Smithfield Cattle Depot (abattoir until 1961) [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Smithfield Cattle Depot (abattoir until 1961) [????- ]

Now closed, it has been earmarked as the location for the Kennedy Town MTR station when the ISland Line is extended.

Photos that show this place

1963

Comments

Hi Phil,

The new MTR station will be a little further inland. You're right that the abattoir site will be part of the MTR extension project though - it will be used as a works area during that project, then handed back to the government for redevelopment.

When I moved to Kennedy Town in 1992, you'd often hear (and smell!) lorryloads of squealing pigs on their way to abattoir. The abattoir was relocated to Sheung Shui in 1999 though, so it's been empty for quite some time.

Here's a photo of how it looked, and another with the demolition underway. I'm not sure if there's still anything left of it, or if the site is already cleared.

I wonder when it was built? ... google, google, google ...

Uh oh, it looks as though Booth's quote "the bellow of a cow in the Kennedy Town abattoir might lift up to me - to be abruptly cut short" isn't quite right.

The abattoir was talked about a lot in the 1950s, but wasn't finally built until the late 1960s. Here are a few mentions of the abattoir in Legco's papers:

  • 16 Mar 1949: Discusses provisions in the budget for a new abattoir in Kennedy Town, which "which would make a start on construction possible during the year 1950-51."
  • 5 Nov 1952: A new bill is read that will start reclamation work that "extending some 600 feet beyond the end of the existing sea wall, will provide sufficient land to accommodate a new abattoir and the necessary facilities for the landing of livestock"
  • 29 Feb 1956: Mentions draft estimates for the year include over $22 millions for "the construction at Kennedy Town of a new modern abattoir to replace the two present slaughterhouses which date back to the Victorian era."
  • 6 Mar 1958: Back to the drawing board - "After much delay the scheme for the abattoir at Kennedy Town has now been reconsidered by the Urban Council and the decision has been made that instead of one large abattoir for the whole Colony there shall be two smaller such institutions, one at the designated site at Kennedy Town, and the other at Cheungshawan."
  • 31 Jan 1962: More delays - "... it would take about 18 months for the consultants to prepare working drawings and contract documents. Construction could not, therefore, commence until then ..."
  • 10 Mar 1966: Construction is underway.

So the bellows that Booth heard in the 1950s would have come from the Smithfield cattle depot / slaughterhouse area in Kennedy Town. Now it turns out that when they closed, their site was used to build the Kennedy Town Swimming Pool. That in turn will be closed and demolished to become the site of the new Kennedy Town MTR station - so you were right after all!

MrB

Hi there,

If you want to know how the old Cattle Depot in Kennedy Town looked like there is still one such site in Ma Tau Kok Road. The site is now being called the Cattle Depot Artist Village.

T

Actually, I remember my first forays into HK in the mid-90's when I came to visit friends and I always remember a big smelly cattle/pig truck trundling past on the KCR (can't remember which direction though?). I always wondered where these were coming from/going to? Were they taken to the abattoir mentioned by T above? Perhaps they only ever headed north? I can't remember :-(

Freight trains full of pigs came down from the north daily and were unloaded into road trucks in sidings that curve off just before the KCR Hung Hom station. The smell trailing behind the trains was horrendous plus the noise of squealing pigs could be heard over a wide area. Presumably they were destined for abattoirs in Kowloon. The sidings are still there but now used for track maintenance trains and equipment. I believe these sidings were part of the track's route from TST in pre-electification days.

When the Kennedy Town abattoir was in full operation, cattle used to arrive on ships from overseas that moored on buoys off the abattoir and the cattle were off-loaded by the ship's derricks and slings into Junks and barges. Often they wriggled out of the slings and ended up in the harbour. Those that successfully swam to the shore or escaped while being unloaded from the Junks on the waterfront, created mayhem in Kennedy Town until these large horned frightened beasts could be cornered and usually shot. The smell from the vessels could be 'enjoyed' a long way down wind.