ARP Tunnel Network 08, under Government House [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
Pre-order the new Gwulo book today to get 
special pricefree shippingsigned copies, and a free sample
Details and how to order

ARP Tunnel Network 08, under Government House [????- ]

Photos that show this place

Comments

I'm moving the thread over here to keep everything together:

Sat, 2009-03-07 11:58 — philk: Govt House Tunnels

I noticed that today's SCMP (it was all there was to read at Starbucks, sorry) carried a report about the mystery behind the tunnels under Govt House. Seems as though there is no official information available about them at all other than a report by the Civil engineering department back in the 70's about how much is still accessible.

No one seems to know why they are there or where they originally linked up:

To HSBC vaults? To Central Govt Offices? Possible to an official privy (Okay, I made that one up)

I love a mystery.

Craig, time to get your bolt cutters and crowbar at the ready to solve this particular one.

Sat, 2009-03-07 13:06 — tngan: Re: Govt House Tunnels

Hi there,

That was in other local Newspapers as well.  The RTHK has launched an investigation on its own.  I don't know if the program would be dubbed over for the English channels or not, however.

T

Sat, 2009-03-07 14:53 — philk: RTHK - Govt House Tunnels

Hi T

Any idea when the program will be shown/broadcasted? I can always get the missus to translate the more difficult bits i.e. most of it :-)

Cheers

Phil

Sat, 2009-03-07 20:32 — tngan: Re: RTHK - Govt House Tunnels

Hi there,

According to Ming Pao, it would be aired tomorrow at 1250 hrs on Jade.

Best Regards,

T

Sun, 2009-03-08 14:13 — Raymond Lo: RE-Governor House tunnel

From the perspective of historical research,this programme is rubbish.No more information is available from the programme.

I watched the programme as well and agree that it was a total waste of time. As I understand, prior to the outbreak of WWII, a site for a 'new' Govt. House was chosen to be erected at Magazine Gap due to the original building being in a state of disrepair and on the verge of crumbling .

With the commencement of WWII in 1939 and the Japanese Army positioned in Guangzhou and at the land border, plans for a replacement Govt. House were put into abeyance. In March 1941, it was recorded in the local press that the building of the ARP Tunnel on Lower Albert Rd had caused extensive damage to Govt. House and to its foundations.

1941 Government House

I missed it anyway (due to a prior ballet appointment.. for my daughter that is). But I thought I would leave you with an SCMP quote from Chris Patten...

 "The only tunnel I know of is the one that runs under the English Channel"

 Good old Chris, still as in touch with reality now as he was when he was Governer.

Moddsey, thanks for posting that clipping. I hadn't seen it before, and it's good evidence that the tunnels under the building were mostly built at the same time as the other ARP tunnels. Though they were likely larger than the standard tunnels, as this commenter reports:

While working in the Government Secretariat, I had occasion to pass through the tunnel which runs from the basement (I think) in Government House to a portal on Lower Albert Road opposite the Central Government Offices. A trapdoor in the basement opened on to a long shaft, with a metal ladder down. There were a number of small rooms en route.

Perhaps digging a larger-than-usual tunnel was one reason for the subsidence shown in the clipping above.

There were two other tunnel networks in the area, 01 and 13 (see article and map), with a connecting tunnel between the two. There are few remaining signs of the tunnels now, but I guess it's the now-faded memories that there were other tunnels in the area that started the stories of mysterious tunnels leading out from Government House.

The Hong Kong Telegraph of 12 October, 1940 reports that 'two tunnels are being driven into rising ground that Government House stands. The tunnels face the Colonial Secretary's Office (today's Central Government Offices)'. The tunnel entrances on Lower Albert Rd can still be seen today.

 

Rob Weir has forwarded some relevant info from his research notes:

Colonial Office file CO 129/589 (9) June 1941 refers to Government House showing signs of collapsing after construction of Air Raid tunnels and galleries beneath it. The Governor expected to have to move to Admiralty House. It also states in the text that it was 80 feet below ground level with two "raises" to save a steep climb, with a gallery at the intermediate level. There was no set plan, it was developed from instructions from HE and OAG. First instructions called for a communicating link between the CSO tunnel and GH. (Sorry about the abbreviations, that is what I wrote. HE is no doubt His Excellency, and GH probably Government House, but OAG and CSO ?).

A later note confirms it didn't collapse, as the sinkage/subsidence stopped after several days, but several columns broke/collapsed and severe sinkage and cracking occurred in several rooms.

I think CSO (Central Secretariat Offices ?) refers to the government offices on the north side of Lower Albert Road. OAG may be 'Office of the Attorney General'.

Barbara Anslow sent these memories of working here during the fighting in December 1941:

The admin tunnel where I worked during HK battle didn't look a bit like the photo of one of the tunnels at the present time!   It was very new, pretty rough, with lots of wooden struts about giving the smell of wood. Just inside the entrance I used were 2 alcoves ( which I believe were intended to house toilets, but these hadn't yet been provided, so for calls of nature we had to leave the tunnel and rush across Lower Albert Road to the Secretariat premises, which had been vacated as they were vulnerable old buildings with no shelters).

Once through the entrance, there were diversions at angles, with different departments in different sections.    I never decided which was worse - going into the tunnel in the morning into the stifling heat and realising that a nearby bomb could entomb us all inside; or leaving the tunnel at the end of my shift, and going 'home' to my billet,vulnerable to the shells coming over and bombs.

Is there a tunnel underneath Government House that goes directly downhill to Queen's Road Central?

There was another ARP tunnel network (Network 1) with at least one entrance on Queen's Road Central.

I haven't seen any evidence that the two networks were connected.

Regards, David

By email:

Re Rob Weir's info on Government House tunnels, CSO is Colonial Secretary's Office, and OAG is Officer Administering the Government.