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Live, Work and Pray

Live, Work and Pray

By Time Out Hong Kong

One of the oldest districts in Hong Kong, Sham Shui Po has played a huge role in shaping the local way of living. The district’s east-meets-west character has informed the architectural style of the residential buildings and landmarks and it was also the birthplace of Hong Kong’s public housing. Discover the buildings that shaped the community as well as the remnants of its manufacturing boom days, which cemented the character of the neighbourhood. Also, be sure to explore Sham Shui Po’s places of worship, many of which were built by early immigrants from Mainland China who wanted to honour the deities that they worshipped back home.

 


Building a community

YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel
YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel

Originally part of the Shek Kip Mei Estate that was constructed after a massive fire left nearly 58,000 homeless in 1953, Mei Ho House is a physical symbol of the beginning of Hong Kong’s public housing policies. The building has been awarded an honourable mention by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation and now serves as a popular youth hostel. To celebrate the history of Sham Shui Po, the building also houses the Heritage of Mei Ho House museum, which documents the development of public housing and living conditions in Hong Kong from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Address: Block 41, Shek Kip Mei Estate, 70 Berwick Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 3728 3500
Website: www.yha.org.hk
Precious Blood Convent
Precious Blood Convent

The Precious Blood Convent played an important role in the welfare of the community when it opened its doors in 1929. Not only did it provide shelter and free medical care to the poor, it was also an orphanage for abandoned babies. Today, the neoclassical building is not open to the public, but it can still be admired from the street, where it stands as a symbol of charity and commitment to those who are in need.

Address: 86 Un Chau Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
170 Yee Kuk Street
170 Yee Kuk Street

A Grade II historic building, 170 Yee Kuk Street is what is known as a tong lau – a type of tenement building that was prevalent in South China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Built in the 1920s, the ground floor formerly acted as a shop for a frame maker, while the floors above served a residential function. Business has long ceased but the building’s windows – distinctive of old tong laus across Hong Kong – and the calligraphic signs advertising the old framing business remain icons.

Address: 170 Yee Kuk Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Sham Shui Po Chinese Public Dispensary
Sham Shui Po Chinese Public Dispensary

This medical centre gave Yee Kuk Street its name (‘yee kuk’ means clinic in Cantonese). A Grade II historic building, this construction was built in the 1930s after its former site, also on Yee Kuk Street, was deemed insufficient to meet the medical needs of local residents. The building is no longer open to the public, but you can still admire the stunning art deco architecture from the outside; the building’s pillars are adorned with western classical motifs while the balcony railings feature bamboo-shaped Chinese ceramic tiles – a beautiful example of Hong Kong’s east-meets-west ethos.

Address: 137 Yee Kuk Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Sham Shui Po Police Station
Sham Shui Po Police Station

The Sham Shui Po Police Station was built in 1925 to help monitor the western side of Victoria Harbour and also to combat rising crime rates during one of the most difficult periods of social and economic turmoil for the Sham Shui Po district. The station is composed of five buildings with block C being the oldest. Now a Grade II historic building, it was designed by Palmer and Turner Architects and mixes elements of traditional Chinese architecture with western trends that were popular at the time –the pagoda-style roof that sits atop colonnades and keystone arches is an example.

Address: 37A Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
SCAD Hong Kong
SCAD Hong Kong

Formerly the North Kowloon Magistracy building, this UNESCO award-winning building is currently home to the Hong Kong campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The exterior has remained much the same as when it was designed and built by Palmer and Turner Architects in 1960. While the interior was modernised when the building was redesigned for educational purposes in 2010, many of its original aspects remain, including jail cells and courtrooms, which are now used as offices and lecture halls. SCAD Hong Kong offers guided heritage tours to the public in both English and Cantonese. If you want to take part in one of these informative tours, please register online or via email at least three days in advance.

Address: 292 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2253 8022
Website: visitscadhk.hk
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum

This four-chambered tomb was discovered in 1955 when a hill was being levelled in preparation for the construction of resettlement buildings. Inscriptions found within suggest that it dates back to the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25-220). Although the tomb is closed to the public for conservation reasons, visitors can still get a glimpse of this remarkable relic from behind a glass panel, and can also learn more about the tomb’s history by looking at pottery and bronze pieces that were excavated from the site.

