Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, 1881 Heritage has been overlooking the harbor for over 120 years. Although the building was named 1881, the original marine police headquarter was completed in 1884. The misleading name came from the foundation of the main block which was laid in 1881.
The headquarters sat right on the waterfront facing directly the Victoria Harbour, until land reclamation created the stretch of land upon which the Space Museum and Art Museum stands. During the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s, the building complex was used as Japanese navy base and a network of tunnels was dug beneath the lawn.
In 1996, as the marine police force shifted their headquarter to East Hong Kong Island, the place was left vacant. Renovation of the compound started in 2003, and the main building now houses a boutique hotel offering ten suites with a unique theme to each, and five restaurants and bars, one of which is inside a former prison cell. The ground floor of the compound is now dotted with luxury brand shops for watches and jewellery, but do take more time to stroll around different parts of the compound where you will find shade under the massive trees alongside the cannons.
Many parts of the former headquarter are conserved and opened to public, including the . Parts of the shelter tunnel are still visible inside. Reminiscence of British naval culture can be seen from the Signal Tower, or the Round House, a small cylindrical tower on which stands a metal ball on a long rod. Constructed to provide time signals to ships out in the harbour, the ball on top of the rod dropped every day at 1pm, and sometimes as signals for incoming typhoons, causing the occasional confusion to residents. Old artillery battery-like cannons still sit at the compound, facing the harbour. It’s also the perfect spot for watching fireworks from the harbour!
The Time Ball Tower and the Heritage Hall are spots to learn more about the stories behind the heritage. The Time Ball Tower, a small cylindrical tower on which stands a metal ball on a long rod, has been fully restored. It provided time signals to ships out in the harbour and indications for severe weather. Before entering the Heritage Hall, old artillery battery-like cannons still sit at the compound, facing the harbour. The bomb shelter is preserved and becomes a passageway to lead visitors to the Heritage Hall to know more about the history of the heritage.
Free tours led by professional docents are arranged on a daily basis. Remember to register first to learn more about the heritage.
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