Take a Colonial Tour of British Influence in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline by stuckincustoms

Today’s guest post from Ross is all about the Chinese city of Hong Kong – long held by the British as a result of the Opium Wars. We learnt all about the Opium Wars during our trip to Thailand (post coming soon), but in the meantime, why not step back in time and see the colonial legacy that Britain left behind in Hong Kong…

One might not think of Hong Kong when speaking of colonial architecture, but from the 1800's to about 1930, the British, after the First Opium War, had control of Hong Kong. It was during this time that British influence resulted in the construction of many beautiful colonial buildings. Today, many of these buildings can be seen among the glass and steel buildings of modern Hong Kong.

St. John's Cathedral

This Anglican church, completed in 1849, is the current seat of the Archbishop of Hong Kong. It is the oldest Western Christian church in Hong Kong. Its style is not as ornate as other churches of its time with its construction in line with the English Gothic architecture that was popular at the time. It has many elements such as a coat of arms honoring two former British governors.

The University of Hong Kong

The oldest institution of higher learning in Hong Kong, this building, founded in 1911 by Governor Sir Frederick Lugard and opened in 1912, currently houses the University Museum and Art Gallery, the oldest museum in Hong Kong. The collections of art include the largest collection of Yuan dynasty Nestorian bronze crosses in the world.

The Murray House

Murray House Hong Kong by flickr user LingHK

This beautiful Victorian-era building originally built in 1844 in Central and used as officers' quarters, was dismantled piece by piece in the 1980's and stored for more than 15 years. It was then rebuilt in the fishing village of Stanley in the early 2000's. It is one of the oldest well-preserved public buildings in Hong Kong. The top two floors have verandas on all sides and columns reminiscent of colonial times.

The Legislative Council

Flanked by modern high rises, this building, built in 1912, was once the home of the Supreme Court. The statue of the goddess of justice, Themis, stands atop the building, a replica of the one on the Old Bailey of London. The Legislative Council of Hong Kong was established in 1843 under British rule. The building is constructed of granite and supported by ionic columns.

The Court of Final Appeal

This colonial building was constructed in the mid-1800's by the powerful and influential United States trading company, Augustine Heard. The Heard family eventually lost their fortune and the building became part of French missions which added the dome that is part of the building today. It has since served many purposes and is currently Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

The Fringe Club

The Fringe Club is a place that promotes local artists and works to conserve and advocate for the Hong Kong culture. It was built around 1892 and was first used to distribute fresh dairy products like milk and cheese and to store ice. The construction is known as Brick and Bandages for its white and red brick pattern. The building, long and narrow, is rounded on one end.

The Clock Tower

Hong Kong Clocktower by flickr user Dickson2007

This stand-alone tower was erected in 1915 on the original site of the Kowloon Station. It is constructed of red brick and granite, an homage of the Age of Steam. The station was moved in 1975 to the current Hung Hom Station on Hung Hom Bay. The tower almost did not survive demolition when the station was taken down in 1977. As a compromise to protests against destroying the station, the clock tower was spared.

There are many colonial buildings worth seeing in Hong Kong that have survived progress while others were demolished to make way for new development. They are magnificent reminders of a time gone by when buildings had character and style that is often missing in today's architecture.

Thanks to Ross for providing today’s article.




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