Background : The Site

Elliot Pumping Station and Filterbeds

The site of the Centennial Campus was previously known as the Elliot Pumping Station and Filters. The area was developed as part of the public water supply system at a similar time to the establishment of the University, and is variously referred to as West Point or Elliot (or Elliott) Filter Beds in Government reports.

From 1910 onwards, proposals for the use of the area on the upper levels of the western district of Hong Kong island as both for the location of Hong Kong University buildings and also for water supply infrastructure have been regularly raised. This potential incompatibility between the future functions within the site continues to concern the University and other planning authorities.

In order to increase the water supply to the western end of the island, a service reservoir between the Pokfulam reservoir and the city, at West Point, was proposed in 1910-11 and filter beds were part of the project. However, as much of the land surrounding the proposed reservoir and filter beds had been designated for use for the University, space was a problem in this location. Because of the lack of available space, it was originally decided that the necessary filter beds should be constructed on top of the service reservoir, which was to be located between the University's student hostel and the Vice-Chancellor's residence. But further investigation and consideration of the matter led to the conclusion that this would likely hamper the development of the University in the long run. It was thus decided that another site should be identified. The area alongside the Pokfulam Road to the south-westward of Elliot Battery was therefore chosen as a more viable alternative.

Negotiations between the Colonial government and the Military Authorities over the ‘surrender’ of the Elliot Battery site was concluded in early 1914 and by the end of the year the new service reservoir and filter beds were already underway. The construction of the Filter Beds at West Point, on the land excised from the Elliot Battery, continued through 1915. A pipeline linked to the Tai Tam reservoir was also begun, as that reservoir was enlarged during 1916 to assist with water supply to the western districts.

Staff Accommodation on the Site

The initial establishment of the water supply infrastructure on the site, the filter beds and the service reservoir, which began in 1914, was essentially complete by the end of 1919, but additional construction also took place to provide accommodation for staff.

As with all Waterworks sites, accommodation provided at the Elliot Filter Beds was of two classes – separating the senior (usually British) public service staff from the Chinese workmen.

Construction of the Workmen's Quarters commenced in 1918 and completed in 1919. It comprised a single-storied brick building with a Coolies’ Room 14’0” x 24’0”, a Watchman’s Room 12’0” x 14’0”, and an Office 12’0” x 14’0”. Bathrooms, kitchens and latrine accommodation were provided.

The next major work at the Elliot site was the construction of the Senior Staff Quarters which started in 1923 and completed in 1924. This is a two-floor building, with each floor containing a four-room flat with an adjoining servants' wing.

Upgrading of the Filter System

Into the early 1920s the West Point (Elliot) slow sand filter beds and the water supply system were regularly upgraded, and the reservoir was also repaired to improve reliability and capacity. During 1926, washing the filter bed sand was assisted by the installation of light rail tracks and trucks. Electrical work was installed and other maintenance was undertaken. By this time the elements of the western district system included the Pokfulam reservoir, Pokfulam Road pumping station (coal fired), Elliot (West Point) Filter beds and service reservoir. The location of these elements can be seen on the 1923 map of the area on the right.

During the 1930s the water supply system in Hong Kong continued to expand and new water collection sites were added. On the Elliot Filters site, the brick building, now known as the Treatment Works was constructed during 1930-31 to increase the speed and capacity of the filtration system. Additional water supply from the Aberdeen Reservoir, newly constructed in 1929, was transferred to the Elliot Filters via an 18-inch pipe, for distribution to the Western District.


elliot site
Site plan (click to view larger image)

site photo
Site photo as at October 2008 (click to view larger image)

1923 map
Map of 1923 (click to view larger image)