1901 Public Works Report | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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1901 Public Works Report

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Excerpts:

WORK UNDER THE BUILDING ORDINANCE

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12. General Remarks.—The year was one of very great activity in building and constructive work. Apart from the Naval Yard Extension Works, which are exempted from the provisions of the Building Ordinance, the largest works in progress were those of Messrs. Butterfield & Swire, for the establishment of a shipyard at Quarry Bay. Among buildings which were in progress may be mentioned Princes Buildings (south-western section), the Hongkong Club Annexe and the Club Germania. Much reclamation work was being carried out in the neighbourhood of Hok Un, Yaumati, Mong Kok Tsui and Tai Kok Tsui.

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PUBLIC WORKS, EXTRAORDINARY.

38.    New Law Courts.—The contract for the construction of the foundations up to ground level was in progress during the year. In order to admit of the work being carried on, the Praya Reclamation office had to be taken down, being rebuilt on a new site to the north of the Queen’s Statue. A matshed was erected as a temporary office during the reconstruction of the more permanent building. A portion of the old Praya wall, which crossed the South-east angle of the site, had also to be demolished. It had been anticipated that piling would not be required over this area, but some trials showed that a layer of soft mud occurred a few feet below the foundation of the old Praya wall and piling was accordingly resorted to. Up to the end of the year, 1,148 piles had been driven, and a large proportion of the cement concrete foundations and granite footings had been put in.

39.    Governor's Peak Residence.-- Good progress was made with this building and, by the end of the year, it had been completely roofed in and the plastering and internal woodwork were well advanced. The laying of the wooden floors and the construction of the ceilings, which are also of wood, had nearly been completed. The erection of an entrance lodge, chair shelter and other offices was in progress.

40.    No. 7 Police Station.—The buildings were roofed in before the close of the year and the wooden floors laid. The ironwork for the concrete floors of verandahs, &c., was in position and plastering was in progress.

41. New Shed, Sheep and Swine Depot.—It was decided to afford the increased accommodation required by adding an upper storey to one of the existing sheds, as no site was available for a new shed within the boundaries of the Depot. A contract was entered into and work begun before the close of the year.


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69. Chair Shelter at Victoria Gap. - This building was fully completed early in the year. It is divided in two sections, one of which is for the accomodation of public chairs, whilst the other is for private chairs. The former is entirely enclosed, large sliding doors being provided along the front, whilst the latter is left open in front. A small latrine is provided in a corner of the building. The walls are of the blue stone obtainable in the neighbourhood, with granite dressings, and the floors are laid with cement concrete, the roof being tiled in the usual way. A space is left in front of the shed, clear of the road, on which the chairs can stand during fine weather.

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Comments

The principal item under Extensions was that in connection with Victoria Inland Lot 703, the area amounting to 16,259 square feet, premium to $2,009.67, and Crown rent to $10.22. This was really an old encroachment, which was discovered when the construction of Conduit Road was undertaken, the lessee of the lot being called upon to take out a new lease for the correct area.

 

Pending the settlement of various outstanding questions between the War Department and the Colonial Government, the Military Authorities were let into possession of sites at the junction of Bonham and Pokfulam Roads and on a spur near High West for the purpose of constructing defence works.

13. Improved Type of Tenement Houses. Messers PALMER & TURNER, in applying for a plot of land in the Taipingshan Resumed Area, submitted a design for an improved type of tenement houses, which they proposed to erect upon the land in the event of their acquiring it. The principal feature of the design was the provision of a yard-space between each pair of adjacent houses enabling windows to be provided for the admission of light and air along the sides of the houses. The yard-space was, however, practically enclosed on all sides by the houses, thus preventing to some extent free circulation of the air.

