The A4 road runs east out of Kingston, all along the south coast through Bull Bay, Yallahs, Morant Bay and Port Morant, before turning up on to the north coast to Port Antonio, Buff Bay and Annotto Bay, where it ends at the junction with the A3 running directly north from Kingston. Just beyond Bull Bay on the way to Yallahs, there is a plaque in memory of ‘Three-Finger Jack’, Jack Mansong, one of Jamaica’s legendary highway men and a folk hero-villain in the mould of Robin Hood. From the marker you get a magnificent view of Kingston harbour to the southwest, while to the north are the dry forested hills of the Port Royal Mountains, once the territory of Jack. He fought a guerrilla war single-handedly against the British military and the plantocracy. It is not known whether he was born in Africa or Jamaica in 1780-1781. He is thought to have lost two fingers in a battle with a maroon called Quashie who later killed Jack in another fight, whereupon he cut off his head and three remaining fingers as trophies. Legends about Jack proliferated, books about him became popular and then came a musical, or pantomime. Obi- or Three-Fingered Jack had a run of some nine years at the Covent Garden, Haymarket and Victoria Theatres in London. (Further reading: L Alan Eyre, Jack Mansong, ‘Bloodshed or Brotherhood’.)
About 300 m from the junction of the A4 with the roads to Easington and Yallahs at Albion are the overgrown ruins of the Albion Great House and Aqueduct, often referred to as Albion Castle. Of the remaining structures the great house and the waterwheel are the most impressive. Descendants of those who worked on the estate as slaves still occupy the ‘slave house’ today. In colonial times the estate was the leading producer of sugar in Jamaica and its crystal sugar was known as ‘Albion Sugar’. On emancipation in 1838 there were about 450 slaves at Albion producing 400 hogsheads of sugar and more than double that quantity of rum was being produced at the end of the century. Its waterwheels were supplied by a large aqueduct transporting water from the Yallahs River several kilometres away. One of the wheels had a diameter of 9.6 m and supported 88 buckets. These and other innovations in the milling and drying process made Albion Estate a leader in sugar production technology. Access to the property is through the estate gate just up the road. There is usually a caretaker in the old ‘slave house’ or someone to help you gain access.
Morant Bay, the capital of St Thomas, has a colourful and legendary past. On 11 October 1865, it was the scene of the Morant Bay Rebellion. A group of farmers and other disaffected citizens led by farmer and Baptist Deacon, Paul Bogle, marched to the Courthouse to complain about high taxes, the collapse of the sugar industry and the economic downturn, which had been exacerbated by drought and outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. The Government was not sympathetic to the views of the people, the Courthouse was burned down and the uprising assumed dangerous proportions. The military rounded up the protestors and killed or sentenced to death hundreds of men and women who had allegedly taken part, burned nearly 1000 homes and flogged members of the surrounding communities. Today there is a statue to Paul Bogle at Morant Bay, and the monument is in remembrance of Bogle, George William Gordon and 437 martyrs who fought and died for justice. Both Paul Bogle and George William Gordon are National Heroes. The artist was Edna Manley, the wife of former Prime Minister and National Hero Norman Washington Manley, and mother of the Hon Michael Manley, also a former Prime Minister.
East of Port Morant, but not easily accessible, is the magnificent Pera beach between Port Morant and Morant Lighthouse. Near the lighthouse is another good beach. Just before reaching Manchioneal a road off to the left leads to the Reach Falls or Manchioneal Falls (about 5 km). Well worth a visit if you have a car or are prepared to walk (45 minutes with views of rolling forested hills) from the main road. Pretty tiers of smooth boulders, the highest fall about 4.5 m, tumble through a lush, green gorge. Buses from main road to Port Antonio are infrequent, every one or two hours. Taxis are a better option and more frequent. Since the government acquired the Falls they have been closed temporarily, so check with local people about entry and be prepared to pay for their services. Further along the coast from Manchioneal to Long Bay cottages and guesthouses have been built on the beach....
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