Words by Arthur Tam
Photography by Mike Pickles
You might know about work fires – those emergencies that happen in the office that require calm problem solving in a high-stress situation. Now, imagine what it’s like putting out an actual fire: more stress, faster thinking, real danger.
You can get an up-close look at firefighting at the Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery. Having recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, the fireboat – a mini museum housed in an actual grounded boat once used to fight fires – serves as an educational lunchtime excursion . Best of all, it’s free and just a short distance from the Tai Koo MTR station which can be a relaxing stroll away from the office in the middle of the day.
The Grantham fireboat was the largest in a fleet built by the Whampoa Dock Company and first set sail in 1953 to fight furious blazes at sea and along the shoreline. After 49 years of service the fireboat was decommissioned in 2002, replaced by a more high-tech fireboat called Elite.
But, because of its historical significance, the Grantham was preserved, hoisted up from the sea and placed on the waterfront Quarry Bay Park in 2007. Here, it was converted into a 1,200-square-metre exhibition space featuring an extensive gallery with images of some of the most famous infernos extinguished by the Grantham along with historic maritime relics.
Begin the tour of the fireboat with an easy amble up its ramp. From there you can explore the upper, middle and lower decks, which are split into different quarters, and inspect all the gizmos and gadgets on board. Photo ops are rife: pose with fire hydrants or pretend that you’re using the water guns and rekindle your childhood imaginings of commanding a sea vessel. Selfies aside, a visit here is sure to appeal to transportation buffs and history geeks.
Upon our visit, we were surprised to learn about the 1971 fire of the iconic Jumbo floating restaurant in Aberdeen and the mysterious and controversial 1972 fire that sank the Seawise University, a ship intended to be converted into a university. Grantham ran into a lot of these heated situations – so hop aboard to learn more about them.
The Gallery is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a series of fun activities. Visit here for more updates on special programmes happening at the fireboat.
Monday, Wednesday to Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve: 10am - 5pm
Closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays), and the first two days of Chinese New Year.
Special guided tours (Cantonese): