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By Dave87
These concrete structures are Sound Mirrors or Listening Devices and were built between 1928 -1930 as experiments to detect enemy aircraft. The concave shape of the mirrors collected and amplified the sound from aircraft engines and could also indicate from which direction across the English channel the aircraft were coming from and were intended to provide early air raid warnings and to assist the RAF in the interception of enemy aircraft about to attack England.

The right hand structure is the 30 foot mirror (the measurement of its diameter) completed in 1930, its bowl construction is unique. Beneath this can be seen the chamber in which the operator sat listening to the sound collected from the mirror surface by rotating the still visible detector conveyed to his ears by an arrangement resembling a stethoscope. The smallest structure in the centre of the group is the 20 foot mirror of 1928. It originally had a concrete pillar in front of the mirror surface supporting a movable sound detector. The largest structure is the 200 foot long mirror of 1930 (referring to its length). This curved wall concentrated sound waves that were detected by a row of microphones positioned on the concrete forecourt of the structure. Only one other sound mirror of this design exists in Malta.

Located deep inside a quarry at Denge near Dungeness the sound mirrors are a scheduled monument of war times past and were repaired in 2003 by English Heritage with financial support and help provided by others including the quarry owners. Public access is - not now possible - to the island containing the sound mirrors which is protected by a swing bridge other than two or three times each year as part of a guided tour (the last one attracted 280 visitors), this is to protect the structures and also safeguard the bird populations using the lake. Last Saturday Sarah (Sezz), Kate, Colin, and I, felt honoured to be given our own private visit here, the silence on this island was gruesome.

Thanks a bundle for looking. Have a good week.


Tags: Photo journalism Dungeness Digitally manipulated Landscape and travel Sound mirrors

Voters: shaz4, Hanners, mrswoolybill and 65 more

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Hanners 16 875 10 Ireland
5 Oct 2008 9:11PM
certainly looks an interesting place, I remember seeing it on the BBC programme Coast Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2564 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2008 9:20PM
Strong compositions, it's a story I've heard many times but this adds a sense of reality.
woolybill1 Plus
16 39 79 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2008 9:33PM
Privilege indeed to see these, Dave, and we are equally privileged that you have shared them with us. Wonderful composition, too; I'll single out V1 and the almost pure abstract form of V3 of which I am already jealous!
User_Removed 15 172 1 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2008 9:53PM
Excellent shots of a very interesting site, well captured

tony64 18 204 9 England
5 Oct 2008 10:04PM
Fascinating Dave, I have never seen these before.
Sezz 17 619 15 England
5 Oct 2008 10:54PM
An impressive sight weren't they! All good shots Dave but I particularly like V3 - an interesting narrative too! An enjoyable day was had by all - thanks again Smile

Sarah *
Dave87 15 42 5 England
5 Oct 2008 11:07PM
Thanks a bundle you smashing people for stopping off here to leave a click and better still a comment. Looking at your age groups you are probably like me and learnt about the 1st and 2nd World War Air Raids Over Britain - when sitting on either our mums or dads knee as a child!!

Shortly after building the - Sound Mirrors - some bright spark invented - Radar - and the sound mirrors became old hat. Still a good try - don’t you think!!
KenTaylor 18 3.1k 2 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2008 11:33PM
Fascinating structures.
I am sure these were featured in the `Coast` series of programs on BBC. If my memory serves me correctly they did an experiment to see if they still worked, and they did.
It is amazing the amount of wartime buildings there is throughout the British Isles bearing in mind the manpower needed.
Paintman Plus
16 1.5k 180 United Kingdom
6 Oct 2008 7:45AM
Looks like an interesting area. Excellent photos.

Badgerfred 15 39 Wales
6 Oct 2008 8:12AM
Excellent compositions Dave, interesting narrative,
Ray42 14 3 England
6 Oct 2008 8:19AM
Three good shots and I particularly like v2 - I see they have made it easy for you now with bridges - good fishing in the lakes nearby. The weather was very kind to you on this shoot - love the sky - nice to see you putting up some pictures now
6 Oct 2008 6:19PM
Love the light and shadows in V1 Dave, and the expanse of V2. Very good comp' on V3. Plenty of places for Sezz to hide though, I can't spot her ANYwhere. :-(

All the best mate, and great to see your pic's.

John Smile

Great history too!
AnneWorner 15 620 43 United States
8 Oct 2008 7:17PM
Hi Dave,
Good to see these mirrors and to read your very good narrative about them. Three very nicely composed images that together show the area and mirrors very well. I really like the structure in v2; that front slant, and then the curve leading into the image is very pleasing to my eye - I can see this one in mono. V3 is also very appealing with the diagonal braces and their shadows. Very good perspective in that image.
Hope you are well!
wyatturp 17 2 England
11 Oct 2008 9:44AM
Great to read well done

kamera 14 6 United Kingdom
12 Oct 2008 10:04PM
Hi Mate it's the sky that realy does it for this picture V1 and the low angle I never got that low. A good bit of manipulation to bring out the best, also like the angle shot of the narrow bridge a good pattern picture .
Leightonhs 16 155 1
19 Oct 2008 5:39PM
Looks like a fantastic place to wander about with a camera!

