1936 Building along Ting Kok Road, Tai Po
Speaking of 1936, as we just were in this post where I mentioned the great (but not as great as 1937) typhoon of 1936, not far away from Sam Kung temple is a very old building sitting right next to Ting Kok Road at the edge of Po Sam Pai village.
We know it’s old because right above the central entrance – as is common with many older houses in HK – is a date stamp, you guessed it: 1936.
Now, regular readers of this blog will know I am a bit of a sucker for buildings with a bit of style and a bit of age, so i was immediately drawn to this place. The strange thing about it is that, of the three parts that make it up, only the left hand section is actually in any sort of habitable condition. The rest of it – certainly the central section as you can see – is dilapidated and roofless and needing a bit of TLC.
But what about the design on the upper part of the central part. Apart from the date inscription, there is also a mural and some Chinese text. Here is a closer look.
Okay, you have to be a bit eagle-eyed but the Chinese along the top is quite interesting and may reveal a little bit more about the building’s history.
Reading from right to left the characters say: 豫章堂 (yu cheung tong), which I initially thought was possibly referring to the buildings former use as some sort of meeting hall for the local, if any, Henanese contingent. No, it seems I have misunderstood the use of the yu (豫) character. Normally it is used for referring to things relating to Henan province but, after reading up a little bit on the AMO, it appears that Yu Cheung was actually the name of a much-revered ancestor of the person who built the house.
According to Govt files, the house was built by a Law Tai-yuen – a merchant who ran a grocery store in the old (demolished 1983-ish) Tai Po Kau train station and was named after Law Yu-cheung – the clan ancestor.
As you can see from what is left, the facade was quite intricate and this was really done to reflect Law Tai-yuen’s affluence.
Why it now sits in a semi-dilapidated state is anyone’s guess, but I’m assuming it is Mr Law’s heirs that now live in the remaining decent bit and perhaps it is other branches of the family that have let the rest of it crumble. Who knows? It’s these style of buildings I would love to see someone taking responsibility for and restoring them to their former glory.