Preservation and Display of Fireboat
Alexander Grantham
Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Architectural Services Department,
Marine Department, Hong Kong Fire Services Department

Exemplary Services@Gov
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(Cantonese with English subtitles)

Helping Restore Glory of Fireboat Alexander Grantham

Collective memories are made possible by collaborative efforts. Thanks to the conscientious co-operation among four departments, namely the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), the Hong Kong Fire Services Department, and the Marine Department (MD), the former glory of Fireboat Alexander Grantham has been restored for appreciation by the general public alongside the Victoria Harbour after she was decommissioned in 2002. The mission and work contexts were indeed the first of its kind in heritage preservation endeavours in the region.

Enthusiasm Coupled with Professional Expertise

At the outset, the four departments studied the feasibility of the project and drew up a work plan for approval by the Home Affairs Bureau and consultation with the Eastern District Council. Since the Alexander Grantham would be the first vessel preserved as an historical relic in Hong Kong, there was no precedent example to follow when the team was in face of the problems emerged at different work stages. Therefore, the collaborated departments have adopted an innovative approach to appeal to the unique expertise and enthusiasm of the participating staff, but not just relying on their past experience and defined duties. Mr CHAN Shing-wai, Chief Curator (Conservation) of the LCSD, said, "Site selection for the Alexander Grantham and the technical problems involved were very complicated. That we accomplished the mission in just five years should be attributed not only to the support of the bureau and various departments, but also to the commitment amongst those involved in the project.

The participating departments have enthusiastically driven their professionalism to the full in the revitalisation of this historical relic. Given the huge size of the Alexander Grantham, the lifting and installation work had been extremely difficult. Mr WONG Chi-kin, Senior Support Services Manager, MD, said, "To land the fireboat exactly onto the marked spot from sea was very challenging, and meticulous planning and calculations before the lifting operation were of paramount importance.

Multi-faceted Consideration to Arouse Public's Interest

Ms YU Lai-han, Senior Project Manager of the ArchSD said, "In order to conserve the Alexander Grantham in its original form as far as possible and to highlight its interesting features as an historical relic, we have installed some glass floor panels and a periscope on the deck level so that visitors would be able to view the setting of the engine room safely from above. "Ms Esa LEUNG, Chief Curator (Museum of History) of LCSD added that, "The vessel was originally designed for fire-fighting and rescue work but not for visit by the public. Therefore we have to strike a good balance between relic preservation and public safety in the design of our revitalisation plan."

CHAN Shing-wai remarked that in order to sustain the project and to attract repeated visitors, the displays would need to comprise more human touches and interesting stories of sea rescue. As some docents are retired firemen, they would also take the opportunity to arouse public awareness of fire safety and introduce the use of different fire-fighting equipment, apart from sharing their courageous stories with the visitors.

Since the opening of the Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery more than a year ago, it has attracted over 350 000 visitors to experience the collective memories of the fireboat and Hong Kong.

Thanks to the efforts and co-operation among various departments, the Alexander Grantham has been preserved and leads a second life, opening up a new page in the revitalisation of historical relic in Hong Kong.
Mr CHAN Shing-wai, Chief Curator (Conservation), LCSD, (middle) pointed out that the key to the project's success was the concerted efforts of the participating departments and the sense of mission among staff members. Representatives of other departments include Ms YU Lai-han, Senior Project Manager, ArchSD (first left), Ms. Esa LEUNG, Chief Curator (Museum of History), LCSD (second left), Mr LAM Yik-kwan, Divisional Officer (Marine), FSD (second right) and Mr WONG Chi-kin, Senior Support Services Manager, MD (first right).
Given the huge size and unique feature of the Alexander Grantham, its lifting and installation work entailed enormous difficulty. Meticulous calculation and careful planning were critical to the tasks.
To preserve the unique design of the historical relic, original equipment and tools are kept in the wheelhouse of the Alexander Grantham.