Smithfield, Hong Kong
Smithfield (Chinese: 士美菲路, formerly 士美非路; Cantonese Yale: si6 mei5 fei1 lou6) is a street with a length of approximately 1,300 m. in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. Its northern section is a commercial and residential area, while its southern section is a road connecting it to Pok Fu Lam Road.
The street begins at New Praya, Kennedy Town (堅彌地城新海旁) at the Victoria Harbour shore of the town, at Belcher Bay, and extends south into Mount Davis. It crosses two main streets of Catchick Street (吉席街) and Belcher's Street. To the south, Smithfield forms T-intersections with Rock Hill Street (石山街), Forbes Street (科士街), Pokfield Road (蒲飛路), Lung Wah Street (龍華街). It ends at a junction with Pok Fu Lam Road and Mount Davis Road (摩星嶺道).
- Smithfield Municipal Services Building (士美非路市政大廈), located at 12K Smithfield. It houses the Smithfield Sports Centre, Smithfield Market and Smithfield Public Library. The fourth floor houses a study corner for the school students who commonly do not have a quiet space at home. The entrances for the different activities are separated and the market is segregated from the library and the indoor games hall.
- Kennedy Town Station of the MTR, under construction
- Kwun Lung Lau, one of the first public housing developments in Hong Kong, built in 1967
- Kennedy Town Fire Station, located at the northern end of Smithfield, at the corner with New Praya, Kennedy Town.
- Forbes Street Temporary Playground, located at the junction of Forbes Street and Smithfield
- (former) Kennedy Town Swimming Pool, at 12N Smithfield. It was demolished to facilitate the construction of Kennedy Town Station.
The area bound by the present day Rock Hill Street and Pokfield Path (蒲飛徑) was historically the site of a cattle quarantine depot and a slaughterhouse to house and slaughter live cattle when the animals first arrived in Hong Kong via the piers in Kennedy Town. The Kennedy Town Slaughterhouse was established in 1894.
Smithfield was an area frequented by people who worked as labourers at the cattle station, and the marketplaces nearby that have since become the Forbes Street Temporary Playground (科士街臨時遊樂場) and the North Street (北街) red minibus terminus, and for the loading and unloading of sea cargo coming in and out of the piers of Kennedy Town.
The British novelist Martin Booth wrote in his 2004 autobiographical Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood: "the bellow of a cow in the Kennedy Town abattoir might lift up to me - to be abruptly cut short".
In 1961, the government decided that the slaughterhouse was to be relocated to the Kennedy Town Abattoir at Cadogan Street, and it moved in 1968. Despite calls to convert the original slaughterhouse site into a swimming pool, the government said in 1969 that the plan was not feasible until both the cattle depot and the former slaughterhouse complex (then occupied by the cattle depot as well) were released for redevelopment. The cattle depot was closed down in 1986, when the government finally decided that it was to be removed. The land was subsequently developed into the Kennedy Town Swimming Pool (堅尼地城游泳池, now demolished), Smithfield Market (士美非路街市) and the Smithfield Municipal Services Building.
Air raid tunnel
Following the fire at the gasometer in Shek Tong Tsui (formerly known as West Point), the Hong Kong and China Gas Company had by 1936 purchased an area of land situated to the south of the cattle depot and erected a gasometer to replace the former gasometer at West Point. The gasometer was in existence until the early 1980s when it was demolished to make way for the construction of Smithfield Terrace (嘉輝花園) by Henderson Land Development Co. Ltd, the largest shareholder of Hong Kong and China Gas Company.
Municipal Services Building
Smithfield Municipal Services Building was completed in 1995, and was then called "The Urban Council Smithfield Complex". The Smithfield Sports Centre inside the building opened in July 1996. The market within the building opened in June 1996. It is divided into three parts, each occupying a separate floor: meat and wet fish market, fruit and vegetable market, cooked food stalls. These retail outlets were previously located in the surrounding streets of Kennedy Town, including the longstanding Smithfield Road Temporary Market, which was a licensed food market, and illegal hawkers at the junction of Smithfield and Belcher's Street.
Until the mid-1990s, Smithfield was a dead end street at the top end with Wah Fai House (華輝大廈), Mei Wah Mansion (美華大廈) and Smithfield Garden (士美菲園), which are to the south of the Lung Wah Street junction, marking the end of the street. However, record of the Lands Department shows that Ho Chong (何莊; lit. "Farmstead of the Ho family"), a Hotung ancestral family property situated at the hillside beyond the top end of the street, is given the address of "40A Smithfield" and should thus be treated technically as the original top end of Smithfield.
Later the soil on the hillside behind Wah Fai House and Mei Wah Mansion was removed, and a vehicle link between Smithfield and Pok Fu Lam Road was constructed. The link was opened to vehicles in early 1998 and is now known as Smithfield Extension, to be distinguished from the original top end of the street adjacent to Lung Wah Street.
Smithfield is one of the few streets in Hong Kong without the use of words such as "Road", "Street", "Path", "Lane" etc. Other notable examples are Queensway in Admiralty, Broadway (百老匯街) in Mei Foo and Glenealy in Mid-levels.
