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Further letter to Heritage Commissioner’s Office

Well, as quite some time has passed and they still haven’t to my SCMP letter, I assume they have decided not to and thus have sent them the following through email.

________________________________

Dear Mr Tang,

Thank you for your email. I hope the following will be helpful for this postbox preservation exercise.

I note from your email and media coverage on 13 July 2010 that the current plan is to preserve only nine colonial postboxes, eight from the King George V era and an oval-shaped one from the Queen Elizabeth II era. I was initially very puzzled to note the Heritage Commissioner’s Office would say there were eight King George V boxes, as according to my record there are indeed only seven such surviving King George V boxes in Hong Kong. I then noticed from the report in Apple Daily that the postbox at School Road, Cheung Chau (No.227) was identified as a King George V box. This was wrong as it is clear from its Royal Cipher that it is indeed a King George VI box (see the pictures at http://hkpostbox.xanga.com/726382665/%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2%E9%9A%8A%E5%9B%9E%E5%A0%B1—%E9%83%B5%E7%AD%92-227/ ).

I believe it was an inadvertent mistake, caused perhaps by over-reliance on the old postbox list provided by Hongkong Post. But, all the same, I would suggest, it shows the importance of caution and meticulosity in this exercise. The list by the Hongkong Post, including only 58 (or 57?) postboxes, is indeed incomplete. There are
actually 61 old postboxes – 52 Queen Elizabeth II (ERII), 2 King George VI (GRVI) and 7 King George V (GRV), details of which could be found in this list https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AhbXpNwnjON2dEpHbElGRTVMMTJKQXVvNlp3NTBHcGc&hl=en_GB . The three old postboxes that Hongkong Post has overlooked are at Sun Tin Post Office, Kam Tin Post Office and Shau Tau Kok Post Office.
Links to photos of all these 61 postboxes (except the one at Shek Pik Prison) is available at http://hksearch.weebly.com/256283203438538240502356329554303403932128207332903710931570.html
.

In your email you said that the Hongkong Post currently had no plan to remove the rest of the old postboxes and thus implied there was no need to include them in the current plan. This, with due respect, I must disagree. Hongkong Post has always maintained that they would only remove old postboxes “due to wear and tear or because they were too small to meet the growing demand”. (“Keep historic mail boxes in service, experts urge” SCMP,19 March 2007)

But deeds speak louder than words and their record in fact shows a lack of commitment in old postbox preservation. According to a SCMP report (“Keep historic mailboxes in service, experts urge”, 19 March 2007), there were 144 old postboxes in 1997. This is reduced now to 61, meaning 83 postboxes have already been removed by Hongkong Post, presumably, for the two reasons quoted above. At this rate, the 52 old postboxes not included in the present preservation plan will have been gone in the next few years!

Furthermore, I believe Hongkong Post’s two quoted reasons for old postbox replacement are invalid. I have suggested in a letter to SCMP (“No excuse for letting the city’s historic postboxes dwindle away”, 24 February 2010), in response to a reply from the Hongkong Post (“Postbox too badly damaged”, 18 February 2010) to an earlier letter of mine (“Historic mail box’s last post”, 11 February 2010), that for the concern of insufficient capacity “a more preservation-minded option would have been to erect another mailbox alongside the older

box instead of removing the latter permanently.”

For the concern of wear and tear, the Sok Kwu Wan KGV postbox which Hongkong Post originally maintained to be beyond repair (“Postbox too badly damaged” SCMP, 18 February 2010) but is now spared the hammer after professional repair rendered by the Architectural Services Department is a telling example of what could be achieved by more conscientious effort.

Given Hongkong Post’s dismal records (in both the preservation of old boxes and maintaining an accurate list of the surviving boxes), I believe the fate of the other fifty-two boxes not included in the current plan should not be just left to the supposed good faith of Hongkong Post. The Heritage Commissioner’s Office must take a more
proactive role in ensuring their survival.

If resource is a concern, I believe we could categorize the boxes into different tiers, according to their historical values, and then accord them different levels of preservation effort.  For example, Tier One boxes will have an information plate with write-up on its particularity and history set beside it. Tier Two will have no plate but be given such basic routine attentions (e.g. repainting, washing, maintenance and repair) as described in the “Letter Boxes: A Joint Policy Statement by Royal Mail and English Heritage”.

