Have you noticed that the names of quite a number of places in Hong Kong contain the character of “rock” in Chinese? Shek Tong Tsui, Diamond Hill, Shek O and Shek Mun are some examples. According to folk records, all of these places are closely related to quarries in the old days as quarries were once located in these places. With a history spanning over a century, the Hong Kong’s quarry industry has not only taken forward the Hong Kong’s city construction, but has also provided valuable developable land to support Hong Kong’s different development needs.
A thematic exhibition entitled “The Legend of Rocks: Destiny of Quarries”, jointly organised by the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Planning Department (PlanD), is being held at the City Gallery in Central. This time, I have invited the heads of these two departments to review the history of Hong Kong’s quarry industry, its contribution to city development, and explore the way forward for quarrying in Hong Kong.
The exhibition is divided into four zones, namely, the history of Hong Kong quarries, operation and use of rock materials, after-use of quarry sites and the future need for quarries. The exhibition is worth visiting. Besides descriptive and pictorial display panels, it showcases the tools used by quarry workers in old days and shows clips on historical records, all of which are very valuable.
Origin and development of quarry industry
The earliest records of Hong Kong’s quarry industry date back to 1841. In the days shortly after the opening of Hong Kong as a trading port, a large amount of rock products was required for developing the City of Victoria. Drawing on locally available resources, the Government at the time started quarrying at sites near the development areas, first along the coastline of Hong Kong Island at Shau Kei Wan, Shek Tong Tsui and Morrison Hill, and then along the coastline of Kowloon Peninsula at Cha Kwo Ling, Sai Tso Wan, Ngau Tau Kok and Lei Yue Mun (collectively known as the Four Hills of Kowloon), and at Quarry Hill in Ho Man Tin.
In the early days, finely dressed stones of granite, known as ‘ashlar’, were a major rock product used for constructing buildings, retaining walls, reservoirs and seawalls. At present, surviving examples of construction using these locally quarried stones include the Old Supreme Court Building, old Central Police Station Compound, old Green Island Lighthouse and Sai Ying Pun Community Complex. In view of the need to develop road network and following the introduction of concrete as a major construction material in the early 20th century, the Hong Kong quarry industry also shifted to producing rock aggregates for use in concrete as well as for building roadways.
In order to ensure an adequate supply of aggregates, the Government regularly reviews its policy on quarrying. For example, in 1966, the Government encouraged small and non-operating quarries to return their permits, and then switched focus to the development of large-scale quarries on a contract basis, including establishment of Lam Tei Quarry in Tuen Mun, Lamma Quarry, Ping Shan Quarry, Shek O Quarry, Anderson Road Quarry, Diamond Hill Quarry etc., to meet the demand for rock products in Hong Kong between the 1980s and 1990s.
Maintaining a suitable level of local rock reserves
According to the Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Mr LAM Sai-hung, the exhibition aims to showcase to the public the history and the importance of the Hong Kong quarry industry. Last year, the total consumption of rock products by the Hong Kong construction industry reached a record high of more than 25 million tonnes. It can be expected that there would be a great impact on the construction industry if there were a shortage of rock product supply to meet the demand in Hong Kong. At present, imports from the Mainland account for the major supply source of the rock products used in Hong Kong, and there is a need to duly maintain a local supply of rock products to allow for contingency.
At present, Lam Tei Quarry in Tuen Mun is the only existing quarry operating in Hong Kong, which will cease to operate in around 2022-2023. The Government has started to investigate the feasibility of developing new quarries and to identify potential sites, with a view to operating the new quarries timely to sustain the local supply of rock products.
Releasing important land resources
After the quarrying operation and completion of the required rehabilitation works, a quarry site will release a large piece of land to meet various socio-economic needs of Hong Kong. Anderson Road Quarry is one such example. It was in operation for a period of more than half a century from 1956 to its closure in 2017. The total developable area of the rehabilitated Anderson Road Quarry exceeds 40 hectares.
The Director of Planning, Mr LEE Kai-wing, Raymond, said that the PlanD and the CEDD had collaborated to carry out planning and engineering studies on the future development of the Anderson Road Quarry in 2011. A Recommended Outline Development Plan was drafted in 2014. Site formation works have been carried out at the quarry in accordance with the plan. Smart, green, and resilient elements will be injected into the infrastructure construction in the future. Aside from the proposed housing development at the rehabilitated quarry site, there will be commercial and community facilities, as well as a regional park of about 17 hectares, providing sports and recreational facilities for members of the public. The quarry will be transformed into a green and livable community through planning and development.
The thematic exhibition entitled “The Legend of Rocks: Destiny of Quarries” is running until 10 September, 2018, with seminars, field trips and workshops to be held during the period. You are welcome to visit and participate in the related activities to understand Hong Kong’s quarry industry and contemplate the city’s future planning and development. To build a more livable Hong Kong, we must pull together to make it happen one step at a time.
1 July, 2018Back