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Kimmeridge main street - - 251704.jpg
Kimmeridge main street
Kimmeridge is located in Dorset
 Kimmeridge shown within Dorset
Population 90 (2013 estimate)
OS grid reference SY916798
Civil parish Kimmeridge
District Purbeck
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WAREHAM
Postcode district BH20
Dialling code 01929
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament South Dorset
List of places

Coordinates: 50°37′04″N 2°07′11″W / 50.6178°N 2.1198°W / 50.6178; -2.1198

Kimmeridge /ˈkɪmərɨ/ is a small village and civil parish 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 in 2013 the estimated population of the civil parish was 90.[1]

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.

Notable buildings[edit]

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 Royal National Lifeboat Institution stationed a lifeboat at Kimmeridge in 1868 but it was removed in 1896.[2]

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.

Oil field[edit]

Main article: Kimmeridge Oil Field

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.[3][4] 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.[3]


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.

A panoramic view of the village from the north
A 360 degree view in Kimmeridge Bay, showing The Flats - a wave-cut platform.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Parish Population Data". Dorset County Council. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. p. 59. 
  3. ^ a b BP NSI - Wytch Farm terminal
  4. ^ Natural England - England's Geology - Dorset

External links[edit]