The baseline is there must be a commitment from all the concerned departments, especially Hongkong Post, that none of the remaining of the sixty-one boxes not included in the current plan are to be removed. While the main responsibility may lie with Hongkong Post, I submit that the Heritage Commissioner’s Office and/or the Antiques and Monuments Office have an inexcusable advisory/monitoring role in ensuring their survival. (For example, it could be agreed with Hongkong Post that if it is to do anything other than the basic routine maintenance to any of these boxes, prior consent from the Heritage Commissioner’s Office and/or the Antiques and Monuments Office must be obtained.)

Best regards,

Sin Wai Man

P.S. I have a letter on this published in SCMP on 10 July 2010. Perhaps for the benefit of the public the Heritage Commissioner’s Office could also respond to it.

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Reply from Heritage Commissioner’s Office

Received the following from them in response to my earlier email. Guess they’ll also respond to my letter on SCMP later. I think they’ve got the number of old postboxes wrong – there are in fact 61 old postboxes now: 7 KGV, 2 KGVI and 52 QEII (2 of which with no royal insignia/cypher on the box). I’ll write to them later to make further suggestions (most importantly I think there must be a proactive policy from the Commissioner that forces the hand of HK Post whose record in preservation is not convincing at all).

________________________________________________

Dear Mr. Sin,

Thank you for your email dated 2 July 2010 sharing with us your valuable suggestions about the preservation of historic post boxes in Hong Kong.

We are encouraged by the strong appreciation in the community of the preservation need of these historic post boxes. Considering that they represent a part of the history of the Hong Kong people and in response to some suggestions from committed friends of heritage like your goodself, our office proactively approached Hongkong Post to identify the best way to preserve the post boxes of heritage value. We started with 8 post boxes cast during the era of King George V and the only oval-shaped post box cast during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. These 9 post boxes were chosen because they were either the oldest or had a unique shape among the in-service post boxes.

As you have rightly pointed out, we share that the best way of preservation is to retain their current function at their existing location for public appreciation. Hence, in-situ preservation will be our guiding principle in identifying the preservation option with Hongkong Post.

In addition to the aforementioned oval-shaped post box, there are 48 other post boxes cast during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II in Hong Kong. They are still in service and Hongkong Post currently has no plan to remove them. They are therefore not covered in our current discussion with Hongkong Post focusing on preserving the nine post boxes.

The preservation of these nine post boxes reflects Government’s commitment to preserving various types of built heritage and our preservation work will continue. We will work closely with Hongkong Post to monitor the situation of the rest of the in-service post boxes of heritage value.

In furthering our work, we will take into account the latest developments as well as suggestions received including the good example of the collaboration between the English Heritage and the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom you have shared with us.

Thank you again for your valuable suggestions and your exemplary efforts in visiting and recording these post boxes. We look forward to working with committed members of the public like your goodself for our common goal of preserving these streetside heritage for serving Hong Kong people for generations to come.

Alfred P TANG
for Commissioner for Heritage
Development Bureau

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Media Outcry on New Preservation Plan

舊式郵筒大屠殺 所謂保育是毀育

東方日報 功夫茶 13/7/2010 (link)

 
世界盃塵埃落定咯,西班牙登基稱王咯,男人老狗 唔使再捱更抵夜,足球寡婦唔 使再獨守空幃。假如你係八發八中八爪魚神算保羅嘅忠實粉絲,會唔會寫封信去德國水族館多謝佢帶挈你贏到開巷呢?若然你真係寫信畀「有球必應」嘅保羅表揚佢 準過黃大仙,功夫茶建議你親自落街搵一搵充滿殖民地懷舊風情嘅郵筒,用實際行動支持保育文物吖嘛,等官老爺唔好以為古董冇用。

好嘞,保育。大家都知啦,傳統郵筒係香港一大特色,好多人去咗外國一段日子,一返到香港見到紅彤 彤嘅郵筒簡直好似老友重逢咁興奮。 假如郵筒上面仲刻有象徵皇室大寶號嘅字款,好似VR、ER或者GR,更加係彌足珍貴,直情要攞部相機出嚟拍照留念。

講到呢度,係時候向大家介紹一個荒唐建議。文物 保育專員辦事處話喎,最近聯絡香港郵政,建議保留九個擁有五十至一百年歷史嘅郵筒, 畀市民有機會接觸呢一類街頭文物。

計功夫茶話齋,所謂保育專員根本就係毀育專員, 點解淨係保留九個古董郵筒咁少呢?點解唔全數保留呢?雖然話英殖時代鑄造嘅郵筒已經 買少見少,但係始終仲有五十七個健在,即使歲月無情,仍然堅守崗位。如果功夫茶係保育專員,一定會話,五十七個全數保留,一個都不能少!

