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Thread: Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017

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    Default Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017


    1. The History
    Shek Lo is a colonial house near Fanling (also referred to as ‘Peter Lodge’). It was built in 1925 by Mr ‘Peter’ Tsui Yan Sau (1889-1980), a convert to Catholicism who was also the founder of Wah Yan College and was the first principal between 1919-1926. Tsui was the architect and contractor of his own house. Built on a piece of land calved-out of the adjacent lychee orchard, the two-storey building was a blend of Chinese and Western architectural styles. The colonial-style front porch and European big windows with shutters were complemented by a roof typical of rural Chinese mansions (a pitched roof supported on wooden purlins and battens and covered by Chinese clay tiles); Chinese interior layout; a Chinese doorway with a sliding timber gate; and a kitchen at the back with a wood-burning stove which had a huge wok. In the annex building to the right, a beautiful hardwood floor was installed upstairs to serve as a party room for the teenage sons. After the War, HKU Alumni held its first dance there when hardwood dance floor could not be found anywhere.

    I found these fascinating memoirs from Paul Tsui Ka Cheung (1916-1994), fifth son of Peter Tsui Yan Sau, about the layout of the house:

    “It was a hybrid between what was conventional in rural China and what my father [Peter] might have personally interpreted to be the American equivalent, as he had read from many magazines he bought for reference. It was a two-storeyed square house, without much external ornamental decorations. The porch in front, was supported by columns of pillars, which gave you an impression as the White House of Washington DC might give you. As you entered, there was a fairly spacious hall, intended as Reception hall and Parlour combined, typical of a Chinese Rural Mansion. There was a dining room on the right, a staircase compartment separating the dining room from the kitchen at the rear. On the left, there was a guest room, and two additional rooms, of which one could be used as a Den, the other an extra bed room which could be used as a store room, as required. The spacious centre room on the floor immediately above, was intended as the family room. The sleeping chambers were all located upstairs. The space beneath the staircase was enclosed to be the bathroom. There was no running, piped water. A bucket was used for hot water, which would be shovelled over the body with a hand towel, in a manner not unlike the taking of a shower, for our baths. The flooring for the ground floor was of cement concrete, rendered smooth and the flooring upstairs was of hard wood laid on beams of China Fir poles”.

    Other notable features include the courtyard and located in the middle of the parapet of the roof, a semi-circular brick wall engraved with the characters “Shek Lo”.

    Paul Tsui Ka Cheung went on to recall:

    “We moved into "Shek Lo" three days before the Chinese New Year in Feburary, 1925 [when Paul was 9]. The house was hardly ready. The external walls were not even plastered. The scaffolding outside the house was still up. The walls inside were just finished and newly white-washed. Windows and doors however were already securely installed. There were no electricity, and we had to use kerosene [lamps] for lighting.”

    Due to the lack of a suitable church in the local area, Peter Tsui allowed local Catholics to hold Catholic Mass at Shek Lo. However, in 1930 Tsui took a concubine (called Chiu Ying) and the local priest had to write to the Bishop to tell him there would be scandal if they continued to use the house for Mass. The problem was solved when Tsui and his concubine moved to a new house nearby at Ma Wat village. He left Shek Lo to his wife, Chin Kang Tai, who found the acceptance of her husband’s concubine difficult. In 1941 with the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, Shek Lo was apparently trashed. After that the history of the place gets a bit sketchy. However one thing that is certain, it remained a family residence until the early 1980’s when it was sold by the executors of Peter Tsui's estate on his death.

    Shek Lo circa 1950:

    Shek Lo 1950s by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Today the building is in desperate need of repair and restoration, having sat abandoned since the late 80s. It was, until recently, open access with the land in front maintained clear. However in the Summer of 2014 a fence was built around Shek Lo and its main entrance had been under renovation. This now appears to have halted and the property is now being rapidly enveloped in woodland undergrowth. Apparently Shek Lo is Grade II listed.

    2. The Explore
    I've saved the best for my last three reports from HK. The other two are new but this is a revisit and has to be one of my favourite spots in HK. I have found Shek Lo a magical place ever since I first cast eyes on it out of the window of my sister-in-laws's flat that we were staying in in Fanling back in 2003. Two years I explored the place and it was a no-brainer about going back for a revisit. The place hasn’t changed much in two years. The fauna has advanced and my original entry point overgrown. But to the rescue came my brother-in-law, Gordy, with a very useful plank! Despite the light beginning to fade, this was a longer explore compared to the previous time and I feel I did better justice to this fantastic mansion. I've also found and old picture of the place and got more history too (see above in 1.).



    3. The Pictures

    Oh Shek Lo, I hear you calling me:

    img1946 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1947 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1951 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Inside we go:

    img1954 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1957 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1994 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Ground floor facilities:

    img1958 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    An old book-case:

    img1961 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Out to the courtyard:

    img1967 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1978 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1979 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And up-stairs:

    img1968 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1972 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1973 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This 1979 calendar equates with the time around when the place was vacated:

    img1974 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    On the balcony:

    20170810_012419_adjusted by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20170810_012441_adjusted by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1970 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    On to the annex:

    img1980 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    First floor of the annex:

    20170810_012307_adjusted by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1981 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This part of Shek Lo has faired less well:

    img1985 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Vines at the window:

    img1987 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img1988 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Thanks for looking and hope you enjoyed the report.
    Last edited by HughieD; 15th Sep 17 at 13:48.

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    Thanks given by: brickworx, Hugh Jorgan, krela, Locksley, Mearing, Mikeymutt, mtc3154, psykie, Rubex, smiler, titimo82

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  3. #2
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    Managed to find a picture of the house's builder Peter Tsui...

    ystsui by HughieDW, on Flickr
    Last edited by HughieD; 12th Sep 17 at 18:18.

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    Thanks given by: titimo82

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    If all the nature growing around about the place was cut down then we will be able to see what the house really looks like. Most of the furniture is still remaining, I thought as it closed in 1979 the furniture would go walkies. Looks like it was a nice house in its day.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    That's another great set hughie.love these places.seems you spent most of your time exploring
    I like to go where others fear to tread.

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeymutt View Post
    That's another great set hughie.love these places.seems you spent most of your time exploring
    Cheers Mikey. Ha ha...I certainly got out there when the chance availed itself!

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  7. #6
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    Amazing shots hughie! Vibrant colours and dereliction, always a good combination Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017
    "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    Another ace report! Great pics as always :)

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

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    Interesting report and photographs, thanks for the great work

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubex View Post
    Another ace report! Great pics as always :)
    Quote Originally Posted by titimo82 View Post
    Interesting report and photographs, thanks for the great work
    Quote Originally Posted by Snailsford View Post
    Amazing shots hughie! Vibrant colours and dereliction, always a good combination Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017
    Cheers folks - much appreciated.

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    Thanks given by: Rubex

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DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of disused, derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
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