Ferry Routes | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Ferry Routes

The recent discussion on the locations of the Hung Hom ferry piers here http://gwulo.com/node/14541#comment-23088, here http://gwulo.com/node/14541#comment-23090 and here  http://gwulo.com/node/14541#comment-23091 highlight an apparent lack of consolidated maps or information showing the changes to ferry pier locations and routes over the years. Inevitably over time our memories fade as to where and when familiar things from our youth were located.
I don’t recall seeing any books or publications on the history of the widespread ferry operations within the harbour area. Although there is at least one covering the Macau and China high-speed ferries published in Chinese.
 
If not already done, the location mapping of piers and routes over the years could be a worthwhile research project for a student interested in Hong Kong’s transportation systems and their development. While some older maps show piers and ferry routes, usually there are no start/stop dates for the services available. Prior to 1996 the government used to publish all available transport routes, fares and timetables in a single book format on an annual basis. This included all the ferry routes and was available from government publications shops. Later it was left to the individual operators to distribute their own timetables or post them on the internet.
 
From the 1960s, very large reclamations started spreading out around the harbour and a number of long-standing ferry piers had to be moved. Prior to the Cross Harbour Tunnel opening and the MTR coming into operation, the Hong Kong & Yaumati Ferry Co had many now long forgotten routes. Not only from Central to Jordon Road in the 1990s, but earlier to Tai Kok Tsui, Shamshuipo, Cheung Sha Wan, Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi town etc. Plus several eastern harbour routes starting from Wanchai, North Point etc. Most of these routes gradually ceased operating as the MTR and better bus services evolved.
 
In the 1960s a very cheap summer afternoon could be spent hopping on and off the non-air conditioned ferries cooling down in the breeze while travelling the length of the harbour with its ever changing scenery of cargo shipping surrounded by their jostling attendant junks loading/unloading freight and goods, large passenger liners and warships of all nations could be seen interspersed with sailing junks and ferries. It was always a very busy scene.
 
And of course HYF also had longer routes to the outlying islands and inter-island services. The longest of these I recall was the Central to Tai O (Lantau Island) route using older vessels which took about three hours calling in at various isolated piers on the way. Inevitably fast modern air-conditioned vessels were later put on the route.
 
Also there were various ferry services which were officially timetabled to remote piers in and around Tolo Harbour. Miss the return trip and you could be stuck for the night.
 
The Star Ferry Co operated routes no long serviced these days, always from separate but adjacent piers to those of the HYF ferries for some reason. Why not shared?
 
In the 1980s the Hover-Ferries came to the fore operating on distant routes such as to Tuen Mun where bus services to the new town were regularly disrupted by traffic problems on the Tuen Mun Highway which was forever under construction or modification or closed by accidents. At Tuen Mun the temporary termini for the conventional and Hover-Ferries were also routinely relocated due to expanding reclamation work until finally settling at permanent piers adjacent to Butterfly Estate.
 
The harbour and outlying island ferry services are now a shadow of what they used to be within living memory, mainly overtaken by improved road and rail infrastructure developments. It was even proposed not too long ago to run fast commuter ferry services to and from Central to Repulse Bay, but since China Motor Bus Co ceased operating its decrepit vehicles frequent nose to tail air conditioned ‘super–buses’ now ply the route.

Forum: 

IDJ,

I've added a map above showing the Places we've already got that are tagged "pier" and are related to your topic.

I'd forgotten about the hovercraft ferries. For a while I think they were commonly used on the service to Discovery Bay. Are any still in use around Hong Kong?

I was lucky that a couple of the longer sea journeys were still possible when I first arrived. I took an overnight boat from Canton to Macau once, also the overnight Hong Kong - Macau service, and one longer trip on the Hong Kong - Shanghai route.

Regards, David

Hi David,

Suggest to redefine the set and subsets here.  In a sense the Ocean Terminal and the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal are also piers, but they are for luxury cruisers.  How about the vehicular ferry piers that we have already tagged?   Any idea of other piers or Container ports?

Sorry for stirring things up.

Best Regards,

T

When the HYF Hovermarine hoverferries were at their peak usage it was the largest fleet in the world. They were not only used on the Tuen Mun route but many others including to Pearl River ports across Deep Bay. There were two types, a much larger Hovermarine hoverferry type operated later under the title of Seaspeed if I recall correctly. Discovery Bay Ferries had their own Hovermarine hoverferries and again if I recall correctly they also used to do a short cross-harbour run from a temporary floating pier at City Hall next to Tamar’s gates across to Tsim Sha Tsui East.

