Local History

Pokfulam, Wah Fu Estate and Wah Kwai Estate

For years, Pokfulam, Wah Fu Estate and Wah Kwai Estate were essentially a residential neighbourhood. With the emergence of Cyberport, this local area gradually developed into an important business area and a choice leisure destination.

The name "Pokfulam" for its origin from a bird called Pok-fu which occurred in abundance in the local woods. In the early years, Pokfulam was only a village (near Chi Fu Fa Yuen today). Later it became the name of the whole local district. Many traditional folk customs, such as paying homage to Li Ling Shin Che, worshipping well wishing tablets and the Mid-autumn Festival fire dragon dance, have been preserved to this day in Pokfulam Village. According to old residents, Bauhinia blakeana, the floral emblem of Hong Kong, was first recorded in Pokfulam. In 1886, Diary Farm set up pastures in Pokfulam where diary cattle were reared. This operation grew into a sizeable business with diversified activities, and Pokfulam became an area where commercial and residential developments stood side by side. As the Catholic church established a presence here very early, Pokfulam has always been a cosmopolitan district that blends old and new.

The area where Wah Fu Estate stands today was known as Kai Lung Wan in the past. The name, meaning Chicken Cage Bay, is said to reflect the meandering hill paths which resembled staggered bamboo chips on chicken cages. In 1963, the Hong Kong Housing Authority was formed. It announced plans to develop 10 low-cost public housing estates, and Wah Fu Estate was one of them. Wah Fu Estate was the first town-type housing estate in Hong Kong equipped with a shopping arcade, wet market, carparks, schools and public library. Such housing plan was very innovative at the time.


The Aberdeen, Shek Pai Wan, Tin Wan and Chi Fu area extends to Welfare Road and Shum Wan Road in the east, the Aberdeen praya in the south, Chi Fu Fa Yuen in the west, and the Aberdeen Country Park in the north. An economic hub of the Southern District, it is a popular shopping and entertainment destination for local residents. This area is home to many historical monuments and countryside picnic sites. It offers a wide choice both to visitors who enjoy serenity and those who are more energetic.

It is said that Aberdeen was originally called Hong Kong. This small anchorage was so named because it was a transshipment port for incense wood from Dongguan since the Jiajing reign of the Ming dynasty. Wood was shipped from Dongguan to Tsimshatsui (known as Heung Po Tau in the old days) by road where it was transferred to Aberdeen by small boats. From there, the fragrant wood was loaded onto large barges to sail for Guangzhou, and then onward to Jiangsu and Zhejiang. As for the English name Aberdeen, it might have something to do with a British foreign minister. When Hong Kong first became a British colony, it was a fashion to name local places after eminent British politicians. It is believed that the name of Lord Aberdeen was chosen for this southern anchorage.

Aberdeen is a wide bay in the western corner of the Southern District. Overlooking Ap Lei Chau, it is a good natural harbour shielded by islands. Thanks to this favourable setting, it has been an important fishing harbour for many centuries, and one of the oldest villages in Hong Kong. Soon after the city of Hong Kong came to being, Aberdeen developed into a key shipbuilding centre. Aberdeen Centre today used to be repair docks of the Hongkong and Whampoa Dockyard. Later when the catering and tourist trades flourished, seafood restaurants sprouted up in Aberdeen and demand for seafood grew sharply. After the 1960's, with the completion of several housing estates, Aberdeen's population surged and living conditions improved significantly. Offered at prices far more competitive than urban spaces, Aberdeen's industrial land also attracted manufacturers. Factories increased both in numbers and variety, and the local industries provided residents with employment. Drawn by new opportunities, many boat people moved ashore to seek more stable livelihoods. As a result, the local fishing community gradually diminished.
Ap Lei Chau

It is said that the rocky eastern tip of the island exposed at low tide looks uncannily like a duck's tongue, and thus the name Ap Lei Chau (with lei being Cantonese for "tongue"). Another version is that the island is so named because of its long slender shape that resembles a duck's tongue.

Ap Lei Chau was a sparsely populated island in the early years. When fishing families began settling along the northern shore, fishing village houses, shipyards, salt fish sunning grounds and fishing net drying shacks gradually appeared, and the local population slowly increased after WWII. Ap Lei Chau was a peaceful community. Villagers led unsophisticated amicable lives, and disputes were uncommon. Ap Lei Chau Main Street was the busy thoroughfare lined with restaurants and shops selling fishing tools and ceremonial offerings. The island also had more than a hundred Dai Pai Dongs (open air food stalls).

