Tung Chung Fort

Posted in : Destination, Life On Lantau Articles on by : Around DB , Comments: 0

A unique piece of local history, originally built as a defence against pirates, Tung Chung Fort is well worth a visit.

Declared a monument in 1979 and refurbished in 1988, Tung Chung Fort today seems all but forgotten, tucked away out of sight and seldom visited. It is, however, easy enough to find – simply turn left along the Tung Chung Road, adjacent to Yat Tung Estate, and walk for about five minutes. The fort is well signposted and lies just ahead on your left, at the end of a path between some village houses.

Built in the 12th century Southern Song Dynasty, Tung Chung Fort is a rare if low-key relic of Hong Kong’s seafaring past. It’s gone through many incarnations over the years, with the current structure dating to the 19th century, when it was resurrected as a defence against pirates. The carved granite slab above the entrance gives the date of the fort as 1832.

Once at the fort, you make your way through a series of granite-block compounds, noting the intact parapet wall, barrack houses and three arched gateways, each engraved with a Chinese inscription. Standing inside the fort’s central compound, there are six perfectly preserved muzzle-loading cannons, each resting on a cement base. The cast-iron cannons point directly at Yat Tung Estate, which towers in the distance, testament to the amazing changes development has brought to Lantau.

Tung Chung Fort was originally built in the Shun Hei era (1174 to 1189) of the Southern Song Dynasty when soldiers from Canton (now Guangzhou) were stationed there to free the area of pirates. The soldiers, led by King Leok Chin, were successful in their mission and, after three years of peace, the majority of them were sent back to Canton. The remaining soldiers (some 150) stayed on to build Kowloon Walled City.

Fast forward to the 1800s, the tumultuous final years of the Qing Dynasty, when Lantau was again beset by pirates. The renowned Cheung Po Tsai, who at the height of his infamy is said to have commanded a 600-strong pirate fleet and an army of 20,000 men, chose Tung Chung Bay as his base and made use of the fort. The Qing Government recovered the fort in 1810 after the surrender of Cheung Po Tsai who, somewhat surprisingly, went on to accept a naval post patrolling the coast of Taiwan.

The fort was rebuilt in 1832 only to be abandoned in 1898, when the New Territories was leased to Britain. During the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the fort. It has subsequently served as a police station and as a school. Now it is the base for the Tung Chung Rural Committee.


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