Paddocks on the Roofs; Stables on the Hills
Mr Charles Gordon Mackie Esq JP was the HKJC Chairman (1929-1935), while he was also the HSBC Chairman (1931-1932).
1929 HKJC embarked upon a general re-providing of accommodation for both man and beast.
An official Race Programme Plan of Happy Valley racecourse, shows the Stands at that time, with stables under the members’s boxes.
The Distance posts, three-quarter mile start near the CCC old pavilion on that map proves that it should be drawn and printed before 1931.
That historical start and track were ceased to be used shortly afterwards.
By that time, so many ponies arrived that the racecourse stables could not accommodate them all.
Temporary mat-shed stalls were erected at East Point opposite Jardine, Matheson & Company’s godowns.
Even with these the congestion was acute.
HKJC and HSBC Chairman Mackie bought two lots of land near the WongNeiChong Gorge above Happy Valley, at a cost of $109,250, to erect there large new stables.
Tenders for the new stables were higher than expected— amounting to approximately a million dollars.
Between the two sites a 40-foot road up the hill (in continuation of Shan Kwong Road) provided access.
Site formation proved no easy task for, because of irregularities of the ground and the slope of the hillside.
It was found necessary to construct retaining walls of considerable height and bulk, the whole site having five levels.
The stable blocks, housing 324 ponies on the two largest sites on the west of the road.
They were three-storey buildings with ramps, the lower two floors being stables and the top floor mafoos’ quarters.
Each block had two exercise yards with sand baths; and there was a large water-bath deep enough for ponies to swim.
Flushing and washing water was laid on from an independent water supply outside.
The bulk of this being pumped up from a newly formed reservoir in an adjoining nullah.
The work of the fine new livery stables were built, up in the Wongneichong Gorge, completed in two years.
Chairman Mackie commented:
“I think I am right in saying that we have the finest block of stables in the Far East, if not outside Europe. The accommodation, however, will be taxed to the utmost, and it would appear that in the near future it may be necessary to develop C block, which is now used as an exercise ground.”
August, the Kennedy Stables at Causeway Bay were sold.
The site, 88,847 square feet, fetched $7 per square foot, a total of $621,929.
There came developments of the surrounding WongNeiChong Gorge indigenous village and squatter-huts area, such as the dormitories for Mafoos gradually being constructed many years afterwards.
Shan Kwong Road Stables gave the historical opportunities for residents in Happy Valley to experience to see the views of the horse-roads and to hear the melodies of the walking hooves.
Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah, Mr Daniel Zigal and Mr Donald Tsai for relevant data and information.