Charcoal kiln on Jat's Incline [????- ]
Walking down Jat's Incline this morning, I noticed a small section of the hillside had collapsed after the recent rainy weather.
The steep drop in the top section looked similar to the collapsed entrances of Japanese wartime tunnels, so I climbed up expecting to see a tunnel disappearing into the hillside. But what I found looked more like a wall instead.
For a moment I was disappointed that the tunnel was blocked, but then the grey cells started working... First, the Japanese tunnels aren't lined like this. Second, that small opening at the back looked familiar. It reminded me of the chimney at the back of the charcoal kiln (aka "charcoal cave") I'd seen, where downed American pilot Lt. Kerr had hidden from his Japanese pursuers during WW2.
Looking down at my feet, I saw confirmation that these were the remains of a charcoal kiln - the curve of what was left of the front wall was clear to see (it runs from 3 o'clock down and around to 9 o'clock in the photo).
Here's a photo from a bit further back, to help spot where it is.
The collapse is roughly in the centre of the photo. If you view this page on the website there's also a map showing the location.
I'll include links to some related information below, but I'm curious to know more about the history of manufacturing charcoal in Hong Kong. There used to be many of these charcoal kilns on Hong Kong's hillsides, but this is only the second one I've ever seen.
If you can add any memories or information of other kilns, or about local charcoal manufacturing, please let us know in the comments below.
- There are several photos of an intact charcoal kiln towards the end of the Gwulo article "Meet the children who saved Lt. Kerr"
- A 1970 article by James Hayes, "Charcoal Burning in Hong Kong", is available to view at Hong Kong Journals Online
- Some of the Japanese wartime tunnels in Hong Kong we've found