Govt takes stock of historic reservoir mishandling

The government has released a report on the demolition of sections of a century-old underground reservoir at Bishop Hill in Sham Shui Po.

Sections of the Sham Shui Po Service Reservoir were taken apart in 2020 before a public outcry halted work. The disused cistern, since classified as a Grade 1 historic building, includes Roman-style arches.

Published by the Development Bureau, the government’s report examines the handling of the matter by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) and the Antiquities and Monuments Office and makes recommendations to avoid similar incidents recurring.

Measures proposed include issuing new guidelines setting out requirements for handling structures with potential heritage value and holding regular interdepartmental seminars to improve communication, and staff awareness of heritage structures.

The Development Bureau also proposes conducting studies, in collaboration with the Built Heritage Conservation Fund, of any objects with potential heritage value and how best to handle them.

The Antiquities Advisory Board confirmed Grade 1 status for the reservoir at a meeting in June 2021. Following improvement works to ensure structural safety, the WSD began offering public guided tours of it in December. These are currently suspended due to the pandemic but internet users can access a 360-degree virtual tour on the WSD’s website.

A spokesperson for the Development Bureau said new uses for the reservoir that would enable the public to better enjoy it could be explored by including it in the government’s Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.