Since its discovery last year, the Romanesque cistern located at Bishop Hill in Shek Kip Mei has dominated the news. Appeals for its preservation has led the Antiquities Advisory Board to examine the area and eventually declare the underground reservoir a Grade 1 historic building, which refers to buildings of outstanding merit in which every effort should be made to preserve if possible, on March 11, 2021.
Photograph: Courtesy Hong Kong Reminiscence
The 4,300sq m cistern features underground chambers with 100 brick pillars and water pipes. It was discovered while the Water Supplies Department was clearing the site in preparation to hand over to the Lands Department for other use last December. Hikers, photographers, and various spectators have flocked to the site since then to take photos of the area, but currently, the government prohibits the public from visiting the reservoir for safety reasons as the enclosed areas contain marsh gas and the structure is not stable. Authorised personnel doing site visits are required to obtain a license to enter the premises.
Screenshot of Sham Shui Po underground reservoir virtual tour
To give a glimpse of the site and allow the public to view the area, the Water Supplies Department (WSD) has launched a virtual tour that anyone can access from their computers or mobile phones. Along with a 360-degree view of the cistern, the virtual tour provides educational information about the reservoir and all its features. The government aims to raise awareness about the historical structure and enable the public to participate in the ongoing consultation of AAB's proposed grading.
Get an up-close look at the century-old reservoir
A long-term preservation plan for the reservoir is still underway, with temporary strengthening and tidying up works that already started in January. Adding provisions for internal lighting, ventilation facilities, and further reinforcements will continue in the following months. The authorities are making sure that the facility is secure and safe before opening it to the public later this year.
Visit wsd.gov.hk to view the 360-degree tour today.
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