With demolition looming for the Shek Kip Mei blocks, one former resident fondly recalls days of friendly neighbours As the last residents of the city's oldest public estate leave in the coming week, a former resident is hoping to organise a farewell photo party to mark the end of a historic era. Lai Wai-lun hopes alumni of his primary school will gather at the Shek Kip Mei Estate on October 15 to bid farewell to the city's oldest subsidised housing blocks. Mr Lai and his friends graduated from the Shek Kip Mei Government Primary School in the 1960s and early 1970s. 'We hope to put down in a record the sweet and happy memories we have of the Shek Kip Mei Estate,' he said. 'It will be demolished soon; I'm not sure if my feelings will be as strong as they are now when I pass the place in the future, when all the buildings we're attached to are gone.' People living at 15 seven-storey blocks at the estate have until October 17 to move to their relocated units. Demolition will follow, but Mei Ho House will be preserved as a museum. A second building will be turned into an artists' village. Subsidised rental high-rises will be built on the remainder of the site. The 15 blocks were built between 1954 and 1955. A fire swept through the Shek Kip Mei squatter area on Christmas Day of 1953, making more than 50,000 people homeless. The government immediately built a number of two-storey bungalow houses to accommodate the fire victims. It then started constructing the seven-storey public housing blocks in Shek Kip Mei to permanently resettle the fire victims. The blocks became the city's first public housing estate and began a long chapter in government building subsidised rental flats for low-income families. Conditions were spartan, with residents cooking in the corridors and public toilets and showers placed in the middle of each floor for residents to share. The Housing Department announced the redevelopment plan in 2002. It promised to rehouse residents in other public housing estates in the same district. A department spokeswoman said the majority had already moved out; only a few families and shops remained on the estate. Mr Lai moved into a 110 sqft flat on the estate in 1960. His family of eight were crammed into a unit with no kitchen, toilet or shower until 1975, when they were allocated a 400 sqft flat at Pak Tin Estate. 'We were happy. People were warm and helpful. We played football, fought in the corridors, we went to each other's homes,' Mr Lai said. 'When we first moved to the new home at Pak Tin Estate, I was thrilled because it was bigger and self-contained. Mum didn't have to cook in the corridor and we didn't have to share the toilet and shower with our neighbours.' 'But shortly afterward, I realised I missed the old days. Because people in the new estate were not as warm, open and friendly as before. People closed their doors and hardly talked to others.' The social worker now lives in a private estate in Sha Tin. 'Nowadays people are not interested in knowing their neighbours.' He hopes at least 100 alumni of the doomed estate's school will answer his call to the farewell event.