呢嗱嗱嗱,你話係咪荒唐吖?建議五十七個郵筒保 留九個,即係將四十八件街頭文物報廢,呢種大屠殺行為只有敗家仔先至做得出。打個譬 喻吖,香港有五十七位百歲人瑞,全部行得走得食得瞓得,你會唔會話,保留九位老人家,其餘人等拖出去斬?古色古香嘅郵筒只要冇穿冇爛功能正常,你就唔好搞 佢啦!

莫 講話舊式郵筒唔應該報廢,真正嘅保育思維應該係全面維修,而維修工作包括將綠色還原為紅色。可能功夫茶特別念舊啩,硬係覺得綠色 郵筒篤眼篤鼻,成隻綠魔怪咁款。

所以話啫,香港官僚嘅保育工作永遠撞板多過食飯,而且一味左拆右拆乜鬼都話拆。呢頭拆完天星鐘 樓,嗰頭又拆皇后碼頭,家陣仲輪到惡 搞郵筒。有時你又難怪咁多八十後年輕人把幾火上街遊行,因為佢哋其中一個訴求就係,喂,香港城市規劃唔好千篇一律悶到嘔得唔得?留番少少歷史感覺好唔好?

唉,保育專員保你大,手下留情唔好毀滅郵筒啦, 唔該!

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文物專員倡保留9殖民地郵筒

東方日報 13/7/2010 (link)
 
【記者譚美芳報道】郵筒寄存了不少市民珍貴的回 憶,連繫了無數空虛的心靈。 近年以電郵通訊的人愈來愈多,寄信的人愈來愈少,但仍無礙郵筒在市民心目中的地位。文物保育專員辦事處最近主動聯絡香港郵政,建議保留九個分別擁有約五十 年至一百年歷史的舊郵筒,讓市民有機會繼續接觸這些街頭文物。不過,環保組織「長春社」質疑保留的數目太少,又批評政府早年將郵筒全部由紅轉綠,漠視郵筒 歷史價值。
 
中環遮打道的橢圓形郵筒,全港 獨有,郵筒上刻有英女王的王冠。
本港現存五十七個殖民地時代鑄造的郵筒,建議保留的郵筒建於一九一○至一九五二年左右,全部以生鐵鑄造,當中八個建於英王喬治五世 時代 (一九一○至一九三六年),分別為圓柱形及嵌牆形,可容納八百及三百封信,郵筒上鑄有英王喬治五世的「GR V」徽章,政府正搜集有關郵筒的歷史資料,供日後展示。
另一建議保育的郵筒於英女王伊利莎伯二世時代鑄造,是全港唯一仍在使用的橢圓形郵筒,現擺放於中 環遮打道。該郵筒在蘇格蘭格拉斯哥 鑄造,一九七○年運抵香港,當年蘇格蘭與英格蘭曾發生皇室紛爭,這個蘇格蘭鑄造的郵筒因緣際會運抵香港,十分難得。

紅轉綠漠視歷史價值

發展局發言人強調,古蹟辦會以原址保育為目標, 研究保育郵筒的最佳辦法。至於其餘殖民地時代鑄造的郵筒,暫未有特別保育需要。
不過,長春社公共事務經理李少文質疑保留郵筒數目太少,指不少舊郵筒具歷史價值。他 又批評政府早前將郵筒全部改為綠色,忽視了郵筒 歷史意義,「當年英國郵筒用紅色,同消防喉一樣顏色,係因為郵政同樣緊急,反映英國郵局辦事效率。」促請古蹟辦還原有關郵筒的顏色。
 

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40古董郵筒不獲保育

部份乏人打理 任由「自生自滅」 

蘋果日報 – 13/7/2010 (link)

【本 報訊】現時全港尚存 50多個殖民地時代鑄造的郵筒仍然運作,部份估計有上百年歷史。政府正研究將其中九個加以保育,惟其餘 40多個則「自生自滅」。保育團體長春社認為,政府應仿效英國,將這批街頭文物悉數原址保留,維持郵遞功能。                   
                   
文物保育專員辦事處在最新一期通訊錄透 露,正研究保留九個殖民地時期鑄造的郵筒。其中八個鑄造於英皇喬治五世時代( 1910年至 1936年),筒身刻有喬治五世名字縮寫「 GRV」的郵筒,分佈於九龍塘、牛頭角、鯉魚門、西貢、中文大學、大嶼山石壁、長洲及南丫島索罟灣,估計有 70多年至近百年歷史不等。

