Stone Tablet of “Kwan Tai Road”

The so-called stone tablet of “Kwan Tai Road” (Ah Kwan leading the way) was erected between 1850 and 1859, and is one of the few relics that dates back to the opening of Hong Kong in the 19th century.  The tablet was discovered by workers at the foot of a stone hut on Shek Pai Wan Road during the construction of Wah Kwai Estate in early 1980.  Because of its historical value, the tablet was later moved to the Hong Kong Museum of History for conservation.


            According to record, the British troops stationed at Stanley immediately after Hong Kong was occupied by the British Empire.  At that time, there was only one trail between Stanley and the Victoria City suitable for travelling by horses.  Later on the trail was widened to become a road named “Kwan Tai Road” which formed the foundation of Pok Fu Lam Road, Shek Pai Wan Road, Wong Chuk Hang Road, Island Road and Deep Water Bay Road at present time.  Just as its name suggests, the stone tablet was a milestone erected to mark the location of “Kwan Tai Road”.


            The British army in fact had erected a large number of stone tablets all over Hong Kong after landing at Shek Pai Wan, and “Kwan Tai Road” tablet was in the first batch erected on the Hong Kong Island.  The tablet is a bit over a metre in height, it is made of granite with a triangular pyramid on the top.  On two sides of the tablet, there are inscriptions in both Chinese and English showing the distance to Shek Pai Wan and Kwan Tai Road (Victoria City): ABERDEEN 石排灣 (Shek Pai Wan) 1 MILE 三里 (3 li) VICTROIA 群帶路 (Kwan Tai Road) 3 Miles 十八里 (18 li) (one “li” in traditional Chinese unit of distance is approximate to 3 miles).


            There are several stories about the origin of the name “Kwan Tai Road”.  One of the stories tells that a fisherman called Chan Kwan (ah Kwan), most probably a Tanka (coastal boat people) woman, led the British troops through the mountain of Aberdeen to the area of Sheung Wan, and the route was later named “Kwan Tai Road”.  Since ah Kwan showed the way to the British troops, the road was named “Kwan Tai Road” (ah Kwan leading the way) to signify the event.  In another tale, it was said that when the British troops first came to the Hong Kong Island, they landed at Stanley under the guiding of Chan Kwan, and on their way to the northern part of the Hong Kong Island, they passed though places like Hong Kong Village and Pok Fu Lam.  When reaching Hong Kong Village, the British troops asked Chan Kwan what the place was called, and she answered them in Tanka dialect that the village was called “Hong Kong”.  Later the British referred the whole island as “Hong Kong”, which is said to be the origin of the name of the territory.