Heritage sites recognised but remain ungraded

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2008, 12:00am

List of landmarks helps raise public awareness

A list of government-owned historic sites, including the oldest surviving example of colonial architecture, has been compiled to recognise their heritage status.

None of the 34 sites has been graded by the Antiquities Advisory Board or declared a monument. They include the Cenotaph in Central, the boundary stones for the old city of Victoria, the chapel in the Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley, the old KCRC Beacon Hill tunnel, and the Sung Wong Toi inscription rock in Kowloon City.

The list of sites was posted on the website of the Antiquities and Monuments Office this month under 'Heritage Impact Assessment'.

Lee Ho-yin, director of the architectural conservation programme at the University of Hong Kong, said some of the sites were important landmarks that were part of the city's collective memory.

'Items that recall experiences of the war can usually evoke the collective memory of a nation,' he said.

'The same effect is achieved with the standing of the Cenotaph. It can reflect the collective memory of Hongkongers across generations as it commemorates the hardship and victory experienced by the people as a whole during the second world war.'

The selection of the Beacon Hill tunnel was a groundbreaking step, as it revealed the government's gradual recognition of Hong Kong's industrial heritage, Dr Lee said. Boring the tunnel was regarded as the greatest engineering project in Asia at the time of its completion in 1910.

Dr Lee said the chapel in the Hong Kong Cemetery, built in 1845, was the oldest surviving piece of architecture in colonial style.

Lau Chi-pang, professor of history at Lingnan University and a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board, said City Hall and the six boundary stones were remarkable sites that deserved protection.

The boundary stones were erected by the colonial government in 1903 to mark the limits of the city of Victoria, which was one of the first urban settlements in Hong Kong after it became a British colony in 1842.

A spokeswoman for the Antiquities and Monuments Office said the list was released to facilitate the launch of the heritage impact assessment programme. Under the government's initiative, heritage impact assessments must be carried out if any public works project might affect the selected 35 sites, graded buildings or monuments. The requirement does not apply to privately funded projects.

Dr Lee and Dr Lau agreed the disclosure of the list was a good step forward in raising public awareness about ungraded heritage sites in Hong Kong, many of which are not commonly known. But Dr Lee said the government should step up its grading work, especially on well-known historic sites.

'I am amazed to find that the Sung Wong Toi inscription rock in Kowloon City - such an important and famous historic site - has not been graded or declared a monument yet,' he said.

The rock is believed to have been constructed out of a boulder by followers of the last two boy emperors of the Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1279), who lived in Hong Kong from 1277 to 1279 after fleeing political turmoil.

The boulder was dislodged during the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945 for the extension of Kai Tak airport. But a part inscribed with the three characters Sung Wong Toi - 'Terrace of the Sung Kings' - survived the blasting operation and was salvaged after the war.

History list

1 City Hall, Central. Built 1962

2 Western Magistracy. Built 1965

3 Green Island Lighthouse Compound. Circa 1905

4 Cenotaph, Central. Built 1923

5 Chief Secretary's residence (formerly Victoria House). Built 1951

6 S. K. H. St Luke's Settlement Neighbourhood Elderly Centre. Built 1951

7 No 4, Hospital Road. Built pre-war

8 St Paul's Co-educational College Primary School, Kennedy Road. Built 1923

9 Tung Wah Smallpox Hospital Arch, Kennedy Town bus terminus, Sai Ning Street. Erected 1901

10 Foundation stone of Tung Wah Smallpox Hospital. Erected 1901

11-16 City of Victoria boundary stones: All erected 1903 Hatton Road; Old Peak Road, Pokfulam Road, Victoria Road, Bowen Road, Wong Nai Chung Road.

17 Queen's College Scout Den, Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay. Circa 1918-1939

18 The chapel in Hong Kong Cemetery, Happy Valley. Built 1845

19 Stanley Mosque, Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley. Built 1936

20 Stanley Post Office, Stanley. Built 1937

21 Old Far East Flying Training School, Olympic Avenue, Kowloon City. Built 1958-1968

22 Stone doorframe of the Old Sheung Tai Temple, Prince Edward. Built before 1820

23 Former KCRC Beacon Hill tunnel. Work started in 1906 and finished in 1910

24 Sung Wong Toi Inscription Rock, Kowloon City.

25 North Kowloon Magistracy, Sham Shui Po. Built around 1960

26 St John Hospital, Cheung Chau. Built 1932-1934

27 Homi Villa, Tsuen Wan. Circa 1930s

28 Fong Yuen Study Hall, Tin Liu Tsuen, Ma Wan. Built 1920s-1930s

29 Luen Wo Market, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling. Built 1951

30 Hindu temple, Burma Lines, Fanling. Built 1960s

31 Boundary stone at Chung Ying Street. Erected in 1905

32 Stone tablets of the old Kowloon Customs, Ma Wan. Erected in 1897

33 King Lam School, Tap Mun, Tai Po. Built 1957

34 Former KCRC Cheung Shue Tan railway bridge, Tai Po. Built between 1906 and 1909

SOURCE: ANTIQUITIES AND MONUMENTS OFFICE