Birthday Buildings in 2018 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Birthday Buildings in 2018

It's time for our annual roundup of buildings that celebrate a major birthday this year.


50-year-old buildings:

The "Sincere Insurance Building" name caught my eye, as I worked in an office there in the 1990s. One end of the building faces Queensway, making it a prime site for large advertisements - see the red advert in the photo below.

Queensway 1980
Queensway 1980, by Leroy W. Demery, Jr.


The buildings on the right in the photo above were originally part of Victoria Barracks, and had belonged to the British Army. In 1968, the Army had recently given up a strip of land at the western edge of the Victoria Barracks area. That land was home to the Murray Barracks, and ran between Garden Road to the west, and the Albany Nullah to the east.

The new Murray Building was built on part of that land, with the new Cotton Tree Drive running uphill nearby. The Albany Nullah seems to have vanished, but it still exists - it was covered over, and Cotton Tree Drive was built on top of it. Here's a view up Cotton Tree Drive in the 1970s, with Murray Building on the right.

Cotton Tree Drive.JPG
Cotton Tree Drive.JPG, by Quicksilver


We have to leave Hong Kong Island, and head to the New Territories for the most memorable of the new buildings from 1968.

The 1960s were the time of severe water shortages in Hong Kong, so radical solutions were called for. The Plover Cove Reservoir definitely fit that description, as it was formed by sealing off a bay from the sea with a dam, draining out the sea water, then letting it fill with fresh water.

Plover Cove Reservoir from a plane
Plover Cove Reservoir from a plane, by Simon Lo


75-year-old buildings:

The Fung Leung Kee Watches building may not belong on this list - I see from the notes on its page that its completion date was estimated from when the company started business. 1943 was in the middle of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, when very few new buildings were completed. It's more likely that the building was completed in the 1930s, soon after the Wanchai Reclamation was finished.

Here's how the building looked in the 1950s, when the whole row of shophouses was still complete.

1950s Johnston Road
1950s Johnston Road, by Admin


The other buildings listed for 1943 were definitely constructed during the Japanese occupation, though their exact completion dates aren't known. Very few records of those wartime years remain.

Here's a view into one of the tunnels.

Accessible Tunnel (view into the portal)
Accessible Tunnel (view into the portal), by Iloveoldhk


100-year-old buildings

50 years before the Plover Cove Reservoir was built, the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir was finished. Early plans for the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir show the engineers were thinking of using part of the sea bed as a reservoir even then.

1903 Planned Ty Tam reservoir expansion
1903 Planned Ty Tam reservoir expansion, by Admin


But in the end the dam was built back on dry land, so it would be another fifty years before the first "reservoir from the sea" was built.

The road from Shau Kei Wan to Stanley runs across the top of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir's dam.

1930s Tai Tam Dam - Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir
1930s Tai Tam Dam - Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, by Moddsey


St Paul's Hospital is on the list, but looking at its page it is noted that the buildings have been re-developed in recent years. It isn't clear whether any of the buildings from 1918 still remain, so that may have to go too.

No doubt about the Chinese YMCA though.

Chinese YMCA - 51 Bridges Street
Chinese YMCA - 51 Bridges Street, by Links Gwulo to Library photos


125-year-old buildings

New lighthouses must have been all the rage around this time.

Last year we read about the Gap Rock Lighthouse, finshed in 1892.

1920s Gap Rock Lighthouse
1920s Gap Rock Lighthouse, by eternal1966c1


A year later, in 1893, this lighthouse on Waglan Island was completed.

1910s Waglan Island Lighthouse
1910s Waglan Island Lighthouse, by moddsey


The London Mission House is also worth a mention, having reached 125 years of age. It has served a variety of different purposes over the years, as an office, quarters for staff, and most recently as a clubhouse. The building can be seen at the top-centre of this photo.

Nethersole Hospital Bonham Road
Nethersole Hospital Bonham Road, by Herostratus


150-year-old buildings


175-year-old buildings

Sorry, we don't have any matching Places for this year.

We don't have records of any buildings still standing that were finished in 1868. I took a chance and added the list for 175-year-old buildings (1843), but that list is empty too. If you know of any we're missing, please tell us about them in the comments below.


Find out more

If you'd like to see what information and photos we have for any of the buildings shown above, just click on the blue building name in the list. You can also click on any photo to see a larger version you can zoom in to.

And of course if you can add any memories, facts or photos, they'll be very welcome. Please click to leave a comment, or upload a photo.


Further reading


Still there after 100 years, at least in October 2017:

Chinese YMCA 2017
Chinese YMCA 2017, by Klaus

Plover Cove Reservoir 1969

Plover Cove Reservoir 1969, by The National Archives UK

Just by chance, I discovered this one for the 50th birthday anniversary of the Plover Cove Reservoir.