Green Island Cement Company – stunning photos

Thanks to IDJ  for the excellent images and information. Hugh Farmer writes:-

I had always imagined  that the Green Island Cement Company was named after HK’s Green Island (Tsing Chau) opposite Kennedy Town. But no, the company initially started operations on the similarly named island, Ilha Verde, near Macau. The date of its establishment there  is given by various sources as 1886, 1887 and 1890. The contemporary company website says 1887.

Date unknown. I presume the cement factory is on the left indicated by the chimneys.

“Green Island Cement Factories Macao” Date unknown. I presume the cement factory is on the left indicated by the chimneys.

In 1898 or 1899, the  company moved to a location on the harbour front at  Hok Yuen, an area in East Kowloon near Hung Hom where  a larger and more fully equipped factory was built. (The Macau “factories”  appear to have continued.) The account given below from about 1904 says that the general managers at that time were Messrs. Shewan, Tomes, & Co, but I wonder if this major HK/Asia concern actually established the companies in Macau and Hong Kong.

As can be seen by these photographs this was a very large undertaking in terms of the area of the factory site. It also employed a huge number of people, though curiously very few of the 2,000 workers mentioned below can be seen here, almost as if the works was on the verge of closing. I wonder when the latter happened?

A great deal more research needs to be done to identify, not least, what went on in each of the buildings.

View of the cement works from the Kowloon City Pier areaCement 7

To quote from the article attached to the photos:- “Year by year the plant has been extended until today [about 1904]  this factory occupies an area of upwards of 1,000,000 square feet, whilst the machinery, worth as many dollars, has an output of nearly 8,000 tons a month [which apparently was almost enough to supply local needs]….

Cement 1Cement 2

[The cement] is composed of clay and crushed limestone mixed in certain proportions, and burned in a kiln. [This appears to a simplification of the components of Portland cement  which requires limestone, clay, iron ore, gypsum and coal.] The clay is found in the delta of the Canton River, and the limestone is brought from the neighbourhood of of Canton. The materials are unloaded from junks into overhead buckets, which convey it from the wharf to the factory. There the stone is pulverised in a series of crushing mills, the first of which reduce about eight tons of stone per day to the size of ordinary road metal, and the last, called “Griffin” mills, convert it into fine powder. The clay is also ground, and the two ingredients are then elevated to the top of floor of the building, where they are mixed automatically.

Hong Kong-Green Island Cement-bCement 3

A further reduction takes place in the tube mills, in which the powder passes through a rotating iron cylinder containing flints. In another machine the powder is mixed with water,and issues in a continuous strip, of oblong section, which is sliced off into bricks. After being stacked for eighteen hours in drying tunnels, these bricks are fed into kilns, chiefly of the rotary type.  The product of these kilns, known to the workers as “clinker” is then ground, first in ball and then in tube mills, and the resultant powder, Portland cement, is fed into specially constructed trucks and stored in bins ready for packing.

The Rotary Kilns

The Rotary Kilns

Bags for  putting up the cement are purchased, but casks are made on the premises, modern coopering devices being employed.

Power for the whole of the works is supplied from five Babcock & Wilcox boilers, the engines generating 500 and 300 horse-power respectively. The works are lit throughout by electricity.

The general manager of the factory, Mr. V. Uldall, a man of great experience in the trade, has been in the service of the Company for fifteen years. He has under him a staff of nearly two thousand men; but if the persons indirectly concerned are taken into account the probability is that the enterprise gives employment to upwards of three thousand.

Hong Kong-Green Island Cement 7 Manager's house foreground

The caption suggests that the building in the foreground is the manager’s house

The chief engineer is Mr A.H. Hewitt, who joined the Company in that capacity in 1889, soon after its inception, and has since been responsible for the building and running of its factories. He commenced his engineering career at Messrs. Maudsley, Sons & Field’s works, was one of the earliest members of of the “Junior Engineers” and became an Associated Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1895.”

Green Island Cement is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Cheung Kong Infrastructure. Today the cement works are at 7 Lung Yiu Street, Tap Shek Kok, Tuen Mun.

Lawrence Tsui added on 18 Dec 2013 I have some very old family documents concerning quarries in the Daya Bay areas. In the late 1940w, my Maternal Grandfather, Retired Chinese Major-General Lin Yin-hung, owned and operated quarries there. The mined stones were to supply Green Island Cement in HK. He built a small railway and a pier for its transportation. The Communist takeover of Mainland China in 1949 brought an end to that scheme. When I have time, I’ll look into those documents.

Hugh Farmer responded to Lawrence on 19 Dec 2013  It would be interesting to see what your documents reveal about the Daya Bay quarries and their link to Green Island Cement post WW2.

A very quick search reveals two quarries operating in the Daya Bay area in Oct 2004 called a) Daya Bay and b) Ling Ao and a satellite image of their location.

http://dayabay.ihep.ac.cn/docs/DayaBayrocksamples.pdf

The late 1940s to 2004 is a long time but I wonder if the Daya Bay quarry might be the one your maternal grandfather owned – it’s close to the sea.

For more information on Green Island Cement Company see:-

Ling Hang Quarry – supplier to Green Island Cement Company

This article was first published on 17th December 2013.

The Index contains several articles about the Green Island Cement Company.

4 Comments

  • Lawrence Tsui

    I have some very old family documents concerning quarries in the Daya Bay areas. In the late 1940w, my Maternal Grandfather, Retired Chinese Major-General Lin Yin-hung, owned and operated quarries there. The mined stones were to supply Green Island Cement in HK. He built a small railway and a pier for its transportation. The Communist takeover of Mainland China in 1949 brought an end to that scheme. When I have time, I’ll look into those documents.

    Lawrence

    • Hugh Farmer

      Thanks Lawrence. It would be interesting to see what your documents reveal about the Daya Bay quarries and their link to Green Island Cement post WW2.

      A very quick search reveals two quarries operating in the Daya Bay area in Oct 2004 called a) Daya Bay and b) Ling Ao and a satellite image of their location.

      http://dayabay.ihep.ac.cn/docs/DayaBayrocksamples.pdf

      The late 1940s to 2004 is a long time but I wonder if the Daya Bay quarry might be the one your maternal grandfather owned – it’s close to the sea.

      • Lawrence Tsui

        I’m afraid the documents might be at my mother’s place in HK since I could not find them here in Toronto. Some of them were leases & maps of the mines, as well as arrangement for shipment to HK Green Island Cement.

        From recollection, the quarry of Grandfather Lin Yin-hung was named Ling Hang Quarry at Nim Shan. Two supplies were shipped to Green Island Cement. The quarry produced lime stones as well as marble it is said. The pier used to load the stones for shipment to HK was probably at Ah Ma Kok. The HK agent was my paternal uncle, Mark Tsui Shing-cheung. I’ve seen document bearing the company name of ‘Wilson’ (not sure if that was his company or the agent of Green Island Cement in the transaction.

  • Jane Taylor

    Fascinating! Thank you so much for this. I can confirm that the building in the foreground of the photograph beneath the picture of the rotary kilns was, indeed, the manager’s house. My grandfather, Robert Taylor served as manager (I think from the late 1920s) until his retirement in 1949. Recently discovered family photographs show the building clearly, and also its pre- and post-war interiors. Much work had to be done after the war to make it habitable again.

    I’d love to know more; would you be able to direct me towards any other Green Island archive material, please?

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