The Government today (May 20) announced that the Secretary for Development, in his capacity as Antiquities Authority, has declared Blocks 7, 10 and 25 at the old Lei Yue Mun Barracks as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The notice of the declaration was gazetted today.
The Barracks was one of the earliest and most important British Army fortifications in Hong Kong. Situated at the northeast corner of Hong Kong Island overlooking the eastern approach to Victoria Harbour, Lei Yue Mun occupied a strategic position. In 1885, the military decided to construct permanent infrastructure at Lei Yue Mun. In 1889, land was transferred to the War Department for constructing barracks at Lei Yue Mun. The Barracks consisted of the central area (main barracks), the western ridge (upper fort) and the headland (lower fort). The main barracks, built at different times from 1890 to 1939, mainly served as offices and married quarters for the British Army. By the 1890s, the fortifications at Lei Yue Mun had fully become an important point of coastal defence and continued to expand in the following decades.
By the 1930s, the strategic importance of Lei Yue Mun had declined considerably as a result of technological and tactical advances. On December 19, 1941, the Barracks fell to the hands of the Japanese in the Battle of Hong Kong. In the post-war period, the Barracks was used by the British Army as a training ground until 1987, after which the Barracks was returned to the Hong Kong Government for civil use. The central area and the western ridge have been the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village since 1988, whereas the military installations at the headland were restored to form the Museum of Coastal Defence, which was opened in 2000.
Block 7 was built in 1890 to 1895 at the north end of the Barracks on top of a prestigious hill overlooking the Lei Yue Mun Pass. It is believed to be one of the earliest buildings constructed in the first phase of the barracks development. It was originally built as officers' quarters for the Royal Artillery. In the post-war period, it was used by the Hong Kong Military Service Corps as a training centre.
The architectural style of Block 7 is Colonial Vernacular, which featured the characteristic wide open verandahs on three sides, a raised ground floor and a central "jack roof". The building is rectangular in plan, of single-storey brick construction and set on low segmental arches. Two ornamental brick and granite chimney stacks still exist. External architectural features include simple square Tuscan order columns which support the verandah roofs. The main entrance doorway has a segmental arch and central keystone. Some Classical plaster mouldings to the ceiling cornices still remain.
Block 10 was built in 1890 to 1895 with an extension added in 1935. The older part is believed to be one of the earliest buildings constructed in the first phase of the barracks development. It occupies a commanding site towards the north. It was originally built as soldiers' quarters for the Royal Artillery.
Block 10 is probably the most elegant building in the Barracks and a rare piece of simplified Classical design architecture. It is a three-storey long rectangular building featuring open-arched, colonnaded and balustraded verandahs on the front and rear facades. The segmental arches are supported on square Tuscan order columns. The first and second floor verandahs have classical urn-shaped balustrading. The extension in 1935 was generally constructed to the same scale and to the same design as the older block. The chimneys and most of the fireplaces still exist.
Block 25, used as the Officers Mess, is believed to have been built in the late 1890s to early 1900s. It is one of the earliest buildings constructed in the first phase of the barracks development and is a good representative example of early colonial military architecture.
Block 25 is a two-storey building with elegant simplified Classical design, featuring open colonnaded and balustraded verandahs on three sides. The east facade retains much of its original appearance. The walls and columns are painted brickwork. The verandahs are supported by square brick columns with simple bases and capitals. The first floor verandah has typical urn-shaped classical balustrading, but the balustrading to the ground floor verandah is of a different design. There are moulded cornices at the first floor and eaves levels. Internally, the spaces remain structurally similar to their original appearances.
Information on the three monuments is available at the heritage conservation website of the Development Bureau (www.heritage.gov.hk).
Ends/Friday, May 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 11:50