has been one of the main areas of settlement throughout the island’s history. In 1841 when the British took possession there was already a fishing community numbering over 2,000 living here. The English name originates from Lord Stanley, a British Colonial Secretary in the 19th century. The Chinese name “Chek Chue” can be translated as red column, likely referring to the local red-flowered cotton tree “Bombax malabaricum”.
Stanley – named after Lord Stanley, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time of Hong Kong’s cession to Britain in 1841 – is one of the oldest villages on Hong Kong Island. Known in Chinese as “Chek Chue”, the village appeared in Chinese official records as early as in the Ming Dynasty (1573 – 1620). During the Qing Emperor Qianlong’s reign in 1767, Stanley villagers funded the building of the Tin Hau Temple which has since remained as the religious hub of the area, and formed a “Charity and Security Communal Hall” from which the present day Stanley Kaifong Association has evolved.
When Hong Kong Island came under British rule in 1841, Stanley, with a population of some 2,000, was the most populous area on the island. It soon became a base for the British garrison, in the vicinity of which a military cemetery was built. As early as 1841, sites in the area were demarcated by the Government for sale. For centre on the northern shore of the island, coupled with constant threats from pirates, had hampered the village’s early development, in the mid-1930s, a series of batteries was erected on the southern shore of Hong Kong Island including Stanley to guard against attacks from the sea. In 1938, the Stanley Prison, the largest prison in Hong Kong, was built on the Stanley Peninsula.
During the Japanese invasion in December 1941, the Japanese and the defending British Commonwealth troops had a fierce final encounter in Stanley which resulted in heavy casualties. Stanley Prison and the adjacent St. Stephen’s College were used as internment camps for government officers and foreign civilians in the years when Hong Kong was under Japanese occupation.
Since the early 1970s, Stanley has gradually developed into a popular tourist destination. Shops and stalls offering a variety of apparel and accessories have sprung up in Stanley Market, while pubs and restaurants have clustered along the waterfront. In 1998, when reclamation and beautification works were carried out in Stanley, Murray House, one of Hong Kong’s oldest buildings originally located in Central District, was re-constructed in Stanley. In 2007, a new public pier was built at the waterfront outside Murray House. The new pier, named “Blake Pier at Stanley” and featuring the historic cast-iron roof truss removed from the decommissioned Blake Pier in Central District, resonates with nostalgia of a long past era.