Tai Tam Obelisks (was "Monument near Shek Ko Road") | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Tai Tam Obelisks (was "Monument near Shek Ko Road")

If one looks towards Shek Ko Road from Redhill, you can see a monument on a wooded hillside overlooking the reservoir.

Does anyone know what it is and its history?




I think the monuments that you are referring to are obelisks. One is located off Shek O Road past the Cape Collinson Road turn-off. The other is located at the entrance to Tai Tam Bay opposite Red Hill. 

The two obelisks are believed to have been erected by the Royal Navy and refer to the same line of longitude. In other words, the obelisks are 'in line' and were used by RN boats for geographical reference.


Hi there,

I heard there are actually two of these, built by the Royal Navy back then (but I don't know exactly when).  It's for navigation, I think.  There is some Chinese messages in some forums saying if you align your boat from the south with the two monuments into a straing line, the straight line will be going North-South.  I am no sailor so you may find me saying nonsense.  You might need some sea going person to exlain this to you.

Thanks & Best Regards,


Dan Waters wrote an interesting piece about them here: http://sunzi.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/44/4400865.pdf

@80sKid,  Thanks for the related article.

I can add the following Map of Tai Tam Bay (which is mentioned in the article), which pinpoints both Beacons and there is a line of sight from the sea 'Beacons in Line' (lower centre) 

High resolution image http://www.brianseed.com/zoom/taitambay.html

Images hosted on gwulo.com

Map of Tai Tam Bay (crop)


Map of Tai Tam Bay

The Report of the director of Public Works for 1910 might have the answer:

19. Naval Land - Permission was granted for the following encroachments by the Naval Authorities on Colonial Government Land, viz:-

(a.) A pair of iron rods on Ma Kong Island marking the Western end of a measured course.

(b.) A pair of iron rods on Tytam Peninsula marking the Eastern end of a measured course.

(c.) A pair of obelisks, Tytam Bay, for swinging ships.

This online definition for 'swinging' a ship explains it as:

The process of determining the deviation of the ship's magnetic compass by placing a vessel or an aircraft on various headings and comparing magnetic compass readings with the corresponding but previously determined magnetic directions

So it looks as though the obelisks' job was to provide a 'previously determined magnetic direction'.

Regards, David

Great research, amazing this answer was missed for so long. The two obelisks, viewed in line from seaward,would make a transit bearing, which would have been marked on Admiralty charts. During swinging, larger ships are often secured to a buoy, and towed round through 360 degees while bearings are taken. I wonder when these obelisks were last so used.

Would someone tell me the words beside "Obelisk Hill" and whether two tiny circles indicate the obelisks' locations on the map?

On the other hand, if the survey was conducted in 1893, is it contradictory to the information provided in the water works document (dated 1910)?

I suppose the document reports the works completed or being constructed in the year 1910.

Thanks in advance.