In the old days, Ap Lei Chau was a very close-knit community. Residents had a strong sense of belonging and helped each other as good neighbours. The locals gave generously for public welfare. For example, all members of Tong Hing Commune and Kaifong Association provided their service voluntarily. Sometimes they even had to pay day-to-day expenses out of their own pockets. Many were happy to take these posts nonetheless and efforts for community welfare never stopped. Throughout the year, there were fund-raising events for religious ceremonies, festive celebrations, new school and living environment upgrade projects.
Wong Chuk Hang

As the word hang implies, the name Wong Chuk Hang may be associated with a hill stream. In fact, the famous Wong Chuk Hang Rock Carving site northwest of Nam Fung Road is a dried up river bed. In the Ming dynasty, incense was a major export of Hong Kong. Incense wood was shipped from Dongguan to a distribution market near today's Shek Pai Wan. This area, known as Hong Kong Village, later developed into the Old Hong Kong Walled Village. Not far from the walled village was a place called Tit Hang where the New Hong Kong Walled Village used to be. Tai Shui Hang, a stream nearby, was a favourite spot for local children to wash and play. This stream was later remodeled into a channel by the Drainage Services Department. The channel was lined with golden yellow bamboos on both sides. This unique scenery gave rise to the name Wong Chuk Hang, meaning yellow bamboo stream.

A muddy terrain, Wong Chuk Hang was not particularly fertile. Land was largely barren and residents were few. Major settlements were Wong Chuk Hang San Wai and Wong Chuk Hang Kau Wai. They were villages of the Chow lineage, a clan to which the late prominent local figure Chow Shou Son belonged. After the war, the population of Wong Chuk Hang grew steadily. Industry and commerce developed and both villages attracted non-lineage newcomers. The majority of land was converted to industrial use. Offering low elevation and broad space, it was an appealing location. Ocean Park chose it for its site, and so did several other sports grounds. The government currently has plans to transform Aberdeen and peripheral areas into a tourist district. Wong Chuk Hang will be upgraded into an area incorporating tourism, hotels, shopping and leisure.
Stanley and Shek O

There are several stories behind the name Stanley:
  1. Some say there were many Tree Cottons (or Flame Trees) in Stanley. During the summer flowering season, these tall trees were decorated by blazing red blossoms. Towering like numerous fiery red pillars, they gave Stanley its Chinese name, meaning red pillars.
  2. Legend has it that in the early Qing dynasty there was a giant Tree Cotton in Stanley. Badly hit during a typhoon, its bark peeled and all branches and leaves fell to the ground. However, the tree stood tall and looked like a blazing red wooden pillar from afar.
  3. Some say Stanley is so named because the peninsular is shaped like a rice pounding rod, and the coastal cliffs are rugged with many exposed reddish brown boulders.
  4. The last version is also connected with the precipitous cliffs by the sea. People say at the crack of dawn when the sun shines gently on the hills, the cliff face glows like a red pillar.
As for the English name Stanley, it is believed to commemorate British naval commander Stanley who landed here with his troops and overcame the notorious pirate Cheung Po Tsai who occupied the area. Human settlement in Stanley was first recorded in very ancient times. It became a thriving community and small fishing harbour in the Ming dynasty. In the early years, Stanley was an important rural township. Stanley Village was known as Chek Market in the past. It stands witness to early commercial activities of the peninsula. Today, Stanley is a famous tourist spot.

Shek O is characterised by two beaches in the north and south respectively. The north beach is laden with rocks and most probably gave Shek O its name, meaning rocky bay. This beach is quite dangerous and leisure activities is discouraged. By contrast, the south beach is ideal for swimming and water sports. Shek O is an outpost to the Pacific, and the easternmost corner of Hong Kong Island. Despite its coastal location, it does not support fishing because the unshielded bay is exposed to high winds and rough waves. Fishermen have always been few. Shek O beach offers lucid water and silvery sand. In the late 1940’s it was developed into a famous sea-bathing resort which provided good swimming facilities for the public in summer. Many local fishermen operated side businesses to serve the tourists, such as beach tent hiring, swimming supplies and food.


Repluse Bay

On the New Year’s Day of 1920, the Repulse Bay Hotel opened by the Governor of Hong Kong Sir Edward Stubbs K.C.M.G.

Looking back over the sixty-two years of the Repulse Bay Hotel, it was not only a popular spot for locals who enjoyed the drive out to the beach on weekends.  It was also a favourite home for many expatriates working in the Far East and for international travellers.  Famous names who have patronised the hotel include George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward in the thirties, Marlon Brando in the fifties, Spain’s Crown Prince Juan Carlos and Crown Princess Sofia spent their honeymoon at the hotel; Prince Axel of Denmark and Prince Peter of Greece also stayed.

Other famous movie stars also sought solace in the hotel environment.  Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing was partly filmed in the hotel and the Reading Room was used as a venue in the Oscar winning film Coming Home.  One might have come across Peter Sellers at a Sunday Buffet, or William Holden by the old fountain in the garden.

Built on the site of the famous Repulse Bay Hotel (1920 – 1982), The Repulse Bay residential community is an oasis of tranquility and nostalgia on Hong Kong Island’s south coast.  It consists of two imposing sea view apartment buildings with extensive residential facilities, and a style of life for families, couples and singles.