Event #5: Lek Yuen Estate, Sha Tin
August 9 2014 / 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Sha Tin – Modern New Town

Sha Tin, a stretch of land in the valley by the Sha Tin Sea, was called Lek Yuen (literally “origin of clear water”) long before the start of British rule in Hong Kong. Residents there used to make their living by farming. The only links with urban Kowloon before the mid-1950s were the railway, and Tai Po Road. Closer contact with urban Kowloon only began when the Lion Rock Tunnel was opened in 1967.

When the government decided to carry out the new-town development, a massive reclamation project was conducted on the two sides of the Sha Tin Sea, narrowing it to a waterway just wide enough for boats to sail in. As part of the “Ten Year Housing Programme” announced in 1972, several brand new public housing estates, such as Lek Yeun Estate, Wo Che Estate, and Sha Kok Estate, were built on the reclaimed land. The area around was also developed into a new town centre, in which are found a town hall, a library, sports grounds, and a stadium. Meanwhile, Fo Tan, the area nearby, was planned as an industrial zone. With urban Kowloon in close proximity, and the diversity of three transport routes, Sha Tin’s holistic planning soon attracted the investment of private developers. Private residential blocks and modern shopping malls sprang up one after the other. Sha Tin’s development became diversified, both in terms of employment opportunities and population demographics. It soon became a model new town of successful balanced development.

Lek Yuen Estate

Completed in 1975, Lek Yuen Estate was the first public housing estate in Sha Tin, which provided the grass roots families with a relatively user-friendly living environment in the 1970s. Unlike the rather primitive multi-storey settlement buildings, there were toilet and kitchen in every single flat in Lek Yuen Estate. The planning of the estate marked the economic growth of Hong Kong and also the vision of a self-sustaining community- there were vast open space, with a large fountain for leisure; daily necessities could be reached at the shops on the podium which also formed a helpful neighborhood. The tiny, rented flat was no longer a ‘shelter’ to the tenants, but their home and root.

Shing Kee Noodles

Located in Lek Yuen Plaza Cooked Food Stall, Shing Kee Noodles looks more like an art gallery than an eatery- recycled glass bottle chandeliers, a bookshelf in the center stacked high with comics, a photomontage wall, and tribal masks hanging from the ceiling. Contrary to its avant-garde decor, Shing Kee is in fact a noodle shop founded in 1956. 第二站盛記麵家愛心招牌菜This family-run business is one of the oldest remaining noodle shops in the area. Shing Kee is also known for its generosity. It gives back to the community by offering free meals to the elderly on the 16th of each lunar month. The motto, “It is a blessing to be able to share”, is written right at the entrance, on a photo mirage of smiling faces.