The Government today (December 27) announced that the Antiquities Authority has declared two historical buildings in the New Territories - Fat Tat Tong in Ha Wo Hang, Sha Tau Kok and Tat Tak Communal Hall in Ping Shan, Yuen Long - as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The notice of the declaration has been gazetted today.
Fat Tat Tong was built in 1933 by Li To Wan Tso, a trustee formed by the four sons of Li To-wan. Li To-wan was a descendant of the Li clan of Wo Hang, Sha Tau Kok. His founding ancestor, Li Tak-wah, moved from Boluo in Guangdong during the 1680s to the area now known as the New Territories where he established Sheung Wo Hang Village. His grandson, Li Jit-wing, settled in Ha Wo Hang in about 1730. Li To-wan was the seventh generation descendant of Li Tak-wah. Like many young adults of Sha Tau Kok who went abroad to make a living in the late 19th century, Li To-wan went to Vietnam at a young age. He and his family later returned to Ha Wo Hang with a modest fortune.
Li To-wan's eldest son, Li Kwan-lan, was the manager of Li To Wan Tso when Fat Tat Tong was built in 1933. Being an influential community leader of Sha Tau Kok, Li Kwan-lan was appointed by the Governor as one of the three "Tsz Yi" of Sha Tau Kok District in 1936 to give advice on matters of local affairs and disputes. The appointment of "Tsz Yi" was regarded as an honorary offer of the Governor at the time. Nowadays, Fat Tat Tong still serves as a residence for the descendants of Li To-wan.
Fat Tat Tong is not only a testament to the history of a renowned Hakka family in the area, but also a typical example of the eclectic style of residence popular with overseas Chinese who returned to Hong Kong in the early 20th century. This two-storey residence has a long pitched Hakka-style tiled roof and is fronted by a flat-roofed verandah. Traditional green brick and timber as well as modern reinforced concrete are used for the construction. The front of the residence is most distinctive with colonnaded verandahs at both floor levels. An ornamental parapet wall featuring a "rolling cloud" pediment as well as ball- and urn-shaped finials bound the flat roof over the upper floor verandah.
Tat Tak Communal Hall at Ping Shan, Yuen Long is the only remaining purpose-built communal hall in Hong Kong which served as both an assembling-cum-worshipping place for a joint village alliance and as the management office of an open market. The communal hall was built by Tang Fan-yau, a gentry of Ping Shan, and his clansmen in 1857 as an assembling place for village guards and members of the Tat Tak Alliance. The name of the communal hall was originated from Tat Tak Alliance, a village alliance comprising about 39 villages in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun to secure their economic and social resources.
Tat Tak Communal Hall is also one of the few remaining sites in direct connection with the anti-British resistance in the New Territories in 1899. It is said that a public notice calling for support to the armed resistance was issued in the Ping Shan area after a meeting had been held at the Tat Tak Communal Hall on March 28, 1899.
As a venue for holding meetings, Tat Tak Communal Hall was built in a simple but functional style. The communal hall was originally a two-hall and three-bay structure and was later expanded with the addition of the Hall of Lonesome Consolation and Hall of Bravery on its left and right respectively in 1866, dedicated to the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the Tat Tak Alliance. The building is constructed of green bricks with pitched roofs and granite blocks as the lower course. Murals with auspicious motifs and calligraphy are found above the entrances of the building.
Due to the previous extensive land filling immediately in front of Tat Tak Communal Hall, the building is situated about one metre below the surrounding ground level and has suffered from perennial flooding since the late 1980s. The rear part of the building was also damaged by a landslide in the 1990s. With the assistance of the Drainage Services Department and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), the drainage works was conducted in early 2013 and slope improvement works will commence in early 2014 to solve the flooding and slope safety problems of the area surrounding Tat Tak Communal Hall.
Phase I restoration works for Tat Tak Communal Hall commenced in July 2013 and it is expected that the works will be completed by the end of 2013. Phase II restoration works for the communal hall will be arranged in 2015 after the completion of slope improvement works by the CEDD. The whole restoration project is expected to be completed in 2016. After full restoration, Tat Tak Communal Hall, as an important historic testament to the socio-economic development of the area, will become one of the major attractions for public appreciation along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
Information on the two monuments is available on the heritage conservation website of the Development Bureau (www.heritage.gov.hk).