Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Glimpses of crowded streets and opium dens litter the entire scene. Rickshaws and people clad in cheong sum intermingle with dresses from the Victorian times. Smell of food cooking from peddlers of the street tingle the senses. These are seriously very strong images in my minds eye.

Today we just finished an interview with a local daily newspaper in Kuala Lumpur. We do hope that all will go well, and to be honest, I feel very uptight and stressed. There is much that needs to be done to try and get this 'community project' off the ground. Currently, response has been very cold towards our project despite, in my opinion, the historical significance of this find. I know many will say that this just affects a specific portion of our society, but I beg to differ, to a certain degree - in part due to my national pride.

Not many people know this in Malaysia, but did you know that Arthur Benison Hubback also designed the Kowloon Canton Terminus and oversaw the construction of the building in 1913? Furthermore, if you are a fan of Hong Kong's TVB Cantonese Series, you will actually see the remains of the building in many of their series? So where is this 'building' I am talking about?

First a little bit of history (you may require Chinese Text to ensure that the text appears correctly);

A Glimpse At Kowloon-Canton Railway's History
From its origins in 1897 until modernization & electrification commenced in 1975
by Peter Crush

1st October 1910, the 22.24 mile long single-tracked British Section from Tsim-sha-tsui to Lo-wu was formally opened by H.E. the Officer Administering the Government, Sir Henry May, accompanied by Lady May. Also presiding was General Manager Edward S. Lindsey who had replaced Eves in January 1910.

6th December 1910, a 29 mile section of the Chinese Section was opened to the public by the Viceroy of Canton. A ceremonial train left Canton for a 24 mile ride to Tong Mei. (唐美)The newly appointed Chinese Managing Director CHAO Ching-hua ( 趙慶華 ), who was educated at the Hong Kong Diocesan School, and Traffic Manager C.T. Liu directed the proceedings.

4th October 1911, the 88.73 mile long single-tracked Chinese Section from Shum-chun to Canton was officially opened by H.E. Li Ching Feng (李經方), Commissioner of Foreign Affairs. The Canton terminus was located at Tai-sha-tau (大沙頭總站), south-east of the city on the bank of the Pearl River. Chinese officials traveled on the inaugural train from Canton to Shum Chun where they were joined by British officials. Attending on behalf of the British were the Hon Warren B. Barnes, Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, the Hon C.H. Ross of the British & Chinese Corporation and Mr. J.W. Jamieson, H.M.B. Consul-General at Canton.

1st April 1912, the 7¼-mile long branch-line from Fanling to Sha Tau Kok was opened. This 2ft narrow gauge line was constructed utilizing the railway track, locomotives and rolling stock, which had been used for the construction of the main KCR line.

1913, the Taipo Market railway station (now the museum) was completed and opened for service, and the two sections of the railway cooperated to offer a fast service to between Kowloon and Canton taking about 4¼hours. The fares were HK$4 First Class, HK$2 Second Class and 95 Cents Third Class. In the same year the design for Tsim-sha-tsui terminal building was finalized and construction commenced under the direction of chief architect A.B. Hubback.

Note : This is just an excerpt from the full article and we have changed the initials from A.R. Hubback to A.B. Hubback. For further reading on this article, please visit Mr. Peter Crush's article and The Hong Kong Railway Society.

So, where is this Train Terminus and what does it look like?

Scanned Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Crush

Scanned Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Crush

Photo of the Tsim Sha Tsui Terminus taken by Mr. R. A. Crush in 1974
Photo courtesy of his son, Mr. Peter Crush.

"In 1975, Kowloon Station was moved to the present-day Hung Hom Station on the newly reclaimed Hung Hom Bay. The building of the station was demolished in 1977 despite the protest and petitioning from the Heritage Society and other pressure groups. However, as a compromise it was decided that the Clock Tower was to be preserved, and is now accompanied by the Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and Hong Kong Cultural Centre, all built on former station grounds."

Note : Excerpt taken from Wikipedia. For the full article, please click here.

The Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower today;

Honestly, the Clock Tower is really majestic even at night, but it's a real pity that they had to tear down the Kowloon Terminus Building. Is that the fate that is going to befall our Heritage Buildings here in Malaysia? All I can say is , only time will tell.


In a meeting held by the Hong Kong Legislative Council on 3rd October 1912, it was recorded that 'The designs for the terminal station of the Kowloon-Canton Railway at Tsim Sha Tsui are being prepared by Mr. A. B. Hubback, Government Architect in the Federated Malay States, who has had considerable experience in work of this nature, and it is hoped to begin the construction early next year." ~ unquote. (page 77, Hong Kong Legislative Council Meeting Minutes, 1912.)

In another meeting held by the Hong Kong Legislative Council on 24th October 1912, there seemed to be some discontentment between the council and I quote;

"It is impossible to estimate with any degree of certainty what the cost of the station building will be until the plans are prepared, but the Government do not wish to spend more than $200,000 at present if it can be avoided, though it may be necessary to spend a further sum not exceeding $100,000 in order to provide all the accommodation required. You informed the Council, Sir, at its last meeting that the designs for the station were by kind permission of the Government of the Federated Malay States being prepared by Mr. A. B. Hubback, Government Architect. Mr. Hubback will submit his preliminary sketches for approval before he proceeds to the preparation of general drawings, specification and estimate." ~ unquote (page 82-83, Hong Kong Legislative Council Meeting Minutes, 1912.)

"With regard to the design for a terminal station at Kowloon, the unofficial members are most strongly of opinion that the plans for that station ought to have been thrown open for competition by local firms in this Colony who are necessarily better acquainted with local conditions than any gentlemen, however experienced, from the Federated Malay States. We cannot understand why civil engineers in this Colony, some of whom have had actual practical experience in railway station building, have been passed over in this way. I gather from what fell from the Colonial Secretary a short time ago today that matters have not proceeded very far with Mr. Hubback, and we wish, Sir, to strongly urge, if there is yet time, that the plans for this station shall be thrown open in the usual way to public competition in this Colony. In conclusion, Sir, whilst we have found some matters to comment on in this budget, we (blank) state that we fully realise that your Excellency has, since your return to this Colony in July last, worked hard in the public interest, and we beg leave to assure you, Sir, that in boldly and fearlessly assailing any abuses there may be, you can always count on the sincere sympathy and hearty support of the unofficial members of this Colony. (Applause.)" ~ unquote (page 91 - 92, Hong Kong Legislative Council Meeting Minutes, 1912.)

And finally, someone of authority made the closing statement and I quote;

"The hon. member next referred to the terminal station of the Kowloon-Canton and he asked why the plans for that building were not thrown open to public competition among local architects and others. Well, gentlemen, my answer is, because I can make more economical arrangements which I think will be quite satisfactory. Mr. Hubback is to undertake the work, no matter what the cost may prove to be, whether it will be $200,000 or $300,000, for an inclusive fee of $5,000, which is exclusive of travelling expenses to this Colony and hotel expenses while here. He is coming here to study local conditions. He is a gentleman who has designed many terminal stations for large railways, and I hope and trust he will be able to satisfy unofficial members and the public of the Colony by giving us something good." - unquote (page 96, Hong Kong Legislative Council Meeting Minutes, 1912.)

And so it came to pass the Brigadier General Arthur Benison Hubback was commissioned to design and oversee the construction of the Kowloon-Canton Terminus at Tsim Sha Tsui.

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