This morning my wife, kids and I took a trip to the Hong Kong Railway Museum, located in Tai Po, just on the edge of the Kowloon-Canton Railway line. Although I pass it twice a day on my way to a from school, it is the kind of place that is easy to overlook and never visit. Mostly outdoors, and lying on and alongside an old segment of track and within an old station, the museum is well worth a visit. By far the best part is getting to board carriages from throughout the 20th century, enjoying a trip back through time to as early as 1911. Looking at how far technology (and our lifestyles as a result) has come in a relatively short space of time is fascinating and would be extremely educational for students of ICT.
Of interest to me from a school point of view are the exhibits on the Fanling-Sha Tau Kok Branch line, a narrow gauge line which ran past the school where I work, ICHK. The green loco in the gallery below is one of the actual trains from this line, and has an interesting life story behind it, having lived outside of HK for 70 years before being returned. Always a remote location, this train line would have brought the outside world to many remote farms and villages, well before a road was built. Some of the images on display (sadly my camera photos were too small to use here) show mountainscapes familiar to me from my daily commute, down to some of the now-abandoned rice terraces.
I would love to see a group of humanities students gather together as much material on this branch line as possible, and find out exactly where it ran in relation to today’s road. Perhaps there are some relics out in the fields and jungle that surround the area.
Continuing this historical theme, it would also be interesting for students to investigate the changing coastline of Hong Kong, and to compare this to previous and current train and road routes. Time Magazine’s Google-powered time lapse satellite imagery could come in handy here, as could some old images, such as the one of Shatin (I believe) below, which seems to show a steam engine at work (top center-right of the image):
Notes & Credits: I am not a train spotter by any means, but as I get older history is becoming ever more interesting to me. I assume that the image above (one of my personal favorites of old Hong Kong) is out of copyright, and sadly do not have credit for it, as I picked it up from the Internet as a teenager (back when I had little respect for copyright). Hong Kong Railway Museum a first-class compartment of 1964 photo by Mk2010 on Wikimedia Commons shared under CC BY-SA, KCR BS locomotive photo by wyliepoon on Flickr shared under CC BY-NC-SA.