Blog Post September 2016 by Wendy Dobing

Posted on September 25, 2016 at 4:05 PM

  Exploring the Garden of England

During this rather wonderful Indian summer I decided to investigate some of the coastline of Kent. Only an hour away from London, Kent is home to the oyster fishing industry, the story of the famous aviatrix Amy Johnson, offshore windfarms and traditional, delightful, colourful seaside beach huts. Kent is also known as The Garden of England!

Whitstable is famous for its oysters that can only be found in the vicinity of Whitstable, Kent. They have been fished there since roman times because of the ideal conditions for good shellfish growth there. Looking out to sea beyond the oyster beds in the distance are the obscure structures known as the Maunsell Forts and the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm, all near the busy Thames shipping lanes. The wind farm is cleverly located on a flat and shallow plateau, 6 miles from Whitstable and just outside a shipping lane, taking advantage of the coastal winds and distance from human habitation. It makes for an interesting landscape at dawn and dusk.

Just down the road in Herne Bay is a life size statue commemorating the aviatrix Amy Johnson. This was recently unveiled on the sea front, close to where she was last seen alive. Amy Johnson (1903-1941) was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930 and set a string of other records throughout her career. During a flight from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, on Sunday 5 January 1941, Amy disappeared and is thought to have crash landed in Herne Bay. She may have been lost, running out of fuel or was shot down by friendly fire. Parts of her planea travelling bag, a cheque book and her logbook, later washed up nearby. Amy's body was never found.

Whitstable and Herne Bay are also home to some interesting and colourful traditional beach huts along the shingle beach. These are all wooden and still very sought after and also the subject of many photographs and prints.

Nearby Margate is connected to the famous painter JMW Turner and houses the Turner Contemporary Gallery on the seafront. More than 100 of Turner’s works, including some of his most famous seascapes, were inspired by the East Kent coast. Margate was the starting point for his visits to Europe, and a love of the sea stayed with him all his life.

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