Dent's Fountain [1864-1933] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Dent's Fountain [1864-1933]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
Date Place demolished: 

This stood on Queen's Road, in front of the old City Hall.

Photos that show this place


Dent's Fountain was constructed in 1864 prior to the building of the

old City Hall.

Notes from Moddsey:

I surmise the fountain along with the western portion of the City Hall were removed in 1933 to make way for the third generation HSBC headquarters.

Hong Kong Daily Press 1 April 1930

It is recorded that the fountain was 'turned on' and water flowed to mark the official opening of the harbour pipeline which brought water from the Shing Mun River to Hong Kong Island. One spectator recalled the last time the fountain was in operation was during the Prince of Wales visit in 1922.

As seen here in the bottom left photo, the second generation HSBC building, western wing of the City Hall and Dent's fountain have been demolished. The City Hall library annexe has been erected. Photo taken in 1933.

The donor of this fountain was Mr. John Dent, a merchant, head of the now defunct firm bearing his name. He gave the fountain to the people of Hongkong in perpetuity so that you and I were part owners thereof. Not that we ever bothered about our ownership! The centre was ornamental in its way, with draped female figures in a graceful attitude, supporting the basin. The few steps leading up to it were guarded at the four corner by couchant lions, who appeared to be facing to the principal points of the compass. An inscription on a tablet notified all who took the trouble to read it that the fountain had been presented to the public of Colony by Mr. Johia Dent.


It will probably be recalled that on the occasion of the visit by H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester in 1929, there was talk of this old fountain being made to fount just for the period that he would be in its vicinity, but there was an outcry against the idea ( apparently an official plan) owing to the serious drought from which the Colony was then suffering and the idea was abandoned.


The Fountain is no more, and the Government is not going to re-erect it elsewhere. There is nowhere wise where it could be place and in any case, the recurrent dearth of water in the Colony precludes the use of the structure as a fountain. For this reason it had ceased to spout for a number of years so it was of no use except as a rather doubtful ornament. Yet it has a great historical interest and at one time was looked upon with much pride by the citizens of Hongkong. That was in the days when the small community took pride in its City Hall centre of the civic activities of a growing world port, and its Theatre Royal, then considered, rightly entirely up-to-date and even ornate. With the rapid growth of the city, the change of outlook, and the advance of architectural ambition the civic pride became dulled, and almost disappeared. The fountain remained in the way of traffic, dirty, the resort of ragged loungers, and dead.  But it was a link with the rapidly disappearing past of Hongkong with it is a pity to lose.

Source: Old Hong Kong by Colonial Vol 1

When the fountain was demolished in the 1930s, the four decorative lions were preserved. Does anyone know if they still exist?

There was one lion on each corner of the base of the fountain. They're clear to see in photos of the fountain:

Fountain erected by John Dent, Esq.

When the fountain was demolished, one pair of lions went to a house in Kowloon Tong, and the other pair went to Tsuen Wan:

 The name of Mr. John Dent may have died out with his own generation but for his gift to the Colony of a fountain for long known, as the City Hall Fountain. This structure was erected on a plot of land off Queen’s Road, close to the parade ground ( now the H.K. Cricket Club ground ) and was put up towards the close of 1863, being in use the following year. One of the plaques bore an inscription stating that it had been presented to the Colony by Mr. John Dent in 1864 - and up to last year ( 1933 ) stood as a memorial to the man, in a prominent enough position as the City Hall was erected alongside a few years later and completed in 1869.

Reference has already been made in these articles to the demolition last June of the old fountain: there was some speculation at the time as to what would become of it.

Since then it has been ascertained that two of the four stone lions which crouched at the corners of the pedestal have been placed at the gateway of a house in Kowloon Tong, while the other two are to grace a new residence at Tsun Wan. On enquiry, it is learned that the Government, at one period contemplated re-erecting the fountain, but the central portion was found to be composed of stucco, and broke up on removal after dismantling. Consequently nothing could be done with the structure and the contractor appears to have acquired the sculptured lions and disposed of them.

The Government, however, have stored the inscribed plaques and these it is hoped will be restored to public view when a new Hongkong museum materialises. It is well that Mr. John Dent’s philanthropy be not entirely forgotten.

Source: p.279-80 "Old Hong Kong" by Colonial

It would be great to discover that one or more of them still exist - they'd be over 150 years old.