Reminiscences: Life in Hong Kong's Built Heritage
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When I was six, my parents enrolled me in Yi Tai Study Hall in Shui Tau Village, Kam Tin.

Grandpa told me that in addition to civil examinations, military examinations were held in the Qing dynasty to select competent army officers. Two of my great-uncles studied martial arts in Cheung Chun Yuen. The halberds and stone weights they used for daily drills are still there.

After studying one year at Yi Tai Study Hall, I changed to Kam Tin Mung Yeung School, which was founded in 1926 by Uncle Tang Pak-kau. It was the area’s first primary school with modern education system.

After graduating from primary school, I went to Government Vernacular Middle School on Pokfulam Road, Sai Ying Pun. The school was founded in 1926, making it the first government Chinese school in Hong Kong. To be closer to the school, I lived in my uncle’s home in Yau Ma Tei. To get to school I took a ferry from Jordan Road Ferry Pier to Central Pier. I returned to Kat Hing Wai only on holidays.

Cheung Chun Yuen

Located in Shui Tau Village in Kam Tin, Cheung Chun Yuen was a study hall established by the descendants of Tang Kuen-hin in the mid-nineteenth century to train local youth in martial arts. It is the only historic building of this type in Hong Kong. It is a two-hall-and-one-bay structure; the rear hall is for ancestral worship, and there is an open ground adjacent to one side of the building for martial arts training.

Yi Tai Study Hall

Yi Tai Study Hall was established by the Tang clan in Kam Tin. It is believed to have been built towards the end of the Daoguang reign (1821-1850) of the Qing dynasty to accommodate two immortals, Man Cheong (God of Literature) and Kwan Tai (God of Martial Arts), and to nurture the children of the clan to excel in the civil examinations. It was once a famous local school. The forecourt was paved with white stones, so the students studying there were called "students of the White Stone Lane”, which was a mark of social status at the time.

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When I was small, I studied at the free school of the St. Stephen’s Girl’s’ College. Since my academic results were satisfactory, my teacher recommended me for transfer to the affiliated primary school of the College. Later, I was accepted in their secondary section.

St. Stephen’s Girls’ College was founded in 1906, with the mission of providing all-round education to local girls. In 1924, both the primary and secondary sections of the school were eligible for government funding, so it became an aided school. In the same year, Miss Edna Sabrina Atkins, the headmistress of the secondary school began using government funding to subsidise student textbooks and lunches. She treated rich and poor students alike. In 1928, the school developed a cheongsam-style school uniform. All students, both rich and poor, wore the same uniform to school. These benevolent school policies were still followed when I entered the school.

One of the things that made me so proud of our school was that in 1922, four of our senior schoolmates were among the first ten girls admitted to The University of Hong Kong. Later on, many other St. Stephen’s girls were admitted to the university. I once followed some of the senior students on a visit to the university. The tall clock tower in Main Building was my favourite. That visit made me determine to go to the university, but Japan attacked Hong Kong by the time I graduated from the school, and I had to return to our ancestral village in the mainland with my family to escape the war. I did not continue my studies after the war, but high school education was more than enough in those days. Later, I became a secondary school teacher.

St. Stephen's Girls' College

St. Stephen’s Girls’ College was one of the first girls’ schools in Hong Kong. Some of its students were also among the first female graduates of The University of Hong Kong. The campus was unveiled by the wife of Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs (the then Governor of Hong Kong) on 25 January 1924. Its Main Building is similar in style to a traditional Chinese courtyard house.

The University of Hong Kong

The Main Building of The University of Hong Kong is the oldest of the university's buildings. Completed in 1912, it is an imposing institutional structure, supported by granite columns in Renaissance style. Moreover, it is designed symmetrically around the central axis of the clock tower and features pairs of turrets at both ends of the facade.

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  • Cheung Chun Yuen

  • Cheung Chun Yuen before restoration

  • Interior of Cheung Chun Yuen

  • Cast iron halberd of Cheung Chun Yuen


  • The Ninetieth Anniversary Open Day of King's College in Mid-Levels

  • St. Stephen's Girls College in Mid-Levels