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  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:24am
NewsHong Kong
HERITAGE

Historic Pok Fu Lam village named alongside Venice in World Monuments Watch list

One of the last villages on Hong Kong Island makes global list of places under threat, raising hopes that it could become a world heritage site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 6:12pm
 

Pok Fu Lam village has been named in an international list that seeks to preserve threatened monuments around the world.

The World Monuments Watch list features 67 cultural heritage sites under threat in 41 countries, including Venice city in Italy and Yangon historic city centre in Myanmar.

And being included in the list means that the 150-year-old Pok Fu Lam village has the potential to become a world heritage site, one expert says.

The village, which for years has been threatened with development, is one of the last villages on Hong Kong Island. Some 2,000 people live in the village in what is classified as "squatter housing", in spaces constructed from metal sheets. Its history dates back to at least 1868.

The village also features historic structures that were part of the city's largest dairy farm, including an octagonal cowshed, main office building and a two-storey Western-style house used as staff quarters. The cowshed and office building have a grade-two status under the city's heritage classification, while the house is classified grade one.

The New York-based non-profit World Monuments Fund described Pok Fu Lam village as "a unique collection of modest traditional buildings on narrow lanes and alleys in the heart of Hong Kong". "The modest appearance of the village belies its importance to the history of Hong Kong," it said.

Villager Siu Kwan-lun, who was among a group which nominated the site for the list, said they wanted to bring attention to the village's unique history. "We want to let the whole of Hong Kong know about Pok Fu Lam village and get to know the place," he said. The village, located next to housing complex Chi Fu Fa Yuen, has for years been under development pressure. In his policy address this year, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying added further pressure with his proposal to lift development restrictions in Pok Fu Lam.

University of Hong Kong architectural conservation expert Dr Lee Ho-yin said the World Monuments Watch list was internationally acclaimed. If the government could draw up detailed proposals on how to preserve and manage Pok Fu Lam village, it could become a world heritage site, he said.

Antiquities Advisory Board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said the existing system allowed the board to grade only individual buildings, so it did not have the basis to preserve the whole village. Many private ownerships in the village also added to preservation difficulties, he said.

The Development Bureau acknowledged the village's "long history and cultural value" and said it would review its heritage conservation policy.

An 80-year-old third-generation villager, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Fung, said the village's environment had been deteriorating over the years. "The houses have become nicer, but the population and the shops have dwindled," she said. Fung said that in the dairy farm's heyday, workers living in the company's dormitories nearby often mingled with the villagers.

Fung, who was unaware of her village's new-found recognition, said much had changed as the younger residents had moved out to the city. "All that's left is us old people now," she said.

Video: Pok Fu Lam Village: Treasure in the city

 

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This article is now closed to comments

LunarRepublic
Huh.
I do understand that this village is one of the last of its kind on Hong Kong Island, but honestly I've never even considered the historical significance of such a village. Hell, I never even heard of this village before until this article. You'd think someplace like Tai O village would be mentioned instead.
radium.tam
Agree...No way this can be WH...Of course that doesn't mean it shouldn't be protected. It's good enough to list it as heritage though.
scmpcuty
This has got to be a joke! A "threatened monument" you say? A potential world heritage site? It is made up of pure squatter houses, plain and simple. Just because it was built in 1868 and has "unique structures" does not qualify it to be world monument. There are better candidates for such listings around HK. This place is pure slum with all the characteristics that go with it including garbage and rats and all. You have got to be joking!
gfim
hahahaha! Never thought the SCMP had such a sense of humo... Oh wait, this is a serious article? That slum of corrugated rusted metal, garbage and styrofoam is a heritage site?
fsk999
Thank you for this article. I have sent them a message on Facebook hoping that they will support my campaign to get HK's remaining ancient Chinese road, bridge and waymarker system protected with Monument status: ****sites.google.com/site/hongkongbouldertrackways/
Kubrick
Hi Guy,
I agree. There is some merit in your suggest.
johnyuan
I have never seen even know the existing of this village. Can't comment on its worthiness as a monument to be saved. But I am sure whoever making it as a proposal I can't rule out the true intention is to abolish it for development.
whoaman
After living in HK villages for over 20 years, I have yet to see one that is even worthy of preserving - they're all dumps for villager's garbage, there's no real 'respect' for each other's property (make the village a nive place to live in..) and if it's gov't land (even 10 sq ft), guaranteed there will be an old tv or sofa or styrofoam fish boxes on it from 10 years ago...
jd.salinger.3154
What qualifies a place as a world heritage site?
The Pyramids of Giza? Yes.
The Taj Mahal? Yes.
The Pok Fu Lam village? Judging from the picture: No.
Most of the so-called "historic buildings" in Hong Kong are plain ugly and useless. Let's see how long the Hongkongers are willing to put up with this type of bullsh*it foist on them.
 
 
 
 
 

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