British Barracks in the 1840s | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

British Barracks in the 1840s

The book Eastern Fortress has the claim of barracks at Tin Wan and Tai Tam (p.10), and Eitel claims that in 1843 Pottinger pushed forward ‘vigorously’ the building of ‘substantial’ barracks in Aberdeen and Stanley (p.185). However, I haven't found any contemporary records of a barracks at Aberdeen. 

The chapter and verse is in TRANSACTIONS OF THE MEDICAL AND PHYSICAL SOCIETY OF BOMBAY for 1847 and 1848, the first article - “Contributions to the Military Medical Statistics of China”, by John Kinnis, M.D., Deputy Inspector General of Her Majesty's Hospitals.

He notes two permanent barracks, both begun in 1844 and first occupied in 1846: Murray and North Barracks (which are so minutely described one could almost draw the plans!). He mentions thereafter several temporary barracks around ‘Artillery Hill’, some brick and stone for the RE and RA, but temporary wooden and mat buildings (from what I can see mainly for Indian Army troops), which included a hospital and “seven (barrack buildings) in number, arranged in two groups on opposite sides of the rivulet that feeds the drains of Murray Barracks; constructed of mats, with floors, internal walls, and ceiling of planks; the windows glazed only alternately on each side, but all provided with folding shutters.”

Kinnis goes on to note that even with these there was not enough accommodation and that an ex-hospital near West Point was taken over from March 1845, a “substantial, hired, brick buildings on the sea shore near the west end of the town” for 438 men. In addition a large private house that had been being used also as a hospital, was taken over for 100 men and renamed Gillespie Barracks “in the east part of town”. There were also two floors taken over for troop and invalid accommodation on Hollywood Road.

Stanley is described as having nine permanent buildings (Officer’s mess, commandant, two senior officers & RE officer houses, sgts mess, guard house, school house, hospital) and seven temporary barracks – though they seem far from temporary, “The floors of the temporary barracks are boarded and raised several feet above the foundation, the walls are of brick whitewashed but not plastered, the roofs tiled, the verandahs, of which the corners are generally converted into Serjeants' quarters, are paved with brick flags. Every barrack is surrounded by a surface drain, with kitchens, wash-houses and privies, at the ends or sides. The windows are four feet high and three wide.”

Kinnis also minutely describes Saiwan, but with neither Saiwan nor Stanley does he say they are too unhealthy to continue. He notes some of Stanley’s temporary barracks are unhealthier than others, but makes no mention of any problems with Saiwan, which he notes had been completed in 1844.

The only other military accommodation Kinnis mentions is the use of the small battery on Kellett Island as a overspill barracks for a handful of men.

So, I suspect nothing ever got built outside West Point, Central and Ha Wan other than Saiwan and Stanley.




I've added some notes about the first West Point Barracks at