During my two years in Hong Kong I lived on the east side of Hong Kong Island in an apartment complex called Kornhill which lies within Quarry Bay. It wasn’t until shortly before I left in March this year that I discovered the area has an interesting history and I decided to take a closer look…
Unsurprisingly the area was originally a bay where rocks were quarried for construction. The bay disappeared after land reclamation, and was about 700m from the current coastline.
During British colonial times Quarry Bay (鰂魚涌) was originally home to Taikoo Dockyard (太古船塢), the Taikoo Sugar factory, and later the Swire Coca-Cola factory. A reservoir was constructed on the slopes of the hills above to supply fresh water to the factories.
The eastern part of the Quarry Bay, is largely owned by Swire and thus many places and facilities are named after the company’s Chinese name, Taikoo (太古).
By 1903, Taikoo was producing about 2,000 tonnes of refined sugar a week which was sold throughout China.
During the occupation in WWII, both the refinery and the dockyards were used by the Japanese, and the sites were targeted by Allied bombers leaving them in ruins.
The sugar refinery was rebuilt and reopened in 1950 but with new competition and large tariffs in other markets, the business was no longer viable. Along with the dockyards nearby which had also gone into decline they closed in the early 1970s.
Photographs from the Historical Photographs of China project.
However, the land was still valuable and in the 1970s what had been the docks became Taikoo Shing, a private housing development for the fast-emerging middle class. The newly built Quarry Bay MTR station also made the area more accessible.
In the mid-1980s, the hillside was levelled and converted into Kornhill (康怡花園) apartments, the reservoir into Mount Parker Lodge (康景花園) apartments, and the Dockyard into Taikoo Shing (太古城). The Coca-cola factory is now Kornville (康蕙花園) apartments, and Taikoo Sugar is now the Taikoo Place (太古坊), a commercial complex (where I used to work).
Today little visible evidence of its industrial heritage remains, save for the foundation stone of the dockyard and the recently restored Woodside House (above) which served as the senior staff quarters for the Taikoo Sugar Refinery.