Taikoo Ropeway [1891-1932]
This used to run from the Quarry Bay area at the bottom of the hill, up the valley to Quarry Gap.
When the ropeway (another name for 'cable-car') was running, Quarry Bay held the Taikoo Dockyard and Taikoo Sugar Refinery, while Quarry Gap was known as Sanitarium Gap, and was the site of the Taikoo Sanitarium.
When did it run?
But when did the ropeway run? The 'Mapping Hong Kong' book shows the 'Tai-Koo Sanitarium' on plate 7-1, a tourist guide map from 1896. It also mentions the building in one of the guide's suggested sight-seeing routes:
PROGRAMME No. 7
Proceed by ricksha to Bay View [a building that stood near where Tin Hau MTR is today], as the road is too long and uninteresting up to this point; thence walk to Quarry Bay, where, after having passed the entrance to the Sugar Refinery, about one hundred yards further on, just before crossing a bridge, you will see on your right hand, the pathway up the hill [the pathway is today's Mount Parker Road]. Something under one hour should bring you to the top, which is only a gap about feet 1,000 [sic.] above sea level. Here are the Sanatorium buildings of the Taikooo Sugar Refinery, Messrs. Butterfield & Swire. [The walk continues down to Ty Tam reservoir, up to Wongnai Chung Road, then down to Happy Valley, where 'we can obtain a ricksha to convey us to town.']
That same map shows a dotted line that runs from near the 'Tai-koo Sugar works' up to the Sanitarium. I wonder if this was already the cable car in place?
Plate 2-12 in the same book is a wartime map, dated 1939-40, and overprinted with Japanese. It shows the 'TaiKoo Sanitarium' building, connected to the 'Sugar Refinery' by an 'Aerial Ropeway', so it was in use then.
Plate 2-13 is a 1949 map. It still shows a dotted line along the course of the ropeway, and the outline of the sanatorium building is there too. Neither are labelled though, and the Gap is now labelled 'Quarry Gap'. So, perhaps the building and the ropeway were damaged during the war, and were never repaired afterwards?
What did it look like?
The ropeway can be seen in several photos from the G. Warren Swire collection (click the thumbnail to see a larger view of the photo):
- In the bottom of this photo, you can see one of the white towers that supported the ropeway.
- Here's a better view, showing the towers running up the valley.
- And here's the view from the top looking down the valley. The concrete platform on the right was likely the place for loading and unloading.
Reader IDJ has sent in this photo of a cable car at the loading bay:
Are there any remains?
We've also been sent the following notes and photograph by Rob Weir, suggesting that some signs of the ropeway remain:
Some time ago, when I was scouring the side of the Mt Parker/Quarry Gap area looking for PB 45, I noticed two small squares marked on one map . Although they didn't appear to be anywhere near the expected PB area, I can never ignore something apparently man-made. Having fought my way down from Mt Parker Road through some distinctly unfriendly vegetation, I eventually bumped into them.
They seem to be the base of one of the stanchions for the ropeway to the Sanatorium/Sanatarium. Why these two should be marked, I have no idea
Please leave a comment below if you can help provide any more information about this.