1891 Public Works Department Annual Report

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Report for the Year 1891.

Laid before the Legislative Council by Command of His Excellency the Governor, on the 25th January, 1892.

No. 23.                                                                           SURVEYOR GENERAL'S OFFICE, HONGKONG, 13th January, 1892.

Sir,—I have the honour to forward you the following report on the works carried out by the Surveyor General's Department during the year 1891.




2.           Repairs of Buildings.—The number of Buildings of all descriptions the maintenance of which has been under the charge of this department was at the beginning of the year 114, a complete list of which will be found in the Blue Book.

3.           The whole of these with the exception of Mountain Lodge, Whitfield Police Station, Shaukiwan School, the Old Central School and Shamshuipo School, have been maintained in a satisfactory state of repair throughout.

4.           The following buildings have been painted externally :—The Government Civil Hospital (New Wing), the European Lunatic Asylum, Number 9 Police Station, the Police Stations at Hung Horn and Shaukiwan, and the Sai-ying-poon and Hung Horn Markets.

5.           The construction of a small addition to the Magistracy consisting of two rooms providing additional accommodation for the clerical staff has been commenced.

6.           The present condition of Mountain Lodge is most unsatisfactory ; the buildings were erected some years ago, before residence in the Hill District assumed anything like the proportions it has done of recent years, and are now in a dilapidated condition and practically unfit for occupation.

The cost of repairing the existing buildings would be considerable and the accommodation provided falls far short of that necessary for even ordinary comfort during so lengthened a residence in the Hill District as it has of late years been deemed desirable to make.

The time has undoubtedly arrived, owing to the natural decay of the existing buildings, when some steps should be taken-to replace them by a more substantial and convenient structure.

7.           Whitfield Police Station has been vacated by the police and is now let for the purposes of an inn.

8.           Shaukiwan School not being any longer required and being in a dilapidated condition, it was considered advisable to pull it down.

9.           The Old Central School buildings have remained unoccupied, except by a caretaker, but it is not advisable to remove them pending some decision being arrived at as to the future utilisation of the site.

10.         The school building at Shamshuipo has been in a dilapidated state and unoccupied for the greater part of the year and owing to the establishment of a Basil Mission School in this village no further demand at present appears to exist for a Government school building in this locality.

11.          Maintenance of Telegraph.—The Government Telegraph lines have been maintained in a fairly satisfactory condition, but more active supervision in respect of the alignment of the poles and the fixing of the wires appears necessary.

At present there are 51 miles of land line and 3.3 miles of sub-marine lines which have been maintained during the past year. Two-and-one-half (2½) miles of land line were constructed during 1891.


32.         A new bridge has been constructed over the stream at the north end of Yaumati Village and the Swing Bridge on the Praya over the entrance to the Police dock which was damaged by the gale in July last has been repaired.

33.         Street Lighting.—Previous to 1st of December, 1890, the City had for some years past been lighted exclusively by gas supplied by the Hongkong and China Gas Company. At the commencement of 1891 there existed 857 lamps.

In October, 1890, a contract was entered into with the Electric Company for the erection of 64 arc lights in the central and eastern portions of the City. These were first lighted in December, 1890.

In April last a contract was made for the erection of eleven additional lamps which were lighted in September last.

34.         The total number at present erected is therefore 75, the estimated candle power of which is 150,000 and the annual cost of lighting $22,000.

35.         There at present exist in addition to electric lights 653 gas lamps exclusive of those in the Military Cantonment. The annual cost of lighting and maintaining which is $23,000.

36.         In addition to the foregoing there are fifteen gas lamps in the Military Cantonment towards which the Colony pays $250.50 per annum.

37.         Making the total annual cost of lighting the public thoroughfares of the City $45,750.50.

38.        The following is a short description of the system of electric lighting adopted; for much of the information I am indebted to Mr. W. H. WICKNAM, the Company's Engineer, under whose supervision the work has been carried out :—

39. The Central Station of the Electric Company is situated in Wing Fung Street, in which is installed the Plant for supplying the arc lamps in the public streets.

