Happy Valley Racecourse fire

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Happy Valley Racecourse fire
Date 26 February 1918 (1918-02-26)
Time 15:00 (UTC+8)
Location Hong Kong
Coordinates 22°16′22″N 114°10′56″E / 22.27278°N 114.18222°E / 22.27278; 114.18222Coordinates: 22°16′22″N 114°10′56″E / 22.27278°N 114.18222°E / 22.27278; 114.18222
614 dead
Race Course Fire Memorial

The Happy Valley Racecourse fire (Chinese: 跑馬地馬場大火) was a fire that took place on 26 February 1918 in the Happy Valley Racecourse located at Happy Valley, Hong Kong. It was a catastrophe that caused the loss of 614 lives.[1]


The racecourse was first built in 1845 to provide horse racing for the British people in Hong Kong. The area was previously swampland, but the only flat ground suitable for horse racing on Hong Kong Island. To make way for the racecourse, Hong Kong Government prohibited rice growing by villages in the surrounding area. The first race ran in December 1846. Over the years, horse racing became more and more popular among the Chinese residents.

The Fire

The annual "Derby Day" race was held every February. To accommodate the extra spectators a temporary grandstand was built. The fire was caused by the collapse of a temporary grandstand, on the second day of the event. The collapse knocked over food stalls which set bamboo matting ablaze. The district’s fire department was so stretched that the water police were called up to fight the fire.[2] By the next day, as many as 576 confirmed deaths were reported by the Hong Kong Telegraph.


Most of the dead bodies became unrecognizable and assumed to be "Chinese". The nearby Tung Wah Hospital was one of the first to offer assistance and after the fire arranged for labourers to collect the dead bodies. They were buried in the nearby So Kon Po area (now the site of Hong Kong Stadium). A Chinese-styled memorial site known as Race Course Fire Memorial was built in the Chinese cemetery (now behind the east stand of the stadium) in 1922 in So Kon Po. It was declared a monument in 2015.[3] [4]

External links




  • Antiquities and Monuments Office (2018). "Declared Monuments in Hong Kong - Hong Kong Island". Antiquities and Monuments Office. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  • Bard, Solomon (2002). Voices from the Past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789622095748. - Total pages: 383
  • Government of Hong Kong (October 23, 2015). "Three historic buildings declared monuments". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  • Ward, Iain (1991). Sui Geng: The Hong Kong Marine Police 1841-1950. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789622092860. - Total pages: 236
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