 

Another design was put forward by the Acting Director of Public Works (Mr. CHATHAM) and, by direction of His Excellency the Governor, both designs were submitted to the Sanitary Board. Like the plan sent in by Messrs. PALMER & TURNER, Mr. CHATHAM’s design provided an open area between each pair of adjacent houses, but the area was open to the public street and was of greater width, thus ensuring better lighting and circulation of air. The dwelling rooms were shown to extend through from the street in front to a lane at the back, into both of which large windows were to be provided, the kitchens occupying a space at the sides of the houses between the open area already referred to and the back lane. The arrangement proposed rendered it possible to alter existing "houses so as to be practically in accordance with the plan. The Sanitary Board having reported to Government that Mr. CHATHAM’s design was the best which had yet come before it, provision has been made in the Conditions of Sale of land since sold for the erection of houses in accordance with it or with such other design as may be approved by the Sanitary Board.

 

Crosby Store, after being for many years in a dilapidated condition, was taken down, its contents having been previously transferred to the new Store Buildings erected on Praya East, near No. 2 Police Station. No. 7 Police Station was also taken down in order to make room for the erection of a new and much larger Station on the same site. It was found necessary to take the roof off the Volunteer Headquarters in consequence of the decayed condition of the timberwork and, pending a decision as to the erection of a new building elsewhere, a mat-shed covering was substituted. The remaining public buildings are all in a fair state of repair. Work is in progress for the erection of new buildings in place of several of the oldest and most inadequate, including the Law Courts and Land Registry Ofiice, the Harbour Office and the Western Market.

 

A decided improvement was effected, at the instance of His Excellency the Governor, in the entrance to the ballroom at Government House, the two small doorways which formerly existed being converted into one large doorway by the removal of the intervening pier.

 

A number of buildings in the New Territory underwent repairs. Before the close of the year, there were five new Police Stations occupied, namely, Tai Po, Au Tau, Ping Shan, Starling Inlet and Sai Kung, whilst two others were in course of erection at Sheung Shui and Tai O. These are the only new permanent buildings undertaken so far, with the exception of some huts for lepers near Au Tau; the Police or other ofiicers in various other parts of the Territory being housed either in old buildings taken over from the Chinese Government or hired for the purpose, or in temporary structures.

 

18. Maintenance of Lighthouses. - The lighthouses now include the one on Waglan Island, which was taken over from the Chinese Government, as it is situated within the boundaries of the New Territory. All the lighthouses were maintained in a satisfactory state of repair. Waglan is now connected with Hongkong by means of a cable, which was laid at the close of 1900. The cable lands near Cape D’Aguilar, whence a land-line extends to the Telegraph Companies’ Ofiice.

29. Maintenance of Public Recreation Grounds: The diversion of the nullah along the West side of the Wong-nei-chong Recreation Ground from the point near the Grandstand to where it falls into Bowrington Canal was completed early in the year, the old course being filled in. some alterations were made in the allotment of the grounds to the various Clubs, in order to avoid, as far as possible, any overlapping which would interfere with the enjoyment of the various games simultaneously.

 

35. Maintenance of Waterworks, City & Hill District - In consequence of the timely advent of the rains, it was unnecessary the introduce the intermittent system of supply during the early part of the year. Arrangements had been made for curtailing the supply, commencing from the 7th April, but the circumstances just mentioned permitted of the full supply being maintained. The rainfall of the year, however, proved very deficient, amounting only to 55.78 inches, which is the second-lowest on record. If the months which are regarded as constituting the Wet season—namely, May to September inclusive—be taken as suggested by Mr. CHADWICK, in his Report of the 10th April, 1902, the rainfall is the lowest on record, amounting to 39.91 inches as compared with an average of 65.42 inches for the past 17 years.

 

In consequence of the deficient rainfall, Tytam and Wong-nei-chong Gap Reservoirs never became filled throughout the year. The Water in Tytam reached its maximum level on the 11th September,'when it was 7 feet 8&½ inches below the overflow, representing a storage of 322 million gallons. Whilst Wong-nei-chong Gap attained its highest level on the 22nd August, the water being then 9 feet 4&1/2 inches below the overflow and the contents amounting to 19 million gallons.

