Unknown building ( Hung Hom Inland Lot No. 219 ) | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Unknown building ( Hung Hom Inland Lot No. 219 )

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Unknown building   ( Hung Hom Inland Lot No. 219 )

Unknown building ( Hung Hom Inland Lot No.219 )

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Thursday, January 1, 1920


School and Church ?

Gillies Avenue.

West of Dock premises.

On the Hill side at the North end is,


The map on the right is the same as the map on plate 4-7 of Mapping Hong Kong. The map is titled "Kowloon Peninsula 1947", and the map's key says the "T." means it is a Temple.

Regards, David

Yes - it's clearly shown as 'Temple' on the 1887 Plan of Kowloon at Plate 4-2 of Mapping Hong Kong:-


Today, we know the temple is at the end of Kun Yam St.  So in this map the 'T." either refers to another one, or that same temple has moved slightly down the road to its current position. 

Does anyone have some clues on the history of this temple?


P.S. Kwo Lo Wan interests me too.  I have not heard of this name before.


Hi There,

I believe what exactly happened to that temple could only be considered as demolish as there is currently no temple at the current location.  The Kun Yam Temple nearby may or may not be the highlighten temple.

I found this in the website of the committee managing the Kun Yam Temple:  

1.   The Kun Yam Temple was built back in 1873 and had been refurbished in 1919-1920;

2.   The committee website did not mention if the Kwun Yam Temple had ever been moved.  If it had indeed moved it should have been documented by way of paper works, or by the traditional way of setting up a stone engraving somewhere.


There are HHIL stone markers at Station Street behind Kwun Yam Temple, however.  The HHIL number doesn't seem to match the quoted HHIL 219.

Further investigation is needed.



Now I wonder if the "T." on the 1947 map is in the wrong place.

As Breskvar notes, today the Kun Yam temple is at the end of Kun Yam St., see: http://gwulo.com/node/9551

Mapping Hong Kong has maps of Kowloon from 1887, 1902-3, and 1924 that show the temple in its current location. Then there's the 1947 map where there is still a building at the site of the temple, but the "T." is on the other building. Finally the maps from 1964 and 1990 that show the temple in its current location again.

As T says, there isn't any mention of the temple changing site, so it looks like a mistake on the 1947 map.

Regards, David

Hi There,

Went to the temple last weekend and confirmed the HHIL stone on three corners of the temple showed the number 168.  However I checked this lot number at Government GeoInfo Map and found this Lot number is not valid any more.



If you think the 1947 map has this wrong and the temple has always been where it is now, then I must ask where came this image from 1920 showing HHIL 219?  If this image isn't the 1947 map itself, that makes a couple of errors erring in the same place, two decades apart.  Very interesting but also suspicious.

Is it possible that we look up the history of HHIL 219 instead of HHIL 168, now that we know 168 isn't a valid number anymore.



Hi Breskvar,

Sorry, I'm not sure of the source of the left-hand map above. The photo was uploaded by user mad1941, so hopefully they can tell us.

HHIL 219 is the lot for the mystery building in the photo above, at the end of Walker Road & Gillies Ave.

HHIL 168 is the lot for the Kwun Yam temple, at the end of Kun Yum Street (fromerly Temple Street).

Unfortunately it looks as though neither lot number is used any more, at least they don't return any results if I use the "Lot" tool to search for them at http://www1.map.gov.hk/gih3/view/index.jsp

Regards, David

Hung Hom Inland Lot No. 219, returned to the Government in 1959, the development of roads (平治街Ping Chi Street )

Kun Yam temple has been there since the 19th century. Not likely it has been moved. There is a building at the Station lane-Kun Yam street junction which is unlabelled. That one is the kun yam temple. It is possible the map is mislabelled.


