LL 024, St Stephen's Beach [1939- ]

Submitted by Rob on Thu, 03/20/2014 - 17:56
Current condition
Date completed

Year completed is: Approximate
Condition at last visit: Intact
Date of last visit: May-1996
Ref: ROB-00723
Other:Protected path to PB 24 (both demolished).


Thanks to Rob yet again for providing the exact location of another old military structure, this time Lyon Light Shelter Number 24 (LL 24) at St Stephen's Beach, Stanley.

To reach LL 24 from St Stephen's Beach Pier take the seaside path in-front of the Water Sports Centre. You'll come to the Sea Cadets Jubilee Centre.

Sea Cadets Jubilee Centre from the slipway
Sea Cadets Jubilee Centre from the slipway, by gw

LL 24 is hidden in the trees behind and above the middle building in the photo above. I guess the LL is easy to reach directly from the Sea Cadets compound, but if like me you don't have access, then there's a bit of climbing to be done. First continue along the seafront all the way around the Sea Cadets Centre boundary fence until you're on the other side of the building on the right in the above photo. At that point you can see a water tank perched in the trees on the slope above you. LL 24 is on the other side of the water tank. Just scramble straight up the slope, then circle around to the left to approach the rear of the LL at roof level.


The roof of LL 24
The roof of LL 24, by gw

The roof is covered in rocks and junk, but the traditional ventilation duct and tower are plain to see. The tower has been blocked up - the first of many changes to the original design.

The blocked ventilation tower
The blocked ventilation tower, by gw

 More significant alterations become apparent after climbing down to the LL's entrance. 

The entrance
The entrance, by gw

An extension has been added to the corner nearest the camera. Whereas the usual arrangement is for the front wall to consist of a semi-circular protrusion containing a similarly shaped slit enabling a searchlight within to illuminate a wider field, the extension serves to increase the internal floor space by enclosing a bigger area on this side of the original curved wall. I wonder if the extension received official approval? Just kidding - as this is an apolitical website, better not discuss illegal extensions!

From the other side it's only slightly easier to see the original semi-circular shape of the front wall as a tree has engulfed it and the searchlight aperture has been partly blocked.

The other side
The other side, by gw

 However, once inside, the traditional shape of a LL shelter becomes obvious.

Looking across the inside of the shelter
Looking across the inside of the shelter, by gw
Internal view of the front of the main room
Internal view of the front of the main room, by gw

 Unfortunately the shelter is full of junk, possibly having been used as a storeroom in the past.

Back outside, a stone wall leads away from the entrance and then turns sharply downhill to the reclamation upon which the Sea Cadets Centre now stands.

The protective wall with LL 24 in the distance
The protective wall with LL 24 in the distance, by gw
Protective wall running down to the reclamation
Protective wall running down to the reclamation, by gw

 Similar stone walls are found elsewhere bordering footpaths connecting coastal pillboxes to their LL shelters. Their purpose was to give protection from fire coming from the sea. Logically therefore, Pillbox 24 (PB 24) should be at the other end of the wall. From my position on the hillside, I couldn't see any sign of it. I presume it was demolished or buried when the reclamation was carried out.

The coastal PB's and LL's were surrounded by fences suspended from concrete posts and barbed wire anchored to the ground by small concrete "r" shaped structures. The site of PB and LL 24 is no exception.

"r" shaped structure
"r" shaped structure, by gw

Directly behind LL 24, roughly on the line of the fence, is a different structure.

Pillar with cross
Pillar with cross, by gw

 It's made of much finer grain concrete than the fence posts. It's about one metre tall. The only marking on it is the cross which appears to my untrained eye to have been carved into it. I don't know what this post represents. Whilst the cross suggests a Christian connection, I don't recall seeing any similarly shaped gravestones. Does anyone know what it is please?

This might have something to do with something that Martin Booth was shown on one of his nostalgic return visits to Hong Kong.  In his excellent book 'The Dragon & The Pearl'  (ISBN 0-671-71206-3 published in 1994) he describes (p89/90) being shown a mysterious plot of land in a narrow valley up behind the small marine club (which is close to the execution site at the St Stephen's Beach).  I'd like to have scanned Martin Booth's words because he describes it so well but, because of copyright, I'll summarise what he was told.  After the Japanese victory several British prisoners of war received permission to collect the British dead in that area and bury them.  A Chinese man guided them to where he knew all the bodies were lying.  So, the bodies received a proper burial.  On the first day of freedom, the prisoner who was a senior government official went straight there and gave the land (Government land) to that man, who subsequently farmed it.  Additionally, somewhere close by is the area (heavily overgrown in Booth's time) where the hanged prisoners from Stanley Jail were buried.  So, the concrete post and cross is probably associated with one of these events..  

Hi GW,

I was very interested to receive your feedback and to see the photographs of the prison cemetery.  I don't know whether Martin Booth's description of his visit there in the 1990s is sufficiently precise to be able to pinpoint the plot of land (near the prison cemetery) that was granted to the Chinese man in 1945. Only you, or someone else living in Hong Kong, might be able to decide.  I guess that, in what must now be something over 20 years, that bit of land might no longer be cultivated.  In fact, I don't think that there was any evidence apparent to Martin Booth that it was still cultivated in the 1990s.  It is very unlikely that the gentleman to whom it was given is still alive.  Additionally, what Martin wrote is hearsay, only based on what his guide from the Prison Service told him.

On one of my visits, probably around 2004, I tried to get down to Tweed Bay, where a late colleague, Ron Murray, had bathed as a small boy during his internment at Stanley.  Not thinking it possible to get there via the perimeter of the Stanley Prison, I tried to find a path off the Fort Stanley road but had no luck.  In the end I followed a road that went into a tunnel and happily walked down it knowing it led in the general direction of Tweed Bay.  Very soon I was stopped and told that it was a private road leading to a 'waste water treatment works' - and politely asked to get out!  So I never managed to see Tweed Bay - except on Google Earth.

Cheers, Andrew


Tweed Bay is patrolled by staff of the Stanley Prison. Because of its proximity to the prison wall, they do not allow outsider to land on the beach. The closest you can get is to go there by boat without landing on the beach.


Thanks Arthur for the information about access to the Tweed Bay beach.  I guess that I was bound to be unlucky in my wish to visit the beach where my late friend had bathed as a youngster.  Andrew