Mount Nicholson Government Quarters [1962-2011] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Mount Nicholson Government Quarters [1962-2011]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1962-01-01
Date Place demolished: 
2011-01-01

The area was first developed as a military camp and was fought over during the battle for Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion. After the war bungalows were built for military officers and their families. Four blocks of flats varying from eight to 12 stories were then constructed in 1962 for senior civil servants. Located at the end of a cul-de-sac and backed by Mount Nicholson they were spacious and airy with large communal gardens and great views of the harbour. They were highly desirable. The buildings were emptied around 2004 as the government wound down its housing program and have stood vacant since.

Financial Secretary John Tsang announced yesterday the site would go for sale in July

 

Photos that show this place

Comments

Mount Nicholson

The blocks are now empty and have been for a few years. They won't let you through the main entrance at the end of Mount Nicholson Road, but there are steps leading up the hillside from next to Rosary Hill School. If you climb up and work your way round to fence to the left you can enter the site and wander around. There's also an overgrown old path from the site that runs above Stubbs Road to the crest of the road by the Cricket Club

Great tip!

Thanks - I'm going to try to find those steps and see what I see this weekend...

cool - pretty sure the path

cool - pretty sure the path to Mount Nicholson flats from Wong Nai Chung Gap starts at the repainted WWII bunkers down the hill from the Cricket Club, which I think is station 10 on the War Trail. It's overgrown but passable

Yes, it contours around the

Yes, it contours around the lower Eastern slope of Mt Nicholson. I have walked along much of it but not to its end.

Mount Nicholson flats courtesy Google Street View

  • What great memories I have of spending many years of my youth at Mt Knickerbockers. I made so many friends there and had such a good time. 
    Our family moved in right from the beginning and I remember going with my Mum to check out the flats as they were being finished off. The lifts weren't working yet so we had to use the stairs.
    I learnt to ride my bike along the "road path" that ran between the front & back blocks next to the fence that separated the property with Mt Nicholson Rd.
    I was there when they built the round water storage tank at the back of the field leading down the old Villa Monta Rosa blocks. That was finished back in '69
    I remember climbing onto the roof of one of the garages fronting block 2 by shimming up the lamp post!
    I have memories of watching people park their cars in the concrete pavillion near the back blocks as a typhoon approached only to find them strewn all over the show when it was safe to go back outside.
    Back in '67 there were the riots and our parents had to be very vigilant that we not pickup any boxes left on the property.
    Do you remember the water rationing?...yes it was 4 hours of water every 4 days! 
    I remember a helicopter landing in the field behind the front blocks, but can't remember why. 
    In those days Hong Kong followed daylight savings and I have a memory of getting in trouble for being late for dinner because I had forgotten to wind my watch forward. Yes, back then, we were always 8 hours ahead of the UK,
    A real highlight were the big bonfires and fireworks on Guy Fawkes day held in the field behind the front blocks before Hong Kong outlawed fireworks after the riots.
    We used to think there was a witch living on the top of the hill behind Mt Nicholson and one day a group of us went up there to see her. She turned out to be a kind old lady who eked out an existance selling odds & ends in the market.
    A big dare was going exploring through the lattice of tunnels in the hills above MN aka "Worms Crawl"...gosh that would never happen nowadays!
    Anyway as a picture is worth 1000 words, I've managed to grab this shot from Google Street view taken last year and you can see that the property is sealed off to the public.
    I remember tadpole pond, worms crawl & elephants bum with great joy!

RIP Mt Nicholson X

Mount Nicholson government quarters taken by the Google Street View car
Mount Nicholson government quarters taken by the Google Street View car, by hongkongpom

Click on the photo to enlarge

 

re: Mt Nicholson

By the late 1950s the need for civil servant quarters drove the government to redevelop the area by building four blocks of flats:

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=bks:1&q="mount+nicholson+bungalows"&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

There were also five bungalows built on the north side of the site, on stepped levels down the hillside. They were cleared some time ago, I have a feeling in the 90s. The foundations, railings etc are still there. As far as I recall they were similar in build to the apartments and presumably date from around the same time.

Mt Nicholson bungalows

The bungalows were on a separate site but they were easy to access. I had a friend that lived in one of them.
Behind blocks 3 & 4 was a carpark and at the far end was the staircase leading down to the bungalows.
Hope this helps,
hkp

Mount Nicholson flats on YouTube!

