It’s 4am on a Saturday morning. I’m about to drive 100 or so kilometres to a rural outpost on the other side of Jamaica. After two hours in the car with Hall & Oats (a CD not the actual 80s pop duo), I find the ruins of the 18th Century Sugar Works at Kent Estate, Trelawny. Located along the Saltmarsh to Adelphi road near Orange Valley Estate, they’re easy to miss if you’re driving quickly.
I’d read it’s a private estate, but the estate manager is a nice man named Valentine Johnston who’ll facilitate a quick visit for some photos. Arriving just after 7am, I find the place deserted. There’s a big sign saying no trespassers and a gate with a very large chain but no padlock! Hurray. But there’s also lots of discarded gun shells scattered on the ground and I’ve left my deer-stalker hat at home. After a brief deliberation, I decide I’ll be fine and let myself in quietly.
The cows moo loudly and scatter when I lift the chain from the gate. I promptly walk straight into my first, but alas not last, cowpat of the day. Climbing through an old window into the ruin, I notice one wall is completely covered in tree roots and the light is so beautiful that even the mozzies can’t spoil it. The cows moo loudly and scatter when I lift the chain from the gate. I promptly walk straight into my first, but alas not last, cowpat of the day.
Keen to find the old great house on the estate, I make my way quietly along a track behind the factory. I pass what can only be described as a tropical scrapyard of rusty old boats and cars. There’s some small shacks, one of which I suspect will contain a sleeping Mr Valentine. I reach the end of the lane, and it seems everywhere is fenced off with barbed wire. I should turn back, but curiosity gets the better of me. So I try to squeeze through a gap in the wire, but get snagged in the process. Ouch.
Detangling myself, I cut across a stoney field only to reach yet another fence with more rusting wire and there is no way I can get through it. I’m pretty sure that if I get back on the Adelphi road and drive for a mile or so I might find another entrance that will lead to the great house. But it isn’t going to happen today as I smell like a giant cow pat and probably need a tetanus shot.
Directions: Kent Estate, Trelawny, located along the Saltmarsh to Adelphi road near Orange Valley Estate.