While I remember, when the Jordon Road ferry area was being reclaimed in the 1990s, the services carried on at piers or more probably floating pontoons at Canton Road next to Hong Kong-China City and accessed via a pathway through the government office/quarters/fire station lands. This service ended when the reclamation got too close to safely operate.

Despite having large fleets and route networks, the HYF Company does not appear to have a comprehensive written history. Even on Wikipedia it is only briefly mentioned which is surprising.

However this book from 2005 appears to have a section on HKYF

http://www.orientalmodelbuses.co.uk/books/80M-2.htm

Hi there,

I remember my first hover ferry ride was the Central <--> Tsuen Wan route. The other route was the Tuen Mun route.

I could confirm there used to be a route between Central and Tsimshatsui East, with boarding barges on both sides of the harbour.  The HK side started opposite the then Urban Council building at the City Hall.  The TSTE side would seem to be somewhere between the two foot bridges.

On the HK side (City Hall)  there was once another route going to Gold Coast.  I do not recall for how long this route run.

These routes seemed to be sheltered and not as choppy as those outer island ones.  I have a faint impression that the Tsuen wan route went through the inner channel of the Stonecutter's.

Could someone confirm these?

Best Regards,

T

'T'

I had forgotten about the Gold Coast route. Just demonstrates how these things get lost in time although it would only be 20 or so years ago

I see on David's map that apart from the piers dotted around the 'prime downtown areas', there is not yet a Place made for piers in Kwun Tong, Sai Wan Ho, Lyemun etc.  Today not all of them offer services in large ferries, but they did in the past in routes which no longer exist, and some must have moved with the coastline as well.

One that pops into mind, and I am not even sure it is correct, is a service that runs from Sai Wan Ho to Central in the morning rush hours, in the days before the Island Line was built.  I had never been on it, so if this is only a figment of my imagination, then I am happy to be confronted with facts. 

Speaking of facts, one way to get information is to dig out old flyers of ferry timetables.  That will give us a good knowledge of what existed when.

breskvar

The Hoverferries in technical terms were side-wall hovercraft or “air-cushioned catamarans” as only the front and rear of the hull had the air curtain skirt, whereas an all-around flexible skirt is used on amphibious hovercraft

The first Hovermarine type HM216 went into service in Hong Kong as early as 1976. Hong Kong Ferry Ltd eventually took delivery of four type HM216, twenty nine type HM218, and four of the large type HM527 craft which could carry up to 200 passengers. The routes ranged far and wide, Central to Tsuen Wan/Peng Chau/Cheung Chau/Mui Wo/Gold Coast/Tuen Mun. Also Wanchai-Tuen Mun etc as well as internationally to Macau and She Hou and Canton in 1978

Discovery Bay Transportation Services purchased six used type HM218. Primarily used out to its own complex on Lantau plus Central-Tsim Sha Tsui East

The last public hoverferry service in Hong Kong ceased in 2001. The HM218's were sold on to Indonesia. I also saw some at Manila in the 1980s where they were used on trips out to Corregidor.

Not to be forgotten was that during the 70s and 80s, a Royal Navy Hovercraft unit was deployed to assist the Hong Kong government with anti-illegal immigration operations. Two SRN6 Mk6 Hovercraft were continually operated until 1985 when the unit was finally disbanded. Stonecutters Island was the forward operating base.

Certainly not ‘stealth’ vehicles, when these beasts operated their noise from the deck mounted gas turbine (jet) engine and propellers reverberated all around announcing their progress through the harbour usually in a cloud of sea spray. Illegal immigrants would have heard them coming long before the hovercraft arrived on the scene, that is if the ‘illegals’ had any idea what was coming, especially at night. These were ‘true’ amphibious hovercraft that could travel at high speed over water or land.

Hi there,

Not all the Ferry piers or any other piers were shown in the map above because the piers may not have the same tag, or no such place had ever been added before.

I have added the tag 'pier' to those tagged 'Vehicular Piers' by me before and they should appear in the map now.  It might take some time, but we could update the map gradually to show all piers, then and now.

