Sunday, December 14
Tony Ray-Jones and the white (-ish) cliffs of Bournemouth, part 2
A brief note concerning my previous post! It’s been pointed out to me by several people during the course of my scanty and slapdash ‘research’ that Alum Chine Tropical Gardens in Bournemouth is the likely location for this photo. And that certainly ties in with the original caption.
Geologist Dr Ian West has suggested these Tropical Gardens as the location, noting that “the cross-bedding shows that the cliff is not Chalk, but is probably Branksome Sands. The stone walling is typical Bournemouth Purbeck Stone walling.”
I have visited the gardens within the past year, and they were an obvious candidate due to the plant life. The reason that I ruled the location out was my probably mistaken belief that the cliffs to the top right of the picture were massive and distant, which doesn’t fit in with any view that can be seen from the Alum Chine Gardens today.
Instead, it seems likely that the cliffs in the background are quite close, and now covered in vegetation, so the view is different. What appears as pure white cliffs in the black and white photo is probably orange-tinged sandstone, now hidden. I think these cliffs are either to the north at the ‘back’ of the gardens and have degraded slightly over the years or, more likely, are beyond the gardens and are the ends of the main cliffs that run down to the beach. In other words, Ray-Jones was facing eastwards in the direction of Bournemouth Pier when he took the photo.
Maybe the diagonally running wall that stretches across the photo still exists... The next time I’m in the area I’ll try to find it and get a ‘present day’ shot.