This lot was the location of a girls' school called Sen Tak School 聖德學校 (predecessor of Holy Angels Canossian School in Hok Yuen Street) run by the Canossian sisters from 1890 to 1954.  The sisters bought the site and built a two-storey European house as a convent, school and dispensary in 1898.  Villagers in the vicinity called the hill 聖德山 because of the charity work of the sisters.

The house was destroyed during the US bombing of Whampao Dockyard and Hunghom on 16 October 1944.  After World War II, the sisters reopened the school using nissen huts as classrooms. However, the nissen huts were severely damaged in a typhoon in August 1954.  As the Government also planned to use the site for roadworks, a site at Hok Yuen Street was offered in exchange for the Sen Tak site.  The sisters accepted the Government's offer, thus ending the 64-year history of the Sen Tak School. 

Below is a photo of Hunghom taken from Chatham Road in 1921 (Source: Public Records Office) showing the Sen Tak School, Convent & Dispensary at HHIL 219. 

1921 Hunghom from Chatham Rd.jpg
1921 Hunghom from Chatham Rd.jpg, by ashchoi

Below is a closer look of the site and the school.

1921 Hunghom from Chatham Rd (2).jpg
1921 Hunghom from Chatham Rd (2).jpg, by ashchoi


This is a 1949 aereal view of Hunghom. There are 2 buildings of interest south of the saint hill. One is the building at the north-east corner of the Wuhu playground (junction of chatham-wuhu). It looks like a temple to me but not at the correct position. Another building is up the hill and it is likely the "saint school" (聖德學校). The Kun Yam temple can also be seen near the lower right corner.


1949 hunghom air view showing a temple.png
1949 hunghom air view showing a temple.png, by simtang


Another 1949 overhead view shows more clearly the positions of those buildings. It shows that the unknown building was just part of the saint school. Apparantly a left wing had been added to the unknown building between 1920 and 1949. (dotted lines mean the lot itself which may not be fully occupied. Only solid line means actual building)

1949 hunghom air view 2.png
1949 hunghom air view 2.png, by simtang



This is a 1935 map showing all the details around this part of Hunghom. The 1920 map showing that part of Hunghom is essentially the same. It shows more details than the other pictures. There are some steps leading up to the building.


1935 hunghom map.jpg
1935 hunghom map.jpg, by simtang



1959 hunghom map.jpg
1959 hunghom map.jpg, by simtang

In 1959, the house has disappeared. It is consistent with the fact that the school 聖德學校 in 1958  was "rebuilt" or moved to the Hok Yuen campus as shown in the map. Renamed as Holy Angels Canossian School.

News reports indicate the Canossian sisters came to Hong Kong in 1860. It had its origin in Italy when a girl from a rich family became a  nun and used her family fortune to build churches around the world. They have churches in Macau and Hong Kong. Their headquarter in Hong Kong was on Caine road. The reports said they have a church in Hunghom with an orphanage and a school. It may be difficult to find the record since they may not be registered as a formal school or send  their students to government-organized Hong Kong  school Certificate Examination  before 1958. It may not be too far-fetched to call it a temple of the Catholic kind and locals may have mistaken it to be one .



There was a fire in dec 1954 which destroyed the squatter huts on saint hill (聖德山). It is possible the school was demolished together with the fire-damaged huts soon after that


1954-12-29 saint hill fire 1.png
1954-12-29 saint hill fire 1.png, by simtang


Another news report of the fire mentioned that there is a path beside the saint school (聖德學校) on Wuhu street leading uphill to the huts. It could mean the steps going from station lane to the house as shown in the above 1935 map.

聖德山大火 1954.png
聖德山大火 1954.png, by simtang



I think it would be useful for me to clarify several issues:

(1) The Founder of the Canossian Order is Saint Magdalene of Canossa.  She was the daughter of Marquis Ottavio of Canossa, Verona, Italy. She used her inheritance to help the poor and sick, and in 1808 used an old convent building to start the Canossian Daughters of Charity.  The Order received formal approval from the Pope in 1828.  She was canonized in 1988. The Order's charity work was focussed in Italy until 1860 when six sisters left Italy and started their first overseas mission. The first destination was Hong Kong. Using Hong Kong as the regional base, the Sisters then started missionary work in different parts of China, Macao, India, Japan and the Philippines etc.