Here's a great walk around memory lane uploaded to YouTube by 
kevpix  September 05, 2008
/p>

Mount Nicholson

according to the guy who uploaded the video:

 

where the four blocks were ie.. two front and two back, used to be about 4 - 6 rows of bungalows which were torn down early 60s to build the tower blocks

Mt Nicholson bungalows

Maybe these were different bungalows but there were definitely bungalows on the north side of the complex down from blocks 3 & 4.

And finally tonight:
"... a government sale of another site on the Peak on July 28, analysts including Ng said. The 2.33-hectare site (250,930 square feet) at 103 Mount Nicholson Road could be sold for HK$7 billion, Savills Plc said yesterday."

Mt Nick clay

I forgot one last bit of information about growing up at Mt Nick and that was being able to fashion our own collector clay ashtrays, boats or canoes!
Just as you drove onto the property, there was a wall on the right hand side that you could climb up that led to a small pit full of clay. We used to grab a bucket of this stuff and create our very own clay crafts. Yes Mum & Dad got quite a few homemade ashtrays let me tell you!
I wish I'd been a bit more business savvy in those days because I could have made a fortune selling it to all the Mum's to put on as a rejuvinating face mask...oh well, hindsight's a beautiful thing.

mount nick

i remember all of the above worms crawl. elly bum.. tadpole pond... the helecoptre was when domonic boy shot himself in the leg... 

 steve Rumbelow

The Mt Nick "Worm Crawl"

Steve,

That sounds like one of the Japanese tunnels from WW2? If you remember where it was, please could you see if we already have it on our map of Japanese wartime tunnels?

If it's not there, any chance you can give directions to help us find it? The weather is starting to cool off now, so a good time of year to be scrambling the hillsides in search of odds & ends like this.

Regards, David

More on Mt Nick

> I remember a helicopter landing in the field behind the front blocks

There was a kid who in the early seventies who shot himself in the foot with a nail gun and I think was airlifted out.

I remember one day treking across the hills to the southern part of the island and ending up in a village on the other side. We found our way to a police station and my dad had to come and pick us up.

Of course the other big no-no was using the storm water drains as a transit system. I think there was one that ran under a part of a Mt Nick.

 

Mount Nick

Who are you HongKongPom?!

We must have crossed paths at schools, The LRC, Mount Nick or Big Wave Bay even.

We first lived in the Bungalows from 1956 -1960 then from 1965 - 69. We first lived in the bungalows that were stepped down at the front. There were other bungalows on the top which made way for the 4 blocks, designed by Nigel Astbury's father. We then lived at 27 Ground Floor garden flat then 21 on the 10th floor, ie the back blocks. 

Names that spring to mind around that time ( I am now nearly 58 ) kids wise are.. Me, my bros Keith and Simon, Kirsty Bain, Diane Tonge, Stephen Mallory and siblings, David Henderson, Mike Watson, Mike Jones, David and Michael Bentley, Mairi Macdonald, the swimming bros (  French ), Anthony Evans, Cindy Milburn, Howard Tonge, Gregory? Andrew Filshie and siblings, and others. Oh and Mandy Cooke.

The helicopter landed on the back lawn I remember after the floods of 1967 where we had a huge landslide cutting off access to the top, the army brought in supplies and salt tablets, the power was out for a few days as well, and we had to walk up and down the staircases.

I was walking around Mount Nick last January, which the police were using for field exercises in urban development warfare and were using live ammo but were happy to let me wander around during a break.. I accessed it via Blacks Link... the pathroad that runs along the top of Mount Nick from Wanchai Gap to Wong Nei Chong Gap.. a great walk by the way. Some kind sole has lefty a rope that helps you down the mountain from there, which we never had in my day!

I do remember the clay that you mention.

I also remember that on one camp out on the underground reservoir, one the the Whithead boys was bitten by a cobra, which luckily his brother saw and was rushed to hospital, in the middle of the night.

Cheers

Kevin Phillips

Glad you enjoyed the video I uploaded too.

I took that path from the

I took that path from the bunkers at Section 10 of the War Walk opposite the cricket club out to the flats at Mt Nicholson Rd. Its quite tricky in parts, At one stage admist boulders there is a porcelain cat quite high in a sitting position beneath the rocks with a sign "Pippa"..................weird - anybody know the story ?

