Squatter village below Mount Davis
What: "Tin shacks" in English or "muk uk" (wood house) in Chinese, huts like these sprouted on many of Hong Kong's hillsides in the years after the second world war.
They were dangerous places to live. Made of wood and bamboo, there was a constant risk of fire. Heavy rain put out fires, but meant landslips could send the huts crashing down the slope. Typhoon winds could flatten them.
Who: So not somewhere you'd live if you had the choice, but for many there was no choice.
My wife's family lived arrived in Hong Kong in the late 1940s, and started out in a hut like these. They were some of the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Hong Kong at that time, far too many for the existing accommodation to hold. They ended up renting a hut on the hillside above Shek Kip Mei. The hut was destroyed in the great fire of 1953, but the family escaped unharmed. After the fire they were some of the lucky ones who got a place in the new public housing.
Back to this photo, and the only people we can see are this couple in a boat:
Do either of them live here? Maybe, as I can see a ladder leading down to the sea from the hut on the far right of the main photo.
Where: The huts stretch from the sea:
right up to the road:
The concrete building above the road is still here today, and confirms the location. Here's how it looked this morning:
It's the Chee Sing Kok Social Centre above Victoria Road on Mount Davis, just here:
When: The picture is scanned from a slide taken in 1974.
The huts are long-gone, but if you walk down the hillside today you can still see traces of their walls and floors on either side of the path:
The path leads down to a local swimming club's pier and changing rooms. One of the swimmers told me their club moved here in 1988, and that the huts were cleared away a few years before that.
Did your family live in one of these villages? What stories do they tell of that time?
Photo reference: A298
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