Event #7: Peng Chau
October 25 2014  / 2:30pm – 6:00pm

The Industrial Island and Temples Odyssey

Known as “Flat Island” in ancient times, Peng Chau is a small island with mainly lowlands. Regardless of its size (less than one square kilometer), Peng Chau once had a thriving fishing industry and also a wide range of production facilities. As early as in the Qing Dynasty, Peng Chau was already a prosperous fishery-trading center, with more than two hundreds fishing boats working in nearby water. The island hence has housed quite a number of temples on it, in which there are guardians of the seafaring people. Surrounded by the sea, Peng Chau has the right natural setting and a ready supply of raw materials for producing lime. The island’s lime production was the biggest in Hong Kong in the early 19th century, with 11 limekilns in operation. The 1960s was the heyday of the island’s industrial age. More than 30 industries could be found on Peng Chau, producing goods that including steel tubes, teak wood, cowhides, porcelain, rattan products, night bulbs, etc. The booming manufacturing industries attracted workers from all over Hong Kong, Peng Chau in those days was definitely a veritable industrial island.

Nowadays, Peng Chau is mostly residential area with a population of 8000, and is still keeping its simple style of living, along with its diverse natural scenes and traditional customs.

Tin Hau Temple

Peng Chau inhabitants were mainly engaging in the fishing industry in the old days, so most of them worshipped Tin Hau (Goddess of the Sea) for the safety of the fishermen. Built during the Qing Dynasty (1798 A. D.), the Tin Hau Temple is the oldest temple in Peng Chau and it is a Grade II historic building. There are a 8-ft long whale rib-bone stands next to the Tin Hau statue, which is believed to be a sea catch netted a few centuries ago, and also the Agalloch wood that belongs to the ancient world.

Golden Flower Shrine

Lady Golden Flower is believed to be the goddess for descendants. The mindset of having more descendants was especially important in peasant society in the old days. Many temples in Hong Kong do worship Lady Golden Flower but only the one in Peng Chau has become a temple especially dedicated to the Goddess. According to local legend, the head priest of the temple Ms Yip Kam Lan and the late Mr. Kwan Tak-hing, a famous Cantonese opera performer who was famous for playing the Wong Fei-hung character, both met the Goddess in their dreams and hence have worked to promote the good deeds of Lady Golden Flower. After Master Kwan passed away, he became the royal guard for Lady Golden Flower.

 

Old Site of Leather Factory

Built in 1930s, the leather factory had been closed down for long and it’s now a desolate place. Still, it reminds visitors the bygone glory days of Peng Chau’s industrial age. Leather, matchstick and lime industries were once the three largest out port trades of the island. Lime is usually used to de-hair the cowhide, an example of how different industries supported each other. Traces of those busier days gone by can now only be found in the ruins of the island’s former factories.