Government urged to preserve Qing relic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am

A heritage adviser and a district councillor want the government to take responsibility for preserving a Qing Dynasty stone pier unearthed in the heart of Kai Tak.

The 10-metre-wide pier, lying two metres below ground, was built between 1873 and 1875. It and the Kowloon Walled City were the only places kept by the Qing dynasty after Kowloon was ceded to Britain in 1898.

It has been suggested the site might be managed by private developers after it is preserved and incorporated into the surrounding residential and commercial developments.The government is collecting public views on how to preserve the 200-metre-long section of the Lung Tsun Stone Bridge and foundation stones of a pavilion, which were discovered in 2008.

'We will restore the pier's past glory as a transport junction in Kowloon City, making it a lively place again. But as to the design detail, such as whether the public can directly walk over it, this is something on which we want to hear more views,' Stephen Tang Man-bun , head of the newly set up Kai Tak Office, said during a site visit yesterday.

The area may need a zoning adjustment as it sat between two commercial sites, two residential projects and a pedestrian street, said Tang, adding that any change would not reduce the development scale.

He said the government had not decided whether it would finance the preservation or share it with developers responsible for neighbourhood projects. 'If we hand it to a developer, we will lay down restrictions in the tender to ensure the relics would be well preserved.'

The stone bridge served as a landing pier for Qing officials and led to the walled city. It was modelled after traditional bridges in the Guangdong areaIt was covered in the 1920s for an uncompleted luxury housing project, and then buried by the airport.

The Antiquities and Monuments Office, which took 10 years to identify the relics, has recommended monument status for the site.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Professor Ng Cho-nam said the key heritage site should not be sold or managed by private groups.

'The government should spare no efforts and resources in preserving such a paramount piece of heritage,' Ng said.

'The significance of the stone bridge does not only lie in the slabs excavated. It is its historic function as an axis, connecting the Lei Yu Mun Gap and the Kowloon Walled City that made it special. Officials should ensure that the design can bring this fact to light.'

Wong Tai Sin district councillor Lam Man-fai, who has been monitoring the project, said the site provided a good opportunity to educate the public about the city's history and as such it was a government role.

The government will develop a preliminary plan next year.