Foundry. Ma On Shan | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Foundry. Ma On Shan

Foundry.  Ma On Shan

I assume that this is something to do with the iron mine?  Do you know anything about it.


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Saturday, July 17, 1954


Hi Pauline,

There were foundries in Hong Kong at that time. The 1955 Annual Report has a section on Heavy Industries with a couple of mentions:

"[...] Other facilities available [at the local shipyards] are ocean-going tugs, harbour repair launches, a crane barge equipped with sheer-legs lifting up to 40 tons, and foundries capable of handling castings of up to 30 tons. [...]"

"[...] Other heavy industries in Hong Kong include 14 iron foundries and 4 steel rolling mills, employing altogether 1,280 workers. [...]"

I don't remember seeing any mention of a foundry at Ma On Shan though. I think they were just interested in mining and refining the ore before exporting it.

Regards, David

Hi David,

This photo really intrigues me.  It is definitely on the Ma On Shan page and I think all the photos must have been taken on the same day 17th July 1954.  I doubt if my husband would have taken photos at a different location on the same day but only he would know the answer to that.  This foundry has a Heath Robinson look to it to my eyes,  and it appears to be in the countryside doesn't it.  Have you looked at what looks like a little wheeled vehicle in the bottom left quarter,  I wonder what that is?   Questions,  questions.  I think we need an industrial archaeologist to come up with the answers here!


The wheeled vehicle is a mobile air compressor probably used to provide high pressure air to pnuematic drills on rock breaking duties. They used to be seen very often with road repairing gangs at one time. Generating lots of noise and dust! Also used in Hong Kong when the tram tracks were being renewed and the concrete holding the rails in place had to be broken up.

Thanks, I can well imagine the noise and dust that would result from this sort of operation!  Do you think that the photo shows this place under construction?  It seems quite likely to me.  I still think it must be on Ma On Shan but perhaps it isn't actually a foundry although obviously my husband thought that it was at the time.

This is very similar to a photograph in the Hong Kong Geology Guide Book.

Section 24, beginning on page 157, is about the Ma On Shan iron mines.  At the bottom of page 166, there is a photograph just like this one with the caption "Portal of the 110m main ore haulage tunnel".  Your photo was apparently taken while the area was under construction.  In the book, the buildings look more complete and they are surrounded by mature vegetation.

Actually I think the caption on that photo in the Guide Book may be incorrect, since it is exactly the same as the caption of a different photo on the same page that really does look like a "Portal of the 110m main ore haulage tunnel".  I think this photo is probably the ore dressing plant.  As described in the Guide Book, "Construction of the ore dressing plant commenced in mid-March 1954 and was completed by the 1st November in that year."  That matches well with the 1954 date of your photo, and the fact that the plant appears to be under construction in your photo.

Thank you Brad,  that's all very interesting,  and as you say it ties in well with the date of the photo.