 

At the date first mentioned (11th September), the contents of all the reservoirs amounted to 390 million gallons, or about 120 millions less than their full capacity. Recourse was had to the intermittent system on the 11th November when the supply to the main portion of the City was turned on for 4 hours daily, the hours being further curtailed in parts where it is necessary, under this system, to serve a limited number of houses at a time in order to ensure, as far as possible all of them obtaining a supply.

 

A general cleansing of the City having been undertaken by the Sanitary Board, arrangements were made to turn on water during the greater part of the day to the various districts Where operations were in progress, in addition to the hours of supply already stated. The cleansing began on the 25th November, and continued up to the close of the year and, though every efiort was made to confine the supply to the areas Where the cleansing gangs were at work, large portions of the City had to be traversed in many cases in order to reach the required points, with the result that the necessary economy in the consumption of the Water could not be effected.

 

There still continues to be a steady increase in the consumption both of the High Level and of the Hill District (ride Appendices F and G) and it will be necessary to lay down extra pumping plant in order to provide for future requirements. The Bowen Road Motor House was completed and the new motor brought into requisition in November, when its services proved to be of great assistance in connection with the intermittent system of supply to the Hill District.

 

The Barker Road and Magazine Gap divisions can now he disconnected from the rest of the Hill District, and supplied through the iron tanks Nos. 1 and 5 by the new motor.

 

41. New Shed, Sheep and Swine Depot.—It was decided to afford the increased accommodation required by adding an upper storey to one of the existing sheds, as no site was available for a new shed within the boundaries of the Depot. A contract was entered into and work begun before the close of the year.

 

43. Fence round cricket Ground.— A sum of $1,066 was contributed towards the cost of the new iron fence round the Cricket Ground, which was obtained and erected by the Cricket Club.

46. Gaol Extension. - This work was fully completed and handed over to the Gaol Authorities in April. The building, designated Block B. contains 78 cells and was erected in substitution for the old radial Wing B which had been pulled down to make way for it. The surrounding yard was also covered in at the same time. The rearrangement of the building and yard-space resulting from the carrying out of the work constitutes a marked improvement upon the arrangement previously existing.

47. Tai Po Road - Some delay occurred in connection with this work owing to the iron joists for the bridges being late in arriving from England. The road was however open to traffic by the end of March as far as the bridge at Fo Tan (10&½ miles from Tsim Sha Tsui Point), and by the end of the year other 2 miles were opened, including bridges. Work was in progress right up to Tai Po, which is 18 miles distant from Tsim Sha Tsui Point. The causeway which was constructed for the purpose of giving access to the landing-pier has been incorporated with the road and is being widened and improved.

48. Pokfulam Conduit Road: This road was completed in November, with the exception of a short length near its Western extremity, the construction of which was, by agreement, being carried out by the owner of Inland Lot 703. The reason of this arrangement was that the lot mentioned encroached considerably on Crown land, rendering the construction of the road much more difiicult and expensive and as the owner desired to retain the encroachment, the Government consented to his doing so on condition that he acquired it in the usual way and made the road, the Government contributing only the estimated cost of making it across the encroachment. The width of the road as originally constructed was 12 feet. ln consequence however of a representation by the owners of the lots rendered accessible by it that the width was insufiicient, it was decided to increase it to 16 feet. This work was not undertaken until 1902. In conjunction with the construction of the road, it short section of nullah at its Western end was trained.

 

49. Western Market. A contract for the construction of the foundations was entered into and, up to the end of the year. 214 piles out of’ a total of 367 had been driven. The length ot the piles ranged from 15 to 45 feet. The excavation of the foundations, all of which had to be timbered, was practically completed. Much water was met with in some parts of the foundations and a portion of the old Praya wall had to he taken down.

 

50. Harbour Office. - A contract was also let for the construction of the foundations of this building. Out of a total of 730 piles, 321 had been driven up to the end of the year, the length of them ranging from 16 to 31 feet. The excavation of the foundations was practically completed, all the trenches requiring to be timbered.

