Cathedral wins heritage award

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 December, 2003, 12:00am

The 115-year-old Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Caine Road received a special birthday present yesterday when it was given a Unesco award for cultural heritage conservation.

A Hong Kong building has received an award every year since they were established four years ago.

Unesco regional adviser for culture for Asia and the Pacific, Richard Engelhardt, presented the award at the church's anniversary celebrations yesterday.

The Catholic cathedral received an honourable mention for Culture Heritage Conservation in the 2003 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards.

It joins an exclusive club of culturally important buildings in Hong Kong. The others are the King Law Ka Shuk in Tai Po, the Ohel Leah Synagogue in Mid-Levels and the Hung Shing Old Temple in Sai Kung.

This year, 22 buildings from nine Asia-Pacific countries competed for nine awards from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. All the buildings were more than 50 years old and restoration work had been completed within the past 10 years.

The cathedral has undergone restoration works on its leaking roof, foundations and external walls. Stained-glass windows displaying themes based on Chinese martyrs have replaced the former plain-glass windows.

Mr Engelhardt praised the work: 'The conservation project has not only consolidated the physical historic fabric of the building but also renewed the spiritual and social life of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic community.'

The first corner stone of the cathedral was laid in 1842, a year after the British first occupied Hong Kong, with the wooden-roofed structure completed a year later. A fire in 1859 destroyed it and the existing cathedral rose from the ashes in 1860.