Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Dungeness sold to the French government

Or very nearly.

Kent Online reports:
French energy company EDF Energy has bought the UK's only desert... in Kent. 
It has exchanged contracts on the Dungeness Estate after it went on sale for £1.5 million in August. 
The 468-acre estate is designated as a National Nature Reserve, a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
And EDF energy, of course, is largely owned by the French government. (It's only the British government that cannot own British utilities.)

Still it may not be bad news. A trustee of the Dungeness Estate is quoted as saying:
"After the decision was made to sell the estate it was important the purchaser would have the ability, track record and correct intentions of maintaining an estate such as this and we are very happy to be passing that responsibility to EDF Energy."
Malcolm Saville wrote about the place in the foreword his sixth Lone Pine Club story, The Elusive Grasshopper, in 1951:
At the eastern extremity of Rye Bay is the great tongue of shingle called Dungeness with its black and white lighthouse, enormous foghorn and wilderness of  shacks, huts and bungalows. It is difficult to believe that there is any place in the world with more shingle than Dungeness, which indeed, is being piled up here the waves so fast that each year the lighthouse is several yards further inland. 
You can travel for yourself on the remarkable Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway to Dungeness and not only see the ships standing close to the shore in exceptionally deep water, but explore the little station and restaurant ... and even walk up the other deserted railway line towards the ruined school which, for all I know, still stands there in a wilderness of shingle and nodding sea-poppies.
It may have done when Saville was writing The Elusive Grasshopeer, but it does not today. I went to look for it with some fellow members of the Malcolm Saville Society many years ago and there was nothing left to see.

It does, however, live on in Lord Bonkers' occasional references to the Jack Straw Memorial Reform School, Dungeness.

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