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An Architectural Tour of Colonial-Era Hong Kong

July 17, 2017

Old Blighty may have disappeared from these shores 20 years ago, but over a hundred and fifty years of British influence sure hasn’t. From clean-lined barracks to grandiose hotels, we lift the veil on Hong Kong’s colonial past with this enlightening architectural tour… Look up!

 

The Peninsula Hotel, Kowloon

That’s right, guests of the esteemed Peninsula need only step outside for their first glimpse of colonial-era elegance. Built by the Kadoorie family in 1928, the Pen is instantly recognisable for its grand, symmetrical frontage directly opposite the quays where ocean-liner passengers once disembarked. Inside, the Lobby retains the distinctive hallmarks of the 1920s with its high ceilings, elegant columns, gold filagree and potted palms. Today, you can enjoy all manner of Brit-bent pursuits at The Pen, from its famed afternoon tea to refreshing G&Ts at the bar.

Salisbury Rd / Tsim Sha Tsui / Kowloon / hongkong.peninsula.com

Clock Tower, Kowloon

Marking the terminus of the old Kowloon-Canton railway line, the Clock Tower is a charming vestige of the long-gone age of steam-powered travel. Erected in 1915, it symbolised the start of a new life for millions of immigrants, and stands facing Victoria Harbour as a proud reminder of the city’s beginnings. Camera at the ready for an old vs new photo op – the tower sits in striking contrast to the curve of the contempo Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

Star Ferry Pier / Tsim Sha Tsui / Kowloon

Central Police Station, Central

Surveying Hollywood Road like a grand old dame, the stately – if somewhat forbidding – former Central Police Station is a prime example of British colonial style. But rather than be accosted by redcoats, you’re more likely to see a great exhibition at the yet-to-be-unveiled Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art. With restoration and modernisation works still underway, the site is expected to open to the public at the end of 2017.

10 Hollywood Rd / Central / taikwun.hk

PMQ, Central

A quick march from the police station is PMQ or, Police Married Quarters. No longer inhabited by Johnny Law and the fam, this intriguing warren is bustling with homegrown creative talent touting everything from bespoke jewellery and designer specs to cute knickknacks. Built post WWII, it’s typical of British 50s architecture with its clean, smooth lines and sheltered open walkways – shop your way up to the open rooftop, take a peek at the heritage exhibit then descend to Aberdeen Street Social for an award-winning Moshi Moshi cocktail. Chin chin!

35 Aberdeen St / Central / pmq.org.hk

Murray House, Stanley

This 1844-built officer's barracks is a wonderful example of colonial architecture with its marriage of Ionic and Doric columns and Asian characteristics, such as open verandahs. Originally occupying the Central district spot where Bank of China now stands it was relocated to seaside town Stanley brick by brick. Today it’s HK’s oldest surviving building, housing a maritime museum and complex of restaurants – we suggest you kick back on the balcony of Mijas and gaze out at the bay, then take a stroll along Blake Pier, where British dignitaries used to take in the sea breeze. I say!

Main St / Stanley

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