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Gun Club Hill Barracks birdview

Gun Club Hill Barracks

Gun Club Hill Barracks (Script error) are barracks in King's Park, Hong Kong formerly used by British Army garrisons during British colonial rule. The military began using the area shortly after 1860 when the British acquired Kowloon. The barracks are bounded by Austin Road, Jordan Path, Gascoigne Road and Chatham Road South.

The barracks are currently occupied by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) who began using them after the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong on 1 July 1997. The compound now includes a hospital constructed for the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong completed around 1997.

General informationEdit

A long standing part of Hong Kong's military history, the Gun Club Hill Barracks arose out of the need to house soldiers on the Kowloon Peninsula following the cession of the area after the Second Opium War (1863). The British were in need of additional military facilities and had begun scouting sites on the Kowloon Peninsula. The purpose was not only to house garrisons but also provide military defences on both sides of the harbour. With the shoreline being used for civilian activities sites in the King's Park area were selected as the sites to establish encampments. The area, flush with gardens, streams and paddy fields was a popular place to hunt birds and, once the military encampments were established, several firing ranges were set up for training. So, although this has not been verified, Horsnell believes it is plausible that is how this area got its name.[1][2]

The barracks compound is about Script error.[1] The original Gun Club Hill Barracks encompassed a much larger area. The military organised a series of tented encampments situated on where now stands Kowloon Park, Gun Club Hill and King's Park. They were connected to civilian areas by horse lines in the Chatham Road area. Through the years the area has been whittled down to ‘Gun Club Hill’ a smaller portion of the King’s Park area between Jordan and Austin Road.[2]

1860-1889Edit

During this period, there were no permanent structures so troops were rotated in from the Murray and Victoria Barracks.[3] Tents and matsheds were used for accommodations and soldiers carried out shooting practice with rifles and larger weapons[3] (Harfield, 1990) The first garrison to be stationed there were the ‘Gun Lascars’, a group of Muslim artillery gunners originating from India.[4]

The following is a list of some of the regiments that stayed in the encampments during that time:[2]

1863 Second Battalion 20th Foot (arrived in December)

1888 91st Argylls (arrived in December) stayed in matsheds during quarantine period

1892 Argylls replaced by the 1st Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and quarantined in Kowloon matsheds because of smallpox outbreak on the troop ship from Alexandria

1899 Several companies of Royal Welsh Fusileers quartered

1900-1950Edit

Chatham Road, Austin Road, Jordan Road, Jordan Path, Gascoigne Road were surrounding the grand of Kowloon Cricket Club, and Gascoigne Road was named by Maj. Gen. Sir W.J. Gascoigne KCMG, Maj. Gen---who was the Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong and China from 1898 -1903.[4]

During 1903-04, the first permanent buildings were built for infantry, but very soon occupied by the Asiatic Artillery which made up Sikh and Punjabi Mussulman Companies called Gun Lascars.[2] A new completed barrack blocks flanking the parade ground were housed in 1905 for four companies. According to PRO records construction was “brick and granite and best Manilla Hardwood; outlet walls of Amoy Brick and inner walls of Canton Brick"[3] (Harfield, 1990, p. 357). In 1909, some other buildings were constructed and the barracks’ layout were shown as Infants’ School, Followers’ Hut, Sikh/Muslim Cook-house, NCOs’ Quarter, Guard House, Sergeants’ Mess, Officers’ Mess, and small Medical Centre.[2] Following in 1910, the first battalion was organized at Gun Club; the battalion was about 446 soldiers including 8 Staffs, 43 Mounted Troops, 312 were the Artillery companies, 60 Engineer Company and 23 were in the Band. An external facelift might have undergone by The Officers’ Mess with an annex added to the south elevation facing the entrance of Chatham Road. A new remodelled entrance wing was added by 1930, and the building is still there in these days.[2]

The following are the history notes[2] (p. 277) :

1904 Barracks Blocks, Officers' Mess, Guard House, Soldiers'Canteen etc. in existence

1905 Col. Lewis, RE (Rt.) visited Gun Club which housed the Asiatic Artillery; King's Park described as "very rough" presumably still being used for army training. Rosary Church built same year in Chatham Road (then named De Voeux Road).

1909 Muslim/Sikh Cook-house and Followers' Hut in existence.

1910 1st Battalion. The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at gun Club

1914 Hong Kong – Singapore Battalion. RGA at Gun Club with D & E Coys quartered at Whitefield Barracks Four 10 pdr BL Mountain guns at Gun Club.

