1890 Public Works Department Annual Report

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The following Report on the operations of the Public Works for the year 1890, which was laid before the Legislative Council on the 30th ultimo, is published for general information.

By command,
W.M.DEANE Acting Colonial Secretary.

Colonial Secretary’s Office, Hongkong 2nd May, 1891



SIR,—I have the honour to forward for the information of His Excellency the Governor the following Report on the operations of the Public Work's Department during the year 1890. This Report is divided under the following heads:--


  1. Praya Reclamation.
  2. Public Works Extraordinary.
  3. Public Works Recurrent.
  4. Land Branch.
  5. Squatters.
  6. Inspection of Buildings.
  7. Staff.




8. A contract for the foundations and retaining walls was entered into with Mr. TSANG KENG on 23rd May last, and the work was forthwith commenced. Fairly good progress has been made. It has been found necessary to pile the whole of the trenches on the north, or Praya side. Up to 31st December 385 hardwood piles had been driven and there remained to drive about 200. A requisition for the columns, floor girders and beams was forwarded to the Crown Agents in June last. The detailed drawings of the superstructure are nearly completed, and tenders will shortly be called for, so that the Contractor may be in a position to commence operations early in the spring immediately after the completion of the foundations.


9. Although all preparations had been previously made; it was only found practicable to effect a permanent landing, and establish a detachment of workmen on the 'Rock, on 21st March last. From that time to the present steady progress line has been made. Two derricks were fixed—one on the eastern, and another on the western side of the rock, which have greatly facilitated operations, and allow landing to be effected when otherwise it would be altogether impracticable. The first operations undertaken were to form convenient approaches from the landing places to the summit of the rock, and to provide suitable quarters for the workmen employed. Substantial brick coolie quarters have been erected capable of lodging 100 men, while on the upper floor there is a suitable apartment for one European Foreman. A brick water tank capable of containing 5,600 gallons has been constructed closely adjoining the coolie quarters. The preparation of the site for-the lighthouse was then proceeded with, in which operation it was found necessary to remove by blasting about 1,000 tons of hard metamorphic rock. The foundation stone of the Tower was laid by the Officer Administering the Government on 1st September last, and the erection of the Tower and Light-keepers' quarters has since progressed steadily. The basement floor which contains a permanent water tank to hold 12,000 gallons has been completed, and on 31st December the masonry had reached the level of 4 feet above the Tower platform. The number of workmen employed on the rock has varied from 50 to 95. Notwithstanding the heat and glare from the bare surface of the rock, the health of all employed has been exceptionally good, which may be in part attributed to the care taken to provide proper lodgings, and to maintain them in good sanitary condition, as also to ensure a regular supply of food and fresh water. No serious interruption has occurred to the progress of the work except during the gale of 16th October last, when an exceptionally heavy sea struck the rock and recoiled on to the water tank situated 68 feet above sea-level. The weight of the wave broke the cover of the tank, and admitted a certain quantity of salt water. On this news reaching me, immediate steps were taken to send down a supply of fresh water. During the same gale a considerable quantity of dressed granite, bricks, and sand, were washed off the rock, and the derrick on its eastern face was carried away. With this exception the work has proceeded regularly, and without accident, or other unusual incident. The progress made reflects much credit on Mr. J. R. MUDIE, the Executive Engineer in charge, and Mr. DONALD FRASER, Foreman, who has resided continuously on the rock since April last.


10. A contract for this work was entered into on 4th October last and the work has since been pushed rapidly forward: The masonry of the Channel for the Albany Nullah is nearly completed as far as the Tramway Station; the bridge on the Kennedy Road is in progress, and the small storm channel west of the Tramway is well advanced. I am urging the Contractor to push on with this important work, with a view to its completion if possible before the rainy season begins.


11. A contract for filling in the round pond or lake was entered into on 11th July last, and although considerable difficulties have been encountered in obtaining the large quantity (64,000 cubic yards) of material required to fill in this pond, without interfering unduly with the old Chinese cemetery, and private property, rapid progress has been made and the work is approaching completion. About 15,130 square yards of the area within the Race Course have been returfed, but it need hardly be said that the unusually protracted drought has severely tried both the old and new turf. It is proposed to push on as rapidly as possible with the diversion of the canal, and other work remaining to complete these improvements, which when carried out will very nearly double the area available for purposes of recreation.



20.      A contract was entered into and these buildings were commenced on 28th October last. Fair progress has since been made.


21.       A site having been selected in consultation with the Captain Superintendent of Police on the rising ground forming the western boundary of Quarry Bay, the working drawings were prepared, the contract let and the work was commenced on 19th November last.


22.      A convenient site for this school house which is to serve for the western district of Victoria, having been selected by the Inspector of Schools, a contract was entered into and the work was commenced on 17th September last. The foundations have been completed and the walling is progressing satisfactorily.




29.      The roads within the City have been maintained in good condition except in places where the extensive operations of the Water and Drainage Department have rendered it necessary to break up the surface. As almost every street in the City will in the immediate future have to be opened up twice, once for water, and once for drains, it is evident that for some time to come the maintenance of a fairly good surface must prove a work of no small difficulty.

30.      Of the district roads outside the City, the carriage road from West Point to Aberdeen has been metalled throughout. All the roads on Hongkong Island have been maintained in good condition, with the exception of the bridle road from Aberdeen via Stanley to Shaukiwan, and the pathway from Shaukiwan to Cape D'Aguilar. I have recently gone over the road from Aberdeen to Stanley and thence to Shaukiwan with a view to its repair. This road about 12 miles in length which was originally well laid out has been neglected for many years. The Police Inspector at Stanley told me that the portion from thence to Aberdeen had not been repaired since 1874. The traffic on this road is at present very small, but as it may be expected to increase in future, I hope to be able to arrange shortly to put it into an efficient state of repair. With regard to the track from Shaukiwan to Cape D'Aguilar, as the communication with the Lighthouse is carried on by water, and this part of the Island is almost uninhabited, any considerable outlay on this track would, I think, under present circumstances be hardly justifiable.

31.       The roads and streets in the Kowloon Peninsula have been greatly improved and are now in good repair throughout. A new road called Chater Road is being formed by heavy cutting at the back of the Tsimshatsui Police Station. This will materially shorten the approach to the steam ferry from the eastern side of Kowloon. The road from Yaumati and Tsimshatsui to Hung Hom which was previously only a track across the sands, almost impracticable after heavy rain, has been formed along the shore of Hung Hom Bay for a distance of about a mile—thus bringing the thriving industrial village of Hung Horn into direct communication with the western part of the Peninsula and the Kowloon ferry. No sooner was the new road sufficiently advanced for the purpose than public jinrickshas, which had hitherto not existed in Kowloon, were introduced, and are now plying regularly for hire.

41. I may add that the Electric Light Company have during the year constructed their works at Wanchai and 50 Arc Lamps each of 2,000 candle power have been installed in the central portion of the City. They were first lighted on 1st December and will shortly be supplemented by 25 additional lamps, making a total of 75, which will suffice to light the main streets in the central and eastern portion of Victoria.