Beacon - Tai Po Tau 大步頭墩台 (according to 新安縣誌), early Qing. [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Beacon - Tai Po Tau 大步頭墩台 (according to 新安縣誌), early Qing. [????- ]

Location is just a speculation.  It is based upon a present day village called Ying Pun Ha (營盤下)。Ying Pun (營盤) means a military camp and Ha (下) means under/below.  The name of the village literally means "the village below the military camp' in English.  If the beacon was there it would be somewhere along the ridge.

Comments

I recall walking in this area with some friends in the mid-nineties, and coming across a solid brick-built conical structure, standing in isolation. We were baffled as to its origin and purpose- could this be the beacon?  

Hi there,

I really have no idea.  However there are descriptions of such beacons by senior hikes or other writings saying, the beacons are likely build by hacked out stone pieces in the form of a terrace with a flat opening for burning stuffs to make thick dark grey smoke signal in broad day light, and for a fire signal at night.  There might be ruins of accomodation for the troopers tending the site around too.

In this respect the beacons were likely on a relatively highground with few obstruction to the next relay.  If we have a big map it might be fun trying to join them up with the two military/admin centres of the time, Nan Tao & Da Peng.  From 新安縣誌 there seemed to be over twenty such beacons within the county and five of them were within the present day Hong Kong boundary.

See this link for those hiker's discussion about other beacons.  It's a Chinese only link though.  There are some photos of stone structures and they mentioned the beacon in Wong Chuk Kok (黃竹角墩台).

Best Regards,

T

Interesting location - it's one of the sites identified by Pat Hase in his book on the 6 day war where local militia set up a battery aimed towards Flagstaff Hill when the 1899 war broke out. This location was shelled by a Govt gunship (HMS Fame?).

I did speak to Dr Hase about whether or not he had been up that way to see if there are any remnants and he said he hadn't. It's quite possible there are also still traces of the battery.

Hi Phil,

We might as well get together for another outing and walk up the second half of Wilson Trail Section Eight and take a look.  We could also go up Cloudy Hill ald see if there are any of those barb wires left.  If there was a beacon there, I don't know if it would be even higher up.  We might also be able to see the badge you mentioned from across the hill if the day is fine (and hot).

I won't be available till May though.

Best Regards,

T

That sounds like a good idea Thomas. Joe Yip's 'Mainland' book also covers this area for route #12 - although I suspect a bit of bushwacking will be needed for our purposes.

Hi T,

The Cloudy Hill, Lung Shan (Dragon Hill) and nearby hills tops had been carpet-searched  but in vain.

Recently, by referring to a map that shows the isometric view of moutain reliefs, it enables me to "guess" the next possible sites would be Fung Yuen - Sha Lo Tung where there is a hill ridge connecting up to Wang Leng. Along the ridge, there are two vantage peak points at 282 and 336 that enable one to see serveral existing beacons. By next Mon, I will hike with some fellow hikers and wish that I can bring you a good news by next week!

JW

Hi JW,

If it was located in where you have proposed, wouldn't that mean the descriptions in the gazette (新安縣誌) be quite a bit off the mark unless the old Tai Po Tau was also at least 1 km towards the east of its present day location?

I might considering joining you folks for one of your future hikes, but not this time despite I have not done any serious bush whacking.  I am still on 7 X 24 standby duty.  I would settle for going to Tin Ha Shan in the first weekend of May as for the time being.

Good Hunting.

T

Hi T,

In the past, the description of a place could be very board or general, but nowadays, as cities/towns develop, locations have to be precise enough to demarcate specific clusters, so off position by 1km does not mean much, I believe. Same case to Ma Jerk Leng Beacon, the beacon is not located at Robin's Nest hill but Wo Keng Shan.

JW

Hi JW,

You are quite right.  The descriptions in gazettes are in general terms and the ancient maps are drawn based on observation, not detail surveying.  That might mean more fun in the wilderness poking into bushes and weeds.  :-)

Thanks & Best Regards,

T

Hi T,

>>I might considering joining you folks for one of your future hikes

Of course, welcome for joining.

I have two other teamates, KK and  "SaiKung-Veteran", they are the savvy in the topic of beacons. We do not meet often, but when I prey something valuable, they both come out for confirmation. KK is good at drilling stuffs like records, history, literature, he is the one in HK to locate the first PHYSICAL beacon object and his prey was the one at Wong Chuk Kok, whereas the "SaiKung-Verteran" is a good compiler for resolving a cocktail mixture of infos, he can digest and picture out the possible scenarios and good at reading maps, location name and skyline profile. I am not as good as these two gentlemen in their profession but I still have some strong areas by sniffing out the unusual and unnoticeable things in the wilderness with endurance and a good decipherer in satellite images.

JW