1914-18 First World War. Armed Forces in Hong Kong mobilized.

1920s Hong Kong - Singapore Artillery still at Gun Club where these Indian troops trained their mule handlers. Gun Club still unfenced at this time.

c. 1925 St. Mary's Can Ossian College built in Austin Road opposite Gun Club

1935 Officers' Mess addition built

1942-45 Japanese Occupation. Equipment abandoned on withdrawal to Hong Kong island. Japanese artillery silenced by British guns on the island.

1947 25 Field Regt. RA at Gun Club.

1949 58 Medium Regt. RA at Gun Club.

1950–1997Edit

Gun club

Austin Road entrance

Gun Club Hill Barracks seen through the front gate, ca. 2009
Gun club Military

Military property

Gun Club PLA

Side entrance to the barracks

After the Japanese occupation, a number of regiments were stationed at the Gun Club Barracks and in addition to the British infantry battalions which were regularly stationed there, other organizations shared the compound. The United Services Recreation Club and the Intelligence and Security Company, which occupied the old Colony Club building were among them.

The following is a chronological list of some of British military personnel stationed at the barracks during this time.

1967 The First Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers,[5]

1969 The First Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers

1971 The First Battalion The Black Watch

1974 The First Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regiment

    • (The barracks were not used exclusively by infantry battalions, the 34th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment was stationed at Gun Club from 1961 until 1963.)[2]

In 1977, part of the Alanbrooke Block (British military quarters) and Infants’ School (Block 27) were demolished to make way for the construction of the New Gurkha MQs, Temple, Clinic and School started in the same year while the ten Intelligence and Security Company moved from Argyle Street Camp to colony Block (Block 36). Furthermore, Gurkha Transport Regiment and Gurkha Signal moved from Sham Shui Po Barracks to Gun Club and Victoria Junior School moved from Victoria barracks as well in 1978.[2]

During excavations, a skeleton said to date from Japanese occupation was unearthed in 1986. In the same year, various new classrooms were built at Gun Club Primary School. Three years after this, there were two severe floods, one on 2 May and another on 20 May during Typhoon Brenda, which caused significant damage to equipment, buildings and vehicles of the MT compound.[2]

The 1990s brought some new additions to the compound. A new military hospital was built facing Jordan Road after demolishing Colony Club (Block 36), St. Eligius’ Church and also the old gum shed. Some of the banyan trees were transplanted into other areas of the barracks and some were moved to the new Kowloon Walled City Park. Another remarkable event happened in 1995, the hand over of the barracks vacated by the British regiment, the Gurkha’s, to Hong Kong Government.[2] Lastly, in 1997, a new stage was begun with the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China and Peoples Liberation Army became the new tenants for these historic facilities.[2]

1997 onwardsEdit

Currently the barracks are being used by the Peoples Liberation Army who began using the barracks in 1997.[6] It includes a hospital, housing blocks, a primary school, grocery stores and many other amenities.

Gun Club Hill Barracks Military HospitalEdit

GBH Hospital

Front facade of the hospital

GBH Hospital 1

Hospital map panel

In 1994, construction began on a new hospital, and its construction was completed in 1997.[2]

Gun Club Hill Barracks Military Hospital provides medical services for all PLA personnel stationed in Hong Kong (Architectural Services Department, 1997). It is located in the Gun Club Hill Barracks compound, bordered by Gascoigne Road, Jordan Road and Jordan Path.

This multifunctional facility with nearly 17,000 square meters of working space, includes six buildings: a Hospital Building, a Composite Building, a restaurant, two staff quarter blocks and a single-storey changing block (Architectural Services Department, 1997).

The Hospital Building is the principal building of the complex and features a crescent-shaped Low Block and an L-shaped 11-storey High Block. It includes such medical facilities as general surgical wards, out-patient rooms and an X-ray laboratory (Architectural Services Department, 1997). The Composite Building is a 7-storey rectangular block next to the primary structure which provides support for the whole complex and many of the state-of-the-art e&m facilities are stored there (Architectural Services Department, 1997).

Conservation statusEdit

Some buildings within the Gun Club Hill Barracks have been listed Grade II and III[7][8] and some people have proposed to the government to change it to Grade I.

TroopsEdit

Troops were rotated from the Wellington and Victoria Barracks on Hong Kong Island. A list of troops stationed here:[2]

 15th Medium Regiment RA (1 April 1955 - 25 September 1957
  • Sikh and Punjabi Mussulman Companies
  • Hong Kong Singapore Battalion Royal Artillery

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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