Cattle Depot Artist Village [1908- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Cattle Depot Artist Village [1908- ]

Current condition: 
In use
Date Place completed: 

Photos that show this place


Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot
No. 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon

Historical Interest

The former Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot (前馬頭角牲畜檢疫站) is the only surviving pre-war cattle slaughterhouse in the territory. It was constructed in 1908. The total cost of construction was $66,889, of which $18,000 was contributed from the Railway Funds as the development was necessitated by the railway construction. Managed by the Sanitary Department, the whole compound had an area of 17,000 square metres, which included a general slaughterhouse, a room for Indians, a fodder store, offices and quarters as well as three sheds with capacity of 120 cattle, 200 sheep and 400 pigs.

The Depot served as a slaughterhouse (abattoir) and quarantine base for almost a century until mid-1999 when a modern centralized abattoir was set up in Sheung Shui. Renovation and conversion works took place in 2001 and an artist village known as the “Cattle Depot Arts Village” (牛棚藝術村) was set up to house local artists relocated from the Oil Street Arts Village (油街藝術村) in North Point.

Architectural Merit

Originally the cattle depot comprised a large complex of animal sheds and yards, including the five red-brick blocks which are the subject of this summary. These blocks are built in the vernacular Arts and Crafts architectural style featuring red-bricks walls, Chinese tiled roofs, corbelled gables, Dutch gables and 3-ring rough brick segmental arches over window openings. The main block is the Main Office facing Ma Tau Kok Road, a long one-and-two storey building composed of offices, stores, kitchen and toilets.
The old Slaughterhouse has an interesting ridge vented pitched roof with Dutch gable ends. Mention should also be made of two adjoining brick-and-concrete sheds with usual barrel vaulted roofs.

Rarity, Built Heritage Value & Authenticity

These buildings comprise a rare collection of Victoria style farm buildings with obvious group value and considerate built heritage value. Although having undergone conversion in 2001 into arts studios the original external appearance remains fairly authentic.

Social Value & Local Interest

The historical social value of the buildings lies in their original function as a public slaughter house and quarantine depot which functioned for over 90 years supplying hygienic and safe fresh meat. Complaints were often made by neighbours about the noise and odour, and the depot was well known by the local community.

Group Value

Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot is physically close to items graded by the Antiquities Advisory Board including the Tin Hau Temple (天后古廟) on Ha Heung Road and Pak Tai Temple (北帝古廟) on Ma Tau Wai Road.

Adaptive Re-use

The conversion to an artists’ village seems to have worked well and there are no plans to convert the buildings for other uses at present.

The Depot was accorded a Grade III status by the Antiquities Advisory Board in 1994.

A recent HK Magazine article lists complaints by resident artists and local residents about how this place is the currently run.

As the construction of the Kowloon-Canton Railway entailed the demolition of the old Slaughter House and Depot near Hunghom, it became necessary to provide new buildings elsewhere. After full consideration, a site at Ma Tau Kok was decided upon as the most suitable in all respects and, in October, a contract was let to Mr. LI PING for the construction of the necessary buildings. They included a general Slaughter House (105' x 50'), another for the use of Indians (40' x 15'), 3 sheds with accommodation for 120 cattle, 200 sheep and 400 swine respectively, a fodder store and offices and shroffs’ quarters. Some alterations to a small building in the vicinity, which was taken over by Government from Messrs. Punchard, Lowther & Co. on the completion of their quarrying operations, in order to adopt it for quarters for an inspector, were also included. Ample space has been provided between the various buildings and the site will admit of large extensions in the future.


In view of the fact that the necessity for a new depot and slaughter house arose out of the construction of the railway, it was arranged that the Railway Fund should contribute a sum of $18,000 towards the work, and the expenditure incurred during the year, which amounted to $17,380.94, was defrayed from this source.


The expenditure included a sum of $1,616.61 which was spent in making temporary arrangements for the carrying on of slaughtering operations in the old depot as the early demolition of the slaughterhouse was required on account of the railway works. Good progress had been made with the new buildings by the close of the year, most of the brickwork being completed and some of the roof principals in position.


Source PWD Report 1907 (no 93)

There's a good write-up about the history of this site at:

I've extracted the timeline from page 43:

  • 1907 - Construction contract was awarded in October 1907
  • 1908 - Due to the construction of the Kowloon and Canton Railway, the Hung Hom slaughter house was relocated to the present site at Ma Tau Kok . Completion of the Cattle Depot in November 1908, rear portion not yet included.
  • 1949-53 - Cattle Depot was expanded with pig lairages and dog kennels
  • 1956 - Rear Portion was constructed with the completion of the Red Brick zone sheds.
  • 1965 - Completion of the Concrete zone sheds with the extension of the Rear Portion.
  • 1969 - The use of Cattle Depot changed from slaughter house to quarantine and trading of cattle since the slaughter function moved to Cheng She Wan.
  • 1972 - Factory conversion to Cattle Depot with erection of two new sheds.
  • 1972-99 - Conversion of water pond and incineration to shed
  • 1980 - Forming of the San Shan Road and Kowloon City Road connection.
  • 1986 - Completion of the new shed (PB828 & 829).
  • 1993 - Cattle Depot was listed as Grade 3 historic building.
  • c1999 - Closing down of the whole Cattle Depot.
  • 2001 - Front portion of Cattle Depot was converted to Artist Village. Rear Portion was fenced off from the public.
  • 2001 - Part of the pig lairage at the northwest corner of the Cattle Depot was demolished and became the Ma Tau Kok Refuse Collection Point in 2003.
  • 2009 - Cattle Depot was listed as Grade 2 historic building.