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Green Island lighthouse compound declared a monument (with photos)

     The Green Island lighthouse compound has been declared a monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, a spokesman for the Development Bureau says. A notice on the declaration was gazetted today (November 7).

     The Green Island lighthouse compound comprises an old lighthouse built in 1875, a new lighthouse built in 1905, a former European quarters and a former keeper's house. Both the old and new Green Island lighthouses have served thousands of vessels from the western approach to Hong Kong for many decades and have played an important role in Hong Kong's maritime history.

     The Green Island lighthouse started operation on July 1, 1875, about three months after Hong Kong's first lighthouse was set up at Cape D'Aguilar. In 1901, there was a plan to move the lantern of Cape D'Aguilar lighthouse to Green Island. As such, a higher and larger tower to accommodate the Cape D'Aguilar light was necessary.  

     The construction of a new lighthouse adjacent to the old one on Green Island commenced in 1904 and was completed in 1905. Upon the completion of the new lighthouse, the old lighthouse lost its original function. The new lighthouse was fully automated in the 1970s and is still in use.

     The old lighthouse is a 12-metre-high small circular tower constructed of granite. Its doorway features projected rock-faced quoins. There are two cross-shaped openings on its wall for ventilation and lighting inside. The openings resemble gun-posts like those found in mediaeval European castles.

     The new lighthouse is also a circular tower. Constructed of granite and concrete, it is about 17.5 metres high with a steel lantern on top. The whole structure is painted white for high visibility to mariners, thermal insulation and protection of the structure itself. The spiral staircase is of fine masonry with beautiful railings while the entrance and window are in the form of segmental arches with ornamental plaster mouldings.

     The former European staff quarters, probably built in the late 19th century, forms an integral part of the lighthouse compound. Classical features such as the front porch supported by columns with modified capitals can be found in the building. The quarters was originally a single-storey building but an upper floor was added in 1923.

     The former keeper's house is a one-storey flat-roofed block in simple L-shape, featuring segmental arched windows and overhanging eaves.

     From the 1950s, local staff started to replace Europeans as the light-keepers in Hong Kong. However, their duties were replaced by automatic operational devices in the 1970s. The two lighthouse staff quarters were once converted and used as the Police Recreation Centre. At present, the former quarters, the former keeper's house together with the surrounding area (except the two lighthouses) are leased to the Wu Oi Christian Centre as a drug treatment and rehabilitation centre for youth.

     The old and new Green Island lighthouses are two of the five surviving pre-war lighthouses in Hong Kong. Of the other three lighthouses, the two on Waglan Island and Tang Lung Chau were declared monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance in 2000, and the one at Cape D'Aguilar was declared in 2006.

Ends/Friday, November 7, 2008
Issued at HKT 11:15


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