FeatherFriend 15 38 217 England
19 Oct 2008 11:37PM
A great set Dave and a great write up. Re the 'Crowned Pigeon', sorry but it was a beautiful sunny day in Spain, the bird was out in the open (not caged, just flying around freely) and I didn't need flash, thank you for the lovely comment though.
MorneR 15 South Africa
20 Oct 2008 5:21PM
Well done again. Love the set. V1 is my favourite. Keep them comming!!
bayleaf 15 8 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2008 7:23AM
Wow super work Dave.

ginz04 18 281 20 United Kingdom
25 Oct 2008 6:02PM
quality capture.

hebdens 17 5
27 Oct 2008 8:23AM
love history, did not know about these structures, so thanks for the lesson and images. Does look a desolate place, quite eerie.
Eviscera 16 1.1k 149 United Kingdom
1 Nov 2008 4:02PM
wonderful work , i just saw it for what it is , like how we find the Aztec ruins and so in time will our furure historians find these, well thanks to you they will

helenlinda Plus
15 374 22 United Kingdom
7 Nov 2008 10:35PM
Fascinating write up and pictures. What a wonderful opportunity for you all to visit the island.
Really like v3 the best of these although they are all excellent reportage photos in their own right. Love the lines and shadows on that bridge
Thanks for sharing these with us
mikbee 15 3 8 Scotland
7 Nov 2008 11:52PM
A fascinating write up.It is an era of history that interests me,but this is a new one for me !!
Good stuff.
AnneWorner 15 620 43 United States
10 Nov 2008 8:39PM
Hi Dave,
Hope you are doing well. I wanted to do some mono-mods of these, but there's no mod button!
25 Nov 2008 7:19AM

Quote:Fascinating Dave, I have never seen these before.

You learn something every day.
DeSilver Plus
15 14 12 England
29 Nov 2008 10:42AM
A peace of history well caught and shown. I remember seeing these on TV, very nice to see again. Smile

dmhuynh72 14 47 3 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2008 9:28PM
excellent images Dave, and thanks for the information.
zed 18 551 United Kingdom
23 Dec 2008 2:46PM
A great set of images, I like reading your descriptions too....
Dave87 15 42 5 England
23 Dec 2008 3:12PM
Thanks everybody, your kind words are much appreciated.

28 Dec 2008 6:28PM
Fascinating. I've heard about these but never seen an image of them.
EllieEdge 15 15 42 Norway
9 Jan 2009 7:48AM
No 1 is really a "jaw-dropper" when you read the story!
- Ellie
leons29 15 South Africa
19 Jan 2009 7:35PM
What a privilege it must have been to get such an invite. The shots are great. Very well captured and thanks for the write up.
kamera 14 6 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2009 9:09PM
HiDave great shots I have very similar thanks to the use of your leneses
I like the contrast and the taking position of the large dish the weather that day was perfect .As I said at the time when we first visited these it was mid afternoon and all the light was behind the structures .I see from the No 1 shot that you decided to remove the grafitti portrait on the front. I think this was the right thing to do but Kate seems to recon this added to the picture .Just a matter of opinion I guess .I will jhave a go at printing mine and see how they do
Best Regards Colin .
biscuit61 14 16 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2009 9:22AM
a fascinating part of our history, well taken and narrated.
8 Mar 2009 8:20PM
a quality, sharp picture Dave, and very well described..

3 Apr 2009 1:01PM
Such a great set. Love the pov.
User_Removed 14 78 1 United Kingdom
18 Apr 2009 12:35PM
Good set of images Dave. enjoyable PF

25 Apr 2009 9:36PM
A very well composed shot, love the colours and the sky. Tracey
Neeka 13 16 Wales
18 May 2009 9:48PM
What great images!
Pegon 17 78 1 England
21 Jul 2009 10:53PM
Three excellent shots Dave and a really interesting write-up.
fatherpie 14 18 12 England
5 Aug 2009 9:31PM

Quote:Three excellent shots Dave and a really interesting write-up.

Spot on Pete, three fascinating images. They didn't mention on the Coast programme though that you couldn't visit them except on special occasions so think you were indeed fortunate Dave.
Dave87 15 42 5 England
5 Aug 2009 9:54PM
Thanks Dave, the sound mirrors are indeed located deep inside a quarry and nowadays normal public access is not possible other than on guided tours but we struck lucky on this day. The quarry manager is a friend of mine and he had a word in the right places for us and got the key to the swing bridge allowing us our own private visit on that day. Best described as we owe him one!! Thanks for the comment and vote together with everybody else who has stopped off here in the past - much appreciated.

ericfaragh Plus
19 149 6 United Kingdom
9 Sep 2009 1:30AM
Good use of shadow. These are almost like fossils of technology. So much effort toward something which turned out to be so transient.
PatriciaWilson 18 617 58 Greece
8 Nov 2009 6:44PM
Amazing to see these obsolete structures, such a waste but I guess in their design and operation much was learned that contributed to today's technology.
Good write up too, enjoyed reading it.
DRicherby 14 269 726 United Kingdom
24 Nov 2010 6:39PM
What fascinating structures! Thanks for posting and taking the time on the write-up. Much appreciated.
Dave87 15 42 5 England
14 Jun 2011 7:43PM
More on the story can be viewed here

Thanks to everybody for the comments and clicks.


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