Address: 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2386 2863
Sham Shui Po Park
Sham Shui Po Park

This memorial park is located on an important historical site. Formerly the Sham Shui Po Barracks in the 1920s, this piece of land became the main POW camp during the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong. As you stroll through this stretch of tranquil greenery, you’ll find two plaques erected in 1989 and 1991 to commemorate those who perished in the POW camp.

Address: 733 Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon

 


A centre of industry is born

Garden Company
Garden Company

One of the most beloved brands in Hong Kong, Garden was the first bakery in Asia to implement large-scale machine production for its cakes and bread products. At the peak of its success in the 1950s, its factory on Castle Peak Road produced more than 5,000 kg of biscuits a day. Don’t forget to take a photo of this 80-year-old landmark.

Address: 58 Castle Peak Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2360 3160
Website: www.garden.com.hk
Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC)
Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC)

The JCCAC building was once a factory estate that housed the city’s cottage industries. It was given a facelift and a new lease on life when it reopened in 2008 as a bustling creative hub, providing venues for burgeoning and established artist alike to display their creations. The space also houses a theatre, craft shops and the Heritage Tea House, where visitors can enjoy a traditional brew while they explore this nine-storey building.

Address: 30 Pak Tin Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2353 1311
Website: www.jccac.org.hk
Nam Cheong Pawn Shop
Nam Cheong Pawn Shop

Hong Kong’s pawnbroking industry exploded after the government legalised it in 1926. Built during that decade, the Nam Cheong Pawn Shop is a reminder of this once-flourishing business that helped fuel the city’s economy. Today, the Grade II historic building still boasts many traditional features, including the saloon doors at the entrance and the iconic pawnshop sign featuring the auspicious symbol of an upside-down bat holding a coin.

Address: 117 Nam Cheong Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Ho Chung Kee
Ho Chung Kee

Tucked away in an alley, this tiny store has been making galvanized iron products for more than half a century. Although now a rare sight, these items were once a mainstay in homes and businesses before they were displaced by plastic and stainless steel. The wares sold here are all hand-moulded by owner Mr Ho, one of the few remaining artisans in this trade.

Address: 151 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2380 3943

 


Places of worship

Kwan Tai Temple
Kwan Tai Temple

Constructed in 1891, Kwan Tai Temple is the only place of worship in Kowloon dedicated to the god of war and righteousness. This Grade II historic building is a great example of traditional Lingnan architecture and includes many stunning features, including a giant bronze bell and crescent blade. The temple is open to the public on most days but it becomes a real spectacle on the 24th day of the sixth lunar month, when crowds arrive in droves to celebrate Kwan Tai’s birthday.

Address: 158 Hai Tan Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Sam Tai Tsz Temple and Pak Tai Temple
Sam Tai Tsz Temple and Pak Tai Temple

Two temples in one complex, Sam Tai Tsz Temple is a Grade II historic building originally built in 1898 by Hakka immigrants to honour their patron deity, Sam Tai Tsz, after a particularly deadly plague swept through Sham Shui Po. Full of fascinating details, the temple houses cultural relics that date back to the late Qing Dynasty. After exploring this fascinating site, head next door to Pak Tai Temple – a Grade III historic building built by local fishermen in 1920 to honour the Emperor of the North, the eponymous Pak Tai.

Address: 196-198 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Lung Hing Tong
Lung Hing Tong

A popular spot with Instagrammers, this building is unlike anything else in Sham Shui Po. It’s home to Lung Hing Tong, an institution established in 1931 that offers a range of services from the medical to the spiritual and religious. Its colourful green tiling is in stark contrast to the neutral blocks sitting on either side, and its eye-catching design is topped by a 3D dragon, cranes and deer emerging out of the frescos on the roof.

Address: 92-94 Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2381 6067
Website: www.lunghingtong.org
(Chinese only)
 

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