A Travellerspoint blog

Till the cows come home.

A Visit to Pokfulam Dairy Farm.

rain

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

I recently came across an article in the local press about two sisters visiting the newly opened Pokfulam Farm Museum. They were really excited about their visit, because they grew up there. Their mother was housekeeper to the last occupants of the farm's senior staff quarters. The article, and a video that went with it, made me want to visit. Among other things, the sisters remembered the taste of milk fresh from a cow, a wonderful dessert their mother used to make by boiling milk till it thickened and adding sugar, the whole family sleeping in a tiny room - two adults and four children, and climbing a tree in the garden, which was still there but much bigger. They laughed about a time when their mum was angry with them because they stayed out too late playing and how she tried to punish them by giving them just a plain bowl of rice for dinner, but they secretly added milk to it and found it very tasty.

I discovered the museum was still in its soft opening stage and that I had to make a reservation. I was finally able to visit yesterday. The Pokfulam Farm Museum is right next to Bethanie, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, the weather on the day of my visit was cold and rainy with black cloudy skies.

The Pokfulam Dairy Farm was founded in 1886 by a Scottish surgeon called Sir Patrick Manson, along with five prominent Hong Kong businessmen. These men were: Sir Paul Chater, Mr Phineas Ryrie, Mr Granville Sharp, Mr W.H. Ray and Mr J.B. Coughtry. The idea of the farm was to provide a clean, reasonably priced source of fresh dairy produce to improve the health of Hong Kongers. It was believed that the price of milk could be halved by producing it locally rather than importing it. Also the reliable supply of fresh milk would mean people no longer had to drink the vile dry milk powder mixed with water that many had previously relied on.

To start off the dairy farm project, eighty cattle were imported to Hong Kong from Scotland. The farm was set up in Pokfulam and was originally staffed by British livestock experts. These experts had to overcome the problems created by raising the cows in an unfamiliar climate and counteract any outbreaks of disease within the herd.

After a while the company also established a cold storage depot on the corner of Lower Albert Road and Wyndham Street in Central. This depot later became Hong Kong's best known icehouse and gave Ice House Street, Central its name. The old depot building currently houses the Foreign Correspondents' Club and the Fringe Theatre.

In 1900, the Pokfulam Dairy Farm expanded and began rearing pigs and chickens to provide pork, poultry and eggs, as well as dairy produce. At its peak the farm had around fifty cowsheds on three hundred acres of farmland.

The Pokfulam Dairy Farm closed down in the 1970's. It was no longer considered possible to use valuable flat land on Hong Kong Island for farming. It was too desperately needed for housing. The housing estates of Wah Fu and Chi Fu Fa Yuen were built on the farm's former lands. Apparently there are still lots of crumbling remains of former dairy farm structures all over Pokfulam. Two of the farm's octagonal cow sheds are now owned by the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and now one of its former senior staff quarters has been opened as the Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Photo of Braemar before restoration.

Photo of Braemar before restoration.

The company behind the original farm has gone from strength to strength and is nowadays a giant retailer which owns Wellcome Supermarkets, Manning's Pharmacies, Maxim's Restaurants and the Hong Kong franchises of 7-eleven and IKEA.

My visit to the museum was scheduled for eleven in the morning. It goes without saying I was there far too early. The museum is housed in the beautifully restored former senior staff quarters building. This building dates from 1919 and was originally known as Braemar. Nowadays it is a Grade l historic building.

The Pokfulam Farm Sign.

The Pokfulam Farm Sign.

Map of Braemar.

Map of Braemar.

Pokfulam Farm cow model in front of the reception building.

Pokfulam Farm cow model in front of the reception building.

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Pokfulam Farm, back of Braemar.

Pokfulam Farm, back of Braemar.

The Pokfulam Farm Cow model and view of Braemar.

The Pokfulam Farm Cow model and view of Braemar.

The Pokfulam Farm Museum.

The Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

Pokfulam Farm Museum.

There isn't a huge amount inside, but that didn't bother me. I actually just really like old buildings. The building contains some of its original old furniture and fittings, such as fireplaces, old photos of Pokfulam Dairy Farm and its workers and animals and old Dairy Farm memorabilia. There is a filing cabinet where you can share your memories of the farm or write about your visit. I did not attend a guided tour, but these do exist, but probably only in Cantonese. Workshops are also held here. These take place in a modern building opposite Braemar. Apparently the workshops are mainly dairy or bakery related.

Inside the living room at Braemar.

Inside the living room at Braemar.

Old telephone.

Old telephone.

Lamp.

Lamp.

Model of a Dairy Farm car to mark Dairy Farm's Centenary.

Model of a Dairy Farm car to mark Dairy Farm's Centenary.

A room inside the museum.

