Colonial Buildings in Central Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Colonial Buildings in Central Hong Kong (Self Guided), Hong Kong

Having been a British colony for over a century, Hong Kong boasts a wealth of colonial architecture. The majority of old buildings, some designated national heritage objects, are concentrated in the Central part of the city.

The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is one such charming colonial edifice that once served as the residence of the Commander of the British forces. Today, it houses a remarkable collection of tea ware, showcasing the significance of tea culture in Hong Kong's history.

The Legislative Council Building is an iconic symbol of Hong Kong's political history. Its neoclassical architecture stands as a testament to the British colonial administration's influence on the region's governance.

The Court of Final Appeal, with its distinct red brick facade, is another prominent colonial-era structure. It has played a vital role in the city's judicial system and continues to do so today.

Saint John's Cathedral, a splendid Gothic-style church, is a spiritual oasis in the heart of Central Hong Kong. Its construction dates back to the mid-19th century and stands as a testament to the enduring presence of Christianity in the region.

Government House, an elegant mansion set amidst lush gardens, was once the official residence of British colonial governors. It now serves as the official residence of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

The Old Dairy Farm Depot, the Central Magistracy, and the Central Police Station are historic structures that have been repurposed to accommodate contemporary needs while preserving their colonial architectural charm.

More than just relics of the past, these colonial buildings are living testaments to Hong Kong's unique history. So, make sure to pay them a due visit on your trip to Hong Kong. The stories they hold and the beauty they exude are well worth it!
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Colonial Buildings in Central Hong Kong Map

Guide Name: Colonial Buildings in Central Hong Kong
Guide Location: Hong Kong » Hong Kong (See other walking tours in Hong Kong)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
  • Legislative Council Building
  • Court of Final Appeal
  • St. John's Cathedral
  • Government House
  • Old Dairy Farm Depot
  • Central Magistracy
  • Central Police Station
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

1) Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Flagstaff House, constructed in 1846, stands as Hong Kong's oldest remaining example of Western-style architecture. Situated on Cotton Tree Drive, Central, within the confines of Hong Kong Park, this historic residence served as the home for the Commander of the British forces during the colonial era. Today, Flagstaff House has been repurposed and transformed into the Museum of Tea Ware.

Originally called Headquarters House until 1932, this location was carefully chosen: a small bluff overlooking the barracks, Queen's Road, and the waterfront. The building's design reflects the elegance of the Greek revival style, possibly created by Murdoch Bruce or Lieutenant Bernard Collinson. Major-General George Charles D'Aguilar was its first occupant.

During World War II, Flagstaff House was damaged by Japanese bombings but later repaired and used as the Commandant's residence. After the war, it served as the Commander's abode until 1978. Then, a new house on Barker Road became their residence, and Flagstaff House was handed over to the Hong Kong Government. In 1981, it came under the jurisdiction of the Urban Council.

Recognized as a monument in 1989, Flagstaff House underwent extensive restoration efforts to restore its original appearance from the mid-19th century. The building was structurally reinforced, and modifications were made to the interior to accommodate its transformation into a museum space.

In 1984, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware was established as a branch museum of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. This unique institution focuses on the collection, study, and exhibition of teaware, boasting an impressive assortment of Yixing teapots from Jiangsu, China, including the world's oldest surviving teapot.
Legislative Council Building

2) Legislative Council Building

The Former Supreme Court Building of Hong Kong, commonly known as the Legislative Council Building, holds historical significance. It served as the location for the former Supreme Court until 1985 when its name was changed. Situated in Hong Kong's Central district, it stands to the west of Chater Gardens and borders the eastern end of Statue Square.

The architectural design of the Legislative Council Building was entrusted to Sir Aston Webb, the British architect renowned for his work on the eastern facade of Buckingham Palace. Collaborating with Ingress Bell, he developed the original structure of the building.

Constructed on reclaimed land, the Legislative Council Building was unveiled to the public on January 15, 1912. Its design embraces neo-classical architecture, featuring a two-story granite structure supported by Ionic columns. Crowning the edifice is a blindfolded statue of Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law, identical to the one adorning London's Old Bailey.

In 1978, due to the impact of the Mass Transit Railway construction, the building underwent significant restoration. Recognized as one of Hong Kong's 92 declared monuments, the Legislative Council Building carries great historical and cultural value.
Court of Final Appeal

3) Court of Final Appeal

The Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong is the court which has the final adjudication power on all the laws of the city of Hong Kong. It is located in the Former French Mission Building, in the Central district of Hong Kong Island.

On the first of July in the year 1997, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to China. Before this time, Hong Kong was under British rule and the powers of final adjudication on its laws were with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. After gaining sovereignty from the United Kingdom, the Court of Final Appeal was established in Hong Kong.

The court is housed in the Former French Mission Building, which was originally a mansion called Johnston House. During the 1870s and 1880s the building was altered into a 3 storey building. The present building was constructed in 1917, and its design is based on “Beaconsfield”, a structure near the site of the French Mission Building. The building has a red brick facade, and is built in an Edwardian period, neo-classical style with granite blocks. The structure was constructed on a podium due to the hilly areas of the Government hill in Hong Kong.
St. John's Cathedral

4) St. John's Cathedral

There are only five cathedrals in all of Hong Kong. The oldest is the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist, otherwise known as Saint John's Cathedral. Like Holy Trinity Cathedral and All Saints' Cathedral, Saint John's is Anglican. The other two Hong Kong cathedrals are the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Luke's Orthodox Cathederal, which are Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, respectively.

