Water Valve Indicators

Submitted by Nik_Ettel on Fri, 09/01/2023 - 16:33

Dear Gwulo Community,

I've recently started a research on the lovely (yet outdated) water valve indicators in Hong Kong. I've asked the Water Supplies Department for help; as those symbols were called 'Jackson' - but nobody seems to know why...I wonder if anyone here know more about this missing puzzle piece. Thanks indeed, and any help or hint is super appreciated. All best wishes, Nik

Jacksons, by Nik_Ettel

Dear Jill, 

Heartfelt thanks for your quick and kind reply. We'll definitely take this into consideration; currently we have Chief Fire Officer Freddie Jackson and Leonard Jackson (Engineer-in-charge, Waterworks HK) on our potential list. I am hoping to hear back from the HK Water Supplies Department, but so far the symbol's nickname remains a mystery...


I hoped that I was in the right ballpark, Nik. There must be a searchable patent record for your water valve indicators. It would be useful to know the country of origin. Hong Kong tended to liaise with Britain for imports and standards in the category of plumbing and drainage. Perhaps there are learned articles on the subject of water valve indicators for your era and a relevant journal. What date are we talking about? As my uncle was responsible for several large drainage and plumbing projects in Hong Kong between 1923 and 1941 I would be interested to know what you find out. Let me know if I can help with enquiries at the UK end. Is it just the symbol that is known as a "Jackson"?

Thanks indeed! To my knowledge, only those valve indicator markings are called Jackson. They were used to locate essential, cutline/boundary or fire hydrant valves on site for facilitating water loss detection and other operation in 1980's or earlier.  The Water Supplies Department record was digitalised in 1990's and established a Valve Reference Numbering (VRN) system which replaced all 'Jackson' drawings.

That's very kind of you; please write me directly (nettel@hku.hk); I am more than happy to send you more hints and our current knowledge gaps - it would be great to solve this urban legend together.

Nik, it sounds as if there would have to have been a copyright for the Jackson symbol announced in the Hong Kong Gazette if it still existed at the time. The date is later than I expected.

The Water Supplies Department probably has pressing day to day needs. I’ve previously found it difficult to obtain historic information from other departments.

I’ll see if I can find out anything at this end in case your Jackson was British-based but don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile let Gwulo know if you solve the puzzle. I’ll take advantage of your email if I need more information and I’ll let you know if I draw a blank.

There may also be other Gwulo contributors who might like to take up the challenge of this quest.




What is the earliest date you have for the Jacksons?