China Daily article – ship breaking in Hong Kong, 1959 largest of any port worldwide

HF: The China Daily, HK Edition, of 3rd November 2015 contained the sixth of a planned series of articles about what is seen as an “explosion of interest of material related to the city’s industrial past”.

The article by Chitralekha Basu includes…There was a time when end-of-life ships from the world over would wash up on the shores of Hong Kong. On the Industrial History of Hong Kong website, Hugh Farmer refers to the March 1961 edition of theJournal of the Geographical, Geological & Archaeological Society, which indicates “ship-breaking in Hong Kong goes back to at least 1861 when the Bombay (now Mumbai) built Minden was sold for demolition here”. “In 1961 there were 23 ship-breaking companies registered with the Marine Department, representing a total investment of HK$100 million and employing over 4,000 people,” he quotes. “By 1959 Hong Kong had the largest ship-breaking industry of any port worldwide and ships were being brought here faster than they could be dealt with.”

The photos shown here are taken from the Inddhk image library.

Ship breaking Cheung Sha Wan May 1963

Ship breaking Cheung Sha Wan May 1963

A Marine Department journal, The Port of Hong Kong, published in 1966, corroborates the idea that Hong Kong might indeed have been the world leader in ship scrapping at the time, especially in the first flush of large-scale construction of affordable public housing. “Ship-breaking is an important industry in Hong Kong, because the market for scrap is geared to the building industry, where the demand for mild steel bars may be as high as 16,700 tons a month. To meet this demand as many as 30 vessels, each averaging 7,000 gross tons, may be in process of demolition at any one time. In addition, there is a demand in Southeast Asian countries for mild steel rods and bars, and this is met, in part, by Hong Kong.”

Clearwater Bay - Junk Bay

Clearwater Bay – Junk Bay undated

The once thriving ship scrapping industry in Hong Kong seems to have sunk without a trace. The scrap yards in Cheung Sha Wan, Ngau Tau Kok, Gin Drinkers Bay, Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan — where laborers routinely exposed themselves to old fuel oil, asbestos and toxic oil paint — have all but vanished. The last of these, at Junk Bay (Tseung Kwan O), became inoperative in the late 1970s.

See: The China Article – Scrap Value – 3rd November 2015

Related Inddhk articles:

  1. Ship Breaking, Unnamed freighter – sunk in HK harbour WW2 – later broken up Yau Tong/Lei Yue Mun
  2. Ship Breaking, immediate post-WW2
  3. Ship Breaking, Gin Drinkers Bay – early 1960s
  4. Ship Breaking companies – 1966
  5. Ship Breaking in HK – Junk Bay – late 1970s
  6. Agência Comercial “Progresso” Ltd – Macau, shipbreaking HK, Stanley Ho

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