51. Survey of New Territory —The topographical survey was completed in July when Mr. TATE, who had been in charge of the operations up till then, returned to India, the Work remaining to be done in order to complete the cadastral survey being entrusted to Mr. W. J. NEWLAND

 

53. City and HIll District Waterworks

 

(ii) High Level Service Reservoir.— A covered service reservoir, having a capacity of 400,000 gallons, was constructed to the south of the Military Hospital site, above Bowen Road, at an elevation of 650 feet. The floor is of cement concrete, the walls of lime concrete Faced with brickwork in’ cement mortar and the arching of brickwork in cement mortar. The reservoir is constructed largely below ground level and is filled by the motor above described.

 

(iv.) Service Reservoir at Mount Gough. - Great delay arose in starting this work in consequence of protracted negotiations with the owner of Rural Building Lot No. 1 for the purchase of a site which had been selected for the reservoir. The price asked for the land being considered prohibitive, and the further delay which would have been caused by resorting to the Crown Lands Resumption Ordinance being undesirable, a somewhat less favourable site was selected on adjacent Crown land. A contract for the Work was entered into before the close of the year

 

55. Police Station at Sheung Shui:—The site of the new Station in the Sheung U district of the New Territory was transferred from Fu-ti-au, where it was originally intended to be, to Sheung Shui. Good progress was made with the construction of the buildings, most of the timberwork of the roofs being fixed before the end of the vear.

56. Kowloon Waterworks: In consequence of an insufliciency of staff, the carrying out of the new scheme for the supply of water to Kowloon by gravitation was entrusted to Messrs DENISON, RAM & GIBBS. Previous to joining the firm of Messrs. Denison & RAM, Mr Gibbs, as an Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department, with which he was connected for 9&½ years, had reported on the scheme which, with considerable amplification, was adopted; hence the reason for entrusting the Work to this firm. The preliminary arrangements were concluded in July and, at the end of October, the amplified scheme was submitted to the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sessional Paper No. 50/1901)  The estimated cost of the work is $835,000 as compared with an original estimate of $380,000, the principal increase being in the Storage Reservoir, which is calculated to contain 310 million gallons instead of 120 millions as originally proposed. Part of the increase is accounted for by the advance in prices which occurred between the dates of the two estimates.

 

Steps were taken to improve the supply obtained from the Cheung Sha Wan Intakes by relaying the line of pipes to the small dams forming the intakes and by making some rearrangements and alterations of the distributing mains, by means of which the inhabitants of Mongkoktsui and Yaumati were supplied entirely from this source, thus leaving the original waterworks free for the supply of the remaining districts. These alterations were of very great benefit during the severe drought of 1901-1902.

 

57. Praya East Reclamation: - A much more extensive scheme than that originally proposed was submitted to Government in September by the Acting Director of Public Works. Having received the approval of His Excellency the Governor in Council, the necessary preliminary surveys, borings, &c., were undertaken, and an estimate of the cost of the scheme was forwarded to Government before the end of the year. The area of building land to be rendered available is estimated at 3,648,000 square feet or nearly 84 acres. In the laying out of the land, wide thoroughfares are provided.

 

58. Quarantine Station for Dogs: - A building containing separate compartments for 10 dogs, With a small exercising yard annexed, Was erected on a site adjacent to the Kowloon Cattle Depot. The work was nearly completed by the end of the year.

59. Sai Kung Police Station.—After great delays, arising to a considerable extent from sickness among the workmen, this Work was completed and the buildings handed over to the Police in December. These contain accommodation for a European Sergeant, 2 European, 8 Indian and 4 Chinese Constables and 4 Chinese boatmen. An Interpreter’s room, charge-room, 2 cells, the usual kitchens, bathrooms and out-offices are provided.

