Kaolin Mine photo – near Laguna City, on Tsing Yi or Chek Lap Kok islands?

IDJ  and Hugh Farmer. IDJ has sent this early 1950s image of a Kaolin Mine in the New Territories from Hong Kong in Picture and Story by John and Veronica Stericker published in HK in 1953.

As IDJ says ‘ the book doesn’t say where it is located except it is “remote and difficult to access”. I have another 1950s book which states that Kaolin was mined at Kaolin “pits” at Cha Kwo Ling. The only place I can find with that name is on a recent map showing it next to Lam Tin MTR station and the Kowloon entrance to the Eastern Harbour Crossing tunnel. This location could hardly be described as “remote” even in the 1950s. Perhaps someone can recognise the mountain peak in the picture.’

Kaolin Mine Hong Kong-New Territories-China Clay Mine-early 1950s

HF: The writer is correct in thinking ” not one person in every ten thousand would recognize what this scene depicts, in fact they would not believe it to be Hong Kong at all”. Indeed it looks more like three intrepid, if under-dressed, climbers setting off to attempt the unclimbed NE face of the imposing Alpine peak in the background.

Let’s begin our search. I have highlighted on this map all mentions of kaolin excluding those on NT islands.

As you can see  Kaolin clay occurs in many locations especially in the NW of the NT.  However it has ony been mined at Cha Kwo Ling, Tsing Yi and Chek Lap Kok. I have circled these in red.

Map 4 Location of Economic Mineral Occurrences in HK

Sewell 2009

Cha Kwo Ling

Kaolin Mine - Planning Review on Development of ex-mine site

2013 Planning Review

The SCMP 9th Jan 2013, “In Kwun Tong, residents raised objections at a district council meeting when officials outlined four plans for new housing, including one that calls for 2,200 private flats accommodating 6,000 residents at the site of the former Cha Kwo Ling kaolin mine, which adjoins Laguna City, a major private estate.”

Cha Kwo Ling google map

Shek Wan, Tsing Yi

” A prominent kaolinised rhyolitic dyke has been worked for its clay content at Shek Wan on the west side of Tsing Yi. Mining commenced in 1976, and a haulage road down to Wok Tai Wan on the west side of the island was built in 1981. Mining ceased in 1983.” Sewell & Fyfe 1995

And a photo of the mine. Apologies for the rather murky quality.

Kaolin-Mine-Tsing-Yi 2

Abandoned Kaolin Mine Shek Wan, Tsing Yi Sewell & Fyfe 1995

Chek Lap Kok

Kaolin Mine Former Island of Chek Lap Kok

Kaolin Mine
Former Island of
Chek Lap Kok,  Sewell 2009

Another photo. Again apologies for the poor quality.

Kaolin-Mine-photo-Chek-Lap-Kok 2

Kaolin Mine, Chek Lap Kok Langford 1994

I think IDJ’s image is not Cha Kwo Ling.

Is the pointed mountain in the background one of the three peaks of the highest mountain on Tsing Yi, Tsing Yi Peak/Sam Chi Heung (三支香)?

Or Castle Peak near Tuen Mun, across the sea from Chek Lap Kok somehow appearing larger than it should. Castle Peak can be seen in the background of the Langford 1994 photo above.  Or a demolished hill on Chek Lap Kok with which I am unfamiliar? I don’t think it is any of the Lantau mountains.

Over to you…

This article was first posted on 10th May 2014.


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