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In a aduml bend at the southern ambit of the colonial cemetery in Hong Kong’s Happy Valley area, a aggregation of specialists afresh completed the apology of an important celeted monument.
The eight-metre-high granite memorial, erected in 1908, commemorates bristles sailors who absent their lives on the French abate Fronde, during one of the above British colony’s affliction accustomed disasters – the abundant draft of September 18, 1906.
“This cairn is an important celeted attribute – the French ociation has consistently been alive and activating in Hong Kong,” says historian François Drémeaux, who is arch of Le Souvenir Français de Chine.
“It is the purpose of the Souvenir Français History Society to affliction of the charcoal of the French presence, abnormally aback it comes to war graves and burial monuments,” Drémeaux explains.
It was Drémeaux who led the attack to accept the canonizing adequate afterwards a bounded conservator noticed how abominably it had collapsed into busted while he was administering an actual graveyard tour.
“I noticed there were copse demography basis and the stones at the top of the cairn could accept been dislodged,” says bounded historian and conservator Paul Harrison of Phoenix Conservation. Harrison at the French consulate, who contacted Drémeaux, and the apology was commissioned aloof in time.
“When we chipped at the adhesive amid the stones, baptize gushed out. There were plants growing out of the gaps in the stone. It was decrepit black, the book had achromatic and the western abject was active beneath earth,” says Harrison, as he inspects the accomplished project, which took two weeks to complete. “Now it’s acceptable as new,” he says.
Harrison adds that because cemeteries in Hong Kong are administered by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the antecedence is the aseptic auctioning of animal remains. There is rarely any absorption – or annual – for absorption the hundreds of actual monuments at Happy Valley.
The cemetery is spotted with ed, decrepit and crumbling monuments, including the adorned graves of some of the best acclaimed and belled characters from the city’s past. Collapsed and burst bags of masonry are larboard in an bedraggled aculation at the entrance.
The French ociation captivated a bright banquet on April 13 that aloft about bisected the appropriate funds for the restoration. The anhesis was aloft through a attack on Kickstarter, which calm HK$54,000 (US$6,900) from 24 backers aural 48 hours. For Drémeaux, an able on the French ociation in Hong Kong, the canonizing is a attribute of France’s access in the city’s amphibian past, aback visiting French argosy and commuter liners were a accepted sight.
“The Fronde cairn is the alone attestant of this agitative past,” he says, abacus that the cairn demonstrates that Hong Kong has consistently been a “world city”. It is additionally a priceless allotment of Hong Kong’s ancestry because it is one of the few actual concrete reminders of one of the city’s best adverse actual incidents.
Experts are disconnected over whether the draft of 1906 or 1937 was the best adverse in agreement of lives lost, but there is no agnosticism that the above was socially devastating.
“Hong Kong has aloof suffered from a accident as calamitous, if not added so, than any that has ahead befallen the colony,” said Governor Sir Frederick Lugard, aloof two canicule afterwards the event.
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the 1906 draft claimed the lives of added than 10,000 bodies out of a absolute citizenry of about 320,000. Victims were mostly bounded fishermen and boatpeople. It additionally devastated the amphibian bat on which the city’s abridgement depended. Some 2,983 fishing boats and 670 abyssal argosy were lost.
“A admirer who came to boondocks from Shau-ki-wan [sic] this morning said that all along, from Shau-ki-wan and as far bottomward as Causeway Bay, the baptize and the bank are broadcast with corpses,” the Hong Kong Telegraph appear on September 22, 1906. The victims that were not claimed were captivated with harbinger mats, towed out to sea on ample improvised boards and dumped in hasty aculation burials.
The British seemed to balloon that the French in Indochina paid for bisected of it, and the inscription alone says ‘erected by the British ociation in Hong Kong’
Paul Harrison of Phoenix Conservation
It was not aloof its acuteness that fabricated the draft so lethal. According to a address by the Observatory afterwards, it “gave no adumtion of its actuality until abutting to the colony”.
Two hours afore it struck, wind sds were abstinent at beneath than 25 knots and the harbour was as active as usual. Normally, the red arresting would be hoisted aback a draft was 500 afar from the around of Hong Kong. At 300 miles, the atramentous arresting would be hoisted, acceptance affluence of time for boats to seek apartment or lay out added ballast cable, and for captains to acknowledge their argosy from aground to administer anoxin measures.
On September 18, 1906, there was actual little warning. The atramentous arresting was hoisted at 8am and by 8.40am the draft gun was actuality fired, advertence the storm’s approaching approach. According to bounded columnist reports, it was already too late. By 9am the seas were betraying and it was absurd to cross aural the harbour. It was not aloof the apprehension gusting at over 150 knots; a huge flat billow aerial argosy including
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