Restored reservoir ready for tours soon

Top News | Wallis Wang 26 Nov 2021

Public visits of the Bishop Hill Reservoir are expected in mid-December as the Water Supplies Department is close to completing reinforcement works.

The century-old reservoir in Shek Kip Mei has been listed as a Grade One historical building by the Antiquities Advisory Board.

The department said guided tours will be provided from December 15 to June, with a quota of about 1,000 places available each month. Online reservation will start at 9am on Wednesday.

Tours will run seven days a week, except on public holidays, with each tour lasting about 90 minutes. English-language sections will be available every other Saturday.

The number of visitors will be capped at 12 per tour. Visitors are not required to be fully vaccinated, but they have to use the "LeaveHomeSafe" app.

The 90-minute tour will start from Berwick Street, Shek Kip Mei, and involve a 10-minute uphill walk to the reservoir, and then back to Berwick Street. "The public will be able to appreciate the architectural designs engineered more than a hundred years ago," said Philip Chung Wing-kee, assistant director of the Water Supplies Department.

Tour guides will lead the way and explain the history of the cistern, and allow visitors to enjoy the architectural design of the place.

Visitors can walk freely inside the reservoir during the tour, Chung said. He hoped people would respect the monument.

The government is open to future plans for the reservoir at this stage, Chung said. A questionnaire on future development of the reservoir will be distributed during the tour.

The department has hired a tour agency. All the guides have acquired relevant experience and undergone training, senior engineer Milton Law Wai-ho said.

Maintenance work has been under way at the Bishop Hill Reservoir since June. A glass roof is installed to protect the exposed part of the reservoir.

Two sets of stairs have also been constructed on the hilltop leading up to the reservoir. Some of the surrounding land has been covered with artificial grass while a white path runs around the site, which remains sealed off to the public.

Some drainage and ventilation facilities, elevated platforms, low ultra-violet lights, surveillance cameras and fences were also built, costing a total of HK$20 million.

Chung said 10 percent of the walls and four piles had been removed during the demolition work in December. But since the materials were all well kept, they could be restored.

The reservoir in Shek Kip Mei was the former Sham Shui Po Service Reservoir built in 1904. The reservoir is a Romanesque cistern with well-preserved pillars and Roman-style arches dating back to the 1900s.

After being abandoned since the 1970s, the reservoir was unearthed in December during demolition, causing the authorities to halt the work amid a public outcry.

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