Hong Kong’s Antiquities Advisory Board has called for the preservation of a century-old government building in the New Territories but some members raised concern about mould which they spotted during a field trip last week.
The colonial-era Old District Office North was one of three buildings whose historical merits were discussed at a meeting on Thursday.
“The first thing I felt when entering the building was its humidity…” said Yau Chi-on, a history professor from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Inside, basically a bit of the wall and ceiling has started to get mouldy.”
The former staff quarters are now being used as storage units by different government bodies and museums and are air-conditioned, with no natural ventilation. Yau said this was not ideal for the preservation of the building.
The premises in Tai Po were built in 1921-22 for staff who worked in the Old District Office North, the administrative centre for the eastern New Territories at the time. The red-brick building contains four well-preserved fireplaces, the board noted.
The advisory body supported a Grade-2 status for the building, which means “efforts should be made to selectively preserve” the architecture.
Members expressed hope that the grading could prompt the government to alter its use and revitalise the site. “We should protect it as soon as possible,” Yau added.
The other historic building which received a proposed Grade 2 status was a rural building in Tai O on Lantau Island, built in 1945. The house was of particular interest because wood salvaged from fishing boats had been used on the exterior, while bricks saved from a collapsed house had been utilised in construction.
Mixed opinions on old police station
The board had mixed opinions on whether a former police station on Lamma Island should receive Grade 3 status, which would mean it is of historical significance.
The former police post, on a hill next to Hung Shing Yeh Wan, was built in 1966.
It was the first police facility on Lamma.
The advisory body was told that the police force had obtained funding to demolish the post.
Members described the architecture as “ordinary” and “not representative enough” for preservation.
They also questioned how the building could be revitalised as it is in a remote and isolated location.
The board agreed to postpone a decision till its next meeting in three months’ time and meanwhile seek more information on the structure from Lamma residents or from ex-officers who once worked there.
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