Site of the former (now largely deactivated) power station in Kent, it’s basically an area of coastline that was industrial and which is now slowly returning to residential status.
Well, I say that, but actually it was ALWAYS the home of fishermen and people associated with the railway and power station, but the fishermen’s cottages are now being reclaimed as first homes and holiday homes and the whole area is finding a new identity and rhythm.
I just love the sheer quirkiness of the place. Weekenders live alongside local fishermen in tiny but utterly charming weather boarded houses, painted in seaside colours; juxtaposed with that are the new build residences that still have to conform in terms of being low lying, but which have fabulous picture windows overlooking the shingle beach. My friends live in the converted coastguard tower, which is more than cool. The film maker Derek Jarman, always ahead of his time, lived here years ago, and his house and shingle garden are now open to the public.
The endless shingle beach is littered with fishing boats, the debris of fishing (including huge piles of discarded shells), sea containers which make a curiously effective photographic backdrop, and ever present, the Dungeness Power Station in the background, a far less forbidding spectacle than one might imagine.
But the defining factor of Dungeness for me, is the extraordinary quality of light, and the brooding cloud formations that make for great pictures, even if you are an absolute beginner with a camera. Just point and nature does the rest.
Having said that, I’d be fibbing if I pretended that the local steam train and excellent fish and chips didn’t also have a hold for me, as do the quaint little surrounding villages.
Dungeness is almost a subcontinent of Kent in its own right. You sort of get the feeling that you should be showing your passport as you enter. It’s strange, a little forbidding and completely unique. Long may it live.