Smithfield, Hong Kong, was probably named after its London namesake by the British colonial administration. Smithfield, London, is an area in the north-western part of the City of London with a history of over 800 years. It started as an area to house live cattle from the country before they were slaughtered and sold at the meat markets in the City of London. The area was frequented by people of the grassroots of society who worked there as labourers and traders of meat and other foodstuff in the marketplaces nearby. Though situated in England, Smithfield, London, has been a symbol of Scottish patriotism after William Wallace was executed there in 1305. Smithfield, London, as a landmark was promoted by literary works such as Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" and Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper".
The old cattle stations in both Smithfield, London and Smithfield, Hong Kong have ceased to exist and the locations were both replaced by a market. Both areas have since been redeveloped to accommodate middle class residents as well.
The street is often mistakenly written as Smithfield Road by local residents, affected by the Chinese suffix 路 (lo, lit. road) and in Chinese, 士美非路 was often mistaken as 士美菲路 too.
On 2 February 2007, the Lands Department proposed to rename Smithfield (士美非路) as Smithfield Road (士美菲路). However, the idea to add the word "Road" was opposed on the ground that the street name was unique in that it was named after and had a similar historical development as Smithfield, London. On 18 October 2007, the Government amended the proposal and announced that only the Chinese name of the street would be changed (from 士美非路 to 士美菲路). The name change became official on 14 December 2007.
Smithfield is served by trams, buses and minibuses. The Kennedy Town Station of the MTR rapid transit railway is under construction. It will be located under Smithfield, the former Kennedy Town Swimming Pool and the Forbes Street Temporary Playground. It has a proposed exit on Smithfield.
In the 1990s, road traffic in Smithfield was considered as "extremely heavy throughout the day", and as a consequence, the vehicular entrance of the Smithfield Municipal Services Building (completed in 1995) was assigned to the Rock Hill Street.
Other places named "Smithfield"
- With origin as a marketplace:
- As a thoroughfare (i.e., a road or street):
- East Smithfield, London, United Kingdom
- The length of the street is given by the Lands Department in the HKSAR Government Notice 945 of 2007 as 1,380 m, in the HKSAR Government Notice 6812 of 2007 as 1,300 m, and in the HKSAR Government Notice 8290 of 2007 as 1,300 m as well. Therefore, on balance of probabilities, the description of the length of the street is put as 1,300 m
- Lands Department, "Notice of intention to change street name", HKSAR Government Notice 945, February 2, 2007
- Leisure and Cultural Services Department: Indoor Sports Centres
- Food and Environmental Hygiene Department: Smithfield Market
- Food and Health Bureau. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. "Management of public markets", 23 October 2008
- Brown, Jules (March 28, 2002). The Rough Guide to Hong Kong & Macau. Rough Guides. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-85828-872-7.
- Smithfield Public Library website
- Shelton, Barrie; Karakiewicz, Justyna; Kvan, Thomas (2010). The Making of Hong Kong: From Vertical to Volumetric. Routledge. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-415-48701-6.
- Chan, Pan-hang, Marco, "Redevelopment of Macpherson Playground and Queen Elizabeth II Youth Centre", University of Hong Kong, 1997
- Sarah Fung, "Eight Great Public Swimming Pools", HK Magazine, retrieved September 18, 2011
- Jillian Xin, Natalie Wong, "A guide to Hong Kong's best pools", Time Out Hong Kong, 3 August 2009
- Woods, Sarah. Adventures with Kids: The Essential Guide to Hong Kong for the Expat Parent. 2004. p. 125. ISBN 978-962-86732-2-3.
- Proposed location of Kennedy Town Station, MTR Corporation
- Press release: "Kennedy Town Swimming Pool to open for public use", May 9, 2011
- Kwok, Ka-chun, Peter, "Remodelling U.C. Complex in Kennedy Town", University of Hong Kong, 1995
- Official Report of Hong Kong Legislative Council Proceedings, 11 March 1901, page (28), right column, 6th paragraph
- Gwulo: Old Hong Kong, "Chapter 8 : Ida, Su Yin, the light of Tin Hau, and the wrath of Yen Lo"
- Official Report of Hong Kong Legislative Council Proceedings, 13 December 1961, page 319, 2nd paragraph
- Official Report of Hong Kong Legislative Council Proceedings, 4 June 1969, page 312, item 4
- Official Report of Hong Kong Legislative Council Proceedings, 23 April 1986, page 1055, 3rd full paragraph
- Banham, Tony. Not the slightest chance: the defence of Hong Kong, 1941. University of British Columbia Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-7748-1045-6.
- Official Report of Hong Kong Legislative Council Proceedings, 24 June 1936, page 141
- Hong Kong 1997: a review of 1996. Hong Kong. Government Information Services. 1997. p. 167. ISBN 978-962-02-0233-9.
- Abbas, Ackbar. Hong Kong: culture and the politics of disappearance. Hong Kong University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-962-209-433-8.
- Gwulo: Old Hong Kong, Chiu Yuen Cemetery (Eurasian)
- Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch Newsletter: "Visit to Chiu Yuen Cemetery, Mount Davis", pp. 4-5, September 2006
- Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch Newsletter: "Visit to Chiu Yuen Cemetery, Pokfulam", p. 6, January 2007
- Shirmaine Cheung, "Translation of Short Texts: A case study of street names in Hong Kong", University of Queensland, June 2010.
- Lands Department, "Notice of intention to change street name", HKSAR Government Notice 6812, October 18, 2007
- Lands Department, "Declaration to change street name", HKSAR Government Notice 8290, December 14, 2007
- Site Plan of Kennedy Town Station, West Island Line EIA Reports
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