An abandoned Hakka mansion in Yuen Long
It is called Pun Uk which means mansion of the Puns. It was built in 1934 by Pun Kwan-min (1882-1968) in commemoration of his father, Pun Yum-wah.
Pun Kwan-min was born in Meixian in Guangdong but moved to Hong Kong in 1898 when he was 16 years old. He started work as an apprentice for an import/export business and eventually worked his way up to manager before forming a company of his own. His businesses included banking, textiles and printing as well as exports. He founded the Ka Ying Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and the Nanyang Imports and Exporters Association in Hong Kong whose members were mostly other businessmen from the Hakka community.
Pun was a friend of Marshal Ye Jianying and a supporter of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s efforts to overthrow the Qing dynasty. During the Japanese occupation (1941-45) Pun fled to China where he died in 1968. During the occupation, the building was used as a military operations base.
It is a single-storey building. The main entrance and entrance hall lead onto a central courtyard behind which there is a rear hall housing the ancestral altar. The entrance itself is flanked by two granite columns supporting the roof eaves which are decorated with elaborate wood carvings and plaster mouldings depicting birds and flowers.
The ancestral altar, collapsed now, is again richly carved and decorated. Numerous paintings on wood surround the altar. One which particularly caught my eye depicts a scene of modern city life with buildings, a car and a harbour with a steamship.
The wings on either side of the main hall (main pic) each feature their own courtyard with numerous rooms for sleeping as well as for cooking, bathing and storage. For a house that has been abandoned for so long, it is in remarkably good condition. The original wooden rafters and purlins are intact and the roof tiles are still in place.
There have been plans to redevelop the site for either housing or as a columbarium, but so far neither has got off the ground. It is currently zoned for “undetermined use.” But it is a wonderful and extremely rare piece of local history and what it really needs is some sensitive restoration.