Best Regards,

T

ps    I tried Advanced Search and was able to lookup the existing ferry pier related tags.  Including typing errors we have these in the system:

ferry

Ferry pier

ferry piers

ferry service

pier

piers

vehicle ferry

Vehicular ferry

Vehicular ferry pier

Vehicular Ferry Pier; LPG Bunker

A most accurate and informative submission IDJ, I take off my hat to you. The HM 527 was, I believe, the largest marine  (ie driven by underwater screws or waterjets, rather than airscrews,) hovercraft ever built. It actually did one early morning run per day to Discovery Bay, as well as the Macau route. One of the captains was a friend and colleague of mine.  You're right, the SRN6 was deafening, people in Kowloon Tong complained about it!. I did a few patrols on one as a marine police observer, it was very exciting chasing illegal immigrant spedboats by night at 50 knots.  One of the SRN6s was damaged in about 1980 in a collision with a Chinese patrol boat, another was lost in a high speed grounding about 1982.      

There used to be a hovercraft ferry running between City Hall Pier and TST East in the 1990s. Another was used between Mui Wo and DB in the same decade. There's still an old hovercraft floating around DB, but I don't think it's used for anything any more.

Folks,

Sorry for the fuss.  There are still a few former piers that I could not recall their locations:

-Former Tsuen Wan Ferry Pier (in HYF days)

-Former Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier (in HYF days)

-Junk Bay Pier

-Tiu King Leng Pier (???)

-Maybe a few more, probably Kai To type of piers....

Suggestions and pointers welcomed.

Thanks & Best Regards,

T

Hi Thomas,

You've been busy - the map is really filled out now. Thanks for creating all the Places.

We're missing the piers at Hung Hom, shown in IDJ's recent photo. Not sure if you know their location already? I can check maps if not.

I'll tidy up the duplicate tags in the next few days.

Would you and IDJ like me to create more maps, one per type of ferry served? Just let me know which tags to use.

Regards, David

Hi David,

I have already taken care of the dupes.  As for the two piers in IDJ's photos, I will mark them up soon.  I am just consulting Mapping Hong Kong.  There would be quite a lot of locations for the Hung Hom Piers to be updated during the 1970's through 1980's while the reclaimation was in progress.   There had been temporary piers in different locations back then until the bay is all filled up.

Best Regards,

T

T

On an official document dating from the 1950s related to pier useage rentals and HYF vessels, the following are listed as being used by HYF.

Jubilee Street Pier/Tonnochy Road Pier/Wilmer Street Pier & Stewart Road Ferry Pier.

Hi IDJ,

Thanks for the update.  I believe the four piers were well before reclaimation.  I could not recall the Jubilee Street/Tonnochy Road piers though.  Probably because I was too small or not around yet.

The Wilmer Street pier was still in operation in early 1970's before moving to the new Outlying Island Piers in Central in reclaimed land a bit west of Gilman Street, out there with the Silver Mine Bay/Cheung Chau bunch.

I have a faint recollection that in the 1970's some hoverferries operates along the L-shape Blake's Pier to different destinations.  Could someone confirm?

Best Regards,

T

Hi David,

I believe there are a load of Kai To Piers in Sai Kung and villages along Mirs Bay.  I will look them up and add them in later.

Best Regards,

T

Folks,

I am uncertain about the time frame yet, but it would seem there were older piers in Shaukiwan and Sai Wan Ho.  The Shaukiwan routes would go to Lei Yue Mun, Tiu King Ling, Yuen Chau, Hang Hau, Ngau Tau Kok & Cha Kwo Ling.

There used to be a route between Sai Wan Ho and Hung Hom too.

See if I could locate these older piers.

Best Regards,

T

Here are a couple of lists from map books printed in 1979:

1979 List of Ferry routes

And 1980:

1980 List of ferry routes

Regards, David

David are they coordinates on the relevant page of the map in those two index pages you showed?  If they are, then presumably all the piers at that time, and their ferry routes, can be traced.

Now if we can have a map book with this sort of detail for every decade ...

breskvar

Yes, they refer back to the map pages. I posted them more as a checklist to help Thomas, but if you want me to check the locations of any of them just let me know.

The other map book I have is from 1990. Here are the ferry lists from that one:

1990 List of Ferry Routes
  
1990 List of Ferry Routes-2

Regards, David

Hi David,

Thanks for the pages.  I will see what I can do.  But I am considering to associate the piers to their respective years by the decades first.  That would mean further cluttering them up with tags.  I have not come up a strategy to do it yet.  The routes would follow later.  Maybe I'll sit on it for a while, just to clear up my mine.