另一個擬保育的古董郵筒,在英女皇伊利沙伯二世 登位後( 1952年至今)鑄造,現安設於中環遮打道近皇后像廣場位置,筒身刻有英女皇名字縮寫「 ERII」,屬全港唯一仍運作的橢圓形郵筒,最少半世紀歷史。

保 育團體長春社公共事務經理李少文表示,過往在殖民地年代,每逢英國新君登位,英國政府都會鑄造一批刻有新君名字縮寫的郵筒作紀念。郵筒以生鐵在英國鑄造, 完工後運抵本港使用,當年常見的三種類型郵筒包括圓柱形、燈柱形及入牆形。
隨着九七回歸,特區政府大力推動「去殖民地化」政策後,這批服務市民多 年的殖民地郵筒便遭摒棄, 98年期間被特區政府以殘舊為由,大批拆掉塞進貨倉,更換成現時缺乏美感的方箱形郵筒。李指出,倖存的殖民地郵筒也被強行髹上內地郵筒慣用的綠色油漆, 「只係剩番圓柱形、入牆形兩種郵筒仲喺街上搵到,燈柱形已經俾人拆晒」。       

多污迹 油漆剝落

本報日前巡察六個位於市區的古董郵 筒,發現大部份乏人打理,飽歷風霜。其中鯉魚門與牛頭角兩個經典圓柱形郵筒,筒身污迹斑斑,更有油漆剝落情況,露出昔日的紅色底漆。位於中文大學與西貢對 面海的兩個入牆形郵筒則位置偏僻,採訪當天,對面海的郵筒僅有一封信寄出。
文物辦接受查詢時稱,香港郵政有定期派人清潔打理古董郵筒,政府正研究 它們的特色及搜集歷史資料,稍後向公眾介紹。發言人強調以原址保育為目標,定出方案後便着手維修。

政 府擬保育的古董郵筒位置

•中環遮打道接近皇后像廣場位置* 特色:橢圓 形
•又 一村高槐路與玉蘭路交界 特色:入牆形
• 鯉魚門海旁道 1號 A 特色:圓柱形
•牛頭角康利道 22至 24號 特色:圓柱形
•西貢對面海明順村 特色:入牆形
•中文大 學大埔道巴士站 特色:入牆形
•大嶼山石壁監獄停車場外 特色:入牆形
•南丫島索罟灣警崗旁 特色:圓柱形
•長洲學校路 1號中華便以利會長洲堂門前 特色:入牆形
*唯一伊利沙伯二世郵筒刻有皇冠,其餘均為喬治五世郵筒,沒有皇冠標記
資料來源:文物保育專員 辦事處

橢圓郵筒碩果僅存

【本報訊】文物保育專員辦事處表示,除了九個考 慮保育的古董郵筒,現時本港街上仍然有 48個伊利沙伯二世郵筒在運作中,但由於這批郵筒年份較近,暫未有特別保育的需要。言下之意是任其自生自滅。
唯一獲保育的伊利沙伯二世橢圓形郵 筒,位於皇后像廣場附近。文物辦發言人稱,該郵筒在蘇格蘭格拉斯哥以生鐵鑄造而成,上世紀 70年代運抵本港。

蘇格蘭皇冠份外珍貴

長春社公共事務經理李少文指,該郵筒除了是碩果 僅存的橢圓形外,也刻有少見的蘇格蘭皇冠而份外珍貴。
看 殖民地郵筒上的標記,能了解英國皇位的更迭。本港最古老郵筒,要追溯到維多利亞女皇時代( 1877年至 1901年),現時已移送到香港歷史博物館展出。維多利亞女皇駕崩後,長子愛德華七世接位( 1901年至 1910年),他病逝後皇位落到喬治五世( 1910年至 1936年)。現時打算保育的八個古董郵筒,均是在喬治五世時代鑄造。至 1936年 1月「不愛江山愛美人」的愛德華八世接位,同年底退位,由弟弟喬治六世翌年初登位。喬治六世 1952年駕崩後,長女伊利沙伯二世便接位至今。
 

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九個古董郵筒倡保留

太陽報 13/7/2010 (link)

