COMMENTARY

Quarrying in Hong Kong

Background
For Hong Kong, the topography is rugged and hilly with slopes rising steeply from the sea and little coastal plain; while the geology is predominantly volcanic and intrusive igneous rocks. The igneous rock, mainly fine to medium grained granites, forms an excellent type of natural building materials. Granite has been used as the basic raw material for the territory construction and building industry since the 1840s, originally as dressed stone for building blocks and latterly as aggregates in concrete.

1856 Cause Way Bay

From 1840 to Second World War
Between 1840 and 1850 stone quarrying was very active along the coastal areas of the Hong Kong Island. The census carried out in 1841 estimated that 1,655 out of a total population of 7,450 were from six villages substantially involved in quarrying. In 1844, John Davies the Governor, saw a large number of workers involved in quarrying and decided to impose a tax as a sign of sovereignty, even though the income from the rocks was only a couple of percentage of the total revenue of the colony.

Tenders and auctions were adopted for all quarries on the Island until 1860s where separate leases would be signed for all quarries on the Island and the Peninsula. Not only was quarried granite used in building construction in Hong Kong, but those quality granite blocks were exported to Canton, Siam, New South Wales and San Francisco by then.

Based on the names of successful tenders, the quarry market was an oligopoly from 1844 to 1883, and became a monopoly from 1884 until the end of the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of quarry sites under each license was reduced and more licenses were issued leading to the diminishing of oligopoly or monopoly.

There were two types of quarry license granted by the Public Works Department. Where stones could be sold, the license was generally granted in the form of lease. Where stones were solely used for a specific project, the license was generally granted in the form of permit.


IR DR. S.W. POON,
Adjunct Professor, Department of Real Estate and Construction University of Hong Kong
MSc; PhD Lough; CEng; MIStructE; MCIWEM; MHKIE; RPE(Struct)
Committee Member of CIWEM HK; Adjunct Professor of the Department of Real Estate and Construction, University of Hong Kong
Research fields cover construction management, temporary works, construction failures and safety Construction history, etc.

IR K.F. MAN
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Real Estate and Construction University of Hong Kong
BSc(Eng) in Civil Engineering; MSc(Eng) HK; LLB in Chinese Law PKU
Adjunct Associate Professor of the Department of Real Estate and Construction, University of Hong Kong

DR. K.Y. DENG
Lecturer, Department of Real Estate and Construction University of Hong Kong
Lecturer and Honorary Assistant Professor of the Department of Real Estate and Construction, University of Hong Kong
Research fields cover building technology, design management, heritage conservation, etc.


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