Water supply for boats, Lai Chi Kok, early 20th century

Tymon Mellor: As a key trading port for Southern China, Hong Kong harbour has always been full of boats stocking up for the next long journey. One question has always puzzled me, where did they get their fresh water? A look at the original maps of Kowloon provides an answer.

The first map of Kowloon and the New Territories was surveyed shortly after the land was leased to the British in 1898. Detailed maps were prepared at a scale of 8 inches to the mile and published in 1904 with a further revision in 1924.

Looking at the Lai Chi Kok area, we see a peninsular with a Police Station and an old Customs house along with three piers identified as “Water Supply for Boats”.

1904 Survey Map

Leading to the piers are two dark lines that skirt the hillside, heading to the back of the valley to intercept a stream. These features can be seen on the original surveyor drawings for the area.

Original Surveyors Drawings

By 1924, the area is lost to the new Lai Chi Kok reclamation, started the year before.

1924 Map

The area is now the site of Mei Foo Sun Chuen development and the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre.

Current Site


  1. hkmaps.hk
  2. UK National Archive, Ref MPH 1/149

This article was first posted on 19th January 2017.


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