A visit to 1881 Heritage will transport you to Victorian-era Hong Kong. From the 1880s to 1996, this was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. Several buildings and artefacts of historical interest have been preserved and restored, and the site now features a shopping mall, a heritage hotel and an exhibition hall.
In a city that preserves its traditions while looking firmly to the future, 1881 Heritage fittingly combines historical attractions with more contemporary pursuits. Visitors can shop for international fashion brands and enjoy fine dining on the grounds where pirates were incarcerated and a daily signal was watched by ships in the harbour as they prepared for long and treacherous trans-global journeys. Tradition and innovation, past and present, 1881 Heritage is a real Hong Kong experience.
At the north end of 1881 Heritage stands the main building of the Former Marine Police Headquarters. It was built in the early 1880s in a combination of Victorian colonial and neo-classical architectural designs. Inside are the cells where pirates and smugglers were held. An elevated ground floor kept the building tolerably cool in the pre-air-conditioning era. The coops on the walls of the building’s courtyard were for keeping pigeons, which were used to carry messages to ships in the harbour before radio became the main form of ship-to-shore communication.
Dropping of the Time Ball
The site contains a number of Declared Monuments, the most interesting of which is the Time Ball Tower. From 1885 to 1907, this tower provided a vital service to ships in Victoria Harbour. Many of these vessels had arrived in Hong Kong after long voyages, during which their chronometers would have lost accuracy. A one-minute error could result in a ship becoming lost, with dire consequences for the crew. The ball mounted on the pole in this tower was raised manually every morning and, with data provided by the Hong Kong Observatory, it was dropped at 1pm every day. The tower was in full view of the harbour and the dropping of the ball allowed ships to recalibrate their chronometers to an accuracy of one-tenth of a second, before they departed Hong Kong for other parts of the world.
Other features of note are the Former Fire Station and Stable Blocks.
Free guided tours of 1881 Heritage can be booked by calling +852 2926 8000.
- 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
- +852 2926 8000