60. Perch on Rock near Lyemun.—This is for the purpose of marking a submerged rock, over which there is a depth of 12 feet only at low tides and which has hitherto constituted a danger to shipping. After depositing rubble stone in order to form a base, a shaft rising above the level of high Water was constructed by setting hollow concrete cylinders which were afterwards filled in with concrete in mass. The shaft is surmounted by a spherical iron beacon or cage, in which a lamp is hung at night, an iron ladder being provided for giving access to it.

 

61. Armoury for the Police.—A new armoury was constructed at the Central Police Station by altering some stables which were erected in 1896. The necessary fittings were provided and the Windows were barred in order to render the building secure.

63. Training and Diverting Nullah near Lower Tramway Terminus.—This work was undertaken in conjunction with the construction of a new pathway along the western boundary of War Department land from Kennedy Road to the old road to Kennedy’s Stables beside the Tramway terminus. In order to construct the pathway, permission was obtained from the Military Authorities to cross a small portion of their land. The training Work referred to consisted in the construction of a masonry channel for the nullah east of the Union Church lot from Kennedy Road to Albany Nullah, advantage being taken of a bridge underneath the Tramway to shorten and improve its course between the points mentioned. The drainage from the small valley behind the Union Church was intercepted at Kennedy Road and led in a 15" stoneware pipe into the nullah West of the Tramway.

 

66. Leper Village Near Au Tau:— Wooden huts, 12 in number, were erected on a small hill near Au Tau Police Station for the accommodation of a number of lepers who had formerly occupied some miserable hovels on swampy ground in the neighbourhood. The huts were enclosed with a bamboo fence. The expenditure was defrayed out of the “Miscellaneous Works” vote.

 

68. Plague Account: On the initiative of His Excellency the Governor, temporary matshed bathhouses, to the number of 18 in all, were erected in various parts of the City and Kowloon. Separate structures containing fire-places and large iron pans for heating Water were provided adjoining each bathhouse, and wooden tubs were supplied for bathing in. These places were extensively used by the Chinese, there being a difficulty at times in maintaining the supply of hot water required. The use of them was discontinued towards the end of the year, principally on account of the scarcity of Water and introduction of the intermittent system of supply and eventually all Were removed, several having been accidentally destroyed by fire.

 

A temporary matshed hospital was established in, Kowloon on a hill north of Mongkoktsui, at  cost of $1,578, including rent paid for the site during the year. Several alterations were carried out at the Disinfecting Station in Caine Lane, including the provision of a boiler for the supply of hot Water. The cost of these was $1,730.

 

The total expenditure under this heading was $39,398.60, which included a sum of $33,616 on account of the bath-houses, supply of fuel, attendants, &c.

71. Typhoon Damages: -—The various repairs of damages to roads, matsheds, &c., detailed in last year’s report as having been caused by the typhoon of the 9th- 10th November, 1900, were carried out.

75. Further Works and Schemes: Estimates were called for and prepared, together with drawings, for the following Works :—

 

Gymnasium, Queen’s College.

Removal of Gunpowder Magazine to Green Island.

Forming sites for Market and Police Married Quarters at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Pier at West end of Wing Lok Street.

Permanent Extension of Wanchai Market.

Two Temporary Markets on sites adjoining proposed new Harbour Ofiice and Sailors Home.

Road above Bowen Road.

Houses for Government Officials

Extension of Central Police Station by adding another storey

Convict Prison at Stonecutters’ Island.

Removal of Gaol to Stonecutters’ Island.

Quarters for Public Chair Coolies at Victoria Gap.

Road and Pier to Lai Chi Kok Plague Cemetery.

Quarters at Kennedy Town Hospital.

Public Mortuary in Kowloon.

 

76. Jubilee Road: - Though practically unconnected with the Public Works Department, it is desirable to place on record the fact that the construction of the Jubilee Road from Kennedy Town to Aberdeen was begun in May, the work being placed under the care of Messrs. DENISON, RAM & GIBBS. in accordance With the arrangement originally made, it ought to have been carried out by the Public Works Department, but, owing to insufliciency of staff, this could not be done and the Jubilee Committee therefore entrusted it to the firm mentioned. Good progress had been made with the work before the close of the year. The reasons of the delay amounting to some three years, in the starting of the work, have already been made public and it is unnecessary to recapitulate them here.

