A Look Back : Civil Engineering in Hong Kong 1841-1941

HF: Tymon Mellor and IDJ have both sent the article, A Look Back : Civil Engineering in Hong Kong 1841-1941 written by C Michael Guilford.

The preface says this was  written as a contribution to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers which was from 1947 to 1975, The Engineering Society of Hong Kong. It was originally published in three parts in Asia Engineer, the Journal of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers in July, August and September 1997.

There are a number of historic images that accompanied the article which is also linked below.

The article covers a large range of subjects many of which are of direct interest to us. I thought it might be helpful to indicate what these are both for readers looking through this article and for those looking for the subjects below when using the Search facility.

There is a great deal here and it is highly likely that I have missed important items. These subjects appear in the article in the order given below:-

  1. Hong Kong on the arrival of the British in 1841
    – old lime kilns
    – networks of old rural paths + footbridges- stone jetties
    – reclamations at Sha Tau Kok, Nam Chung, Luk Keng, Shuen [sic] Wan and Yuen Long
    – irrigation schemes
  2. Harbour Works
    – Belcher’s hydrographic survey, 1841
    – HK harbour development so that by the turn of the century it was ” a sort of Far Eastern Marine Clapham Junction.”
  3. Shelters
    – from Typhoons
  4. Docks mentioned
    – Lamont
    – Hope
    – Hung Hom
    – Cosmopolitan
    – Tai Kok Tsui
    – Admiralty
    – Tai Koo
    – The Naval Dockyard
  5. Wharfs
    – early small piers and jetties
    – Pedder’s Wharf
    – Queen’s Pier
    – Kowloon Star Ferry Pier
    – Blake Pier
    – P&O Jetty
    – Kowloon developments
    – Lai Chi Kok (oil tank “farm”)
    – Boundary Street
  6. Reclamation
    – Victoria (now Chater Gardens)
    – Bonham Strand
    – Kennedy Town to North Point
    – Tai Koo for the Dockyard
    – Wanchai
    – North Point
    – Shau Kei Wan
    – Tsim Sha Tsui
    – Hung Hom (for Dockyard)
    – Tai Kok Tsui
    – Yau Ma Tei
    – To Kwa Wan
    – Sham Shui Po
    – Lai Chi Kok
    – KCR developments
    – Sham Shui Po (2)
    – Kai Tak
    – Lai Chi Kok (2)
    – Kowloon Bay – Ma Tau Kok, Ngau Tau Kok, Kwun Tong)
  7. Roadworks – detailed information – a few highlights
    – early road construction on HK island
    – 1908 153kms of roads on HK island
    – arrival of motor cars stimulating upgrading existing roads
    – by turn of the century 5kms of roads in Kowloon
    – 1900 Kowloon to Tai Po road completed, NT
    – 1937 first road on Lantau at Mui Wo
  8. Drainage
    – HK Island developments
    – primitive sewage collection up to 1941
    – Kowloon developments
  9. Railways
    – Peak Tram
    – Tram, Shau Kei Wan to Kennedy Town
    – KCR developments
  10. Water Supply
    – 1851 first five wells sunk
    – 1859 Pok Fu Lam reservoir
    – 1871 New Pok Fu Lam scheme
    – 1889 Tai Tam dam completed
    – Needs of Tai Koo sugar refinery and dockyards
    – 1910 Kowloon reservoir
    – 1925 to 1931 Three further Kowloon reservoirs
    – 1923 Shing Mun reservoir
    – 1929 Cross harbour water main
    – 1935 Second CHWM
    – 1939 Replacement of both CHWMs
  11. Airfields
    – origins of Kai Tak aerodrome
    – 1929 and 1931 Kai Tak reclamations
    – 1938 Shek Kong airfield
    – 1941 Kai Tak development plans immediately prior to the Japanase invasion
  12. Military/Defence Works
    – pre colonial forts
    – early construction of Queens Road
    – construction of Jat’s incline
    – defence of naval dockyards, aviation, storage depots, barracks and hospitals
    – Stonecutters’ Island, ammunition depot
    – 1898, 1914, 1936 battery positions in the New Territories
    – 1940 construction of air raid shelters

This article was first posted on 8th September 2014.

A Look Back – Civil Engineering in Hong Kong 1841-1941

A Look Back – Civil Engineering in Hong Kong 1841-1941 Images which accompanied the article

One comment

  • Hello – Please could anyone tell me when the docks were first electrified?
    My grandfather was one of the earliest sub-marine electrical engineers.
    He worked for Mr. James Callender of Callender’s Cables (much later they became BICC – British Insulated Callenders Cables),

    My grandfather was in charge of the first electrification of docks in HK. His name was Herbert Philbey. He died quite young aged 41, a few years after the completion of the Hong Kong work.

    You may be interested to know that the value of that project was listed as ‘Approx Gross Value’ £11,000′

    Regrettably there is no date. Could anyone help me date when that work was carried out?

    My daughter-in-law is from Hong Kong and has sparked my interest to see if we can tell which year or years my grandfather was living and working there. The project is simply headed: Hong Kong Dockyard.

    Many thanks.

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