(2) Sen Tak School 聖德學校 was a primary school for girls. The school began operation in 1890 in another location in Hunghom but it moved to the top of a small hill behind Wuhu Street around 1899/1900. Apart from the school, there was also a free clinic and a small convent for the sisters. The Canossian Sisters did run orphanages, but not at this location.  The small hill did not have a formal name but villagers called it Sen Tak Hill 聖德山, following the name of the School. 

Sen Tak School.jpeg
Sen Tak School.jpeg, by ashchoi

(3) Next to the Sen Tak Hill was the Kwun Yam Hill 觀音山 with a temple at the top. So when there is any mention of a temple, it should be this temple. The temple had been there before the Canossian Sisters bought H.H.I.L.219 in 1898 and built the School.  And further east, also on top of a hill, was the old Police Station. Below is a map of 1896 showing the temple and the Police Station.

1896 hunghom.jpg
1896 hunghom.jpg, by ashchoi

Another map of the same area of 1920 shows all three structures -- Sen Tak School at HHIL219, the Temple and the Police Station.

1920 Hunghom.jpg
1920 Hunghom.jpg, by ashchoi

(4) Sen Tak School was a primary school, so it was not on any of the list related to the HK Certificate of Education Examination.  But it was formally registered with the Education Department.  Below is the Education Report in 1905. The school in Hunghom refers to Sen Tak. 

1905 Education Inspectorate Report.jpg
1905 Education Inspectorate Report.jpg, by ashchoi

(5) I was not precise enough when I mentioned earlier that the school ran from 1890-1954. The School was not destroyed by the fire in 1954. The original school building was destroyed by US bombing on 16 October 1944.  With funding from the Government, nissen huts were built in 1949 and the school resumed its operation. The huts were damaged by a typhoon in August 1954.  The school then continued its operation using the premises of Holy Family School at Junction Road.  One school operated in the morning and the other school operated in the afternoon.  In 1958, the school moved to the new school building at Hok Yuen Street and was renamed Holy Angels Canossian School.

Thank you for the detailed information about the school. I tried 香港年鑑, the school  聖德學校 was not listed.
I wonder even if it was a primary school, did they send their students to public exams like the 升中試 to be alloted places in middle schools. The reason is that the nuns may not be qualified to be teachers and hence not be able to satisfy the requirements for the students to take part in those exams. Obviously in 1905, things were more lax and those exams did not even exist.
Education Report in 1905 did not show any Sen Tak. You mean number 22 Italian convent? Or is it the wrong page?
(3) Next to the Sen Tak Hill was the Kwun Yam Hill 觀音山 with a temple at the top.
Rather it is at the foot of Kwun Yam hill.
The old police station was on a ridge of  Kwun Yam hill facing Ma Tau Wai road. Both the police station and and temple can be seen in great details on this 1935 map:

As for the 1954 fire, it did not affect the school but prompted the government to act quickly to resettle the squatters. The Kwun Yum hill was demolished soon after that to make way for Hunghom Chuen. The Saint hill was also cleared to make way for the Fat Kwong Street, flyover, playgrounds and parks, which were facilities for residents in Hunghom Chuen and the valley hill chuen on the other side of chatham road.
Any information about the school proved to be elusive. The school may have been very low key and didn't like to promote themselves. Even Holy Angels Canossian School official web page said very little about their history before 1958.

