On a visit to Kilve beach in Somerset Mrs J spotted the below simulacra. Foliage growing from a disused chimney seems to have naturally developed into the shape of a small cloud of smoke drifting from the top of the chimney. The chimney in question is part of an old and disused oil retort house.
It was discovered in 1916 that the shale beds of Kilve beach and the north Somerset coast were rich in oil and the Shaline Company was formed in 1924 to take advantage of the discovery. This brick-built oil retort house is believed to be the first building to be erected for the conversion of shale to oil. Sadly however, the enterprise never really got off the ground, as the process was found to be too costly to make it profitable. It does seem however, that extracting oil from shale is coming back in to vogue, as easier to access oil reserves begin to dwindle. However, I doubt this oil retort house will ever see real smoke again!
This Simulacra has also featured on Andrew May’s Forteana Blog.
Picture, Somerset (April 2011)