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If you’ve been following “Exploring Hong Kong’s Public Housing,” you’ve probably noticed that Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin is a frequent subject in our photos. It’s no surprise, as it’s become a familiar place for me. I walk by it at least once or twice a week, making it a convenient spot for photography. The enduring charm and nostalgic ambiance of Lek Yuen never seem to fade. As the first completed public housing estate in Sha Tin, it has a treasure trove of intriguing stories to share.
During its initial construction, monthly rents for units started at $160, and the estate received over ten thousand applications
While Lek Yuen Estate now stands impressively in terms of location, environment, and amenities, Sha Tin New Town was less developed at that time. To attract residents to this once rural area, the government, as reported by Ta Kung Pao, offered lower rents to those moving into Lek Yuen Estate, making it an attractive choice. “Regarding the rent at Lek Yuen Estate… a decision was made to offer it to the public at half the market price,” with units measuring 250 sq ft rented at $160, and units with a practical area of 403 sq ft rented at $250. This cost-effective strategy proved successful, as the serene environment and scenic waterfront location of Lek Yuen Estate garnered numerous applications.
My Intangible Connection with Lek Yuen’s Fountain
To be honest, I didn’t grow up in Sha Tin, and my relationship with Lek Yuen Estate began only a few years ago. However, I lack a clear picture of the changes it has undergone during these years. Nevertheless, I can share a personal bond and vivid memories of Lek Yuen.
First and foremost is the iconic fountain. Every time I visit Wo Che Estate, I pass by the pedestrian bridge platform, inevitably catching sight of the fountain. The first time I saw it, I thought, “It’s large and beautiful.” Initially, I assumed it operated only during the daytime. Later, I discovered it features colorful lights at night, although not as extravagant as some displays. Given the estate’s scale and management practices, it’s a genuine endeavor.
Approaching the fountain from below, I realized that viewing it from a different angle unveils another facet of its beauty. Strangely, each time I witness this scene, I experience a sense of relaxation and cheerfulness. In some way, it has become a source of mental solace.
The Fountain’s Dual Purpose
Beyond its aesthetics and cooling function during the summer, the fountain at Lek Yuen Estate serves an environmentally friendly purpose. In 1977, when Sha Tin District faced water rationing, some questioned why the fountain continued to operate. Many regarded fountains as decorative and wasteful. According to The Kung Sheung Daily News, a Housing Department spokesperson clarified, “The water from the fountain is also used for the circulation and cooling of the air-conditioning system in the commercial center, and it’s repeatedly utilized. The water consumed due to evaporation is replenished from the well.” Considering it was 1977, long before environmental concerns gained their current prominence, the foresight in designing the fountain to serve a practical role is impressive.
A Notable Rising Star: Royal Visits
As Sha Tin’s first completed housing estate, Lek Yuen Estate received significant government attention. The prominence of the estate’s water feature, as previously mentioned, underscores the ambition and thought invested in it. Furthermore, Lek Yuen Estate welcomed visits from British royal family members during its early days. Princess Alexandra visited in 1977, followed by Prince Charles in 1979. These visits spotlighted the estate’s significance, akin to Shek Kip Mei Estate, as a noteworthy and exemplary new housing estate.
Personal Connections and Beyond
Returning to my personal link with Lek Yuen Estate, beyond the fountain, an array of memories intertwine me with the estate, becoming an integral part of my everyday life. Enjoying hotpot with friends at Shing Kee, rushing to catch route 89 at the bus stop in the mornings, undergoing COVID-19 testing at the community hall, spotting a lazy cat at the fruit shop on the pedestrian bridge during the early hours, discovering a seemingly open 24/7 toy store on the upper floor’s platform…
Lastly, a note about Shing Kee Noodles. Its reputation reached me even before I resided in Sha Tin. While I’m not a frequent patron, its distinct decor and delectable cuisine remain cherished memories for many residents. Ironically, despite multiple visits to Shing Kee Noodles, I still find myself getting lost while recalling its challenging entrance location!
Recalling all the stories associated with Lek Yuen Estate would likely take until next year’s Buddha’s Birthday. Personally, I believe that Lek Yuen Estate merits a dedicated series to fully explore its stories. As a side note and teaser, a short video introducing more estate stories will be released soon. Stay tuned for updates on my social platforms!
Basic Info (Lek Yuen Estate, 瀝源邨)
Location: 6 Lek Yuen Street, Sha Tin
Years of Intake: 1976
No of Blocks: 7
Type(s) of Block(s): Old Slab
Name of Block(s): Fook Hoi House, Fu Yu House, Kwai Wo House, Luk Chuen House, Sau Chuen House, Wah Fung House, Wing Shui House
Sources: Housing Authority & Wikipedia
- Oldest Hong Kong Public Housing: Model Housing Estate on King’s Road, Over 70 Years of History, Preceding Shek Kip Mei Fire; Enigmatic Fate of Housing Organization
- Lung Hang Estate: A Small Housing Estate in Sha Tin Between Local Culture and the Queen
- Wo Che Estate in Sha Tin: Blooming Flowers beneath the Pyramid Peak, Resembling the Beauty of the Louvre