Pier may lose historic status after relocation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2007, 12:00am

Move puts icon's listing at risk

Queen's Pier may lose its historic status after it is dismantled and rebuilt, former members of the Antiquities Advisory Board say.

They believed it could fall into the same category as Murray House, which lost its grade-one historic status after it was taken apart in Central and rebuilt in Stanley.

They said the change of environment, away from the harbour and City Hall, detracted from the pier's historic meaning.

Sitting board members said the pier's grading should be reassessed after reconstruction.

The re-erection of Murray House, the Victorian-era barracks built of granite in 1844, has been cited by officials including Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as an example of how such buildings can be saved.

But records of the Antiquities and Monuments Office show the building's grade-one historic status was removed by the board after its relocation to Stanley in 2000.

According to the board's reassessment, its historic value had depreciated so much with the move that it should be treated as an ordinary building.

The office said only two grade-one historic buildings - Murray House and Tin Hau Temple on Chek Lap Kok Island, now the site of the airport - had been saved from development by relocation. While Murray House was downgraded, the Tin Hau Temple had not been reassessed since it was moved to Tung Chung in 1993.

The rebuilding of Murray House was part of the Ma Hang Valley redevelopment project by the Housing Authority.

Shui On Group, the contractor, said the process was like completing a gigantic 3,000-piece puzzle, and a special kind of lime was imported from Britain to seal the stones.

Although granite stones were preserved and reassembled to form the external facade, the office said some details such as the chimneys and banisters were revised. A new reinforced concrete structure was also set up as the main internal body.

Bernard Lim Wan-fung, former president of the Institute of Architects, said architects remained critical of the building's reconstruction. He said the rear of Murray House had become a messy area housing restaurant kitchens, and chimneys on the top of the building were not original.

A former member of the Antiquities Advisory Board who was involved in downgrading the building and refused to be named said Murray House had lost its 'power' since it was removed from the site of the Bank of China Tower.

'It is inevitable that relocated historic buildings will lose some historic value. It takes away the cultural context,' he said.

Another former member, Desmond Hui Cheuk-kuen, said Queen's Pier would no longer be the same if it were relocated, and that even if it was kept at the original position near City Hall, its meaning would be different since it would no longer sit by the sea.

Board member Gregory Wong Chak-yan said the pier's value should be reassessed after its reconstruction.

An office spokeswoman said such buildings did not necessarily lose their status after relocation and such decisions were up to the board.