40.        The Plant consists of 3 engines driving 3 dynamos of the type known as " Brush Series Arc Light Dynamos" each dynamo being capable of supplying 50 to 55 arc lamps of 2,000 candle power nominal. One of these Engines and Dynamos are held in reserve.

41.         The 75 arc lamps, at present supplied, are connected in two separate circuits, one supplying 39 lamps and the other 36 lamps, arranged so that the first circuit supplies the lamps in the central and western portions of the City on the Queen's Road level, and the second supplies the lamps in the upper portion of the City and Queen's Road East.

42.         The total length of conducting wires employed is about-eleven miles. The conductor used consists of a strand of 7 wires each No. 16 B. W. G. tinned hard-drawn copper, and is continuously insulated with vulcanized india-rubber protected by a braided covering, and is suspended from a steel wire bearer consisting of a strand of 3 No. 14 B. W. G. galvanized wires, these bearers being supported on Porcelain Fluid Insulators carried overhead on Tubular Iron Poles along the thorough-fares of the City.

43.         The arc lamps are known as the Brokie-Pell type, and contain regulating mechanism to adjust the Carbon Pencils as these consume. The Carbon Pencils are renewed in each lamp daily.

44.         The Electric Difference of Potential at the terminals of the two circuits of 39 and 36 lamps is about 2,050 and 1,930 volts respectively, and the current supplied in either circuit ranges between 9.6 and 9.3 amperes. As the lamps are connected in series the current supplied to the most distant lamp is of the same value as that supplied to the nearest.

45.         During the past year ten land sales have taken place. The area leased being 780,494 square feet, premiums realised $35,839. Eight extensions of existing lots of a total area of 355,020 square feet have been granted. The amount of premium paid is $7,007.55 and annual Crown rent $454.

46.         Surveys have been made, boundaries corrected and plans and particulars for the preparation of 90 new leases forwarded to the Land Office.

47.         Surveys have been made of Wongneichong, Aberdeen and a-portion of Kowloon in all covering an area of 143.29 acres.

48.        One thousand five hundred and eighty-four (1,584) Squatter's licences have been issued, the fees for which amount to $5.502,28.

49.         A complete return has been prepared of the lands held by those on the Rent Roll and under the tenure of a squatter's licence in the island of Hongkong.

50.        The work of this branch is regulated by Ordinance 15 of 1889, the Amending Ordinance passed during the present Session, and Ordinance No. 4 of 1888.

51.         During the past year plans for 22 European houses, 149 Chinese houses, and 64 for miscellaneous structures have been deposited, also 142 plans for alterations to existing buildings, making in all 377 under Section 69 of the above mentioned Ordinance.

52.         One hundred and fifty-five (155) buildings have been certified under Section 53 of Ordinance 15 of 1889.

53.         Permission has been given to erect fifty-two (52) Verandahs and three (3) Piers over Crown Land.

54.         Notices have been issued to remove or repair dangerous structures in one hundred and seven-teen (117) instances and to remove verandah enclosures in one hundred and eighteen (118).

55.         One thousand and forty-five (1,045) miscellaneous notices and permits for the erection of scaffolding, opening roads, &c., &c. have been issued.

56.         Fifty-five (55) permits have been issued for the erection and repair of monuments and enclosures in the Colonial Cemetery. The fees received amount to $302.33.

57.         The above returns compared with those for the year 1890 shew an increased activity in building operations.

58.        All plans deposited have been numbered and the registers are complete up to date.

59.         The Central Market. —The construction of the foundations for the New Central Market was completed in August last and the contractor has been allowed to proceed with the superstructure to the level of the plinth.

60.        I regret to say that owing to the various opinions expressed respecting the design of the superstructure no design was definitely settled on till late in the year.

61.         Since September last the completion of the necessary details for the carrying out of this work have received my careful attention, and I trust that active operations for the completion of the super-structure will be commenced shortly and that before another year passes more satisfactory progress will have been made with this important building.

