One of our historic city boundary stones is missing

Marker helped define the limits of Victoria in 1903

The government is hunting for a missing boundary stone, one of at least seven marking the limits of the city of Victoria, the first urban settlement in Hong Kong after it became a British colony.

The stone disappeared in June during slope renovation work on Magazine Gap Road.

'The Antiquities and Monuments Office has been attempting to approach the owners of the private lot for the whereabouts of the stone, but has yet to get a reply,' a spokesman for the Development Bureau said.

Winfoong International Limited, the owner of the private lot on which the stone had stood, claims to know little about the missing marker.

'We are not aware of this stone and we have no further information to provide,' company secretary Julia Cheng Kin-nam said.

When Hong Kong Island was occupied by Britain in January 1841, there were 16 villages. In 1843, Britain created the city of Victoria covering Sheung Wan, Central and Wan Chai. The government later erected boundary stones on Hong Kong Island marking the city limits. Each stone bears the inscription 'City Boundary 1903'.

Six boundary stones can be found on Sai Ning Street, Pokfulam Road, Hatton Road, Old Peak Road, Bowen Road and Wong Nai Chung Road, all on government land. In late 2005, a seventh stone was rediscovered along Magazine Gap Road on a private lot.

But the granite stone, half embedded in a retaining wall, disappeared during slope reinforcing works between June 10 and 14.

Lee Chak-yan, the chairman of the Hong Kong History Study Circle, the group that discovered the seventh stone in 2005, said: 'The seventh stone means a lot in our history. It was the footprint of the city's early urban development.'

Joseph Ting Sun-pao, author of The City of Victoria and the former chief curator of the Museum of History, confirmed the providence of the seventh stone last year.

Mr Lee wrote an urgent e-mail to the Antiquities and Monuments Office in June regarding the missing stone. The office's assistant curator, Lui Kin-pui, replied a month later to say its status as a boundary stone could not be confirmed.

'I was so outraged that the government failed to recognise this significant city pillar,' said Mr Lee, who launched a letter-writing campaign this month to urge the chief executive to find out the fate of the stone.

'It is possible there is an eighth stone around Wan Chai Gap Road, according to the location and distribution of other boundary stones,' Mr Lee, who has been searching for boundary stones since 2005, said.

'Historical documents reveal that boundary stones are usually fixed on main roads. Wan Chai Gap Road was one of the main roads along the boundary of Victoria city,' he said.

A spokesman for the Lands Department said there were no official records detailing how many boundary stones had been erected.

Concerning the other stones, the spokesman said: 'Relevant departments have been requested to alert the monuments office of any works proposals that may affect these stones, so the office can render appropriate advice to protect them.'

None of the boundary stones have been graded or declared monuments, so they have no legal protection against damage or demolition.

Other area markers

Locations of other marker stones:

Royal Navy telegraph station marker: in front of Flagstaff House and Museum of Tea Ware

Military boundary stone: junction of Jordan Road and Gascoigne Road

Kowloon Water Works boundary stone: in Kowloon Reservoir

Anglo-Chinese boundary stone: Chung Ying Street, Sha Tau Kok

Cheung Chau boundary stones

Lantau North boundary stone (Tai O) and Lantau South boundary stone (Kau Ling Chung)

Mui Wo pier: the oldest boundary stone (marking 1265 imperial land deal)

Memory lane

The seven boundary stones marking the area of the former Victoria city

1 Sai Ning Street

2 Pok Fu Lam Road

3 Hatton Road

4 Old Peak Road

5 Bowen Road

6 Wong Nai Chung Road

7 Magazine Gap Road