Hong Kong Island has a few historic houses named after their exterior color — the Blue House, Green House, Yellow House and Orange House. The four renowned houses are all in the Wan Chai neighborhood.
Add one more to the collection: Woodside, or the Red House, in Quarry Bay.
Located by the woods at 50 Mount Parker Road, the house was built with red bricks and is the oldest of the five.
Constructed in the mid 1920s, the house served as a residence for senior staff of the Taikoo Sugar Refinery.
Back then, Quarry Bay and Tai Koo were the manufacturing hub of Butterfield & Swire Co. Ltd., presently known as Swire Group, with the sugar refinery, Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Co. and a soft drink factory among its assets.
Time flies and everything has changed.
At the bottom of the hill, the area is no longer a busy industrial zone but a bustling residential and commercial district.
And the kapok trees which were said to have been planted in the same year as the house was built are now taller than a two-story building. The area has also become a habitat for birds and butterflies.
Declared a Grade II historic building in 1998, the Edwardian-style Red House has been revitalized as Woodside Biodiversity Education Center run by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. It has three exhibition galleries and admission is free.
Nearby is the Quarry Bay Tree Walk. It is only one kilometer long but hikers will delight in its 20 tree species year round.
What amazed me was the vibrancy of the natural surroundings.
World War II relics such as cooking ranges in Tai Tam Country Park (Quarry Bay Extension) and abandoned stoves mingle with trees, grass and flowers, reminding visitors of of how things were.
To go to/return from Quarry Bay: Take MTR and get off at Quarry Bay or Tai Koo station. Walk till the end of Greig Road for the Quarry Bay Tree Walk.
Time: About 1.5 hours
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 24, 2014.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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