Lecture - The Gap Rock Lighthouse - Dr. S. W. Poon

  • City Hall Library, High Block, 8/F 5 Edinburgh Place Hong Kong Island Hong Kong

Background

In 1875 and 1876 the lighthouses at Cape D’ Aguilar, Green Island and Cape Collinson were opened. There were also proposals to build lighthouses on Gap Rock Island and Waglan Island but no agreement was reached until May 1888, the Chinese Foreign Office instructed the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs to be in charge of the construction of the Gap Rock Lighthouse and delegated to the Kowloon Customs for its implementation. The Imperial Qing Government paid $7,500 for the construction and an annual maintenance fee of $750.

Construction

The construction works included the Light Tower, the European and the Chinese Quarters. The lantern contained a revolving light of the first order at 43m above the mean sea level, would be visible at a distance of 32km in clear weather. The buildings were constructed using brickwork and cladded with dressed granite blocks. The Light Tower, flanked by the European Quarters, contains a basement with storage space and a water tank, surmounted by two floors for the accommodation of the keepers. The Chinese Quarters, connected by a short passage to the European Quarters, also housed the Telegraph Clerk.

On 1 September 1890, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Francis Fleming, the Acting Governor. With a total cost of $192,008.38, the light was exhibited on 1 April 1892. The Lighthouse has an extra function in supplying the weather information to Hong Kong Observatory.

Repair and Maintenance

In 1893, all glass windows of the Lighthouse were damaged by a severe typhoon. A British consultant suggested rebuilding the Lighthouse on the northern part of the Island. The idea was dropped due to extremely high construction costs.

Post Second World War

The Island was occupied by Japanese army in 1940s and the Government of The People’s Republic of China took over the control in 1950. In July 1986, a solar cell system was installed for the light and the cook house was converted into a heliport.

Summary

The Gap Rock Lighthouse is a very distinctive piece of heritage with both tangible and intangible values. It was the first ever joint venture between the Qing Dynasty and the British Government. The Lighthouse was administered by Hong Kong Colonial Government until 1950. The Lighthouse has been wholly returned to China and is now operated on an automation system despite the severe damages during the war.

The Speaker

Dr. S. W. Poon is an Adjunct Professor of Department of Real Estate and Construction at The University of Hong Kong. He was Programme Director of BSc in Surveying and MSc in Construction Project Management and Real Estate, and Acting Head/Deputy Head of the Department.

Dr. Poon obtained his MSc in Construction and PhD from Loughborough University, U.K. He is a Corporate Member of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineer and Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management in the UK.

His research work includes temporary works design and construction, and investigation of accidents and failures during construction. During the last few years his research interest extends to the historical construction works such as quarrying and lighthouses in Hong Kong. 

Doors open 6.30.  Lecture start time 6.45.  Please note earlier start time

Booking: No charge.  Free admission.