Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail

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Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail
Traditional Chinese大潭水務文物徑
Tai Tam Reservoir

The Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail (Chinese: 大潭水務文物徑) is a heritage trail in Hong Kong that comprises 21 waterworks structures with historical value near the Tai Tam group of reservoirs. The Trail is about 5 km long and takes about two hours to complete. The Trail is located along the Tai Tam Reservoir Road with entrance at Wong Nai Chung Gap near Hong Kong Parkview or at the junction of Tai Tam Road and Tai Tam Reservoir Road. Ten information stations were established en route to introduce the functions and historic values of the structures. Guided tours will be organised for schools and non-profit making organisations.

Entrance (Tai Tam Road): 22°14′22″N 114°13′23″E / 22.23934°N 114.22298°E / 22.23934; 114.22298Coordinates: 22°14′22″N 114°13′23″E / 22.23934°N 114.22298°E / 22.23934; 114.22298
Entrance (Parkview): 22°15′33″N 114°12′01″E / 22.25907°N 114.20026°E / 22.25907; 114.20026

A total of 41 pre-World War II waterworks structures located in six reservoir areas, namely Pok Fu Lam Reservoir, Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs, Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, Kowloon Reservoir, Shing Mun (Jubilee) Reservoir and Aberdeen Reservoir, were declared as monuments in September 2009,[1] to recognise the heritage value of waterworks facilities built in pre-war era. The Trail was established for the declared monuments in the Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs to help the public appreciate the history of water supply and the waterworks structures in Hong Kong.[2] Among the six reservoirs, Wong Nai Chung Reservoir has been converted into a boating park since 1986, while the other reservoirs are still operating.

History and significance[edit]

The Tai Tam group of reservoirs includes the Tai Tam Reservoir, Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir, the Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir and the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir. They were built under the Tai Tam Valley Scheme and Tai Tam Tuk Scheme serving an aggregate capacity of 9 million cubic metre[3] to meet the ever-increasing demands of water. Upon completion, pressure of water demands from urbanisation spread, from central and western districts to the eastern side of Hong Kong Island, was gradually released.

The Tai Tam Reservoir is the second oldest and largest reservoir built on Hong Kong Island in the Tai Tam Country Park in Hong Kong East by the British colonial government. The project lasted from 1883 till 1888, costing $1,250,000. Its capacity was 250 million imperial gallons (1,100,000 m3) originally and was expanded several times afterwards to 388 million imperial gallons (1,760,000 m3) of water.

The Tai Tam Reservoir was important to the early development of Hong Kong. Its water catered for the needs of water, even present day Central, Wanchai, Causeway Bay, North Point and Shau Kei Wan. Easing the water demands of central, the reservoir moved the city further to the east. Urban area consequently expanded and spread to the eastern side of the island.

Water resources was still tight in Hong Kong in the early 1900s. Thus, the colonial government conducted The Extension of the Tai Tam Water Supply System. The project was divided into two phases. In Phase I, in 1904 – 1908, the Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir and the Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir were built with capacity of 22.4 million imperial gallons (102,000 m3) and 196 million imperial gallons (890,000 m3) respectively. Phase II started in 1913. The Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir was built from 1914 to 1918 with a capacity of 1.42 billion imperial gallons (6,500,000 m3). The Tai Tam Water Supply System could basically meet the needs of the Hong Kong Island at that time. The Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs is a reminiscence of the water supply history of early Hong Kong.


The reservoir structures are regarded as a kind of Utilitarian engineering structures influenced by Italianate Renaissance of Victorian civil engineering. Therefore, they are considered having heritage value and are kept intact.

With regard to the engineering techniques used, the system used in Tai Tam Reservoir relied much less on gravity flow, which only accounted for about 20% of the total capacity of the ultimate fresh water supply. It was built using a more advanced engineering techniques than those used in building the Pokfulam one, as the system of Pokfulam Reservoir relied completely on a simple principle based on gravity – water running down from a higher place to a lower one.[4]

Historical structures of the trail[edit]

The trail is an example of conservation and revitalisation of Hong Kong heritage. There are many waterworks structures with precious historic value in the Tai Tam group of reservoirs along the trail, the following ones have been declared monuments including valve houses, bridges, staff quarters etc. This revitalisation project is different from other past projects in the sense that no extra resources is required to be put onto it.

