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Jurassic Coast

A trip to the Jurassic Coast with local photographer Andy Farrer in December 2021 first took us to Swanage. This first image is the first Swanage Pier, which was 750 feet long, and which was built between 1859 and 1860 for use primarily by the local stone quarrying industry and included a tramway which ran the length of the pier and some way along the seafront. When local businessman George Burt introduced regular steamer services between Swanage and nearby towns Poole and Bournemouth in 1874, a need became apparent for a second pier to be built primarily for use by passenger steamers. Construction on the new pier began in 1895, and by 1896 it was first used by a steamer. The pier was officially opened for traffic on 29 March 1897. While regular steamer services ran on the new pier up until 1966, the older original pier declined along with the stone industry it served some years earlier. Today all that remains of the old pier are some of the timber piles. Absolutely every photographer that visits (And they come in droves) takes a long exposure shot here to smooth out the sea so who am I to argue. For a brief moment, I thought that the distant land was France but a quick study of geography determined it to be the Isle of Wight. The pier is slowly disappearing into the sea so before many years are out, Swanage will be losing its regular photographer tourists.

The next four images are at Portland Bill. We were out there, the weather was wet and miserable and a goodly wind was blowing, it was after all December. This location did not look very promising at all and we were about to pack up and go. Suddenly then, for a few minutes, the sun broke through the thick clouds just as it was setting and gave out this golden light. So we clambered over the rocks onto this ledge, health and safety gone with the wind, stood with our backs to the sea as the waves came crashing over us and quickly took opportunities to photograph the storm. A good soaking was received by all but the cameras mostly stayed dry, they are supposed to be fairly waterproof. One of our party sensibly stayed dry in the restaurant but I got to take this image home, squish squash all the way, and then headed for a hot shower. The nice thing is that my image is better than Andy's. As Portland Bill's largest and most recent lighthouse, as you will notice, the Trinity House operated Lighthouse is distinctively white and red striped, standing at a height of 41m. It was completed by 1906 and first shone out on 11 January 1906. The lighthouse guides passing vessels through the hazardous waters surrounding the Bill, while also acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel. A nice big cloud considerately hovered overhead close to sunset.


Then an image of an old stone crane at Portland Bill. Portland Stone is a limestone formation from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland. The quarries are cut in beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major public buildings in London such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Portland Stone is also exported to many countries, being used for example in the United Nations headquarters building in New York City. It was shipped directly from the quarries and here remains a crane used for this purpose. The ships returned empty and for ballast often used great cast iron bollards recovered from the streets of London which became redundant when they were widened. These can be found all around this area. I took a pic, there was not much else to take here.


The next two images are at Durdle Door. This place was on my photographic bucket list as it is a very popular place to shoot and Andy, our local guide has taken many hundreds of fantastic images here at all seasons. I always imagined it to be a quiet walk across open fields miles from anywhere but of course reality is car parking for thousands and all the facilities for mass tourism. We came in December early morning (Climbing from the car park in the dark) so it was mercifully quiet for us. At this time of year, the sun can rise straight through the door so photographers in the exact right place on the beach can catch it just so. But today it was cloudy so this opportunity did not arise. Anyway, we decided to avoid the massed cameras and walked up the cliff top to catch this and other images from a height. The light could have been better and it would probably have been considerate to clone out the few photographers left on the beach but here it is anyway in my book. Bucket list ticked off and off to breakfast (And a good one too if I remember correctly).

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