Handover of military areas to the HK Government
Construction of Harcourt Road
After the end of WW2, the military and naval premises were repaired from war damages and used further on. Mainly on Hong Kong Island, these areas were situated right in the centre of the developing city. Any expansion to the east was impeded by these areas, mainly in the aspect of traffic (i.e. motor vehicles).
In March 1958, an agreement was reached between the Military and the HK Government to take over Murray Barracks, Murray Parade Ground and the Detention Barracks. (OFFICIAL REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS. Meeting of 6th March, 1958, p.45).
This was an important achievement for the further development of the city, new areas were ready for sale and construction of buildings. This didn’t help with the traffic problem. All of the traffic between the central district and Wanchai had to go through Queen’s Road East (Queensway). Not a wide road, and it had to be shared with the trams, a time consuming adventure during rush hours.
The general situation during the 1950’s can be seen on this photo from mid to end of the 1950’s.
On this photo Queen’s Road East/Queensway runs in front of the banks on the left, then around the cricket ground, turning right passing the Naval Dockyard buildings, then left again along Wellington Barracks to make a right turn at the junction of Arsenal Street and Hennessy Road.
In the mid-1950’s, it turned out that the Royal Navy had to be restructured. This included ships, crews, and naval facilities like docks. This was an excellent opportunity to start negotiations between the Admiralty and the HK Government to hand over premises including docks. Hand over meant sale for ￡7,000,000 sterling (see the HONG KONG LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL REPORT from 7. October, 1959 in a separate comment below)! After long negotiations, an agreement was reached in October, 1959 to strt the hand over on November 30th, 1959 and to finish on January 1st, 1962 latest.
To overcome the traffic limitations on Queen’s Road East, a new road was needed which would run across the old Naval Dockyard. This new road would start at Connaught Road (junction with Murray Road) and end at Gloucester Road (junction with Arsenal Street).
The following map shows the “New Road Reserve”. It’s from the OFFICIAL REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS. Meeting of 7th October, 1959. Unfortunately, the map is shown only for the western part, so the eastern one is added from the 1957 Gwulo map (including a hand-drawn estimated road course).
To build this road, reclamation work was necessary. In the western part, the Dry Dock needed to be filled, in the eastern part the same had to be done for the Boat Pool/Camber. In front of Wanchai Police Headquarters a further small reclamation was necessary to widen the existing Gloucester Road. The necessity can be seen from this photo (showing Gloucester Road with Caine House built at the waterfront):
The next photo shows the reclamation work near the Boat Pool/Caine house (although attributed to 1968. my estimate is late 1960)
No detailed information is available for the start of the works, but quite likely in early 1960. The next photo from (quite likely early 1960) shows the demolition work of the dockyard workshops and houses at the tidal basin as well as (rock) filling of the dry dock while the Quarters (including Nissen huts) and Stores are still standing.
The next photo from end of 1960/early 1961 shows the construction of the road. The reclamation of a part of the Boal Pool has been finished, the same applies to Gloucester Road behind the Wanchai Police Headquarters. The new wall around the area that the Admiralty will still use has been built already.
The connection of the new road to Connaught Road can be seen here:
Looks almost finished, but the new road still not accessible.
The construction must have been done “high-speed” as the new road was opened in 1961 (Hong Kong Annual Report 1961). Wikipedia reports that on April, 7th, the road was named after Admiral Cecil Harcourt (1892-1959), the head of a provisional military government in Hong Kong from September 1945 to April 1946. This possibly was the day of the opening for motor vehicles.
The finished road is on the next two photos from 1962 and about 1962-64.
In 1966, the Harcourt Road Flyover was opened to connect Harcourt Road with Cotton Tree Drive.