Photographics for every structures listed below are available on the website of the Conserve and Revitalise Hong Kong Heritage.[5] They are collectively called: "22 Historic Structures of Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs".[6]

Waterworks Structures Years of Construction Description/History Picture
1. Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Dam 1883–1888 This reservoir dam was the largest dam structure built in Hong Kong in 1888. It was originally 30.5 metres (100 feet) high, 121.9 metres (400 feet) long and 18.3 metres (60 feet) wide at its base, then was raised a further 3.84 metres in 1897. The towering walls of this masonry faced concrete gravity dam contain the reservoir waters to Central. The masonry is roughly dressed with ashlar copings. Waters gravitated through a 2.2 kilometres long tunnel and a 5 kilometres aqueduct to the destination. Along the dam, walkways or berms, which were presumably for regular inspection, are supported by inverted T-shaped stanchions.[4] Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Dam 01.JPG
2. Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Valve House 1883–1888 Along the top of the reservoir dam, the valve house built of rock-faced rusticated granite blocks is situated at one third of the way. The valve house has been built in a square structure with one door opening and two back window openings, but blocked now. A flat roof with the projecting cornice, supported by carved ornamental corbels with small in-between gaps for ventilation, has replaced the hipped roof.[4] Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Valve House.JPG
3. Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Masonry Aqueduct 1883–1888 It has 21 arches and is situated behind a small hill to the southwest of the dam. The aqueduct and the masonry bridge were built very much alike. In other words, the aqueduct is also made of thick concrete slabs supported on strengthened and moulded masonry piers and columns, across what presumably was once a stream bed and diverts rainwater from an indirect drainage catchment to the upper reservoir. It was regarded as a piece of Victorian civil engineering heritage.[4] Tai Tam Reservoir 3.jpg
4. Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Masonry Bridge 1883–1888 The masonry bridges are constructed with thick concrete slabs supported on piers or columns built of reinforced concrete. Both piers and columns capped with moulded capitals or corbels are used to give extra support for the bridges. The two bridges are built at a right angle to the aqueduct behind a small hill to the southwest of the dam. The masonry bridges span across where was once the byewash of the Tai Tam Upper Reservoir. They are the oldest structures on the Trail with Masonry Aqueduct, Dam, Valve House, and Tunnel Inlet.[7] Tai tam reservoir road bridge.JPG
5. Tai Tam Upper Reservoir Recorder House and Tunnel Inlet 1883–1888 & 1917 This reservoir tunnel indicates the application of the advanced engineering skills at that time. The tunnel inlet marked by a commemorative stone with the dates 1883-8 is located at the south of the dam. It brings water stored in the Tai Tam Reservoir through the culvert with an iron grating and serves the needs of water supply of residents and businesses in the Central and Western districts of Hong Kong Island through the Bowen Aqueduct pass through Wan Chai. Access catwalks with tubular steel guardrails have been constructed above it. About thirty years later, a recorder house with a flat roof with a plain coping to the parapet, surmounting the tunnel inlet, was built to monitor water flows. Unlike the plain design of its entrance door and window, this recorder house was built with coursed granite walls.[4]
6. 21-Arch Section of the Bowen Aqueduct 1885–1887 寶雲道古運水道.jpg
7. Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir Dam 1904 Built in a concrete gravity construction faced with masonry, the reservoir dam is supported and strengthened at either end using wing walls of coursed rubble. There is an overflow or spillway runs almost the entire length of it.[8] Dam of tai tam byewash reservoir.JPG
8. Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir Valve House 1904 The small valve house characterised by rock-faced granite walls is in rectangular in shape. It is situated halfway along the subsidiary dam where access walkways aimed early for regular inspections are used by hikers in Tai Tam Country Park nowadays.[8] Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir Valve House 01.JPG
9. Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam 1904–1907 The concrete side walls and tubular steel guard rails make up a stilling pond with the masonry faced dam at Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir. For safety reasons, the entire section of the dam's spillway was decreased 3 metres seventy years later after the completion of the original structure. This can be observed from its slightly indented outlook at its crest.[8] Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam 02.JPG
10. Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Valve House 1904–1907 Situating on a projecting platform, the valve house can be reached by a footbridge. The door and windows have semi-circular arched feature. An ornamental hopper head can be seen.[8] Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Valve House.JPG
11. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Dam 1912–1917 The building of this dam began in 1912 while the water supply was proven insufficient again after the Tai Tam Scheme.[9] Dam (1917) of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir 04.JPG
12. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Valve House 1917 The valve house is situated near the south end of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir dam. It is rectangular, with flat roof and granite wall.[9] Value House of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir.JPG
13. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Memorial Stone 1918 In 1918, a commemorative stone has been built near the southern end at the top of the dam to mark the completion of the scheme.[9] The name of Daniel Joseph Jaffé, after whom Jaffe Road in Wan Chai District was named, appears at the bottom left corner. Memorial Stone of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir.JPG
14. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge 1907 The bridge has parapets coursed with rusticated or dressed granite copings. At its top, it is lined with decorative cornices. Nowadays, the bridges still ensure the accessibility to the reservoir system.[8] 大潭篤水塘大石橋.jpg
15. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge 1907 Among the bridges, two are particularly high and have granite imposts inserting between columns and arches.[8] In September 2009, this masonry bridge was declared as a monument by the Secretary for Development Carrie Lam.[10]
16. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge 1907 Each granite arch bridge is structured with huge columns.[8]
17. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge 1907 Along Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir's western shore, four masonry bridges were built. These bridges cross stream beds.[8]
18. Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station 1907 The pumping station's role was to pump water. It was built with red bricks and have Chinese tiled pitched roofs.[9] Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station 2013.JPG
19. Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station Chimney Shaft 1907 It is the only surviving waterworks-related chimney stack in Hong Kong. The 61 feet (19 m) square-planned chimney was constructed in red bricks. It was used with coal-burning steam-driven engine. The chimney was abandoned after the World War II. The engine hall is categorised as Georgian Revival. Chimney Shaft and its Flue of Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.JPG
20. Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station Senior Staff Quarters 1905 Built in 1905, it was originally for the waterworks system manager. Now it is managed by Government Property Agency.[9] Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station Senior Staff Quarters.JPG
21. Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station Staff Quarters 1905–1907 It is painted in light yellow. Chinese tiles cover the roof. It is still under operation by the Water Supplies Department.[9] Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station Staff Quarters.JPG
22. Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station No.2 Staff Quarters 1936 Completed in 1936, it is a small two-storey block waiting to be revitalised.[9] Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station No.2 Staff Quarters.JPG

Guided tour[edit]

Guided tour for Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail is introduced by the Commissioner for Heritage's Office in late September 2009 to encourage young people (only 12–18-year-old people can join the tour) to appreciate these centenary monuments and learn more about the history of Hong Kong's water supply.

Most of the facilities in the Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage are intact and still operating now, although some (Tai Tam Tuk Raw water Pumping Station and its Chimney Shaft) are not accessible to the public. However, participants of guided tour are allowed to visit them.

Between 10 October 2009 and 19 December 2009, there will be guided tours at Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail every Saturday morning, starting at 10.30am and 11.30am respectively. The tour is about 5 km long and lasts for about two hours. It will start at Tai Tam Reservoir Road (near Parkview) and end at Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "L.N. 177 of 2009". Gld.gov.hk. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "AFCD Tai Tam". Afcd.gov.hk. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20130223210048/http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Monument/form/Brief_Information_on_proposed_Grade_II_Items.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  6. ^ "22 Historic Structures of Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs". Amo.gov.hk. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail, Hong Kong Extras". Hongkongextras.com. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Water supplies DEpartment" (PDF). Wsd.gov.hk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Tai Tam Reservoir, Water Supplies Department". Wsd.gov.hk. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  10. ^ [3] Archived 24 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]