Saint John's Cathedral was completed in 1849 and consecrated in 1852. It is not just the oldest cathedral in Hong Kong but the oldest Anglican church in the Far East. The architectural style is English Gothic Revival. The cathedral is fashioned from stucco and wood.

Visitors to Hong Kong are welcome to attend services at Saint John's Cathedral. It is open for regular services on Saturdays and Sundays. On Mondays, the cathedral hosts a meditation service from 12:30 to 1 PM.

The cathedral grounds have ample seating for those who want to enjoy some peace and relaxation in the midst of the bustling Garden Road. Adjacent to Saint John's Cathedral is Cheung Kong Park, which offers excellent views of the cathedral's clock tower while providing a quiet walking path lined with greenery.

Why You Should Visit:
Exquisite church in the heart of the city jungle with peaceful and pretty courtyard seating.

Very often, you will find Wednesday lunchtime performances. There's even a cafe on the grounds called The Nest with a lovely selection of hot & cold drinks, biscuits, pies, etc.
Government House

5) Government House

The Government House is located on the Government Hill in the Central district of Hong Kong. This house is the official residence of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The structure was built in 1855 as a Colonial Renaissance style home, but during the Japanese occupation, it was significantly remodeled. Today the building has a hybrid Japanese-Neoclassical structure with a tower and roof elements, added by Japanese architect Seichi Fujimura in 1944.

In the past, when Hong Kong was under British rule, it was the official residence of the Governors of Hong Kong from 1855 to 1997. Out of the 27 British Governors’ of Hong Kong, 25 used the Government House as their official residence.

The House was designed by Charles Saint George Cleverly and its construction started eight years after Hong Kong was declared a British colony in 1851. The first Governor to reside in the Government House was Sir John Bowring. In 1891, a Ballroom was added to the original house for social functions. Even during the Japanese occupation, during World War II, the Government House was occupied by the official Japanese Military Governor.

Today, the Government House is home for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The current structure has been extensively renovated, and an elaborately expensive fish pond has also been added.
Old Dairy Farm Depot

6) Old Dairy Farm Depot

The Old Dairy Farm Depot is a Nineteenth Century building that currently houses the Foreign Correspondents' Club (in the North Block) and the Hong Kong Fringe Club (in the South Block). It is located at number 2 Lower Albert Road in the Central district of Hong Kong. The edge of the building faces Glenealy while its back faces Wyndham Street.

In 1890, a low-rise, brick and stucco structure was constructed on Lower Albert Road by Dairy Farm in Central Hong Kong. This building was used as a cold storage warehouse, initially. Later in 1913, this warehouse was expanded and renovated in order to include a dairy shop, a cold storage room and a room for meat smoking. The cold storage room was used to store winter clothing. A residency for the General Manager of the company was also added later.

During the 1970s, the company moved and the building was abandoned. The Hong Kong Fringe Club acquired the abandoned building in 1984. The Fringe club renovated the building extensively to make it a vibrant place for the contemporary arts. The Old Dairy Farm building has won the Hong Kong Government Heritage Award and it has been categorized as a Grade II Historic Building in Hong Kong.
Central Magistracy

7) Central Magistracy

The Central Magistracy is located in the Central district of, Hong Kong Island on Arbuthnot Road. It was commissioned in 1913 and its construction was completed in 1914. The Central Magistracy stands on the original site of the first Hong Kong Magistracy built by the British. This building was one of the first erected by the British upon their arrival in Hong Kong. The former structure dated back to the mid nineteenth century, circa 1847, and was demolished in order to make way for the new building and additional blocks.

The present Magistracy building features the Greek-revival style, with imposing pillars of the facade, and has an overall majestic appearance. The walls of the building are made of granite blocks. A basement has also been added in the new design, and this provision caused much delay in the construction work.

The Central Magistracy along with the Victoria Prison and the Central Police Station are among the ninety two declared monuments of Hong Kong. Together, these three buildings are categorized as the Central Police Station Compound. In 1978 the Central Magistracy was closed, and has been used by the police force for different purposes ever since.
Central Police Station

8) Central Police Station

The Central police station is located in the Central district of Hong Kong, at the eastern end of Hollywood Road. This site actually dates back to the middle of the Nineteenth Century when the British first came to Hong Kong.

The British built some of the first colonial structures at the site of the Central police station and these are, The Central police station building, The Victoria Prison compound, and The Central Magistracy.

Due to the ever changing social, political and operational changes that have occurred in Hong Kong over the last century and a half, these structures have been repeatedly modified and altered.

A 3 storey barrack block, constructed right next to the Victoria Prison in 1864, is the oldest structure within the police station. In 1905, another storey was added, plus several more between 1910 and 1925. During this period, many people moved from mainland China to Hong Kong, and many police stations had to be built in order to maintain law and order in the increasing population.

The Central Police Station comprises seven blocks, with the main building featuring a classical style with Doric style columns. The building follows a grey and blue color scheme.

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