The story of Nga Tsin Wai Road and Nga Tsin Wai Village

Author︰Huang Haoyi

In 2024, the movie "Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In" (《九龍城寨之圍城》) has garnered much attention. The depiction of Kowloon Walled City in the film has revived collective memories of the Kowloon Walled City.

Kowloon Walled City was officially demolished in 1994 and converted into Kowloon Walled City Park. Besides the Kowloon Walled City, Nga Tsin Wai Road in Kowloon City has many historical stories worth savouring.

For example, the name of Nga Tsin Wai, Nga Tsin Wai Road and Nga Tsin Wai Village are highly similar. Are they related ?

Is Nga Tsin Wai Road a special road for tax officials?

Nga Tsin Wai Road
In the 1950s, during the expansion of Kai Tak Airport, a temporary elevated road was built on Nga Tsin Wai Road to allow people and vehicles to pass through. (Image source: Hong Kong Memory)

If you live in Wong Tai Sin, you would probably say "Nga Tsin Wai is Nga Tsin Wai Village" without hesitation. You are correct.

Next question is, are Nga Tsin Wai Road and Nga Tsin Wai Village actually related?

Some would say that Nga Tsin Wai Village is located in Wong Tai Sin and Nga Tsin Wai Road is in Kowloon City, which does not show much relevance.

However, according to data, a former resident of Nga Tsin Wai Village once pointed out that, Nga Tsin Wai Road was a path along the coast leading to Nga Tsin Wai Village in the past. This is why it was called Nga Tsin Wai Road.

In fact, in terms of the name of this road, there are many versions. Many people have heard that in the past, only government officials could walked on Nga Tsin Wai Road.

Why? In the early days of Kowloon City, most of the residents worked as salt dryers, and officials collected taxes from salt households every month.

They would walk from one end of the path to the other, circling the official office ("Nga") to collect taxes. In Cantonese, "Nga Tsin" means in front of official office, and "Wai" can refer to circling.

Therefore, the road was called "Nga Tsin Wai Road". 

 

衙前圍道
衙前圍道

 

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Nga Tsin Wai Village was originally called "Nga Tsin Village"

衙前圍村
With its original name "Nga Tsin Village", the village built up fence to prevent pirates, so it was later called "Nga Tsin Wai Village". (Image Source: Getty)

Currently under reconstruction, Nga Tsin Wai Village was once known as the last walled village in urban Hong Kong.

Legend has it that Nga Tsin Wai Village was built by the ancestors of the original residents with surnames of Ng, Chan and Lee, with a history of over 400 years.

Some original residents said that because the village was built in front of the government office, so it was called "Nga Tsin Village". Later, a fence was built up there to protect the villagers from pirates, so it was called "Nga Tsin Wai Village".

Nga Tsin Wai Village is composed of three narrow streets and six horizontal alleys. Like most walled villages, it primarily followed a square layout, with the single entrance located at the centre of the fence.

There is a gate tower at the village entrance, and the gate tower and corner tower are architectural facilities to prevent enemy attacks.

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Nga Tsin Wai Village faced clearance crisis in 1960s

衙前圍村
A corner of Nga Tsin Wai Village. (Image Source: Getty)

As early as the 1960s, Nga Tsin Wai Village faced the crisis of being demolished. At that time, the British Hong Kong Government planned urban regeneration and wanted to demolish the village, which was opposed by the villagers.

The villagers later even took their case to the High Court in London and won. The village was preserved.

However, in the 1980s, property developers began to purchase the houses in the village. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Government planned the redevelopment project which included Nga Tsin Wai Village.

In 2016, the Urban Renewal Authority completed all acquisition, resettlement, and compensation work for the Nga Tsin Wai Village redevelopment project.

Demolition work has begun at Nga Tsin Wai Village, and it is expected that residential buildings will be completed between 2030 and 2031.

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