  【本報訊】郵筒寄存了不少市民珍貴的回憶,連繫 了無數空虛的心靈。近年以電郵通訊的人愈來愈多,寄信的人愈來愈少,但仍無礙郵筒在市民心目中的地位。文物 保育專員辦事處最近主動聯絡香港郵政,建議保留九個分別擁有約五十年至一百年歷史的舊郵筒,讓市民有機會繼續接觸這些街頭文物。不過,環保組織「長春社」 質疑保留的數目太少,又批評政府早年將郵筒全部由紅轉綠,漠視郵筒歷史價值。

生鐵鑄造 最老百歲

本港現存五十七個殖民地時代鑄造的郵筒,建議保 留的郵筒建於一九一○至一九五二年左右,全部以生鐵鑄造,當中八個 建於英皇喬治五世時代(一九一○至一九三六年),分別為圓柱形及嵌牆形,可容納八百及三百封信,郵筒上鑄有英皇喬治五世的「GR V」徽章,政府正搜集有關郵筒的歷史資料,供日後展示。

*

  •  南丫島英皇喬治五世 郵筒早前嚴重生銹,修復後重投服務。

*

  •  中環遮打道的 橢圓形郵筒屬全港獨有,郵筒上刻有英女王的皇冠。

 
另一建議保育的郵筒於英女王伊利莎伯二世時代鑄 造,是全港唯一仍在使用的橢圓形郵筒,現擺放於中環遮打道。該郵筒 在蘇格蘭格拉斯哥鑄造,一九七○年運抵香港,當年蘇格蘭與英格蘭曾發生皇室紛爭,這個蘇格蘭鑄造的郵筒因緣際會運抵香港,十分難得。
 不過,長春社公共事務經理李少文質疑保留郵筒數 目太少,指不少舊郵筒具歷史價值。他又批評政府早前將郵筒全部改為 綠色,忽視了郵筒歷史意義,「當年英國郵筒用紅色,同消防喉一樣顏色,係因為郵政同樣緊急,反映英國郵局辦事效率。」促請古蹟辦還原有關郵筒的顏色。

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殖民地印記9郵筒獲保育

香港經濟日報- 20100713 – 新聞特寫- – 辛佩蘭 (link)

保育熱潮掩至街頭文物?香港郵政終同意保育9個殖民地時代鑄造,現仍在街頭服務市民的郵筒。曾經研究本地郵筒歷史的中國郵學會,以及關注本土文物 發展的香港歷史研究社均表支持,後者更呼籲政府多走一步,保育其他街頭文物如舊路牌、戰前電箱等。

 

    保育殖民地時代郵筒的最好時機,應該是回歸後,因當時全港各處仍有百多個鑄有英國皇朝徽號的紅色鐵造郵筒屹立街頭,相當出眾。但隨著香港郵政將郵筒主 色調由紅變綠後,紅色郵筒已在本港街頭絕跡。 

 

回歸後紅變綠 港郵政沒方案

 

    根據香港郵政的紀錄,現時尚有57個殖民地時代鑄造的郵筒存於街上,外觀仍可看到英皇朝的徽號和相關象徵。

 

    香港郵政以往沒有保育富街頭特色的郵筒方案,今年初,香港郵政以破爛為由移走南丫島南索罟灣一個喬治五世時代(1910至1936年)的郵筒,被長春 社批評忽視文物保育,要求香港郵政挽救瀕危郵筒後,發展局的文物保育專員辦事處旋即介入,並與香港郵政磋商復修後安放原址,事件才告平息。香港郵政之後表 示,會研究保育餘下57個殖民地時代的珍貴郵筒。

 

    發展局文物保育專員辦事處最近在一份通訊刊物內指,正與香港郵政研究保育9個歷史久遠和較具特色的郵筒。由保育57個變為保育9個,長春社理事陳捷貴 表示,當局應解釋保育的準則。

 

    中國郵學會理事長高光亮表示,歡迎香港郵政保育9個特色郵筒,「重點保育已經可以了。」

 

    他指舊郵筒的容量很少,只能儲存百多封郵件,而且內籠有鐵網,信件很容易「楔住」,故因應需要替換新的郵筒亦未嘗不可。

 

    發展局回覆本報查詢時表示,暫未有計劃保育的郵筒尚餘48個,全部是伊利沙伯二世時代鑄造,由於鑄造年份較近,而且仍在服務市民,未有特別保育需要。

 

    有關保育工作包括原址保存及使用、定期維修和進行歷史資料蒐集,至於會否將綠色「還原」紅色,發言人說部門會商議最佳保育方案。 

 

包括原址保存使用 定期維修 

 

