Event #8: Wan Chai
November 29 2014  / 2:00pm – 6:00pm

Wan Chai: Old and New, East meets West

Wan Chai, as suggested by its name, was a small bay. It was one of the earliest developed areas in the city. Its development can be tracked back to 1841, when Western firms purchased land and built warehouses, offices and houses following the first government land auction. The drastic increase of population in the 1850s propelled the Government to develop Stone Nullah Lane and the south of Hospital Hill into a residential area for the Chinese settlements. The tramway service was opened between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan along the praya in 1904, where the present Johnston Road and Hennessy Road located.

Wai Chai nowadays is a district interweaving residential and commercial development as well as entertainment, art and cultural heritage. Old and new buildings feature the east and west abound. While showcasing modernity, it retains and nurtures traditional cultures and values. Through the decades, Wan Chai has been a place full of human touch.

Old Wan Chai Post Office 

Built between 1912 and 1913, this is the oldest surviving post office building in Hong Kong. It was home to the Wan Chai Post Office between 1915 and 1992. It stands out among the skyscrapers on the Queen’s Road East – though it is a simple L-shaped, pitched-roof structure with attractive gable ends and mouldings, only one-storey in height. The building was listed as a Declared Monument in 1990, now houses a resource centre operated by the Environmental Protection Department, which is open to public.

The Blue House

Built in 1922, the Blue house is a four-storey Lingnan-style tenement house in Stone Nullah Lane. It was served as workingclass housing back then. It has a timber stair in-between every two blocks to serve the households of the upper floors, with cantilevered balconies on the front elevations. It is rated as a Grade I historical building. Named after its stark blue exteriors, the distinctive color was in fact not a deliberate aesthetic decision. When the government renewed the building in 1990, the decorators only had blue paint, so a “blue house” it became.

 

Yuk Hui Temple

Located not far from the bustling Queen’s Road, the Yuk Hui Temple (aka Pak Tai Temple) still retains its quaintness in quiet and peace. Built by local residents in 1863, it houses a threemeter tall bronze statue of Pak Tai made in 1604, and is certainly a place with rich historical value. The temple is the biggest on Hong Kong Island and is exquisitely built, and thus listed as a Grade I historical building.