Koon Fu salt yards – place name Kwun Tong

Additional information in red

Hugh Farmer: Various sources mention the origin of the name of the once heavily industrialised Hong Kong area Kwun Tong. In particular it is suggested that the area was named after the Koon Fu salt yards (官富場), set up by the government to secure central administration of the salt trade and prevent unauthorised salt preparation and trading. And that there were many salt yards around Kwun Tong, which had a long coastline. There is also mention that Kwun Tong was formerly called Koon Tong which appears to mean either Mandarin Pond or Lake.

I asked in Q+A 18 if anyone could provide further details about a) where the place name Kwun Tong originated, b) the Koon Fu salt yards – when were they, where were they located, c) other salt production locations in this general area.

AC: 官 and 觀 have the same pronunciation in Hong Kong Cantonese, so for whatever reason Koon Tong became Kwun Tong, it was not because of the change from 官塘 to 觀塘. In fact, 官塘 is still widely used today with many people assuming that it’s a simplification of 觀塘.

I think the most generalised meaning of 塘 would be an enclosed body of water – hence “shui tong” (水塘) for reservoirs (except for the ‘big 2′) and “chi tong” (池塘) for a pond; enclosed areas of sea may also be known as 塘, e.g. Yan Chau Tong / Double Haven (印洲塘). Shek Tong Tsui (石塘咀) is a special case in that it refers to the pit left by quarrying – perhaps the pit looks like a dried 塘 or it becomes a 塘 after heavy rain.

A salt pan would probably fit the definition of a , this would explain the name 官塘.
Also, HKGov’s transiliation scheme often uses u or wu for an oo sound, so Kwun and Koon are really the same sound, much like Li vs Lee.

The photo on the Home Page shows the development of Kwun Tong c1961

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *