This 1977 photograph of the historic View Royal lime kiln was taken before the large chimney shaft began to disintegrate. It is hoped the unique kiln can be saved and restored as a heritage site. (Robert Duffus photo)
Historic Limekiln in View Royal
The remains of this century old limekiln can still be seen under a tangle of branches and blackberry bushes on Hart Road in View Royal.
It was part of the Atkins Brothers Silica Lime Brick Company whose first quarries were on Atkins Road, near the boundary of View Royal and Langford. By 1899 Tommy Atkins and his brother were busy enough to justify a spur line from the E.&N. Railway from Atkins Road.
A letter dated March 2 from the railway's traffic manager George L. Courtenay acknowledges receipt of $100 "as a guarantee that they shall ship not less than one thousands barrels of lime in cars of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Company from Atkins siding between this and the first day of June, 1899. Under which conditions this Company agrees to place a switch in the said siding for the above purpose." The company met its quota, the deposit was returned.
The Atkins family also operated limekilns at Rosebank near the Wilfert sawmill at the end of Hart Road. Several family members built houses along the road, including the antiques and collectibles shop now occupying the house near the Old Island Highway at the south end of Parson's bridge.
The Rosebank operation continued into the 1930s. Purchase of the land by the Department of National Defence at the outbreak of World War II ended 40 years of industrial activity on the south shore of Esquimalt Harbour, near Fort Rodd Hill.
The Atkins family quarry business was not the first in View Royal: Kenneth McKenzie is believed to have found limestone near the corner of the Old Island Highway and Helmcken Road for his brick making at Craigflower farm. An 1858 notice in the Colonist advertised limestone from this location would soon be available to the public. In addition to the Atkins operation there is said to have been another company operating nearby in 1906 for the manufacture of sand-lime brick, with water brought by a flume from Thetis Lake.
An 1882 letter from an engineer superintending construction of the first naval dockyard in Esquimalt locates Mason's brickyard near Parson's Bridge. If the yard hoped to supply bricks for new construction at the naval dockyard or Cole Island, his report that "the class of bricks they are turning out is a very poor one" would not help.
Sources: The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, Donald F. MacLachlan; Craigflower Country, Maureen Duffus; CRD unpublished manuscripts, personal interviews.
Further information about the kiln and quarries or the Hart Road operation would be appreciated. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Shaw TV - June 14, 2012 - News video highlighting the history and future of the limekiln
- News Update - June 1, 2012 - View Royal earmarks cash to preserve historic lime kiln
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