August 2015

Industrial Stronghold - Hung Hom

Hok Un Power Station, c. 1950s. Seen in the middle of the photo is Tai Wan Beach. Below it are CLP’s general stores, coal and oil storage facilities and generation unit. On the upper part was the Hong Kong Whampoa Dockyard Co. Ltd. (HWD), and the hill on

When we speak of Hong Kong Industries, one would easily picture silhouettes of factory girls working very hard in some industrial building in San Po Kong post-war. . It would astonish many to say Hong Kong hadalready had a sizable manufacturing industry long before the war, and that Hung Hom, now a middle-class residential area, saw the dawn of the heavy industries. Dockyard founded its base in Hung Hom to support the thriving Hong Kong's entrepot trade and shipping industry in the 19th century. with power plant and cement factory following suit.  Very soon this stretch of southeastern coast of Kowloon Peninsula would become a powerhouse quietly propelling Hong Kong to success.

Hong Kong Whampoa Dockyard

The once gigantic dock left no traces in where it used to be – the area of Whampoa Estate and Whampoa Garden.  However, the district landmark, boat-shaped shopping centre "Whampoa Hong Kong"was erected right on  the old dry dock, , reminding us of HWD's contributions to the development of Hung Hom and Hong Kong.

Founded by Jardine Matheson and Douglas Lapraik & Co. etc., HWD set up its Hung Hom dock on the waterfront in the late 1860s, and expanded in the following few decades riding on development of Hong Kong's re-exports. With shipbuilding and ship-repair being a labour-intensive industry, HWD in its late 19th century heydays employed more than seven thousand people, most of whom lived in the nearby village, which is now the Wuhu Street area.Gradually a densely populated community took shape.

Today, HWD's strong influence on the area can still be seen in the street names: Bulkeley Street, Baker Street, Cooke Street, Gillies Avenue, and Dyer Street were  all named after the taipans of the dock. HWD ceased operation in the early 1970sThe vacant site  has since become a residential plot on which stands the Whampoa Garden.

CLP Power Station

Now the electricity supplier for Kowloon and the New Territories, CLP built its first power station in 1903 at the junction of today's Princess Margaret Road and Chatham Road roundabout. Yet subsequent land reclamations nearby limited the power station's access to sea water for cooling as well as boats bringing coal to fuel generation.  The station thereforemoved to Hok Un of Hung Hom, now the Laguna Verde area. At that time, Hung Hom had been an established industrial district. Its neighbours HWD and Green Island Cement (GIC), were also the CLP's first industrial customers. .

Power station is important strategic facility. In December 1941 when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, CLP received government orders to immobilise Hok Un to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. . Engineers and the Royal Navy worked together to wreck and dump the turbines' parts into Victoria Harbour.  However, the Japanese were able to repair the equipment they had dredged from the sea and to lay a cross-harbour cable to Hong Kong Electric situated in North Point to supply Hong Kong Island. When the War came to an end in 1945, CLP engineers just released from the Stanley Internment Camp immediately returned to the power station only to discover the plant in a state of devastation. The Japanese troops had used it as a rice mill. Boilers were fired with wood felled from the New Territories, as coal became increasingly unobtainable in the later stages of the War.

After the war the plant expanded a number of times to cope with the exponential growth  of Hong Kong's manufacturing industry.With the commissioning of two generation plants of larger scale and improved technologyin Tsing Yi and Castle Peak, the facility in Hung Hom was finally decommissioned in the 1990s.