Ngau Tau Kok, Sai Tso Wan, Cha Kwo Ling and Lei Yue Mun
are referred to as the Four Hills of Kowloon. They are Hakkan
villages located in eastern Kowloon, which were famous for the
abundant production of high quality granite.
At the beginning of 18th Century, Hakkan
gradually migrated from Huiyang and
Changle County in Guangdong to Hong
Kong. At that time, the Five Clans resided
in the New Territories. Some Hakkan
decided to settle along the east coast of
Kowloon Bay (now East Kowloon) and
earned a living by quarrying and farming.
In 1842, the Qing Dynasty ceded Hong
Kong Island to the United Kingdom. With
the high quality granite, the Hakkan’s
skilful techniques and an extensive
knowledge of quarrying, the quarries of
the Four Hills of Kowloon were thriving.
As there is no ancestral hall, villagers
of the Four Hills of Kowloon mainly
assembled at the Communal Office of
Four Hills next to Tin Hau Temple at Sai
Tso Wan to manage all daily matters. Tens
of quarries had been in operation along
the 2 miles of road in eastern Kowloon,
according to a missionary who visited the
area in 1844.
Before the signing of ”The Convention
between the United Kingdom and China
Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong
Territory” in 1898, the Four Hills of
Kowloon belonged to the Qing Dynasty.
The Qing officials were based in Kowloon
Walled City. Representatives were
canonised from each hill by the Qing
officials to be responsible for collecting
taxes from their respective assemblies.
These representatives are titled as the
Headmen of the Four Hills, as they
enjoyed the privilege of wearing the Qing
In the early stages, hammers were used to
chisel iron bars a few inches into the rock
and gun powder was then inserted to
explode the rocks. These large exploded
rocks were further cut into blocks.
After World War II, rock aggregate was in
demand for the production of concrete.
Women also joined the work force to
The granite blocks extracted from the
Four Hills of Kowloon were exported via
sailboat. Some of them were transported
to Hong Kong Island; while some were
sent to Zhuhai and Huangpu for the
construction of fortresses. Therefore,
several piers were set up at the coast along
the Four Hills of Kowloon. Among them,
Sai Tso Wan was the biggest, with its deep
water, compared with the shallow sandy
shore of Ngau Tau Kok. Only part of the
pier at Lei Yue Mun still remains.
Sacred Heart Cathedral
The Sacred Heart Cathedral, located at
Yi de Road in Guangzhou, was built by
granite from the Four Hills of Kowloon.
In 1858, France planned to build a gothic
cathedral in Guangzhou. In view of the
need of granite for the cathedral wall and
pillars, the high quality granite from
the Four Hills of Kowloon was selected
as there was no granite production in
Guangzhou. Granite blocks were sent
by sailboat via the Pearl River Delta to
Guangzhou for the construction of the
Sacred Heart Cathedral. The quarrying
process took 8 years. The cathedral was
completed in 1888, which is now the
biggest gothic cathedral in China.