Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen

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The entrance gate of Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen
The Chinese characters, read from right to left, "慶有餘" (Hing Yau Yu) engraved on the granite stone above the entrance are said to be the handwriting of the Song Emperor.[1]

Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen (Chinese: 衙前圍村; literally: "the walled village in front of the yamen"),[1] also known as Hing Yau Yu Tsuen (Chinese: 慶有餘村; literally: "overflowing prosperity")[1] is a walled village in Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, Hong Kong with a history spanning more than 600 years.

It was the only walled village left in the urban core of Hong Kong. However, all residents have recently been evicted by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), a government agency which plans to demolish the village to make way for private redevelopment.

History[edit]

Ng Ancestral hall in Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen.

According to a legend, members of the Ng, Chan and Lee Clans followed the fugitive Song Emperor and settled in Kowloon in around 1278.[1] The village was probably established by the Ng, Chan and Lee clans in the mid 14th century.[2] They built a Tin Hau Temple around 1352 and the fortified village around 1724.[1]

Nga Tsin Wai was the head village of the "Kowloon League of Seven", an inter-village union formed to guard against attacks from the pirates and bandits. Other villages of the League included the nearby Sha Po, Ta Kwu Leng, Shek Kwu Lung, Kak Hang, Tai Hom, Nga Tsin Long, Ma Tau Chung and Ma Tau Wai.[2] The Tin Hau Temple of Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen was the place of worship for the residents of the villages of the League.[3]

Features[edit]

Tin Hau Temple in Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen.

The village occupies an area of approximately 0.4 hectares. There are about 100 village houses separated by three narrow streets and six sidelanes in a rectangular layout. The walled village has a Ng (吳) Clan Hall and a Tin Hau Temple.[1]

Demolition[edit]

On 18 July 2007, the government announced its plans to redevelop Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen.[4] In response, the Nga Tsin Wai Village Concern Group was formed and documented conservation efforts on their website.[5]

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA), a statutory agency, plans to replace the village with two high-rise towers. Villagers complained that the URA asked them to leave without finding them public housing flats and new homes for their businesses.[6] The villagers also complained that the URA's offer for reduced shop rent following the redevelopment would only last for three years, and rents would subsequently revert to market rates, putting grassroots entrepreneurs (who had previously owned their own shops) out of business.[6][7] By December 2015 only 15 families remained in the village.

The last residents were forced out of the village in late January 2016 under threat of a fine of up to HK$1 million and imprisonment of six months for not complying with the removal order.[7][8] Villagers attacked the URA for putting profit ahead of heritage. They said that private developers had been eyeing the village for three decades, and only succeeded when the URA stepped in and made use of the Land Resumption Ordinance and Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations.[8] The last two holdouts announced on 25 January that they would leave. They were Kwok Yue-ka, salon owner, and an elderly business owner named Lee who said he did not want to risk the safety of those who stayed to support him.[9] Following the eviction a metal fence was promptly built around the village and numerous private security guards were deployed there.

The URA has partnered with Cheung Kong Property Holdings to redevelop the site. The village will be replaced with two towers housing 750 flats, plus "some conservation elements".[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Articles

Coordinates: 22°20′06″N 114°11′36″E / 22.335042°N 114.193354°E / 22.335042; 114.193354