The Central Police Station Compound represents the introduction of the British judicial system to Hong Kong. In the early days of the colony, the Chinese community would have gone to temples to settle disputes, as they had done for centuries. Over time, they accepted the authority of the British system and this building continues to stand near Chinese temples as a reminder of the unique East-meets-West heritage of this neighbourhood.
Tai Kwun, meaning ‘big station’ in Cantonese, was a nickname for the police compound. The large complex comprises 16 Declared Monuments including what used to be the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. In the mid-19th century, it housed the offices of the police, the magistracy and the prison, marking its place in history as the heart of the legal system.
Historical significance aside, Tai Kwun is a magnificent work of architecture. The former Police Headquarters building is a resplendent example of Neoclassicism. The barracks, built between 1862 and 1864, is the oldest within the complex and is known for its distinctive Roman-style arch. It is worth noting that these buildings have individual pathways for transporting convicts between the police station, magistracy, and prison.
Revitalised as a platform for heritage and contemporary arts, Tai Kwun now plays host to an array of innovative and inspiring artworks, activities and performances.