Oct 30, 2017

Visit Stanley - The Fishing Village

History

A visit to one of the marine museums of Stanley will take you back in time to an era when humble fishing families of the indigenous Tanka, Hakka and Hoklo tribes lived on these shores.

Before the village and its surrounding areas got their popular name of Stanley, this region was known by the name of Chak Chue, a Cantonese phrase that translates into Bandit’s Post.

The name is attributed to a legend according to which the notorious pirate Cheung Po Tsai worked actively in and around present day, Stanley. There is also believed to have been a cave named after the pirate himself, which was later filled up in the mid-eighteenth century.        

 

Stanley and World War II

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The year 1941 changed the face of this tiny fishing village forever. The remnants of this bloody past still scar its surface. Stanley was the last place where British forces held their ground against the Japanese army during the battle of Hong Kong, before ultimately surrendering to them on the December 26, 1941.

Its remoteness made Stanley one of the best places for a long holdout, and yet one of the worst places to participate actively in the Battle of Hong Kong.

The sadistic massacre at St. Stephens College, which was being used as a British hospital at the time, was one of the cruellest in war history. Doctors, nurses and patients who were incapable of defending themselves were mercilessly slaughtered. It claimed as many as a hundred lives.

Although the English troops had officially surrendered by 3:15 pm on Christmas Eve, the news did not reach Stanley. The fighting continued at the Stanley Fort till 2.30 the next morning. More than 1,500 defendants out of the 14,000 who fought, died.

 

Squatters of Stanley

Hong Kong is no stranger to squatters and squatter settlements. As early as the year 1844, Sir John Davis, the Governor had already issued a proclamation against the construction of ‘mat houses.’

Around and after World War II, Hong Kong experienced an influx of refugees. Also, as a result of the war, many Hong Kongers had lost their homes. This lead to random squatter settlements popping up across the islands.

By the ’50s and ’60s, Stanley was home to one of the major squatter settlements, a sea-side squatter village called Ma Jang. Like many other squatter villages in Hong Kong, it has now been converted into a public housing estate.

 

Stanley Today

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Today, Stanley has shaken off its tragic past and is a vibrant market town – a favourite place for locals and tourists alike to visit. It’s an expatriate haven – and home to many rich locals. Alongside the gradual decline in the fishing industry of the village, tourism and retail has steadily grown.

Stanley is also home to some of the most exquisite restaurants in Hong Kong. One such restaurant, not very far from the main market street, is housed in Murray House, special for its history.

Built in the year 1845, its original location was near Victoria. The building was dismantled brick by brick and carried to its current location in the year 1982 and rebuilt over a span of eighteen years. Today, it stands as a handsome colonial sea-front building in the village.

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A Walk Through Stanley

Stanley has developed a great deal over the past couple of decades, but if you know where to look, it still holds pockets of its past, unchanged. A walk through, Stanley, apart from being entertaining, can also be an enriching experience.

Jason Wordie conducts professional walks through Stanley. With Wordie’s Walk, you would visit Stanley Military Cemetery, a cemetery made for the soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Hong Kong, near Fort Stanley.

Learn about the Internment Camp, a camp where the Japanese took civilians hostage in 1941 during the war. Understand the leading struggle that took place in St. Stephen’s College and the European and Indian Married Quarters at Stanley Prison.

After exploring the cemetery, the walk takes you to the Stanley Village where the old Police Station (built in 1859) still stands. From the Police Station, continue through the Stanley Main Market and Stanley Main Street up to the Tin Hau Temple, built in 1767! Amazingly, despite heavy shelling during the World War, the temple survived largely unscathed.

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The walk then proceeds towards Pak Tai Temple, near which some old wartime pillboxes can still be spotted along the cliffs, before ending at Murray House.

On Saturday, November 18, 2017, Mozaic Club, in association with Hong Kong historian, Jason Wordie, will be hosting a tour around Stanley, followed by lunch at a local restaurant.

If you are interested in participating, do contact us via our website or Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/mozaiclub/ or visit our website: www.mozaiclub.com.hk

 

#mozaiclub #stanley #JasonWordie

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