Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tai Po - The Old District Office North

Found myself with a blessedly work and interruption free day in Hong Kong last weekend so decided to head out to Tai Po where I’d never been before. The main object of a quick look-see was the old District Office North, the earliest remaining seat of the British civil administration after the lease of the New Territories. The building dates from around 1907.

The building was the centre for administration, legislation and land regulation for the area that lies to the north of what is now Tseun Wan. The building was also a planning centre – where the first modern roads, electricity systems and rail lines in the New Territories were planned out. Until 1961 the building housed the Magistrate’s Court for the local area. Obviously responsibilities were handed over in1997 though the building remained in use as a government centre till the mid-1980s and now seems to be mostly occupied by the Boy Scout movement.

The building is a typical colonial-style structure typical of the 20th century. It’s sited at the top of a hill up a path from Wan Tau Street just round the corner from Tai Po Market train station (on the East Kowloon Railway line). These sort of colonial buildings were often at the top of hills for obvious imperialist reasons. It’s a typical red brick structure building that hasn’t been mucked about much and even still has the original fireplaces.

It’s nice to see such a well preserved building though of Hong Kong’s record is extremely patchy at preservation – as I’ll note later in the week.


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