Issue No. 4 (August 2007) - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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Issue No. 4 (August 2007) - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

SPECIAL FEATURE

University of Hong Kong (HKU) catered mainly for

wealthier students with ambitions in law and medicine,

although civil engineering was offered. Technical

training in all other building disciplines, took place when

and where necessary “on the job” or through limited

numbers of apprenticeships which often focused on

the needs of “the master craftsman” rather than on

imparting technical knowledge to the apprentice. Mr. Ng

Wing Hong considered himself very lucky.

Interestingly, the idea of a Trade School was treated

with a distinct lack of co-operation by many in the

private sector, who no doubt felt “training on the

job” or the old system of apprenticeship was sufficient

for their needs. As a body, however, the construction

industry responded to the huge and increasing need

for skilled and appropriately focused manpower, with

which to support Hong Kong’s rapidly developing built

environment. The carpentry and building skills taught at

this time were the first stirrings of the Faculty we have

today, 70 years later.

The Building Contractors’ Association (BCA), however,

had the instinct to “speculate to accumulate” both in

its own long term interests and for those of the public

good. The BCA took

responsibility for building the Trade School at cost under

the direction of an experienced and socially responsible

builder, Mr. Tam Sui-hong. Interest in the school was

maintained, both then and later. Surplus building

materials, such as bricks and sand were sent free, for

use in practical classes. One condition of the builders’

compliance was that the sons of builders be allowed

entry regardless of their qualifications! An interesting

story is told about one builder’s son who was not really

of a technical nature. This boy was “nursed” through his

course. Ultimately he became a Legislative Councillor!

Mr. Ng Wing Hong was typical

of the ambitious young people

of the time who seized every

opportunity presented. After

graduation, he taught at the

School part time for 1 dollar

an hour and eventually began

a prosperous contracting

business with his father,

winning secure contracts

with the British armed forces

before and after the Japanese

occupation. Before the war

he secured a living good

enough to buy luxurious

Mr. Ng Wing Hong, one of

the first graduates of the

Government Trade School

very best quality clothes, a fortuitous investment. Later

they were sold to keep him and his family

from starvation during the war!

Government Trade

School established in

Wanchai in 1937

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