KINGSTON PAST: Rockfort Gardens

before 1899

Daily Gleaner, October 16, 1882:
Fishing is good at Rockfort. A sporting medico of this city visited that spot on Friday, and after using up half-a-pound of shrimps bait, succeeded, by hard struggling, in landing a fish weighing nearly half an ounce.
(on a personal note - I am not a fisherman, but I believe I did catch a 'mud-fish' at Rockfort long ago!)

I am trying to get some idea of the Rockfort area in the later 19th century, but so far I only have bits and pieces of information, so for now that is all I can give you. There was, of course, the fort itself, but the story of that will have to stay for another time.

Hopes for Rock Fort in 1883

Daily Gleaner, February 6, 1883

Extract from an editorial:

'Speaking of the Rock Fort road leads us to a few words as to Rock

Fort itself. Jamaicans are continually complaining that  they have

no-where to go to,  while here is a place within an easy distance of

the city,  which might, with a little outlay, be made a fashionable

resort for pleasure seekers. The Baths are unexcelled; the view

along the way is pretty, and with a few of those necessary adjuncts

to the personal comfort of the traveller, the place, in the hands of

an enterprising man might be made to pay a handsome return on


The Rockfort site was cleaned up in 1935:
                            archway approached from the East                                         the fortifications

This is a picture of Rockfort showing the Fort on

the right and the road to the east of the island

passing through an archway on the left. In the

mid-1940s a roadway to by-pass the arch was

constructed, presumably on dumped-up land,

between the Fort and the sea.

Adverts for property sales often have useful

snippets of information. This advert lists

properties belonging to the late Edward Vickars,

the first Black member of the House of

Assembly, who had  campaigned in the 1849s

using the slogan 'Vote for Vickars, the Black

man'. He died in 1867.


The 1873 advert below refers  to the 'Merry Inn'

suggesting that Rockfort had a 'hospitality'

character.  The Toll House on the Hope Road was

at Matilda's Corner.

Daily Gleaner, September 27, 1869

           Daily Gleaner, May 29, 1876  The 'Merry Inn' again!

Another aspect of activities at Rockfort was the use of land in the area as a quarantine

ground for livestock being imported into the island. This item from the Gleaner in 1894

indicates the problems caused by this arrangement, which continued on, it seems, into the

early 1900s:

Daily Gleaner, September 12, 1896

Other plans for the Rock Fort road.

This attempt to encourage Kingstonians to purchase lots on the so-called Windward Cliffs, on the property known as Bellevue, clearly had no success, and the whole property was being offered for sale in the early 1920s.
Another well-known facility in the Rockfort area was
the Hotel at Brighton Beach  >>>