   9個舊郵筒,最古老的並無一個特定鑄造年份,只知道當中8個是英皇朝喬治五世年代的產品,即1910至1936年,二次大戰之前在英國鑄造, 後來運抵香港。餘下一個是香港僅存的橢圓形伊利沙伯二世郵筒,位於中環皇后像廣場,鑄造年份約是1950至80年代。有文獻記載,該郵筒在蘇格蘭格拉斯哥 用鐵鑄成,於1970年代運送來港。

 

在蘇格蘭鑄造的橢圓形鐵郵筒,屹立中環遮打道皇后像廣場,成為區內特色。

回歸後,這類刻有皇冠徽號的紅色郵筒已絕跡。

 

 

 

 

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9街道古郵筒當局研原址保育


文匯報

 http://paper.wenweipo.com   [2010-07-13]     我要評論(0)

【本報訊】(記者 羅敬文)港府在全港篩選出9個極具文物保育價值的古郵筒,除部分有上百年歷史外,還有位於中環、全港唯一仍在使用的橢圓形郵筒,鑄造於英女王伊利沙伯二世時代。發展局表示,現正研究最佳的原址保育方案,讓下一代能親身接觸這些盛載市民多年「寄存」回憶的街頭文物。

逾半世紀歷史 殖民時代鑄造

在街道上屹立多年的郵筒,見證本港的歷史變遷。發展局轄下的文物保育專員辦事處最近與香港郵政在全港挑選出9個於殖民時期鑄造的郵筒,其中8個屬於英王喬治五世時代(1910至1936年)以生鐵鑄造,遍及九龍、新界及離島,迄今仍然使用,分為嵌牆型和圓柱形兩類,容量分別為300封和800封左右。

發展局亦揀選了伊利沙伯二世時代(1952年)的橢圓形郵筒,位於中環遮打道近皇后像廣場。發展局發言人表示,該郵筒由蘇格蘭格拉斯哥以生鐵鑄造,於上世紀70年代運抵本港,是全港唯一仍然服務市民的橢圓形郵筒;而香港街道上仍有48個在該時期鑄造的郵筒,因鑄造年份較近,暫未有特別保育的需要。

富特色具價值 留下一代體驗

港府現正研究以原址保育上述9個郵筒的最佳方案,發展局發言人表示,因應近月有部分市民建議保育在街上仍在使用的特色舊郵筒,考慮到9個建議保育的郵筒代表香港市民昔日的生活,而這些郵筒亦「富特色及具文物價值」,有需要讓下一代能親身接觸這些盛載市民多年「寄存」回憶的街頭文物。

發展局發言人表示,古蹟辦正逐一仔細檢視這9個鑄造年份較久遠或別具特色的郵筒,在決定保育方案後,將會著手所需的維修工作,而古蹟辦現正搜集更多這些古郵筒的歷史資料,以便未來作展示用途。發言人續稱,郵筒只在損毀致不能再使用,或容量過小致未能滿足市民的需要時,才會被替換或遷移。

 

 

 

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My letter in today’s SCMP

 

Hongkong Post can learn from UK on letter box preservation

Jul 10, 2010

In the June issue of Heritage, a newsletter published by the heritage commissioner’s office, it was reported that the office “is in discussion with Hongkong Post to find ways to preserve a total of nine postboxes dating back to the colonial era”.
There are currently 61 historic postboxes in Hong Kong and it is inexplicable that only nine of them are to be preserved.

I am concerned that this preservation exercise will be viewed by Hongkong Post as a licence to get rid of the other 52 boxes, either through active replacement or quiet deterioration due to lack of maintenance.

This suspicion is not ungrounded as about two-thirds of the 144 old boxes that still existed in 1997 have already been removed.

We might do well in this preservation exercise to learn from England.

Since 2002, Royal Mail has collaborated with English Heritage to retain and conserve all its 85,000 postboxes in England. A few points from “Letter Boxes: A Joint Policy Statement by Royal Mail and English Heritage” are highlighted:

All boxes are to be retained in operational services in their existing positions;
The conservation officer of the local planning authority must be consulted if any problems arise with regard to individual boxes;
Postboxes must be repainted at least every three years and more frequently in some cases, for example, coastal areas where abnormal levels of deterioration occur;
All paint must be lead-free and of the correct specification; and
Letter boxes should be washed regularly to ensure a smart appearance.
These points are all relevant to the local situation. Especially illuminating is the commitment to retain all 85,000 boxes. This puts our proposal to preserve only nine of our 61 old letter boxes to shame.

In our case, it could be further suggested that the old boxes be repainted in their original red and black colours, and more active maintenance and repair than just repainting should be accorded to some of the old ones.

