A bit of the more recent Colonial history of HK can be found when looking into the details of Fanling Magistracy (粉嶺裁判法院). It’s not a particularly old building by the usual standards (certainly compared to other ‘official’ Govt buildings that can be found in the NT) because it was ‘only’ built in 1960.
However – and this is an oft-repeated sentiment, not just by me – the fact that it’s a ‘certain age’ (hmm, older than 30 years?) and has yet to be turned into a high-end shopping mall or apartment complex styled means it should be embraced and treasured as part of the territories ‘built heritage’. Consider also that in 1960 Fanling was, like the rest of the NT, largely undeveloped and certainly nowhere near the size and scale it is today – and even these days the town itself is fairly small. So at the time of its construction this building would have been fairly grand and imposing.
Incidentally, it was the very first magistracy to be built in the New Territories (previously, crimes etc committed in the NT were heard in the Kowloon District courts) which means, despite only a poxy Grade 3 listing, it is a historically significant building in terms of NT development and modernisation.
It’s not hard to find, just head to Fanling on the MTR East Rail and then get yourself onto Sha Tau Kok Road, walk for 10 mins and it’s there overlooking the roundabout. It’s empty and has been since the new law courts opened in 2002.
Looking at the site it’s hard to believe the reason it’s no longer used is because it didn’t have the space to support the amount of services it needed to provide to the burgeoning local populace. The main building looks fairly modern (and I suppose it is being only 50 years old) to the point where it looks much younger than it is.
Annexes were erected on the site in the early 80′s to provide extra court space (damn all those non-law abiding Fanling residents) and even this ran out eventually – leading to the construction of the aforementioned Fanling Law Courts.
Looking at the site now it has the benefit of an immense amount of leafy tree shade which makes the whole place look rather attractive – a nice contrast to what I feel is a rather industrial feel to this part of Fanling – but it seems that as part of a proposed revitalisation project (also known as ‘adaptive reuse’ in Govt jargon) the site boundary has been reduced.
Whatever happens I hope they have the sense to hold onto the rather stylish railings that surround the front of the property. They have some nice little crown designs of the top.
Here is a link to a Govt doc detailing it’s proposed reuse. Much more historical information in there as well as detailed architecural plans and onsite photos (that I sadly can’t provide), so check it out. If you are a HK film fan then you may recognise the building from Infernal Affairs 2 (amongst others).