Best Regards,

T

Hi Thomas,

I recommend you use the existing "Date completed" and "Date demolished" to record when the pier existed. Trying to use tags will get very cluttered, as you say, and won't work with other pages that make use of dates.

I've been wondering whether there's a need for another type of content: Route.

I imagine it would have fields to store:

  • Start & End Dates of operation
  • Places along the route (could be just two. a simple start & end pier, or three or more piers eg for Tai O - Tuen Mun - Central)
  • Line on map showing the route taken
  • Use tags to indicate type, eg Vehicular Ferry, Hover Ferry, etc

It could also be used if anyone is interested to document other transport routes, eg bus, train, or tram. It's not high on my list of things to document, but if you and IDJ (and any others?) would like to fill out the details for the different routes, I'll take a look at making the new content type.

Regards, David

Hi David,

Thanks for the tips.  I'll chill out a bit before getting back to it.

Thanks & Best Regards,

T

Hi David,

Been to the Central Library earlier and found the older copies of Hong Kong Year book (those older than 1979) contained a map in the inside front cover with graphicak representation of most HYF and Staff routes, but not for 1980 and later.

I guess I have to go back and get 1979 and backwards for as far as I could, then start typing notes.  Varification/cross check could be done later.

Best Regards,

T

On the web I found this valuable work on the history of HK ferries from about 1880 to 1970 with an emphasis on HYK. Its:

Sham, W. C. (2007). The history of Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Company limited, 1923 to the 1970s (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong).

Thanks Klaus, I've added them to the map.

Ferry Routes from the 1980 Hong Kong Tourist Association Official Guidebook.

Ferry Services 1980
Ferry Services 1980, by Klaus

And a map from the same source:

Transport Map 1980
Transport Map 1980, by Klaus

HONG KONG LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL                                                                                 page    231

OFFICIAL REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS

Meeting of 21st August 1963

 

HONG KONG AND YAUMATI FERRY COMPANY (SERVICES)

ORDINANCE, 1951

 

THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY moved the following resolution: —

WHEREAS—

(a) section 4 of the Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Company (Services) Ordinance, 1951 (hereinafter referred to as the Ordinance) provides that the ferry services authorized by the Ordinance shall be maintained and operated upon the terms and conditions specified in the Schedule thereto;

(b) section 5 of the Ordinance provides that the Schedule thereto may be varied at any time, with the consent of the Company, by resolution of the Legislative Council;

(c) it is now desired that the Schedule to the Ordinance be varied to provide for the operation by the Company of three ferry services across the harbour, namely, the services between Kowloon City Ferry Pier and North Point Ferry Pier (east berth), between Hung Horn Reclamation (berth No. 1) and North Point Ferry Pier (west berth) and between Tonnochy Road Ferry Pier and Hung Horn Reclamation (berth No. 2);

(d) the Company has consented to the amendment of the Schedule to provide for such services:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the consent of the Company, that—

(a) the Schedule to the Ordinance be amended—

(i) by the deletion of the full stop at the end of paragraph 2 and the substitution therefor of a colon and the addition thereto of the following—

"And provided further that in respect of the North Point

Ferry Pier there shall be reserved to the Government the exclusive use of the Marine Department Signal Station at the end of the said pier together with access thereto by such persons and at such times as shall be necessary for the proper working of the said Signal Station.";

(ii) by the deletion, in paragraph 3, of sub-paragraph (1) and the substitution therefor of the following—

"(1) The Company shall pay as pier rent to the Government for the use of the piers specified in this paragraph the total sum of $58,400.00 a month inclusive of rates. The said rent shall be payable in advance on the first day of each month and shall be apportioned among the piers as follows—

 

(a) Jubilee Street Ferry Pier ...................... $22,000

(b) Jordan Road Ferry Pier ....................... 13,500

(c) Mong Kok Feny Pier .......................... 2,500

(d) Sham Shui Po Ferry Pier .................... 2,500

(e) Tonnochy Road Ferry Pier ................. 2,000

(f) Wilmer Street Ferry Pier ..................... 3,000

(g) Cheung Chau Ferry Pier .................... 400

(h) Stewart Road Ferry Pier .................... 1,500

(i) Kowloon City Ferry Pier .................... 5,000

(j) North Point Ferry Pier ........................ 6,000

                                                                $58,400

(iii) by the insertion in sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 5, after the words "Payable as royalty", of the following—

“or as monthly fee”;

(iv) by the addition, after paragraph 5, of the following new paragraph—

"5A. The Company shall pay to the Government, for the exclusive right to operate a passenger ferry service between North Point and Hung Hom as hereinafter provided, in addition to the pier rent in accordance with paragraph 3 and the royalty of twenty-five per cent of the net profit of the Company in accordance with paragraph 5, a monthly fee of $20,000.00 payable in advance on or before the first day of each month."; and

(v) by the deletion of Appendix I and the substitution therefor of the following—

 

"APPENDIX I.