62.         Gap Rock Lighthouse.—Good progress has been made with the construction of the lighthouse ou the Gap Rock situated in the China Sea at a distance of 30 miles from Hongkong.

63.         The buildings consisting Tower, European and Chinese Quarters, and house for condensing apparatus have been completed with the exception of stair railings, a small portion of joiner's and painter's work: and special fittings for oil tank.

64.         The lantern which will contain a revolving light of the first order has been erected and the erection of the revolving apparatus and lamp is in hand. The level of the focal plane of the light above mean sea level is 140 feet and in clear weather will be visible at a distance of about 20 miles. The lantern and light apparatus were obtained from Messrs. CHANCE BROTHERS of Birmingham.

65.         The apparatus for condensing sea water is in progress and now very nearly complete.

66.         The steam tender Fame has made 153 trips conveying workmen to and from the rock with provisions, water and materials for their use. The Fame has proved most suitable for the work and has been maintained in good order.

67.         Reclamation in front of Marine Lots 240 to 246 Kennedytown. -A Contract (A) dated 26th November, 1687, was entered into with Mr. TSANG KENG for the construction of the Praya Wall (1,410 lineal feet in length) including foundation, raising the level of the reclaimed ground, and the construction of storm water drains and other works necessary for the completion of this reclamation except roads.

68.        Prior to the commencement of 1891 the rubble foundations had been completed, 127,000 cubic yards of earth filling and 5,000 cubic yards of concrete deposited and 70,000 cubic feet of masonry set.

69.         During the present year 81,000 cubic yards of filling and 5,000 cubic yards of concrete have been deposited and 13,862 cubic feet of masonry set.

70.         Owing to the continuation of the settlement at the southern extremity this work has not yet been completed, but as the settlement now appears to have ceased the remaining portion of the wall will be proceeded with and should shortly be completed.

76.         A substantial stone bridge 15 feet 6 inches in width with ornamental stone parapets has been constructed over the Albany Nullah for the purpose of carrying the Kennedy Road. This bridge replaces the wooden structure destroyed by the storm in 1889.

77.         New Roads and Preparatory Work Kennedy Road Sites.--A contract was entered into, with Mr TSANG KENG in October, 1890, for the construction of the MacDonnell Road contouring the hill side between the Kennedy and Bowen Roads.

78.         This road is 586 lineal yards in length and 20 feet in width situated at a level of 272 feet above sea level and is carried over the Albany Nullah by a substantial stone bridge and the Hongkong High Level Tramway by an iron arch bridge.

79.         Most of the excavation and embankment necessary for the construction of MacDonnell Road has been completed.

80.        The bridge over the Albany Nullah with the exception of the iron railings was completed in November last.

81.         The abutments and wing walls of the bridge over the tram line are completed and the iron work is nearly ready for erection.

82.        Re-construction of Praya Bridge over Bowrington Canal.—The necessary wrought-iron girders for the reconstruction of this bridge having been obtained from England, a contract was entered into with Messrs. CHAN A. TONG & CO. for their erection and for the masonry work required ; and with Messrs. FENWICK & Co. for the construction of cast and wrought-iron railings in November last.

83.        This bridge is 19 feet wide and has three spans of 29 feet 6 inches.

84.        On examination it was found that the foundations of the piers and abutments of the old bridge had been considerably undermined. These have now been protected with sheet piling and a concrete apron laid.

85.        The tops of the piers have been levelled ready to receive the girders.

86.        Satisfactory progress has been made by Messrs. FENWICK & CO. with the iron railings.

87.         Improvements Recreation Ground Happy Valley.—A contract was entered into with Mr. FOO SIK in July, 1890, for raising the area known as the “pond " about 41 acres in extent to the same level as the remaining portion of the ground was raised to in 1888. This work was completed in April last.

88.        In April last a contract was entered into with Mr. TSANG SAM for the sub-soil drainage, including the laying of about 2,000 lineal yards of drains, and for turfing this area. This work was completed in October last.

