Dairy Farm Building - Fringe Club & FCC [1892- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Dairy Farm Building - Fringe Club & FCC [1892- ]

Current condition: 
In use
Date Place completed: 

Photos that show this place


worth adding a few details: the original buildings were constructed in 1892 as a cold storage centre or ice house. They were remodelled around 1913(hence the 1913 date on the fringe club section), when Dairy Farm expanded it to include a head office and provision store, a butchery, a pie-making section and a delicatessen. http://www.dairyfarmgroup.com/history/history1886.htm

eventually in the late 1970s Dairy Farm moved their offices and the buildings stood empty, awaiting demolition. The FCC was looking for a new home with the demolition of Sutherland House. They tried with the governor for Murray House and ended up with one block of the Dairy Farm, while the other half was set aside for the Fringe Club in 1984. The government owns the lease and periodically renews it.

Annelise you're right that the first ice house stood nearer sea level; I think Ice House Lane was one of the very first streets in Hong Kong. The connection continued though with these buildings which sit at the top of Ice House Street


Notes from the AMO assessment, recommending it be upgraded from its present grade 2 status to grade 1:

Old Dairy Farm Depot, No. 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

Historical Interest: The Old Dairy Farm Depot (舊牛奶公司倉庫) was established in 1892 as a central depot for the distribution of milk from the Dairy Farm at Pokfulam founded by Sir Patrick Manson, a Scottish surgeon, and five prominent Hong Kong businessmen in 1886. The Company’s declared objectives were threefold:

  1. to improve the health of Hong Kong people by supplying them with cow’s milk kept free from contamination by means of stringent hygiene;
  2. to import a herd of dairy cattle in order to lower the price of milk by more than half;
  3. to realize a profit for the Company Shareholders.

The original depot only comprised about half (the southern part) of the present premises. As the business thrived and its enterprises expanded, the Depot was enlarged with further extensions built in 1913, 1917 and 1925. During the Japanese occupation, the Company’s property was looted. The depot remained as the company‘s headquarters until 1970s. Since 1982, the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (香港外國記者會) occupied the north block and two years later, Fringe Club (藝穗 會) has leased the south block.

Architectural Merit: Although constructed over a period of time, the building, which now comprises a North Block and a South Block, is built in the same Eclectic architectural style with strong Neo-Classical and some Arts and Crafts influence. The use of polychromatic so-called “bandaged brickwork” gives the building a very striking appearance. Neo-classical features include moulded cornices, bull’s eye windows, architraved windows, keystones, pilasters and pediments combined together in eclectic profusion.

Rarity, Built Heritage Value & Authenticity: With its unique shape (due to the difficult corner site), it is a piece of architecture of a style now rare in Hong Kong. It is therefore of considerable built heritage value and externally at least remains fairly authentic in appearance.

Social Value & Local Interest: The historical social value of the building lies in Sir Patrick Manson’s original objective to improve the health of Hong Kong people by supplying them with cow’s milk kept free from contamination by means of stringent hygiene. The building’s local interest stems not only from the current use as the well known FCC and Fringe Club, but also as one of an important group of graded historical buildings in Central.

Group Value: The Old Dairy Farm Depot is important both architecturally and historically as an integral component of the Central District. Other western style historic buildings are found nearby. Grade I historic items of Bishop’s House (1892) (會督府) and St. Paul’s Church (early 20th century) (聖保羅堂) are opposed. Three declared monuments of the Former Central Magistracy (1913-14, Neo-Grecian style) (前中 區裁判司署), Victoria Prison (1814, Neo-Georgian) (域多利監獄) and the Central Police Station (1864) (中區警署) are located in close proximity.

Adaptive Re-use: Although other adaptive re-uses could probably be found, the present uses of the building seem to be compatible and suitable.

Remarks: In view of its historical and architectural merit, the Old Dairy Farm Depot was accorded a Grade II status by the Antiquities Advisory Board in 1981.

The Fringe Club's submission to the AMO for renovation works provides some more details plus some great photos over the different periods:


The AMO knocked them back

The heritage impact assessment report to AAB of AMO by the Fringe Club has been endorsed. Renovation works have begun in December 2011. In two phases, the first phase is expected to complete by april 2012. The scope of works has been scaled down somewhat due to structural constraints. The renovation will improve on the building safety and facilities for arts and culture activities at the Fringe Club which has been an outstanding example of the successful adaptive reuse of a graded historical building in Hong Kong.