Friday, 27 March 2015

A quick visit to the old Tai Po Police Station

A few years back I was lucky enough to join a local battlefield tour of the New Territories organised by The Orders and Medals Research Society, and led by noted local historian Dr Pat Hase - the author of an excellent book concerning the so-called "Six Day War" that followed the British Govt's taking over of the NT in 1899. Prior to the tour starting, Dr Hase was able to organise a very quick site trip to this noted set of structures that sit atop Flagstaff Hill in Taipo. This hill was also the location for the NT handover ceremony and saw the initial part of the fighting between British troops and local village militias (I suggest you read the book for yourselves) and of course, at the time the Police Station hadn't been built, but it's a historic place and Dr Hase had the means to shows us around, which he kindly did.

At the time, the old Police station had been empty for several years, its last occupants being a detachment of the Marine Police, and was undergoing a tender process for 'adaptive reuse' i.e. renovation followed by occupation by someone or some organstion. So we got in just before the renovations were started. Now, 3 years later, and as you can see by the first photograph at the top of this post, the place has been completely refurbished. Here's a picture of that same building prior to the change.

The tender for the adaptive reuse was eventually awarded to the Kadoorie Hong Kong Heritage Project and it is to be turned into a summer camp and education centre. Our impromptu tour looks as though it was the last public access before the project to convert it got underway. Unfortunately, I haven't made it inside post-renovation to make a comparison, but here are the pictures from that quick visit back in 2012 so we camn remember a little bit of how it looked.

The blue door was the official main entrance when the building was first in use.

The flagpole isn’t too old but it does stand in the middle of the original parade ground – still fairly flat but as you can see very overgrown.

This shot above shows the north side of the complex, the air-conditioners are obviously not antiquated but were installed when the Marine Police moved here temporarily while they were waiting for their Shatin HQ to be finished.

This shows the north view from the hilltop complex. Look carefully and you will be able to see Kwong Fuk Road at the bottom. When the police station was first built that view would have simply been marshland and water of the Tolo Harbour. The low-rise buildings at the bottom were built circa 1955 and even then were standing alone along the old waterfront at Ap Mo Liu (the old fishing market area where the buildings stand). The next few shots show the inside of the compound.

The main central courtyard gained a new building in the form of the metal walled building seen on the left of the above shot. I believe this ‘temporary’ structure will be removed during the renovation process which will free up the original area for activities.

Notice the chimney? Several of the rooms have open fires places, not necessary useful for HK summertime but definitely needed during winter when it can get a bit chilly. Speaking of which…

Now I just have to wait for an opportunity to visit post-renovation. I have high hopes if the top photos in this post are anything to go by - that part of the complex looks to have been stripped back to basics. Let's hope they kept all the original features. Watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Phil,

    Read a new piece over the weekend that they are turning the former quarters of this Police Station into a Hostel. They are keeping it to the bear minimal and some of the rooms do not have air-conditioning.

    Might worth a look.