The renovated Dairy Farm senior staff headquarters in Pok Fu Lam, which will become a museum. Photo: Bruce Yan

Plan to revitalise former Dairy Farm staff quarters in Pok Fu Lam as living museum gets go-ahead

Plan will see Dairy Farm staff quarters restored to their former glory by 2019, combining revival of milk industry with tours of Pok Fu Lam area

Fanny Fung

Conversion of the former Dairy Farm senior staff quarters in Pok Fu Lam into a living museum could be the first step in reviving dairy farming in Hong Kong, according to the charity which won the bid to use the site under the government's historic building revitalisation scheme.

Caritas-Hong Kong defeated two competitors and was awarded the right to run the 128-year-old premises for non-profit use.

Two other heritage buildings will be revitalised after the results were announced on Tuesday.

The 2,124 square metre Dairy Farm site will be restored to how it looked in 1919, based on information from an old book cross-referenced with aerial photos from different years.

The site has been abandoned since the 1980s and was one of the poorly maintained historic buildings named in an Audit Commission report in 2013.

Since then the government has been conducting restoration works. The latest plan will see the site turned into a living museum by 2019, exhibiting artefacts such as tools used on the former dairy farm and oral history as recounted by old workers and Pok Fu Lam villagers.

Members of the public will also be able to get a taste of making dairy products, including ice cream, yogurt and cheese, in museum workshops. Two model cows will be installed to show how workers milked cattle.

More serious learners may join educational tours organised by the museum to explore the heritage of the Pok Fu Lam area including its village settlements and Catholic mission legacies.

Project team leader Benjamin Sin Chiu-hang said the organisation's longer-term vision was to identify a 6,000 square metre site in the area to open a dairy farm with 80 cows in the form of a social enterprise.

"Hong Kong's primary industries have disappeared … Business will be tough, for sure. But I believe there is demand for Hong Kong-brand dairy products. People can come and visit the farm and see the products are fresh and safe," he said.

According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, there is now only one licensed dairy farm in Hong Kong, located in Fanling.

The government has pledged to earmark HK$120 million to renovate three historic buildings and to subsidise their initial two years of operation with HK$9 million. But the projects must then become self-financing.

Sin said tours of the staff quarters site would be free but participants in the Pok Fu Lam historic tours would pay HK$120.

Under the scheme, the former free school in Tai Hang, Causeway Bay, will be used by the Tai Hang Residents' Welfare Association to showcase the art of the annual fire dragon dance and to promote traditional Hakka culture. A Hakka restaurant will be run there to generate income.

Admission to the exhibition is free but a photo opportunity with the "fire dragon" plus a souvenir T-shirt will cost HK$100.

The Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre in Kwu Tung will serve as an eco-learning centre run by the Taoist charity Sik Sik Yuen. The admission fee will be HK$10, with professional courses offered at higher rates.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: DATE FOR THE DAIRY AS LIVING MUSEUM PLAN GETS GO-AHEAD