemic eases and we can get out again, I hope to get back there and see what it looks like.

If this blog tempts you to visit, do so, but please remember all this stuff belongs to someone. treat it with respect and follow the local rules.


Comments

Daniel(non-registered)
What a lovely post. I used to live near Dungeness and it's great to see it photographed in such a sympathetic way.
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