RAF Sha Tin [1949-1962] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

RAF Sha Tin [1949-1962]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
c.1949-08-01 (Day is approximate)
Date Place demolished: 
c.1962-09-30 (Day is approximate)

Formerly the site of a small RAF airfield.

IDJ writes:

The British Army had an aviation presence in Hong Kong from July 1949 when 1903 Air Observation post (AOP) Flight, RAF, of 657 AOP Squadron was hastily despatched to the Far East as a result of the HMS Amethyst incident on the Yangtze. This incident led to a general reinforcement of troops in Hong Kong. 1903 Flight was briefly based at San Wai near Tai Po before moving in August 1949 to RAF Shatin. Its concrete runway was on reclaimed land in Tide Cove with related buildings spaced at three levels up the hillside and linked by a concrete road. Up until 1957 the Army Aviation Unit was purely an RAF unit. Thereafter, pilots were gradually drawn from all arms of the Army, but the RAF’s technical ground-crew remained insitu, and the Adjutant was also an RAF officer. In September 1958 the Army’s Royal Mechanical & Electrical Engineers had trained sufficient personnel to assume responsibility for the aircraft’s day to day servicing. In September 1962 Typhoon Wanda flattened the site wrecking several aircraft. What remained of the AOP Flight then moved to Kai Tak. It appears that the site continued to be designated RAF Shatin until it closed in 1962. If the army had a different title for the site, it would of interest to know what this was.

Not much information has been available for this RAF site but it is covered in this 1954 article here

Location & dates from Wikipedia.


Photos that show this place


There are some more photos of RAF Shatin at:


After all this time it has dawned on me that the two photographs below show an accommodation or more likely the headquarters site for R.A.F. Shatin.  Please check the website that appears between the two photographs.  It provides us with an interestng insight into R.A.F. Shatin.  My apologies if the link does not work automatically!

In 2015 when I uploaded my photograph (the second one) into my gallery, there was quite a bit of speculation as to what the buildings were used for and whether the long arm into Tolo Harbour provided a ferry landing.  However, a friend David G. has just drawn my attention to this website that ties the buildings in with the R.A.F. and later the Army  and not the Navy as we might have thought.  The main building on that website is not exactly the same as on either my photograph taken in 1957/8 or that taken by Peter Keely a few years before mine, but it could have been remodelled.  Both these photographs clearly show the same place, with Peter's intriguingly having a small squad of military personnel (either R.A.F. or Army, not Navy as I previously speculated) drawn up on the road there and just visible.  Andrew

Train Kowloon to Tai Po.
Train Kowloon to Tai Po., by Peter Keeley


New Territories
New Territories, by AndrewSuddaby

Hi Andrew - the reason why the main building on that site doesn't match your images is because they are two separate locations. That main building - with the sort of rooftop tower - is called Ho Tung lau and was located to the south of the building in your images. There is a page for it here: https://gwulo.com/node/28741 (incidentally, Les Reece recently uploaded an image of it here: https://gwulo.com/atom/35977.). But yes, your two images above certainly are the same ones as the other image on Hugh's Industrial History site.

However, the comments on there don't make it clear which one is referred to as Arcullis camp and I wonder if that is because the commenters don't realise that we are looking at two different (but quite similar) sites?


Edit: Ho Tung Lau is the one referred to as Arcullis Camp.



Hi Phil,

Thanks for the correction.  If I'd checked out the 1939 map I would have seen that there are, indeed, two locations!  From what you write, it looks as though the images from the 367 Associationb gallery, one complete with the just discernible group of airmen(?), do show the headquarters building(?) for R.A.F. Shatin.  On Hugh's Industrial History site, I think he mentions that there were accommodation buildings on the hillside above the actual concrete runway.  I have searched the relevant photographs that I am familiar with on the 357 Association gallery to see if there is any sign of the runway, but without any success, and I have no recollection of seeing it from the train.  Perhaps my attention was being paid to paddy fields, etc. and not geared up to wanting to notice military things such as pill boxes and bunkers that in those days would have been both prominent and uninteresting!  The same thing is true of the war-time military structures in Britain that I remember - but which were never photographed.  If only the clock could be turned back.

Regards, Andrew