1890 年至第二次世界大戰之前,在九龍紅磡,
中斷了一段時間,其後,又於1945 年,為了居民的
校舍,在下午上課,直至1958 年才遷回紅磡,並易

From 1890 to  World War II, she also opened a sen tak school in Hung Hom, Kowloon, ; this school closed down during the war. After a period of hiatus, then, in 1945, for the residents'  urgent need it was reopened, but it must be temporarily moved the classes to Kowloon City Holy Family School , with classes only in the afternoons. It did not move back to Hung Hom until 1958 to the new Hok Yuen school building and renamed Holy Angels Canossian School.




這也是戰後部份重建工作的目的。1949 年,修會決定重建那座在
紅磡,於戰時被炸毀的學校。建成後錄取了250 名學生,她們

After 1949, we must spare no effort to assist the continuous influx of refugees from the mainland into Hong Kong. This is also the purpose of part of the post-war reconstruction work. In 1949, the church decided to rebuild the Hung Hom school that was bombed during the war. After completion, 250 students were admitted, and they all came from poor families, and we introduced them to God. Soon after school resumes,  they opened a small clinic there, and visited the poor  from time to time.


1863 年我們的修會收容失明兒
童及婦女. 在1924 年,我們把他們集中安

In 1863 our congregation took in blind children and women. In 1924 we put them together in Hung Hom  where  there was also a chinese primary school and a clinic.


I believe the photo of Ashchoi was taken on chatham road looking north. The buildings in front of saint hill were located at Wuhu street. Just wonder what are those chimneys and factories on the left of chatham road? Is it the Kwun Yam temple on the right edge of photo?

@ashchoi, thank you very much for sharing your research. I've copied it to a new Place so that other readers can find it easily: https://gwulo.com/node/57389#17/22.30829/114.18532/Map_by_ESRI-1920_Kowl...

The new page is made under your account, in case you need to make any edits.

Education Report in 1905 did not show any Sen Tak. You mean number 22 Italian convent? Or is it the wrong page?

@ashchoi wrote that "The school in Hunghom refers to Sen Tak.", so it is number 26 on the 1905 list.

Let me elaborate a few points:

(1) The Secondary School Entrance Examination 升中試 was only introduced in 1962 (4 years after Sen Tak had closed down). 

(2) Since the arrival of the first six sisters in 1860, over 500 sisters have served in Hong Kong, devoting their lifelong services as teachers, doctors, nurses, welfare or church pastoral workers etc. These sisters have different backgrounds, talent and training, and would be assigned duties in which they are qualified. Those who are assigned to schools normally have university degrees or teacher's training. As for Sen Tak, it was managed by 2 Italian sisters, alongside several lay Chinese teachers. 

(3) The school records were mostly destroyed in the 1944 bombing and the 1954 typhoon. But the limited documents (registration record, inspector's reports and Government funding) available do indicate that the school had been registered since 1891.

(4) Yes, the Canossian sisters have always maintained a low profile in their work.  Their education / medical / social / pastoral services are all done for the love of God and mankind.

(5) I believe the chimney on the left of Chatham Road should be part of the CLP Chatham Road Power Station.


Public exams existed long before that. Sorry, it should be 小學會考 which started in 1949.  They did have a formal school on Caine road called Sacred Heart Canossian School. Before they moved to Hok Yuen, the one in Hunghom was not a formal school. Registered in 1891 doesn't mean they were qualified to take part in public exams. In that registration, it just mentioned the number of personnels they had, not the qualifications as would be expected in a more formal kind of forms from the education department which might not have existed at that time.  The only advantage they had is that it was free. Locals would not send their kids there if they want quality education.Sacred Heart Canossian School would be a better choice.  It is indeed difficult to find any record of the school except that one piece of registration in 1891.



I suspect HHIL 219 may be 紅磡街坊會小學 Hung Hom Kaifong Association Primary School, which located besides kwun yam temple, start in 1904, and stop operation in 2007. As there had a mystery that in  16/10/1944, usa bomb hung hom by mistake which lead over 300 student and teacher has died, but the temple haven't get any damage, as the school built on 1963, i think the school should not located besides the temple when it start operation on 1904.