One good example of what could be achieved by committed and professional maintenance and repair is the King George V postbox at Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island. In its letter (“Postbox too badly damaged”, February 18), Hongkong Post maintained that the box, due to “serious internal rusting which caused extensive structural damage and even prevented the door hinges from functioning properly”, was beyond repair and had to be scrapped.

It is now understood that, in May, Hongkong Post changed its mind and sought assistance from the Architectural Services Department to repair the box. It has been restored and put back in its original position, actively serving the Sok Kwu Wan community again. One could only hope that this box has had a change of fortune not only because it is one of the chosen nine.

Sin Wai-man, Chai Wan

 

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Surprising report on postbox preservation

Our friend at 長春社 gave us a heads up on an article in a newsletter published by the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office. What is very surprising is it says “[t]he Commissioner for Heritage’s Office is in discussion with Hongkong Post to find ways to preserve a total of nine post boxes dating back to the colonial era.” (p.6, http://www.heritage.gov.hk/tc/doc/Heritage_Issue_13.pdf )

It doesn’t explain what exactly it means by preservation. Are only 9 out of the existing 61 to be preserved? Or are they given special treatment, like having a information plague explaing its history by its side, while the rest will still be retained?

I have now fired away two letters to express my concerns (in my own name but implicitly on behalf of our Search Team), the first to SCMP and the second to the Commissioner for Heritage, with copies to Antiquities and Monuments Office and Hongkong Post.

Let’s hope they are going to retain all the 61 old beauties!

Letter to SCMP

Wrong Direction in Postbox Preservation

I referred to my correspondence with Hongkong Post regarding preservation of historic postboxes on this page back in February (Letters to the Editor, SCMP: my first letter, 11 February, Hongkong Post’s response, 18 February, my second letter, 24 February). In my last letter, I pleaded for the Hongkong Post to adopt a more preservation-minded policy and urged the Antiquities and Monuments Office to get involved .

I was therefore naturally delighted when I saw this title of an article in the No.13 June issue of Heritage, a newsletter published by the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office: “Preserving Streetside Heritage Through Old Post Boxes”. However, when I read on it was more disappointment than joy, as it reports “[t]he Commissioner for Heritage’s Office is in discussion with Hongkong Post to find ways to preserve a total of nine post boxes dating back to the colonial era.”

It would put the whole preservation exercise to shame if indeed only 9 out of the current
existing 61 old colonial postboxes (apparently the figure 47 provided by Hongkong Post in its letter of 18 February 2010 on this page was wrong; an updated list by me could be found at
https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AhbXpNwnjON2dEpHbElGRTVMMTJKQXVvNlp3NTBHcGc&output=html
).

Especially worrying is the possibility that the preservation of these 9 old boxes will be viewed by Hongkong Post as a license to put to death the other 52 – either through active replacement or quiet deterioration due to lack of maintenance. This suspicion is not ungrounded as about 2/3 of the 144 old boxes that still existed in 1997 have already been removed. In fact, Hongkong Post explained in its 18 February letter that deterioration was one of the two reasons to retire old boxes, the other being insufficient volume capacity.

We might indeed do well in this preservation exercise to learn from the UK. Since 2002 Royal Mail has collaborated with English Heritage to retain and conserve all of its 85,000 post boxes in England. A few points from “Letter Boxes: A Joint Policy Statement by Royal Mail and English
Heritage” are highlighted:

a. all boxes are to be retained in operational services in their existing positions;
b. the conservation officer of the local planning authority must be consulted if any problems arise with regard to individual boxes;
c. postboxes must be repainted at least every three years – and more frequently in some cases, e.g. coastal area where abnormal level of deterioration occurs;
d. all paint must be lead-free and of the correct specification (Royal Mail red, colour ref no. 538 BS381C and Black, colour ref no. 00E53, BS4800);
e. Letter boxes should be washed regularly to ensure a smart appearance. Special arrangements may be necessary for boxes that are sited on busy roads where dirt can accumulate quickly.These boxes have a high visibility and must be kept as clean as possible.

The above points are all highly relevant to the local situation. Especially illuminating is their commitment to retain all their 85,000 boxes. This shows our proposal to preserve only 9 of our own 61 old postboxes up badly!

Furthermore, it could be suggested for Hong Kong that the old boxes should be repainted into their original red and black colours and in case of insufficient capacity another mailbox should be erected alongside the older box instead of removing the latter permanently. Also, more active maintenance and repair than just repainting should be accorded to some of the old boxes.

