Long forgotten by the city that has grown around it, this reservoir was rediscovered in December 2020 when government-led demolition crews stumbled across it. The government had initially claimed it was just a "water tank", but after a public outcry, the Romanesque arched reservoir underneath Bishop Hill is slated to be preserved. Until details of what that will look like materialize, the Water Supplies Department has been hosting limited daily 90-minute guided tours of the site. However, the tours are limited in size so seizing that quota online has been incredibly difficult.
This was the first circular underground service reservoir in the city, completed in 1904 with a height of about 6.85m and capable of storing 2.18 million gallons of freshwater. 108 stone piers hold up the red brick arches. In 1951, an additional wall was built around the reservoir to stop leakage, reducing its capacity to just over 1 million gallons.
The tour begins just outside St. Francis of Assisi Primary School on Berwick Street. It is then an uphill walk through the community-made leisure area with lots of steps to reach the reservoir gates.
Part of the reservoir's roof has been torn open by the original demolition works. A canopy has been built above it to protect the exposed reservoir.
The first part of the tour is a history lesson of waterworks in Kowloon from the early colonial times as well as the architectural features.
Then we walked around half the perimeter of the site to head down, passing by this now-sealed ventilator.
The granite piers are made of 14 blocks each measuring 2 feet long, 1 feet 6 inches wide, and 1 foot high.
A lot of tree roots had penetrated into the reservoir, although the trees have been cleared above it.
The tour group was given about 15-20 minutes of free time to roam around the reservoir and take photos with a lot of staff keeping a watchful eye on you. Footpaths have been built on the reservoir floor but it is possible to veer slightly off them during the free time.
After the reservoir visit, we headed back up to fill out a visit questionnaire and collect a small souvenir pack before returning back downhill to the city.