Tai Shing Paper Mill – builders of the Aberdeen Lower reservoir, 1890

James Chan: I was out walking during Christmas time around the Aberdeen reservoirs on Hong Kong island. I saw an AFC Department sign which said, “Aberdeen Lower reservoir was built in 1890 by Tai Shing Paper Mill. It was taken over and reconstructed by the government because of the Aberdeen Valley Water Scheme. It was re-opened in 1932.”

I had never heard of this company and I can find nothing about it on our website.

Here’s what the Water Supplies Department have on the Mill: “Located at Aberdeen Reservoir Road, the Aberdeen Salt Water Service Reservoir was originally built in 1897 as a fresh water service reservoir. In 1890, the Tai Shing Paper Factory built the Tai Shing Reservoir at Aberdeen with a water storage capacity of 44.2 million gallon. During 1899 to 1900, the dam of the reservoir was extended to 18 feet and the capacity was increased to 47.8 million gallon. There was an agreement between the Tai Shing Paper Factory and the government, Tai Shing Paper Factory supplied 60,000 gallon water to residents at Ap Lei Chau on a daily basis.” (1)

And: “The Aberdeen Upper Reservoir and the Aberdeen Lower Reservoir are situated in the Aberdeen Country Park. They are the last reservoirs built in the Hong Kong Island.

The Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir was completed in 1928 and put into operation since then. However, the Tai Tam water supply system could only help relieve the water supply to the eastern and central part of Hong Kong Island. The western district and Sheung Wan were still suffering from water shortage problem at that time. The government therefore started the Aberdeen reservoir project. The project included the construction of a new reservoir with a storage capacity of 175 million gallons, building of roads and a pumping station and expanding the Tai Shing Reservoir of the Tai Shing Paper Manufacturing Company (currently the Aberdeen Technical College [should this be AT “School”?]). The construction of the Aberdeen Upper Reservoir started in 1929 and finished by the end of 1931. On 15 December 1931 the Governor, William Peel, officiated at the opening ceremony. The dam was made of concrete with a length of 400 feet and a height of 138 feet and held 175 million gallons of water.

In 1930, the government decided to convert the reservoir of Tai Shing Paper Manufacturing Company built in 1890s. The extension of Tai Shing Reservoir included strengthening and increasing the height of its dam so as to increase the storage capacity of the original reservoir to 91 million gallons of water (126 million m3).” (2)

And from Wikipedia: “The Lower Aberdeen Reservoir, with a capacity of 44.2 million imperial gallons (201,000 m3), was originally a private reservoir owned by Tai Shing Paper Factory, built in 1890, which also provided water to nearby residents. The Government bought the reservoir at a price of HK$460,000 and expanded it to a capacity of 91 million imperial gallons (410,000 m3).” (3)

The image on the Home Page is of Upper & Lower Aberdeeon Reservoirs Courtesy: WSDept

This article was first posted on 22nd January 2016.

Sources:

  1. Water Supplies Dept – Aberdeen Salt Water Service Reservoir
  2. Water Supplies Dept – Aberdeen Upper and Lower Reservoirs
  3. Wikipedia – Aberdeen Reservoirs 

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One comment

  • Jennifer Lang

    There is a recent post on Gwulo.com about the Aberdeen Paper Mills, also known as the Tai Shing Paper Manufacturing Company as well as a link to the 1 August 1892 China Mail article about the site (page 3). Evidently, the company was established by Messrs Bertrams, Limited from Edinburgh Scotland in 1890 who desired to construct a paper manufacturing company based on European principles with the latest and best machinery better than rivals in China and equal to many works in England and Scotland. The paper was made from the substances of rags and straw. The site chosen was in Aberdeen which is now the site of the Aberdeen Industrial School. Work on the site began in 1890, and the mill started production on 14 January 1892. The mill building was a substantial 3-story brick building with a granite foundation. There were two bungalows for housing the four European paper makers as well as quarters for the Chinese workers. The mill was illuminated with incandescent electric light and was in operation 24 hours a day except on Sunday with a production of 25-30 tons of paper per week Because water is required for the manufacture of paper, water from the numerous streams on the hillside were collected into a reservoir capable of storing 44,000,000 gallons of water.

    In 1930 the Hong Kong government took possession of the site because of the reservoir, and the reservoir was modified, reconstructed and became with increased capacity a part of the Aberdeen Valley Water Scheme project providing fresh water to the western part of Hong Kong Island. See Pui-yin Ho, Water for a Barren Rock: 150 Years of Water Supply in Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2001): 29 and 32, and Hong Kong Hansard, Hong Kong Legislative Council, (5 September 1929), “The Colony’s Waterworks”, page 137.

    It is interesting to note the the reservoir for the Tai Shing Paper Manufacturing Company was only one of two examples in 19th century Hong Kong of companies securing private water rights and constructing private reservoirs; the other example is the Taikoo Sugar Refinery in Quarry Bay.

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