89.        The total area available for recreation is now upwards of 27 acres.

107.       Lunatic Asylum for Chinese.—This building situated in High Street occupies an area of 11,700 square feet, including an airing court of 5,650 square feet, was commenced in April, 1890, by Mr. YES RING under contract (13/90) and satisfactorily completed in July, 1891.

108.      The building is two stories in height in addition to a 7-foot basement and consists of 4 day rooms and 16 single cells, four of which are padded. Four rooms are provided for the attendants and office as well as the necessary servants' quarters, kitchen, bath and lavatory accommodation.

109.      Police Station Aberdeen—Commenced by Mr. SOON LOONG in October, 1890, under contract (22/90), is situated near the eastern end of the village on an elevated site having a southern aspect, has been satisfactorily completed.

110.       This building is two stories in height with a 4-foot basement and is built of brickwork with stone dressings.

111.        The accommodation provided consists of 3 rooms for a married Inspector, mess-room and barrack-room for 4 European Constables, barrack-rooms for 6 Sikh Constables, 8 Chinese Constables and 6 Water Police with lavatory and bath accommodation, 4 cells, charge room, stables, store-rooms, servants' quarters and kitchens.

112.       The site is divided into two terraces, the stables, storerooms, &c. being placed on the lower and the remaining buildings on the upper.

113.       Police Station at Quarry Bay—Occupying an elevated site on the western side of Quarry Bay 4,340 square feet in area, is a one-storied building containing 2 rooms, store-room and 2 cells.

Detached from the main building but approached by a covered way are the kitchens, servants' quarters and offices. This building was commenced in November, 1890, and completed in July last by Mr. CHAN A TONG under contract (24/90).

114.       Kennedytown Police Station.—The sum of $2,000 has been expended in erecting a retaining wall at the back of the building and cutting away the steep hill side which had commenced to slip.

115.       District School Sai-ying-poon.—This school is situated at the junction of High Street with Pokfulam Road and was commenced in September, 1890. It occupies an area of 6,530 square feet. Three class rooms are provided and fitted up to accommodate 186 children. Quarters have been provided for a coolie and the necessary kitchen accommodation and offices. The work has been carried out by Mr. YEUNG A TING under contract (11/90) and was completed in June last.

129. The following statement shews briefly the state of the Extraordinary Public Works that have been in course of construction during the past year other than the Praya Reclamation, which I refer to later on, and those under the control of the Water & Drainage Department.

Central Market.—Foundations and superstructure complete to about three feet above ground level.

Gap Rock Lighthouse.—Nearly complete.

Training Albany Nullah and Branches.—Completed, except a portion of Branch Nullah No. 2.

New Roads and Preparatory Work, Kennedy Road Sites.—Nearly complete, except bridge over tramway and approach from Garden Road.

Reconstruction of Praya Bridge over Bowrington Canal.—Foundations of piers made good and girders in position.

Improvements Recreation Ground, Happy Valley . —The low area known as the "pond" has been raised, drained and turfed and the ground generally improved. The remaining portions of the proposed improvements have not yet been commenced.

Cattle Depot Extension.—Site excavated and walls completed to level of roof-principals. Slaughter House and Sheep and Pig Depots.--Preparation of site very nearly complete.

Slaughter House, Kowloon.—Brickwork complete. Walls ready for roof.

Public Latrines.—Those that have been commenced are complete.

Civil Hospital Staff Quarters.—The floors are nearly all laid and joiners' and plasterers' work nearly complete.

Civil Hospital, Coolie Quarters.—Complete.

Civil Hospital, Alterations and Additions.—Hot water apparatus and retaining wall complete.

Lunatic Asylum for Chinese.—Complete.

Police Station, Aberdeen.—Complete.

Police Station, Quarry Bay.—Complete.

Public Station, Kennedytown.—Complete.

District School, Sai-ying-poon.—Complete.

Addition to Government House.—Complete, except electric lighting and decoration which are now in hand.

Quarters for Superintendent, Botanical & Afforestation Department.—Very nearly complete.

Pier, Stone Cutters' Island.—Complete.

Vaccine Institute.—Some joiners' and plasterers' work remains to complete this building.