Historic Military Buildings in Hong Kong
A surprising amount of Hong Kong's military buildings still exist. Sometimes because they are in out-of-the-way places that noone has thought about redeveloping yet. Sometimes because they are still under the control of the military authorities, and so are out of bound for redevelopment. And a precious few are considered listed buildings, and so are actively protected.
During its time as a British colony, Hong Kong's role as a military base went through several different phases.
Through the 1800's and into the early 1900's, the potential enemies were the other European colonial powers of the day. This is the time when the Hong Kong's coasts were peppered with coastal batteries, ready to defend against any attack by a foreign navy.
When fighting eventually broke out, it happened in Europe. World War I must have seemed a very remote event to those living in Hong Kong. Japan and Britain were allies at the time, and Hong Kong came through the war untouched.
Shortly after WWI, there were clear signs of a new naval arms-race beginning, with Britain, the USA, and Japan the main players. Negotiations began to bring this to a halt, resulting in the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. One of the terms of the treaty was that Britain could not improve the naval bases or defences in its overseas territories, including Hong Kong. So began a period of stagnation for Hong Kong's defences.
Japan left the Washington Naval Treaty in 1936. However, while the treaty had been in place, the bilateral alliance between Japan and Britain had been allowed to lapse. This meant a powerful potential foe was now on Hong Kong's doorstep.
So began a new burst of work to enhance Hong Kong's defences, running up until Japan's invasion in December 1941.
Immediately post-war, there were several years of relative peace and re-building. That didn't last long, and a new build-up of British forces began, this time with the Chinese army as the potential foe. This characterised the 1950's, with the Korean war still a recent memory.
After that came a steady decline in the size Britain's military presence, until their final withdrawal as part of the handover in 1997.
So, let's take a look at what remains from the British armed forces' 150+ years in Hong Kong.