77. Jubilee Hospital: - As originally proposed, the carrying out of this Work was decided by public competition and, though the proposals upon which the competition was based were entirely abandoned, Messrs. PALMER & TURNER; Whose design had been selected, were appointed Architects for the buildings. The formation of the site above Barker Road, which had been begun in 1900, was completed and the construction of the buildings was undertaken and had made considerable progress by the end of the year.

 

78. Harlech Road.—The road from Victoria Gap to High West Gap, a portion of which had been made by the men of the Welsh Fusiliers, under the direction of the Public Works Department, was, by arrangement between the Colonial Office and War Office, taken up by the Military Authorities. Good progress was made for a time, but, before the close of the year, the work had come to a standstill.

79. Road from Wanchai Gap to Wongneichong Gap: - The construction of this road, which is in great measure what is known as “ Black’s Link,” was also undertaken by the Military Authorities. Originally, a track was laid out by the Public Works Department extending between the two gaps mentioned and situated entirely on the southern slopes of the hills. The Military Authorities departed from this proposal to the extent of laying out the road along the northern slope of Mount Cameron, from Wanchai Gap to Middle Gap, after passing which it followed approximately the original track. After making considerable progress, this work was also abandoned.

 

80. Expenditure.—The expenditure for the year was $91,772, as compared with $150,650 in 1900, and $229,651 in 1899. The falling-off is partly accounted for by the approaching completion of the works, which are now confined within somewhat narrow limits, and partly by the tardy progress made by the contractor employed on Section No. 6 West.

 

81. Area rendered available for Building: —The total building area to be provided by the Reclamation is 33 acres, of which 27 acres have been made available and 21 have been occupied. Marine Lot Owners entered into possession of 3 acres during the year.

 

82. Section No 1 West: The rubble foundations of the seawall, which had given much trouble during 1899 by repeated subsidences, were completely re-formed during 1900 and stood up in good shape at the beginning of 1901. On the concrete blocks being set free from Section No. 6 they were conveyed to Section No. 1 and placed as a test load on the rubble foundations there. When the foundations ceased, to settle appreciably under a load of 22 tons per lineal foot the Concrete Block Staff commenced levelling the foundations, laying the concrete bed, and setting the blocks forming the first course of the sea wall. A length of 200 lineal feet of the first course, containing 450 tons of concrete, was completed by the end of the year.

 

83. Sections Nos 4 & 5: -The Whole of the carriageways, haying a combined area of 23,288 square yards, were macadamized by Mr. TSANG KENG during the year. This completed these sections.

 

84. Section No 6 West:— The work of levelling and concreting the rubble foundations of the sea Wall and setting concrete blocks was carried on and completed by the Concrete block Staff. In all 571 lineal feet of two-course work, containing 2,600 tons of concrete, were set during the year. The remainder of the works (except Water and Sewerage works) required to complete this section, are being carried out by Mr. TSANG KENG, Contractor. Work equivalent to 15 percent of the value of his contract was executed during the year, leaving 40 per cent to be done. The only item worthy of special mention is the Earth Filling, of which 85,000 cubic yards were deposited, including a large percentage of building rubbish and other material from outside sources. At the end of the year there remained to be done the whole of the superstructure of the sea wall, about 66,000 cubic yards of earth filling, and the whole of the forming and surfacing of the streets.

 

85. Staff and Plant:.--The Concrete Block Staff was fully employed throughout the year in temporary and permanent block-setting, and in removing blocks to and from the Block Yard for repairs. Altogether about 31,000 tons of blocks were handled.

 

The tug “ Praya” which was overhauled in December, 1900, underwent no extensive repairs during 1901. The Pontoon Crane and Block Barges, however, got a thorough overhaul. The Hopper Barges lay in Causeway Bay throughout the year, their work on the Reclamation being ended.