King Yin Lane

King Yin Lei, also referred to as King Yin Lane, (Chinese: 景賢里) is a mansion located at 45 Stubbs Road, in Mid-levels, on Hong Kong Island. It was declared a monument on 11 July 2008.

History and design

Situated above Happy Valley Racecourse, the mansion was designed by British architect A.R. Fenton-Rayen. It sits on a 50,650 square feet (4,706 m2) site. Construction began in 1936 and was completed by 1937. The site comprises a three-storey "red bricks and green tiles" building, a private garden festooned with penjing plants, various pavilions and terraces. It has been a scenic spot for mainland and overseas tourists.

The building is well preserved because of the care given it by its owners, who valued the pre-War residence that blends Chinese Renaissance architectural styles.

Saving King Yin Lei

The property was offered for sale in early 2004. Despite claims that it was likely that the new buyer would demolish the property and redevelop it, the Government of Hong Kong did not act.

The Conservancy Association of Hong Kong (長春社), a heritage advocacy group, wrote to the Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho in April 2004 requesting him to consider declaring the mansion a monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The Association also organised a "Save King Yin Lei Campaign" in June and generated public discussion. Yau Mok Shing then announced that he would not sell the building for the moment.

The Government of Hong Kong did not act to preserve the building, arguing that it was private property and had not utilized its allocated land mass to the fullest. If the government was to declare it a historical building, thus forbidding the demolition and any further development on the site, it would have to pay a large amount of compensation to the owner, in the millions.

The owner wrote to the government on the preservation of the site but received no reply, after which the Secretary for Development Carrie Lam admitted it was insensitive of her department not to do so.

On 11 September 2007, dump trucks were spotted at the site. Parts of the roof were removed. All three Chinese characters on a front gate plaque were chiselled away by workers. The Conservancy Association of Hong Kong expressed disappointment that the government had not been able to preserve the estate. When the start of demolition was reported in the Hong Kong media, the government declared the site a proposed monument and ordered a work stoppage.

On 25 January 2008, the government reached a preliminary understanding with the owner on a possible preservation option for the mansion. Under the agreement, the owner will surrender King Yin Lei's entire site to the government after restoration. Subject to the necessary town planning approval, the government would grant an adjacent man-made slope site of a size similar to King Yin Lei to the owner for development, subject to the same plot ratio of 0.5 and a height restriction of three storeys.

King Yin Lei in popular culture

The building has been featured in several films and TV series over the years. In Enter the Dragon, it can be seen both on the black and white composite photo used to represent Han's Island during Lee's briefing with Braithewaite, and as a long shot as Lee enters Han's island.Clark Gable's Soldier of Fortune was filmed there in 1955.

The TV series Yesterday's Glitter (京華春夢) starring Liza Wang (汪明荃) was shot inside the mansion.

Building Activity

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