Push to turn ex-governor's lodge into park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am

The site of the former governor's summer residence, the Mountain Lodge, on The Peak should form part of a park for public viewing as the archaeological findings unearthed there would not have much public appeal on their own, experts say.

A stone foundation, eight boundary stones with the inscription 'governor's residence' and huge retaining walls were discovered intact in excavations by the Antiquities and Monuments Office in 2006.

The demolished Victorian-style country house was built between 1900 and 1902 as the governor's summer residence. It was pulled down in 1946 due to high maintenance costs.

The archaeological survey interim report said the most important discovery was a mosaic in the porch and floor tiles made by British ceramics manufacturer Minton Hollins & Co, which reflected the building's style and its colonial background.

The report did not recommend how the site should be used, but said further excavations would be carried out this year.

Lee Ho-yin, director of the University of Hong Kong's architectural conservation programme, said the building's foundations would not arouse much public interest. 'It isn't too appealing for people to contemplate the foundations,' he said.

'Turning the site into a park may be suitable, as it can educate the public about the colonial past, but will not cost too much in manpower.'

Chinese University historian Ho Pui-yin said the role that the governor's summer residence played in Hong Kong's history was not as great as more significant colonial heritage sites, such as the Central Police Station site.

'The life of the governor and high-class society was segregated from mainstream Chinese residents during that time. What happened at the governor's house was rarely known.'

The Antiquities Advisory Board will discuss the report today.

The Planning Department has rejected two of the three proposals submitted by the owner of the King Yin Lei mansion in Stubbs Road on the scheme to exercise his development rights to the property. They were turned down because part of the mansion would have to be demolished and dense vegetation in a green belt would also be affected.

The department expressed partial support for a proposal, which would allow development of the man-made slope and for the mansion to be preserved. The Town Planning Board will discuss the case on Friday.