Cross Harbour bridge proposals – road 1901, tram 1920s
HF: The first tunnel connecting Hong Kong Island and Kowloon opened for traffic on the 2nd August 1972. However, and I think remarkably, there were at least two proposals to construct a bridge across the harbour, the first more than 70 years before the road tunnel.
Tymon Mellor’s article, The Development of the Hong Kong Road Network 1841 to 1940 – HK Island, Kowloon and NT includes the following:
In order to relieve pressure on Victoria’s densely built-up areas with their unhealthy conditions and at the same time to provide an easy access to facilitate opening up of the New Territories, the Harbour Master in 1901 proposed the construction of a cross-harbour bridge between Pottinger Street on the Island and Robinson (Nathan) Road, there being no engineering difficulty or “any practical obstruction or even inconvenience to shipping”, the deck being 12 metres above high water with a swinging or lifting central span. Nevertheless the scheme was not developed and Hong Kong had to wait another 70 years before a fixed cross-harbour connection was constructed.
And in our article, Kowloon Trams – the when, the where but not the why not…and proposed cross harbour tram bridge!, belief is almost suspended by the marvellous idea of trams crossing the harbour:
A possible explanation why trams didn’t start up in Kowloon is provided in the SCMP article, Early budget blues meant end of the line for cross-harbour bridge, 26th April 2009.
A bridge from Hong Kong Island to Jordan, carrying trams, was planned in the 1920s, a local historian says, but a lack of money and the rise of buses in the 1930s saw the plan withdrawn. Hong Kong was a poor city at the time. It took five years for the Legislative Council to allocate HK$8,000 to buy a clock to put on the clock tower, still located outside Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier, in 1915.
Roger Ho Yao-sheng, who has written a history of trams in Hong Kong, said the bridge plan was withdrawn because the project was considered too expensive. ‘It was found out that it was much more difficult to build tram tracks in Kowloon than on Hong Kong Island owing to the different geographical characteristics,’ he said.
The Home Page image is of an envisaged tram trundling through Kowloon.
Related Indhhk articles:
There were suggestions (not detailed proposals) during the planning of the Shing Mun Reservoir scheme to construct a road tunnel together with the cross harbour pipeline, much like the first Lion Rock Tunnel for the Plover Cove scheme. It was however not taken forward.