Pillbox 063, Central (Old Vehicular Ferry Pier) [1939-????]

Submitted by David on Wed, 10/08/2008 - 21:56
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed

Update: Rob has identified this as Pillbox 063]

Although the wartime maps don't show the location of pillbox 061, we're guessing this is where it was.

The red marker shows the approximate location of the northern tip of the western arm of the old vehicular ferry pier. You can see the pillbox on this photo of the ferry pier in the 1950s:

1950s Praya Central & Vehicular Ferry pier

Then based on the positions of pillboxes 59 and 62, and what we guess was pillbox 60, then this would have been #61.

If you have any information about whether this was or wasn't #61, we'd love to hear from you!


Photos that show this Place


  • London Gazette, Part III: During the night (12/13th December), at the urgent request of the civil authorities, arrangements were made with the Harbour 'Master to pass 9 tons of dynamite from Green Island to the Star Ferry for collection and distribution.

    On its return, loaded, it left Green Island two hours ahead of schedule, with the result that it reached the Vehicular Ferry (not Star Ferry) unexpectedly, and the N.C.O. commanding the1 pill box there gave the order to fire, as no lights or distinguishing marks were visible. The launch blew up and all on board thus unfortunately lost their lives.

  • Sergeant Tom Marsh: One night there was a terrific explosion and the whole Island shook. A barge, loaded to the gunwales with ammunition, had blown up in the harbor. This is what I was told happened.

    The Garrison had established a powder magazine and ammunition dump on a rock island between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It had been decided, as the enemy closely threatened this place, to remove the ammunition. That night the British Navy obtained volunteers from the Hong Kong Volunteers to go out in a barge, load up all the munitions they could carry, and return to the Island before morning. All went well until the barge, heavily loaded, began its return to the Island. Without lights it was mistaken by guards on the shore as an enemy vessel and fired upon. It exploded, killing many gallant members of the British Navy and volunteers.

  • The 1st Battalion in Hong Kong: On 12th December the pill-boxes manned by "Z" Company were heavily shelled and bombed from the air. This was at first taken to be a prelude to a Japanese assault on the island, and colour was lent to its belief during the night when a load of dynamite being evacuated from Kowloon was accidentally blown up by the crew of a pill-box near Fortress Headquarters, caused by the crew of the lighter failing to give the correct light signal. It was followed by a good deal of wild firing, but no attack developed and by midnight on the 12th all was quiet in the sector.
  • The Maryknoll Mission: One night, during the early days of the war, we were rudely awakened by a terrific blast, which must have shaken the whole island. We could hear fragments of shells or bombs falling just outside of our improvised loose stone wall, and it seemed as if the Cathedral had been hit with a salvo of shells. We could learn nothing that night and after a while returned to our couches.

    Later we heard the story. It seems that the British had a large store of dynamite or TNT on Green Island and it was decided to transfer this explosive to the Hong Kong shore. For this duty a squad of volunteers was chosen, comprising some British and Chinese police. As the story goes, they were instructed to leave Green Island at a certain predetermined time, but in some way or other, they started earlier. As their boat containing this high explosive neared the Hong Kong side, someone, fearing it was an enemy vessel, fired on it, and that was the tremendous explosion that shook the whole island, and which blew all those brave volunteers into eternity.

There is one conflicting report that says the barge made it as far as Blake Pier:

  • The Quest of Noel Croucher: This was fortunate for Noel, for the secret mission was to escort the P & O launch, Jeanette, to Green Island, and to tow back to Victoria a barge laden with TNT [explosives]. Something went wrong with the security arrangements, for when the Jeanette was opposite Blake Pier, she was challenged by a sentry. Jeanette failed to reply and the sentry opened fire. The barge and its escort were blown to smithereens. Noel Croucher continues:
    • I had gone along to the Chartered Bank after my meal, pulled two benches together and laid down. About eleven o'clock, I was awakened by a terrific explosion. I thought a bomb had dropped close by, but no further explosions occurred. the next day, I returned to my flat. Passing alongthe sea front, I noticed that every pane of plate glass had been broken. later I heard of the tragic incident in which I might have been involved had I not just come off duty.

Year completed is: Approximate
Condition at last visit: Demolished
Date of last visit: Jul-1998
Ref: ROB-00668
Other: Destroyed a lighter full of explosives.