Shamshui Po Public Dispensary (深水埗醫局) [1936- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Shamshui Po Public Dispensary (深水埗醫局) [1936- ]

Current condition: 
In use
Date Place completed: 
1936-10-26

Photos that show this place

Comments

Hi Phil, this is an interesting building - I never knew it existed. Thanks for sharing the photos. The building is Grade 2 and, although the official appraisal below does not specify a date, another source suggests that it was designed by Chau Yiu Nin & Richard Lee and opened on 26 Oct 1936 (see here: http://docomomo.hk/project/sham-shui-po-chinese-public-dispensary/).

The historic building appraisal by the Antiquities Advisory Board  (found here: http://www.aab.gov.hk/historicbuilding/en/572_Appraisal_En.pdf) states:

"Sham Shui Po Public Dispensary is two-storey medical complex built in the 1930s to replace an old clinic in the same area (a site next to the Tin Hau Temple in the same street, i.e. No.182 Yee Kuk Street). The history of which can be traced back in the early 20th century (circa 1911) when the community members of Sham Shui Po initiated a plan to establish a public clinic due to the lack of medical care facilities for local residents. The project was coordinated by Lau Chu-pak (劉鑄伯), Chairman of Chinese Chamber of Commerce for 1906-1920. Fund raising campaigns were launched and the Government supported the proposal by granting crown land for building site. The clinic received good reputation by the locals but its space was inadequate to handle the increasing patients’ load. In view of the above, a large landowner in Sham Shui Po named Wong Yiu-tung (黃耀東), together with local residents, donated the construction cost of the existing Sham Shui Po Public Dispensary. The dispensary was managed by the Sham Shui Po Kaifong Welfare Association before the Second World War, and had served as a day-time medical centre cum meeting hall of the Kaifong Association at night. Later, it was handed over to the Government. In order to remedy the drug abuse problem in Sham Shui Po and with the introduction of the Methadone Treatment Scheme in 1972, the dispensary also provided the methadone treatment service. In other words, the dispensary had continued to serve the community with dual functions for many years. Its outpatient service moved to Cheung Sha Wan Government Office in June 2001. After that, the dispensary fully offers methadone treatment service, including medical examination and methadone preparation, guidance and counseling by social workers, referral to other service agencies. As such, the dispensary is also known as Sham Shui Po Methadone Clinic – one of the methadone treatment centres run by the Auxiliary Medical Services (醫療輔助隊).

The dispensary is a two-storey building and is a remarkably good example of Art Deco style architecture which is very rare in Hong Kong. The front façade facing Yee Kuk Street is strongly symmetrical and projects over the pavement on columns to form a covered walkway or arcade. The open verandahs at first floor level are protected by metal security grilles. The façade exhibits strong unity and verticality in the use of giant stylised grooved columns flanked by tall narrow flattened archways. Stylised mouldings are used as decorations and the end elevations of the first floor verandah are particularly interesting featuring scroll brackets, ornamental ironwork and other bizarre features possibly derived from Greek, Egyptian or Chinese architecture. The parapet has a low stepped profile. The other elevations are much plainer in comparison but the use of stylised mouldings is continued on window heads and cills. Further Art Deco features can be found internally in the entrance hall, staircase and some of the first floor rooms.

There are not many examples of Art Deco architecture in Hong Kong so that Sham Shui Po Public Dispensary is a rare piece of built heritage. The front façade appears to have retained its original appearance, but internally some of the authenticity has been lost due to fitting out alterations, replacement of windows, security arrangements, building services installations, etc.  

The social value of the dispensary lies in the important services it has provided to the Sham Shui Po community for over 70 years. Due to its remarkable façade it is a landmark on Yee Kuk Street. The dispensary well represents Yee Kuk Street (醫局街) – a street name literally means ‘medical office’ – where the back of the temple appeared to be inside the backyard of the complex.

Physically, the dispensary is closed [sic] to a number of graded buildings, such as tenement houses at Nos. 117, 119, 121, 123 & 125 Nam Cheong Street (南昌 街), Nos. 48, 50 & 52 Ki Lung Street (基隆街), Nos. 269 & 271 Yu Chau Street (汝洲街), Tin Hau Temple (天后廟) at the same street. Its interesting interlocking relationship with Mo Tai Temple (武帝廟) behind it should also be mentioned. 

As far as is known there are no plans to close down the methadone clinic so that the question of adaptive re-use does not arise."

Greetings, and thanks Phil and Liz for the photo and discussion about the building.  I passed by it in the 1950s and early 60s to either the ferry terminal or visit a friend on Hai Tan Street.  I think in those days one main problem they had to deal with was opium addiction.

48-52 Ki Kung Street tenement houses are not there anymore (2017 Google photos).

125 Nam Cheong Street is still there.  In mid-1950s, there was a one-man shop on level-2 making and selling kites and kite-strings.  He was selling two styles of kites, one for 10 cents and the other for 20 cents as the latter requires a more sophisticated bamboo frame.  

Regards,  Peter

The completion date is confirmed as 1936 in item 35 of the PWD's annual report for 1936. The list of "Buildings of importance completed" includes "Public Dispensary, Yee Kuk Street.".

Being used as a methadone clinic.

Photos were taken on Dec09, 2014.

Anyone has photos of another bygone government clinic nearby, on 2 Yu Chow Street?

Chinese Public Dispensary, Sham Shui Po
IMG_6561.JPG, by tkjho
Chinese Public Dispensary, Sham Shui Po
IMG_6558.JPG, by tkjho