The problem of illegal photoshoots on the Dungeness Estate has once again raised its head, this time resulting in the destruction of one of fishing fraternity’s iconic old boats.
The Molly Rose went up in flames on Bank Holiday Monday, when three young photographers used smoke bombs to create a special effect – and they certainly achieved one they might not have expected.
This is a recurring problem on the EDF Energy-owned Estate which is one of the most important and sensitive sites not only in the UK, but also in Europe.
“We are heartily sick of this,” one resident told The Looker. “These people are a blight on our environment and livelihoods.”
The diminished fishing fleet at Dungeness continues to ply its trade out at sea – there are now only six vessels still operating – but the unique landscape attracts photographers doing fashion shoots and pop bands producing music videos.
“We don’t mind artists coming here to make use of the area, that is understandable,” said Dungeness Estate Manager, Owen Leyshon, “they must be licensed. The problems occur when unlicensed and uninsured photographers and film-makers just turn up. Last year we had 90 cases of illegal fashion shoots on the Estate.”
The three lads were pursued but on this occasion managed to escape, although the police are following up the case.
The Molly Rose had been in the Thomas family for generations, but was retired from her fishing duties some years ago. She had however had taken up her place as an iconic site on Dungeness’s shingle shore. As an historic wooden vessel, it is easy to see why she would have been destroyed so quickly.
“It is really sad that the Molly Rose has ended her life like this, as she had become a well-known part of the landscape,” said the family’s Kenny Thomas. “But it could have been even worse if it had been a newer vessel – it would have meant the end of a fisherman’s livelihood.”
The area’s wild environment is becoming increasingly popular for visitors from London.
“We last carried out a car count nine years ago and worked out that we had 600,000 visitors that year, so if we extrapolate that figure, we can estimate around a million visitors a year now, which makes it comparable to a site like Beachy Head,” said Owen.