Alfred Herbert Rennie, a Canadian businessman from Ontario, built the state-of-the-art Junk Bay Flour Mill circa the early 1900's.
Rennie lost his life during a daily visit to the mill site whilst crossing the harbour in April 19081.
The mill was self-contained, complete with processing plant, storages, warehouses and a jetty. A long aquaduct lead fresh water from the hill. Workers' quarter was located nearby.
The location was quite isolated at that time, accessible mainly by water or a long walk from Kowloon City.
From the old pictures2 I wonder it was designed on a North American company town ( or known as single-industry town ) model, similar to the saw mills, whaling stations and canneries of the same period along the coast of Northern British Columbia, Canada.
Th Flour Mill had commissioned a vessel Maple Leaf as worker station for workers from Japan.
The use of vessels as temporary workers quarters and/or offices was very common in single industry towns in Canada.
One of the very recent example was the building of the Alcan Smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada in 1948-1953, a stern wheeler Delta King Article was commissioned at the Kitimat Mills site during construction and early stage of operation.
Unlike its North American counterpart, commonly built on top of wooden piles with boardwalks, the mill was built on solid ground of reclaimed land.
Rennie had aggressive advertisments of the flour products on local newspapers and a popular media of the time - the Tung Shu (equivalent to the Farmer's Almanac in North America).
The mill was demolished after the business shut down.
That portion of Junk Bay was named "Rennie's Mill", the Chinese name of the former millsite was quite unpleasent, "Tiu Keng Leng", literally "Hanging Ridge".
The Kowloon Motor Bus Company had provided the Rennie's Mill service from the Kowloon City Ferry with various equipments, due to the poor road conditions of Clearwater Bay Road and Anderson Raod ( an industrial roadway not intended for public access) The equipments used then included the Commer bonnetted buses, modified Ford trucks serving route 30 from the Kowloon City Ferry. The terminus in the Rennie's Mill area was located at the end of Tiu Keng Leng Raod, 200 metres on the hill, where the staff quarters of the mill once stood, about a killometre from the former millsite. There was a regular stop at Mau Woo Tsai (literally known as "mini spear lake"), a settlement built on the former worker's quarters 1 km from the terminus.
After numerous near-misses and serious accidents, route 30 encountered another serious operation road block, the rapid development along the access road to Kwun Tong new town, depending on a series of round-abouts simular to the design of the Australian Capital's State Circle, traffic congestion between Kowloon City and Ngau Chi Wan had tied up buses. As a result, the route 30 could not maintain schedule. The service was suspended in 1967. Independent mini-bus operators took over the service for the next three years.
In 1970 KMB introduced the 24 feet Albion "Chieftain", a modified version of the 30 feet "Victor", as Route 90 from Choi Hung, inline with other routes for the Sai Kung Penninsula service. Initially the buses were fitted only with the front door, over the years a rear door was added. The 24 feet Albion buses proved to be very versitle, they were retired in the late 1980's. KMB uses air-conditioned mini-buses to keep the service until 1996.
Before the mass reclamation of the Junk Bay area in the late 1990's, the Tiu Keng Leng
Middle School was built on the former millsite.
With all the re-developments in the recent years, Rennie's Mill will be remembered by the "Tiu Keng Leng" subway station of the Junk Bay Branch Line of the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway.
. Technology in the 1900's, the use of electricity in the mill.
. Reclaiming land technology of the time.
. Rennie's ambition vs the big Canadian businesses of his time.
. The company town model along the northwest coastline of Canada.
. The use of advertising media of the time.
1 South China Morning Post 15th April, 1908.
2 Various pictures of the mill have been published in books about old Hong Kong
One of the best pictures of the Mill in 1905 can be found in a Chinese Publication of the Joint Publication Co. Hong Kong "Hong Kong - Past and Present" 3rd Edition 1997 ISBN 962 04 1180 3, P.71
Please refer to the publication for a panorama view of the Mill, Staff Quarters and the water supply system, before the era of aerial photograhy, that picture was believed to have taken from a high ground near Clear Water Bay.
Every effort has been made to ensure the correctness of the information.
I thank a lot of friends, mostly recognized through the web, including Mr. David A Rennie, grand-nephew of Alfred H. Rennie ,history researchers, descesdents of workers of the mill, former KMB captains and bus conductors, former mechanics serving the Commer and/or the Albion buses... making this hobby research possible.