The former Marine Police Headquarters Compound was constructed in 1884 and has been occupied by the Hong Kong Marine Police since its establishment until 1996, except for Japanese occupation between 1941-1945 when it was used as a base by the Japanese navy. The compound and five Victorian-style buildings within the site – the Former Marine Police Headquarters Main Building (which became Hullett House in 2009), Former Stable Block (the current Stables Grill), Former Signal Tower, Old Kowloon Fire Station, and Old Fire Station Accommodation Block – were given heritage status and declared a monument by the Hong Kong Government in December 1994.
The main building was originally a two-storey structure; an extra storey was added to the Main Building in the 1920s. The south-east and south-west wings of the main building served as married living quarters, while the barracks and duty rooms were located between these two towers. During the Japanese Occupation Period, extensive underground tunnels were constructed beneath the lawn but after World War II, in view of public safety, these tunnels were blocked and the lawn was re-turfed. In the 1970s the compound lost a large part of its grounds, when the slope was levelled to make way for the construction of Kowloon Park Drive.
The Signal Tower, commonly known as Round House, is the most unique building within the compound and was constructed to provide time signals to ships in the harbour. Its use diminished in 1907 when the time ball apparatus was removed to Signal Hill.
The Marine Police relocated to Sai Wan Ho in 1996 and it was not until 2002 that the government announced a competitive tender for the design, restoration, preservation, creative reuse, and operation of the compound.
In 2003, the Hong Kong Government commissioned the restoration of this historical site, awarding the tender to Cheung Kong Holdings Limited with a 50-year land grant. The historical site was then transformed into 1881 Heritage covering an area of 12,000 square meters, housing Hullett House and its restaurants and bar – The Parlour, Stables Grill, St. George, Loong Toh Yuen, and Mariners’ Rest – as well as a host of top international brands, two other restaurants, and an exhibition hall.
Free guided tours of the hotel and 1881 Heritage are available daily. Please call (852) 2926 8000 to book.