Petition launched to save Star Ferry Pier and clock tower
Conservationists launched a petition yesterday to save the Star Ferry Pier in Central and its clock tower from the wrecking ball.
The pier, built in 1958, is to make way for a massive shopping centre that has been dubbed the horizontal version of Hong Kong's tallest building, Two IFC.
Heritage critic Patsy Cheng Man-wah urged the Civil Engineering and Development Department to put the demolition plan on hold.
'The government thinks the pier is too old to accommodate modern needs but it also thinks it is too young to be preserved.'
Under the plan for the Central waterfront, the Star Ferry dock will be moved west to join the cluster of piers from which ferries take passengers to the outlying islands.
The existing pier will then be demolished, forming part of land designated for the 'groundscraper' building, which town planners and harbour activists say is too big.
The plan also includes destruction of the historic Queen's Pier to make way for a road linking Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. The Conservancy Association is negotiating with the government on the possibility of preserving the structure of Queen's Pier.
'The Star Ferry clock is the city's last outdoor mechanical clock,' Ms Cheng said, noting that the clock tower at the Tsim Sha Tsui pier was electronic. 'It plays musical notes every 15 minutes and has become part of people's lives.'
Star Ferry general manager Johnny Leung Tak-hing said the pier's future was up to the government. 'The pier is a historical building, we understand the public wants to preserve it. But the pier is a government property,' he said.
Lee Ho-yin, programme director of the University of Hong Kong's architectural conservation programme, said heritage should not be judged simply by age. 'The government should also look at social and cultural significance.'
A spokesman for the Civil Engineering and Development Department said: 'The existing piers will be demolished under Central Reclamation Phase III project. However, the Star Ferry icon will be recreated at the new Central Waterfront.
'The design of the new piers has adopted a historical heritage approach using the external appearance of the Star Ferry Pier in the year 1912 as the blueprint. Tentatively, the ferry services will move to the new piers in the third quarter of 2006. The existing piers will be cleared thereafter.'