Thursday, 18 September 2014

1a Cornwall Street, Kowloon Tong

Since moving to the area a couple of years ago, I've been continuing my explorations of Kowloon Tong. I'll re-post my article on the original Kowloon Tong Estate houses sometime soon, but in the meantime here is another property that has a rather more interesting history than most.

I found out about this place a while ago whilst visiting the rather excellent Museum of Coastal Defence. One of the display boards in the main exhibition hall has/had a list of current military sites being utilised by the PLA. Rather than write down the list you can have a look for yourself because I took some snaps of the display.

Anyway, included on the second picture we can see this property in Kowloon Tong – 1a Cornwall Street. It mentions that it was the former residence of the Air Force Commander. I dig a bit of digging around and found out that this property used to have a plaque on it stating it was “Air House” and that the last Royal Airforce Commander to live here moved out in 1994 – 3 years before the Handover.

Well, it seems that this place has been standing empty for all these years and the P.L.A has never utilised it. There doesn’t even seem to be a guard on the house or outside the walls. In fact the only visible sign that this is even a military (or at least ex-military) building is the several plot markers embedded in the external wall facing the street. I took some snaps of two of them (there’s 4 or 5 in total surrounding the plot).

Yes, in HK land-plot parlance, D.L stands for “Defence Lot”. I’ve tried pumping this lot number into the Lands Dept map but even that fails me this time. Funnily enough, my 1934 map of KT lists this site as N.K.I.L 900, but it appears that the plot was split some time after with the majority of it being demarcated for military use and the remainder of the original plot number now lies behind the current house (marked below).

N.K.I.L 900

As you can see from the above plot map the older plot lies behind 1a Cornwall Street (building to the right), originally the plot took up both sites extending to Devon Road. A friendly chap called Nick got in touch and let me know that the house highlighted that still sits on the original plot number, looks to have been built (i.e. had its occupational permit issued) in August 1950 (see here).

So if we assume (I know, big assumption) that Air House was built around the same time as the property that was built up on the back of the original plot, then it looks like it may be a post-war house.

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