Stuck at Dover? See a sound mirror!

Accot's Cliff Sound mirror

The Guardian article How to amuse yourself in a 14-hour queue at Dover suggests: “The A20 between Folkestone and Dover can be an area of breathtaking beauty, with sea views and endless greenery to distract you from your hellish conditions. Get stranded in the right place and you could go and explore the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror, or the Samphire Hoe nature reserve.”

“Obscure functionalism melting into majestic land art”

The mirrors’ fruitlessness may be forgiven if only because of the uncanny impression one gets that they were built for a future not yet seen or understood. Indeed, its second life as a monument and relic has been more enduring than its first.

Christo Hall visits the sound mirrors on the Kent coast with photographer Stuart Leech and “finds an obscure functionalism melting into majestic land art”, in The Second Life Of Concrete: Brutalism’s Renaissance, published by The Quietus on 10 July 2016.

Aqulio music video with the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror

Aquilo EP Human

Lancashire duo Aquilo‘s EP “Human” released on 8 December 2014 features the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror (and other locations around Folkestone) in two videos.

The song is “based around the idea of a delicate relationship that was slowly coming to an end and eventually finding a solace in the fact it had ended”, according to an article at Pigeons and Planes. It’s perhaps not the most cheerful ditty, but does have a sound mirror.

I Gave It All

Losing You

The videos were directed by Eoin Glaister and filmed in November. Make up artist Anna Inglis Hall tweeted this picture:

Last year psych-rock quartet Syd Arthur featured the Abbot’s Cliff mirror on the cover of their album, “Sound Mirror.

Syd Arthur’s Sound Mirror

The second album from Canterbury psych-rock quartet Syd Arthur is called Sound Mirror, and features the Abbot’s Cliff acoustic mirror on its cover.

Sound Mirror album by Syd Arthur

“From the tantalizing ‘Garden Of Time’ to the prophetic ‘Sink Hole,’ ‘Sound Mirror’ expands and refines Syd Arthur’s already uncommon sonic multiverse into a brave new space where focus and concision is as essential as freewheeling abstraction and genre-shattering creativity”, apparently.

Sound Mirror will be released through Harvest Records on 2 June 2014.

Construction of the Abbot’s Cliff mirror

Pete Graves e-mails to say the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror was constructed by Lewis Brothers, Builders, of Dover. My father-in-law was apprenticed to Lewis’s in 1926 as a carpenter, and he worked on the wooden form-work around which the concrete for the mirror was ‘cast’. My father-in-law never visited the site and neither have my wife and I!”

Kent History Forum photos

Sound mirrors on the Kent History Forum. There is lots of other good stuff on the site, too.

  • Abbot’s Cliff. Including an aerial photo.
  • Denge. on the last official walk … there was round 300 hundred of us.
  • Fan Hole, near Dover.
  • Hythe.
  • Joss Gap (Kingsgate). Joss bay had two sound mirrors one being a slab, this was cut into the cliff near by the castle keep hotel , now replaced by flats.a slight indentation can still be seen near the top of the cliff. Checking the site where the round mirror was, which was a timber frame rendered. a few years ago the telephone cable blocks were still in place.
  • Warden Point. With a good 1978 photo of it about to go over the cliff.