Phil, when did you see

Phil, when did you see Pippa?

Sorry, no I dont know the story but i saw that cat last year several times.  This year about 3 months back, I walked that trail again and didnt spot the cat.  It was kinda cute sitting there and I was sad that it was gone.

mount nik '60's

I have just come across this site and I am stunned.  They were also the best memories of my childhood.  I remember so many of the names that were mentioned, including mine (the middle Filshie sibling, Guy).

Mike Jones, if you read this, thanks for teaching me to wrestle.  You'd take 5 of us on at a time.

As for Worms Crawl, just off Black's Link, I spent months in there, digging new tunnels and making new rooms.  I suppose I'm lucky to have survived.  One almost caved in on me.

I remember all the incidents mentioned - the helicopter; the landslides; tadpole pond; elephants bum and the rotting munitions that were scattered around Blacks Link.

I found the fake bomb parcel in the staircase in the front block outside our flat.  I also got stoned by a bunch of masked cultural revolutionaries near the Villa Monte Rosa but we knew the jungle better than them and scarpered. Those mountains were our playground and I never got bitten by a barking deer, but I saw one shoot up Mount Cameron.

Any more memories of Mount Nik in the '60's I'd love to hear.

As a 10 year old I always got that gut feeling of coming home (from the UK for school holidays).

Thanks for the memories.

Henry Ching writes:

I do not know if the five or six bungalows on the slope to the north of the site were built when the multi-storey blocks were built, or whether they were a part of the original bungalows on the site which were demolished to make way for the blocks.  These remaining bungalows were by no means luxurious, but they were popular amongst some officers who had transferred from other colonies like Malaya, possibly because they were reminiscent of a more sedate lifestyle as compared with living in a flat in a high-rise block.

I am the Whitehead that Kevin Philips mentions being bitten by a cobra. Happened in 1967 when I was camping with my brother on he back lawn at Mount Nic. A storm was coming and the cobra came into the tent. I turned on my torch to move my sleeping bag and put my hand on the snake which then bit me on the wrist. My Dad rushed me to Queen Mary hospital together with our neighbour Dr Palmer. Damn nearly died, and had no feeling in my arm for the next 3 weeks.

Other memories of Mt Nic were far better - Elephants Bum, Worms Crawl, firecrackers, football, water rationing, = some of the best days of my life !

How fascinating to read your actual account of the Cobra incident involving you back in 67. Most snake experts will say that snakes won't attack us unless they feel threatened, so I guess because you actually accidentally touched it, it bit you.

I was climbing up from Mount Nick to Blacks link about 10 years ago and noticed a big cobra 6 feet to my left, going up alongside me. Kind of shook me, but it left me alone and my 3rd close up encounter with cobras over the years.

I and my bros and father were in Hong Kong last December as Murray Building which my father designed in 1969 was about to open as HK's newest 5 star hotel after a 4 year refurb. We were all invited over for the unveiling of the new hotel plaque with Carrie Lam and my father was asked to say a few words.  My younger brother and I had the day before walked along Blacks Link and climbed down to Mount Nick and wee then confronted with a 10 foot wall with lights and video security. I mentioned this the next day to the owners of the property who also now own The Murray hotel and they kindly organisd a private viewing of the  new flats and houses. The link herewith is a record of that visit....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-ctTpZrRR4

I hope you find it of interest! 

Cheers

Kevin

We lived in Mount Nicholson 1999 to 2005. Indeed we were the last occupants of Flat 81 in Block 4. There was Flat 82 opposite, so that might explain why the bungalows were numbered from 83 onwards.

They had been 'de-commissioned' when we moved in - I seem to recall that they'd been taken out of service around 1994, but I could be wrong.

It was a complete pleasure and privilege to live there....though I've always highly regretted that the government turfed us out 2004-06, but didn't sell the site until 2010.........we could've had 3-4yrs more.

We moved to Mnt Nick from Leighton Hill. One of the very first occupants of the former front blocks. I lived with my aunt (Theresa Bone) who was headmistress of Belilios Publc School. Whilst there, the taller blocks were built at the back of the site. I used to climb the bamboo scaffolding. No health and safety then. Also remember the war time tunnels up behind the flats. Explored them in detail. Hugely dangerous. My aunt had previuously lived on one of the old bungalows.