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Explore the History of Stanley on a Special Heritage Trail

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A popular belief, held by many Hong Kong residents and tourists alike, is that there was very little settlement of the island before the arrival of the British in the 1840's. Hong Kong was, to many, in the famous words of Lord Palmerston (the British Foreign Secretary at that time) "a barren rock with scarcely a house upon it." Not true! There were, in fact, many villages on the island when the British arrived. The village which the locals now refer to as "Chek Chue," (Red Pillar, after the rocks in the area), and which was later named "Stanley" by the British colonialists after Lord Stanley, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, was by this time a thriving fishing community. The first British occupants of the area were military personnel, who established a garrison in Stanley both to combat piracy in the surrounding waters as well as to escape from the perceived unhealthy environs of the modern Admiralty area, where the original garrison was located. However 19th century diseases such as cholera, typhus and malaria were never far way and soon both military personnel and their dependents were dying from these and other diseases. The military therefore therefore opened what is now called the Stanley Military Cemetery on the site of their garrison, which was later closed in the 1870's and re-opened in the 1940's after a 70 years hiatus to receive both internees who had died during the Japanese occupation and military personnel killed during the 1941 battle. We commence our tour with a visit to this cemetery and the neighbouring St. Stephen's College, which moved to its present campus in 1928. The college was the scene of much fighting in December 1941 and was also the the site of the internment camp for many Europeans during the Japanese occupation. We then visit Stanley village, on the way taking in some interesting village houses. We look at Murray House, one of the earliest Western-style buildings in Hong Kong, the Blake Pier on the Stanley waterfront and also one of the oldest Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong.

A popular belief, held by many Hong Kong residents and tourists alike, is that there was very little settlement of the island before the arrival of the British in the 1840's. Hong Kong was, to many, in the famous words of Lord Palmerston (the British Foreign Secretary at that time) "a barren rock with scarcely a house upon it." Not true! There were, in fact, many villages on the island when the British arrived. The village which the locals now refer to as "Chek Chue," (Red Pillar, after the rocks in the area), and which was later named "Stanley" by the British colonialists after Lord Stanley, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, was by this time a thriving fishing community. The first British occupants of the area were military personnel, who established a garrison in Stanley both to combat piracy in the surrounding waters as well as to escape from the perceived unhealthy environs of the modern Admiralty area, where the original garrison was located. However 19th century diseases such as cholera, typhus and malaria were never far way and soon both military personnel and their dependents were dying from these and other diseases. The military therefore therefore opened what is now called the Stanley Military Cemetery on the site of their garrison, which was later closed in the 1870's and re-opened in the 1940's after a 70 years hiatus to receive both internees who had died during the Japanese occupation and military personnel killed during the 1941 battle. We commence our tour with a visit to this cemetery and the neighbouring St. Stephen's College, which moved to its present campus in 1928. The college was the scene of much fighting in December 1941 and was also the the site of the internment camp for many Europeans during the Japanese occupation. We then visit Stanley village, on the way taking in some interesting village houses. We look at Murray House, one of the earliest Western-style buildings in Hong Kong, the Blake Pier on the Stanley waterfront and also one of the oldest Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong.