Former Army Mess / Victoria Road Detention Centre / UChicago Campus [c.1950- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Former Army Mess / Victoria Road Detention Centre / UChicago Campus [c.1950- ]

Current condition: 
In use
Date Place completed: 
c.1950-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)

Photos that show this place


VRDC, which partly falls within the former Jubilee Battery, was built in the early 1950s as a mess for the British Army Royal Engineers. It was subsequently used by the Special Branch of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force to hold political prisoners. After the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, it no longer serves as a detention centre and is occasionally rented out for use as a film set. VRDC’s simple and functional design represents the architectural style of International Modernism, which was common for government buildings in 1950s. 

The Education Bureau (EDB) announced today (July 11) that the ex-Victoria Road Detention Centre site (the Site) at Mount Davis would be allocated to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Chicago Booth) for the development of a self-financing tertiary institution.

EJinsight writes:

The plan for the three-storey campus has been put up for public consultation and will be reviewed by the Town Planning Board in March.

It is estimated that construction, which will begin next year and is due to end by 2018, will cost US$50 million.

The SCMP adds that the school has pledged:

... to protect the grade-three historic building, a former detention centre, on Victoria Road, Sai Wan.

"The school wants to preserve the history of the site," said Gavin Tun, director of project management at the school. "All architectural elements will be protected and preserved."


A former interrogation room would house an exhibition on the site's history. The old prison cells would be turned into classrooms. Other features such as fireplaces would be maintained.

Existing public trails within the site would be maintained, made safe or rerouted as necessary, Yan said. Although the campus would be open to the public only during office hours, the trails and the remains of a battery would be accessible all day.

The site appears to have an unofficial life as a photo location.

Yesterday afternoon I saw two well-dressed young ladies on Mount Davis path. They certainly weren't dressed for hiking, and looked rather lost. They told me they were looking for the Victoria Road Detention Centre, which I explained they'd already passed, and was probably locked up.

"But, so many young people have taken photographs there"

I explained the only way I'd seen people get in was through a hole in the fence, but that they certainly weren't dressed for scrambling through the bushes. Still, when I left them they were heading down the steps towards the sea, so I guess they were going to try.

Has anyone seen the site mentioned in the local media lately? I told them that the swimming club was a good spot for photos if they couldn't get in to the centre. "O yes, we're going there later". And when I passed the entrance to the swimming club another young group were walking in. I guess the sites have been mentioned in a local magazine or website.

Hi David, The Mt Davis area is popular for Bridal shoots and war gamer (with BB guns) too. Remember when we were up there lat month? We encountered a couple with their entourage with a few BB gun gamers. I once read some agency had even set a small ring of fire in the interior of one of the gun emplacements before taking photos of a couple. That was in the news and was blasted by both punters and environmentalists alike. T

SCMP uploaded a 45 second video last year of the interior of the white house:

There is also this interesting account of the building:

HK Urbex Video 'White House'

Hi all,

Just wanted to add that I went by the white house at the end of this summer, on my way to Jubilee Battery, and it is under construction. It appears the University of Chicago is making a modern building out of it. It appears that part of the building will be incoorperated into their new modern building and renovated. And part of it will be demolished (they have a building design picture outside the construction zone). I think its quite sad, but at least they are keeping some of the building and hopefully will advocate its history.

The University of Chicago have a "Heritage Courtyard and Interpretation Centre" with information about this site's past:

Attended a few training courses there and worked in it for almost a year in the late 1970s when it was used by RHKP-SB.  Walked across the road to the Officers' Mess for lunch.  Love to visit when it is rennovated.


In the 1950s it was used by the 54th Independent field squadron of the Royal Engineeers before being handed over to the police. At a mess evening one inebriated officer fell from the mess balcony and  suffered a broken wrist..he was lucky not to be more damaged!

In 1967 and 1968 the Gurkhas were used as guards until the disturbances died down. At one time Chinese geese replaced the human guards until they met their end at CNY 1969


Hi There,

Walked by earlier a bit before sunset.  The outdoor part of the Campus is opened thus went in for a walk.  A good place to watch sunset too as there is no obstruction.  Gun Emplacement two is just below the terrace.

I did not go to the other two gun emplacements as it is already getting dark.  Unlike Emplacement Two, the other two emplecements are considered outside the campus area and there is no lightings.

I also missed the WD 10 stone.


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Just when the were redeveloping the Detention center (4ish years back) I explored through the heavily overgrown Jubilee battery. It is worth noting that two underground bunkers (one of which is the magazines mentioned) were still accessible and extremely big! On par with the underground east brigade headquarters area. One is (as mentioned) right behind the gun emplacement while another is further down the coast along the old service road. This second one is near a cluster of splinter proof shelters. Worth a look if you are willing to get into the brush.


There are links to photos of these underground structures from visits in 2004 and 2006 on the page for Jubilee Battery: