Island House celebrates Centennial Anniversary

Posted 25 March 2006

One Century on and still standing, Island House has changed almost as much as Hong Kong. Originally it was a government official's residence but now it is an education and conservation resource centre operated by WWF Island House continues its service role meeting the community's needs by promoting environmental and cultural heritage education. As Tai Po and Hong Kong have changed so has Island House.

Island House was built at the beginning of nineteenth century simultaneous to the Kowloon railway stretching into the Mainland. It has witnessed Tai Po progressing from a small market town serving farmers of the Lam Tsuen Valley and where fisherman gathered after their day's catch from the waters of Tolo Harbour, to today's bustling new town.

Today, Island House still stands well preserved and tucked quietly behind the tall trees on top of Yuen Chau Tsai Island, looking down on the bustling activities of Tai Po.

"I lived there with my wife from 1974 to 1985 until I was appointed as Chief Secretary. There we witnessed how the small little town has turned itself into a busy new town. I also put forward the idea of turning Island House into a conservation studies centre of WWF in 1986. The House has already been declared a heritage building and I thought turning it into a WWF centre would be a good way to preserve its cultural heritage as well as the diverse flora and fauna of the vicinity," recalled Sir David Akers Jones, Vice President, WWF Hong Kong and as Secretary for the New Territories lived at Island House for twelve years.

Today's Island House Centennial Anniversary Open Day is sponsored by Hang Seng Bank. "As a socially responsible corporation, Hang Seng is delighted to support the centennial anniversary activities of Island House, which will promote awareness of Hong Kong's rich cultural and natural heritage," said Mrs Dorothy Sit, Chief Operating Officer of Hang Seng.

Now, the Island House Conservation Studies Centre has become a very important environment education resources centre of WWF for promoting Education for Sustainable Development in Hong Kong and South China regions. One of the most effective programmes is WWF's "Teach the Teachers', where educators are trained to assist their colleagues in the teaching of environmental studies in the Hong Kong school system. Educating the future generation is a major investment by WWF in its Hong Kong based conservation efforts.

To celebrate this special occasion, and, in keeping with WWF's educational focus, WWF will be running a series of community education programmes with Hang Seng Bank to raise awareness on the historical and cultural heritage of the building. Activities will include running an open day; conducting training on the concept of education for sustainability as well as organizing free education tours for primary schools and underprivileged groups.

For further information, please contact WWF Education Department on 2652 0285 (tel.)