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CollectionsHome of the Past: From Squatters to Public HousingCoastal Squatters
特藏往昔家園: 從寮屋到公屋臨海寮屋
Coastal Squatters

According to the 1961 census, among a population of 3,100,000, over 150,000 made their homes on boats.  Many of boat-dwellers were fishermen, the rest being engaged in trading and in various kinds of transportation, and also boat-related industries such as boat building and repairing.  In addition to large fishing towns like Aberdeen, Cheung Chau, Tai O and Shau Kei Wan, there were numerous fishing communities, for example, at Lei Yue Mun, Yau Ma Tei, Cheung Sha Wan, Tsuen Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, Chai Wan, Tsing Yi, Mui Wo, Tuen Mun, Po Toi, Sok Ku Islands, Ping Chau, Tap Mun, Kat O, Kau Sai, Po Toi O, Tai Po, Sai Kung, and elsewhere.

A great majority of fishermen’s families lived on boats and had no accommodation on land.  When conditions of the junks or fishing boats deteriorated over time, some began to anchor in the foreshore and settled down and attached to the foreshore.  Gradually, other homeless people also built makeshift wooden structures or stilt huts alongside with these junks, which gradually became coastal squatters.

Living conditions in the floating communities were extremely poor.  A boat usually accommodated a whole family of four to eight people.  Lavatory, bath, kitchen facilities were absent.  Sanitary conditions were also extremely poor.  In some fishing villages, communal toilets and bathrooms were built.  Solid waste and untreated waste water were dumped or drained into the water beneath the stilt huts or the boats.  Since many of these villages were situated at the bay head inlets, tidal movements were unable to wash the sewage sway.  Consequently, offensive odour became one of the most distinctive features in these places.  Many children did not go to school even reaching school age.  They grew up and played on board until they could help their parents in fishing or other activities.  Necessities were often bought from the water borne peddlers on sampans.

  • Stilt huts in Shau Kei Wan

  • Stilt huts in Yuen Chau Tsai

  • Stilt huts and boat squatters in Yuen Chau Tsai

  • A densely populated area with stilt huts and bo...

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