A room inside the museum.

The cabinet where you can leave a message.

The cabinet where you can leave a message.

Tools from the farm

Tools from the farm

This used to be a bedroom.

This used to be a bedroom.

Old photo of the dairy farm.

Old photo of the dairy farm.

Old photo of the dairy farm.

Old photo of the dairy farm.

Old photo showing cows in front of Braemar.

Old photo showing cows in front of Braemar.

Old photo of a Dairy Farm worker.

Old photo of a Dairy Farm worker.

There were also reminders of what the farm produced with collections of old bottles, ice-cream containers and posters.

Milk bottles.

Milk bottles.

Dairy Farm ice-cream.

Dairy Farm ice-cream.

Dairy Farm ice-cream.

Dairy Farm ice-cream.

Old advert from the farm.

Old advert from the farm.

Attached to the building there is a large verandah with scenic views. Apparently there are fantastic sunset views here in the evenings.

On the verandah.

On the verandah.

View from the verandah.

View from the verandah.

View from the verandah.

View from the verandah.

The museum has a garden where vegetables are being grown. In the garden there are several models of cows dotted around. There was also a large model of a rabbit, though I don't know why. I have never seen a rabbit in Hong Kong, other than in a pet shop.

Cow model.

Cow model.

Rabbit model.

Rabbit model.

When I had finished looking around the farm I noticed some other dairy farm related things nearby and took a last look at the views.

Gardens outside Bethanie.

Gardens outside Bethanie.

View from nearby Bethanie.

View from nearby Bethanie.

The international culinary institute next to the farm.

The international culinary institute next to the farm.

Another old building just outside the international culinary institute that was once part of the dairy farm.

Another old building just outside the international culinary institute that was once part of the dairy farm.

Next, I decided to go for a wander around Pokfulam Village, on the other side of the very busy Pokfulam Road. Pokfulam Village is the oldest village on Hong Kong Island and dates back around four hundred years when it was founded by members of the Chan, Wong and Lo clans. Its name comes from pok-fu, which is a species of bird and lam, which is Cantonese for forest. It was located in its present location, because it was near a stream which gave it its source of fresh water. Not too far away in Waterfall Bay, the stream cascades down into the sea. Sailors on long journeys would stop at this waterfall to replenish their water supplies. As well as drinking the water, Pokfulam villagers used it for farming. They grew rice, vegetables, root crops, ginger and tea.

Old photo of the waterfall at Waterfall Bay.

Old photo of the waterfall at Waterfall Bay.

When the British took possession of Hong Kong, they renamed some of the natural features around this village. White Tiger Mountain became Mount High West. Ancestors' Hill became Victoria Peak and Green Dragon Mountain became Mount Kellett.

The British began to settle near the village. One of the first foreign settlers was Douglas Lapraik, a Scottish ship owner, who built a castle like mansion near the village in 1861. He called it Castle Douglas. This was later taken over by the French Foreign Mission, who renamed it Nazareth and ran a printing press inside it. They also owned Bethanie, just across the road from it. The next major change was the creation of Pokfulam Reservoir in 1863. After that in 1886 was when the Pokfulam Dairy Farm was set up. As it expanded it surrounded the whole village and provided many villagers with work. The sisters who made the video about the museum moved into Pokfulam Village when the dairy farm closed down. On the video they visited several farm remains in and around the village.

Castle Douglas became Nazareth then University Hall.

Castle Douglas became Nazareth then University Hall.

This was my second visit to this village, but I still don't feel I have seen it properly for two reasons. One, it is very maze like and confusing, so I often hit dead ends as I looked around, and two, there are some pretty fierce dogs here. This visit I narrowly avoided being attacked by two bulldogs. Who says I can't run? I certainly can when two fierce dogs are after me!

View over Pokfulam Village.

View over Pokfulam Village.

Earth god shrine in front of the village.

Earth god shrine in front of the village.

Cow related village mural.

Cow related village mural.

In the village. The dogs live at the top of these stairs.

In the village. The dogs live at the top of these stairs.

In the village.

In the village.

Flower pots surround a doorway.

Flower pots surround a doorway.

Stairway lined with bougainvillea.

Stairway lined with bougainvillea.

One of the most special things about Pokfulam Village is its annual fire dragon dance to celebrate Mid Autumn Festival. There are several dragon heads at the entrance to the village. I also like seeing all the crops growing here. There are supposed to be several crumbling Pokfulam Dairy Farm structures in the village, but I didn't find them, as I left shortly after the dogs incident.

Dragon heads for the Dragon Dance at Pokfulam Village.

Dragon heads for the Dragon Dance at Pokfulam Village.

Dragon heads at the entrance to the village.

Dragon heads at the entrance to the village.