FERRY RUNS.

(a) Jubilee Street Pier — Jordan Road Pier.

(b) Jubilee Street Pier — Mong Kok Pier.

(c) Jubilee Street Pier — Sham Shui Po Pier.

(d) Stewart Road Pier — Jordan Road Pier.

(e) Wilmer Street Pier — Sham Shui Po Pier.

(f) Jubilee Street Pier — Cheung Chau Pier.

(g) Jubilee Street Pier — Silvermine Bay.

(h) Wilmer Street Pier — Aberdeen — Cheung Chau Pier.

(i) Wilmer Street Pier — Aberdeen — Tai O.

(j) Jubilee Street Pier — Peng Chau — Silvermine Bay — Cheung Chau Pier.

(k) Jubilee Street Pier — Kap Shui Mun — Castle Peak — Tung Chung — Tai O.

(l) Jubilee Street Pier — Tai O.

(m) Tonnochy Road Pier — Kowloon City Pier.

(n) Tai Po Kau, Shap Sz Heung, Sham Chung, Lai Chi Chong, Tai Tan, Chek Keng, Kau Lau Wan, Tap Mun.

(o) North Point Ferry Pier — Kowloon City Ferry Pier.

(p) North Point Ferry Pier — Hung Horn Reclamation.

(q) Tonnochy Road Ferry Pier — Hung Horn Reclamation.

 

FERRY PIERS AND FRONTAGES.

Ferry Piers                           Frontages

Jubilee Street Pier               Praya from Gilman Street to Pottinger Street.

Jordan Road Pier                 North side of Waterloo Road to the southern boundary of Kowloon Marine Lot No. 10, as such boundary existed on the 1st day of October, 1959.

Mong Kok Pier                     North side of Waterloo Road to Prince Edward Road.

Sham Shui Po Pier               North side of Prince Edward Road to north-west boundary of Military Camp, Sham Shui Po.

Tonnochy Road Pier           Western entrance Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter to eastern boundary of Royal Naval Dockyard.

Ferry Piers                           Frontages

Wilmer Street Pier               Praya from Gilman Street to Cadogan Street.

Cheung Chau Pier                The shore of Cheung Chau Island.

Kowloon City Pier               Eastern side of Gillies Avenue to south-western boundary of Kai Tak Airport.

Stewart Road Pier                Western entrance Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter to the eastern boundary of the Royal Naval Dockyard.

North Point Ferry Pier        East side of the Healthy Street West and the west side of Tong Shui Road.

Hung Hom Reclamation (Berth No. 1 and Berth No. 2).

                                               The southern extremity of Whampoa Street and the east boundary of the property known as "Holts' Wharf".

 

FERRY POINTS AND FRONTAGES.

Ferry Piers                            Frontages

Aberdeen                              The whole of the village of Aberdeen to the east of Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market.

Silvermine Bay                    The eastern and western shores of Lantau Island.

Tai O                                      The north western shores of Lantau Island.

Peng Chau                             The shore of Peng Chau Island.

Kap Shui Mun                      The shore of Mah Wan Island.

Tung Chung                          The north western shores of Lantau Island.

Castle Peak                           The shore three miles either side of the Public Pier at Castle Peak.

Tai Po Kau                            Mainland foreshore from Island House to Ma Liu Shui point.

Shap Sz Heung

Sham Chung

Lai Chi Chong                      Mainland foreshore from western extremity U Kwai Sha Tsui to Boulder Point.

Tai Tan

Chek Keng and Kau

Lau Wan

Tap Mun                               Foreshore of Tap Mun."; and

 

(b) these amendments shall come into operation on the 1st day of September, 1963.

 

He said: Sir, the object of this resolution, as set forth in the preamble, is to add three new ferry services to the list of ferry services already operated by the Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Company Limited. These new services will run between North Point and Kowloon City, North Point and Hung Hom, and Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, and Hung Hom; they will start on 1st September 1963.