Taikoo Sugar Refinery – Bullivant’s Ropeway for transporting coal from ship to shore

New information in red.

Robin Selby has sent an account from 1891 of an aerial ropeway, or actually three, used to transport coal from pier head to coal store in Hong Kong.

HF: Though not mentioned by name I am presuming the company concerned is the Taikoo Sugar Refinery which was established by Swire in 1881 and went into production in 1884 soon becoming the world’s largest and most sophisticated plant in its day…

Our article, The Aerial Ropeway (1891-1932) and Sanitarium (1893-1932) of the Taikoo Sugar Refinery, by Jennifer Lang, says  around the same time, “In 1891, a 2.3-kilometer long aerial ropeway was constructed [also by Bullivant’s] from a location near the Taikoo Sugar Refinery (approximately located at today’s intersection of King’s Road and Yau Man Street) in Quarry Bay up the Taikoo Valley to Quarry Gap (also known as Sanitarium Gap).”

I asked Jennifer if she could confirm that the coal ropeway was likely to be at the Tai Koo Sugar Refinery and not at The China Sugar Refinery, East Point, Causeway Bay, which was operating at the same time.

Jennifer says: I agree that the description provided is most likely of Taikoo Sugar, even though it is not specifically named, for the following reasons:

1) The article states that the ropeway was completed in 1891 which is the time period under which Taikoo was in the process of being constructed – although there were significant delays with the construction so that the refinery was not completed until 1884.  This date of 1881 is a little early but there you have it.

2) The accompanying drawing shows an angled “T” shaped pier in the water, and indeed, Taikoo did have a pier shaped exactly like this.  I don’t believe that the rival sugar refinery at East Point had such a pier shaped like this.

3) Coal was used to power the plant, so it makes sense that the construction of the refinery would include provisions for coal to be brought to the site via ships and then off-loaded to an appropriate coal storage site until being used.

The account begins: Some 500 miles of aerial tramways, constructed according to the running rope system, have been erected in various parts of the world by Messrs. Bullivant & Co., from the designs of Mr Carrington, amongst which may be cited those in Mauritius for carrying sugar cane, and others in the South of India, &c. Another special arrangement of ropeway, designed and erected by the previously named gentleman, is that somewhat recently constructed at a large sugar refinery in Hong Kong, and as represented in elevation and plan at Fig. 39 of the illustrations.

The system has to carry 1000 tons of coal per day from steamers moored to the pier head to a central coal depot, about 2000ft. distant – a stipulation having been made that the pier and its approaches (fully occupied with other work) were not to be encroached upon. The arrangement shown was therefore adopted, and in which a tower, about 70 ft. in height, was erected on the site of the coal store; from this three lines of single fixed rope tramways are carried to points on the pier head convenient fo filling the buckets from vessels alongside. Only one bucket, holding 16 cwt. is run to and fro at a time on each line. The ways are actuated by a small engine situated on top of the tower.

The coal on its arrival is delivered into a hopper in connection with a weighing machine, which, by the movement of a lever, is discharged from the same into the coal store.

Taikoo Sugar - Treatise on Wire book - Bullivants p 254 snipped figure 39

Bullivant’s ship to shore aerial ropeway at Taikoo Sugar

Source: Wire: A treatise upon its manufacture and uses, Bucknall Smith, Offices of “Engineering”, London and John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1891

This article was first posted on 23rd June 2016.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Taikoo Sugar Refinery
  2. The Aerial Ropeway (1891-1932) and Sanitarium (1893-1932) of the Taikoo Sugar Refinery
  3. Taikoo Sugar Refinery, Aerial Ropeway – further image
  4. Bullivant & Co, Millwall London, supplier of Taikoo Sugar Refinery’s aerial ropeway cables – additional information
  5. Dr Ferdinand Korn, Tai Koo Sugar and a case of the ‘British disease’?
  6. Taikoo Sugar Refinery during WW2 (HK Sugar Refinery)
  7. The China Sugar Refinery Company (previously Wahee, Smith & Co)

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