One good example of what could be achieved by committed and professional maintenance and repair is the Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island KGV postox. In its 18 February letter Hongkong Post maintained that that box, due to “serious internal rusting which caused extensive structural damage and even prevented the door hinges from functioning properly”, was beyond repair and had to be scrapped. It is understood that in May Hongkong Post had changed its position and sought assistance from the Architectural Services Department to repair this box. The restored box is now reinstalled in its original position, actively serving the Sok Kwu Wan community again.

One however must hope that that box was extended this privilege not only because it is one of the chosen 9!

Sin Wai Man

Letter to Commissioner for Heritage, with copies to Antiquities and Monuments Office and Hongkong Post

Dear Sir/Madam,

I refer to the article “Preserving Streetside Heritage Through Old Post Boxes” in 活化@Heritage Issue No. 13 June 2010, published by the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office (p.6, http://www.heritage.gov.hk/tc/doc/Heritage_Issue_13.pdf ).

The article reports “[t]he Commissioner for Heritage’s Office is in discussion with Hongkong Post to find ways to preserve a total of nine post boxes dating back to the colonial era.” It would put the whole preservation exercise to shame if indeed only 9 out of the current existing 61 old colonial postboxes (3 of these 61 boxes, strangely, seem unaccounted for in the old postbox list provided by the Hongkong Post – they are respectively at Sun Tin, Kam Tin and Sha Tau Kok Post Offices and all are ERII wall boxes – a updated list maintained by me can be found at
https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AhbXpNwnjON2dEpHbElGRTVMMTJKQXVvNlp3NTBHcGc&output=html
).

Especially worrying would be the possibility that the preservation of these 9 old boxes will be viewed by Hongkong Post as a license to put to death the other 52 – either through active replacement or quiet deterioration due to lack of maintenance (this suspicion is not ungrounded as about 2/3 of the 144 old boxes that still existed in 1997 had been removed and indeed Hongkong Post had explained in correspondence with myself that deterioration was one of two reasons to retire old boxes, the other being insufficient volume capacity; please refer to my correspondence with Hongkong Post in the Letters page of SCMP on 11, 18 and 24 February 2010).

We might indeed do well in this preservation exercise to learn from the UK. Since 2002 Royal Mail has collaborated with English Heritage to retain and conserve all of its 115.000 post boxes. A few points from “Letter Boxes: A Joint Policy Statement by Royal Mail and English Heritage” are highlighted:
(http://www.helm.org.uk/upload/pdf/Royal%20Mail%20Letter%20Boxes.%20A%20joint%20policy%20statement%20by%20Royal%20Mail%20and%20English%20Heritage_2002.pdf
)

a. all boxes are to be retained in operational services in their existing positions
b. the conservation officer of the local planning authority must be consulted if any problems arise with regard to individual boxes
c. postboxes must be repainted at least every three years – and more frequently in some cases, e.g. costal area where abnormal level of deterioration occurs
d. all paint must be lead-free and of the correct specification (Royal Mail red, colour ref no. 538 BS381C and Black, colour ref no. 00E53, BS4800).
e. Letter boxes should be washed regularly to ensure a smart appearance.Special arrangements may be necessary for boxes that are sited on busy roads where dirt can accumulate quickly.These boxes have a high visibility and must be kept as clean as possible.

The above points are all highly relevant to the local situation. I would also suggest the old boxes should be repainted into their original red and black colours and in case of insufficient capacity another mailbox should be erected alongside the older box instead of removing the latter permanently. I further understand that Hongkong Post had sought assistance from the Architectural Services Department to restore a KGV pillar box in Sok Kwu Wan which it had previously considered so deteriorated to be beyond repair. The same service seems also urgently required by a few boxes I have surveyed, e.g. No.370 Tai Mong Tsai Bus Terminal
(http://hkpostbox.xanga.com/726268615/%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2%E9%9A%8A%E5%9B%9E%E5%A0%B1—%E9%83%B5%E7%AD%92370/
) and No.232 Stage II, Hing Wah Estate, Chai Wan
(http://hkpostbox.xanga.com/725717009/%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2%E9%9A%8A%E5%9B%9E%E5%A0%B1—%E9%83%B5%E7%AD%92-239/
).

I totally agree that the old colonial postboxes are a part of our heritage and I sincerely hope the concerning departments will preserve all existing 61 colonial post boxes, instead of only 9 as reported.

Yours faithfully,

Sin Wai Man (Mr)

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