Dragon heads at the entrance to the village.

Dragon heads at the entrance to the village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

Little farms Pokfulam Village.

After looking at the village, I took transport back to Hong Kong University. I decided to have another look around the campus. I found a very good spot from which to photograph the main university building.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

Main Building Hong Kong University.

I also took a look at Sun Yat Sen Square with its Sun Yat Sen statue. Once again I didn't remember this from when I attended university, but this time I found out why. The statue was placed here in 2003. I studied here in 2000.

Doctor Sun Yat Sen studied medicine for five years at the Hong Kong College of Medicine. This organisation later became the Hong Kong University Faculty of Medicine. The square is a pleasant open space with a lily pond.

Statue of Sun Yat Sen.

Statue of Sun Yat Sen.

I'm still looking for the older parts of the university and this time I found Eliot Hall and May Hall. These beautiful buildings were originally built as residential halls. At one time there were three of them, but the one nearest the front, Lugard Hall, was demolished in 1992 to make way for the development of new university buildings. Lugard Hall was built in 1913 and was named after Sir Frederick Lugard, the first Chancellor of the University.

Eliot Hall takes its name from Sir Charles Eliot, the University’s first Vice-Chancellor. It dates from 1914. During the second world war this building was used as a relief hospital providing additional support for the nearby Queen Mary Hospital. Then in 1956 it was converted into a gymnasium. In 1963 it became a student residential hall once again.

Eliot Hall.

Eliot Hall.

May Hall was opened in 1915. It takes its name from Sir Francis Henry May, the 15th Governor of Hong Kong and the second Chancellor of the University. May Hall was the main residence for staff and students during the Second World War.

May Hall.

May Hall.

May Hall.

May Hall.

May Hall.

May Hall.

Unfortunately in 1966 after days of torrential rain there was a massive landslide on the slope adjacent to these three university buildings. The buildings were badly damaged and needed to be closed for a while and repaired. They reopened in 1969 and were then known collectively as Old Halls.

I also went into the University Museum and Art Gallery. This is housed in the Fung Ping Shan Building and the T.T.Tsui Building. These are linked by a footbridge.

In 1929, Fung Ping Shan, a prominent Hong Kong businessman and Chinese scholar, made a generous donation to the university, which helped establish a library housing a collection of Chinese books. The building was designed by the architectural firm Leigh and Orange and was completed in 1932. Unfortunately, Mr. Fung Ping Shan passed away before the building was completed. This building later became the Fung Ping Shan Museum of Chinese Art in 1953. This is the oldest continuously operated museum in Hong Kong. It houses collections of ceramics and bronzes from the Neolithic period, as well as traditional and modern Chinese paintings. It also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Fung Ping Shan Building.

Fung Ping Shan Building.

Fung Ping Shan Building.

Fung Ping Shan Building.

Outside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Outside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Outside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Outside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

The exhibitions were interesting, but unfortunately photography was not allowed. I did take a couple of shots of the building when noone was watching. I thought the building was really beautiful.

Inside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Inside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Inside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Inside the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Beautifully carved door in the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Beautifully carved door in the Fung Ping Shan Building.

Outside the T.T. Tsui Building I found lots of animal statues. Apparently these are lions. They were depicted like this on a piece of Tang Dynasty pottery. They symbolise great strength and high rank.

The T.T.Tsui Building.

The T.T.Tsui Building.

Strange lion statues.

Strange lion statues.

Strange lion statues.

Strange lion statues.

By this stage I felt I had done enough wandering and headed back home.

Posted by irenevt 14:37 Archived in Hong Kong

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

I wouldn't mind sitting on that verandah during sunset with cuppah! :)

by hennaonthetrek

You are a real tour guide, Irene! Thanks for the wealth of information and pictures!

by Vic_IV

Hi Henna in better weather it would be a lovely place to sit.

by irenevt

Hi Victor, thank you. I'd probably enjoy being a tour guide.

by irenevt

I liked the cow statues. We were in Edinburgh once when there were very colorful cow statues all over the city. We never did find out why but we've seen them other places since then. Great fun!

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, that will have been, what I think was called, the cow parade. We saw it in Zurich. Yes it was great fun looking at all the statues in that.

by irenevt

Thanks for sharing - those lions sure have a big itch! Glad you’re still a great runner and got away from those dogs. So interesting to read that the building at Pokfulam was called Braemar.. I wonder if HK reminded them of Scotland or it was a wee reminder of Scotland as the cows and surgeon were Scottish

by Catherine

Hi Catherine, a lot of Scottish people came to Hong Kong when it became a British colony. There are lots of places, streets etc with Scottish names.I used to teach on Braemar Hill which is not near Pokfulam.

by irenevt

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login