Kimmeridge main street
Kimmeridge shown within Dorset
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||South Dorset|
Kimmeridge // is a small village in the English county of Dorset. It is situated just over half a mile (1 km) inland on the Isle of Purbeck on the English Channel coast, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Wareham and about 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Swanage. It lies within the Purbeck administrative district of the county, and has a population of 110 (2001).
On the coast south-west of the village lies the roughly semi-circular Kimmeridge Bay, which is backed by low cliffs of soft shale. Beneath the cliffs there is a large wave-cut platform (known as The Flats) and a rocky shore with rock pools and attendant ecology. Kimmeridge Bay is a surfer and diver area.
Along the shore immediately eastwards of Kimmeridge Bay (above Hen Cliff) is a folly known as Clavell Tower which inspired P.D. James's novel The Black Tower. It had been in danger of falling down the eroding cliff, so recently the tower was dismantled and then reassembled 115 feet (35 m) further back from the cliff edge. The tower is available as a holiday let.
The parish church was mostly built in 1872.
Kimmeridge Bay is a surfing area which breaks infrequently due to its lack of exposure to Atlantic swells, but can produce walls of water when it is 'on'. Below the cliffs to the East is 'The Ledges', with slow left- and right-hand breaking waves; the right-handers can spiral for 70 yards (64 m) or more into the bay. To the West is 'Broad Bench', within the Ministry of Defence firing range and only accessible when the ranges are open to the public.
On the cliff west of the village is the Perenco "nodding donkey" oil pump which has been pumping continually since the late 1950s, making it the oldest working oil pump in the UK. The well currently yields around 65 barrels per day (10.3 m3/d) from the Middle Jurassic strata that lie around 1,150 feet (350 m) below the cliff. The well has been operating for this long because it has tapped into a network of connected reserves; however the yield is decreasing year on year. The oil is transported by tanker to the Perenco site at Wytch Farm from whence it is piped to the main refinery on Southampton Water.
The village stands on Jurassic shale cliffs, and gives its name to the Kimmeridgian, the division of the Jurassic period in which the beds were laid down, because of the quality of the cliffs and the fossils they yield. It is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site because of the quality and variety of geological landforms along the coast. A Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre is situated in Kimmeridge.
The bay is also the type locality for the Jurassic age Kimmeridge Clay formation, which is well represented in southern England, and provides one of the source rocks for hydrocarbons found in the Wessex and North Sea Basins.
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- James P D (1975) The Black Tower, Sphere books (1987 edition), 288pp, ISBN 0-7221-5110-1.
- Wignall P (ed) (1995) Benthic Palaeoecology of the Late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay of England (Special Papers in Palaeontology series), Palaeontological Association, 74pp, ISBN 0-901702-42-0.
- Kimmeridge Bay; Geology of the Wessex Coast by Ian West
- The Buildings of England by John Newman and Nikolaus Pevsner. Page 242. Published by Penguin Books 1972. Reprint 1975. ISBN 0-14-071044-2 (references to the church).