Some people say Dymchurch is a bit of a surreal place. I would go along with that. The artist Paul Nash called the area “the strange coast”, after his 5 year stay here in the 1920’s thoughts of the village stayed with him and permeated many of his future paintings. “Nostalgic Landscape” is one example. The way Nash interpreted what he saw at Dymchurch is interesting, some of the landmarks, the Seawall, the Martello Towers for example, are easily identified. In “Nostalgic Landscape ” the familiar sweep of the seawall can be seen in the background, but what is the odd looking building, with it’s slightly scary tunnel like doorway, a bit like the entrance to Hell. By 1938 Nash was well into his Surrealist phase, often his work in the 1930’s has a dream like quality.
The building in question is the old Canal Sluice of 1876, which until 1997 was a landmark on the seawall near to the Napoleonic Grand Redoubt on the Hythe Road. More recently the building was used as a Searchlight Emplacement during World War II, hence the addition of an upper story with a view out to sea.
Regretably, this important and interesting building was demolished in 1997, seemingly because it was in the way of seawall repair work.
Nash’s interpretation of the Seawall Canal Sluice is a fascinating reminder of its existence.