Experts propose Grade 1 status for three reservoirs

The Antiquities Advisory Board on Thursday proposed classifying three century-old reservoirs around the Mid-Levels and the Peak as Grade 1 historic buildings, adding that creative ways are needed to publicise them as members of the public won’t have a chance to visit the operating cisterns.

Board members said the underground reservoirs at the Peak, Mount Gough and Magazine Gap Road have been in use since they were built between 1888 and 1903, and they deserve the same grading as the Bishop Hill reservoir in Sham Shui Po which features Romanesque arches.

“Two of them amongst the three were the oldest, the first and the second service reservoirs on Hong Kong Island. Obviously they play a very important part in the development of Hong Kong, and especially… in the development of the Peak,” said board chairman Douglas So.

He said authorities will have to come up with creative ways to promote the cisterns as they are not easily accessible.

“They are underground structures… you would need a licence in order to become a permitted person to go visit these reservoirs, so normally if you do not have this licence, even if it’s available for visit, you cannot go there for safety reasons.”

He said the administration can, for example, consider offering virtual tours.

So said after the three reservoirs’ gradings are confirmed following a month-long public consultation, the board may consider proposing to authorities to list them, along with the Bishop Hill reservoir, as ‘declared monuments’ – warranting the highest level of protection.

“I do look forward to the opportunity that the [board] members could actually discuss the merits of all these service reservoirs, with a view to making some professional recommendations to the government.”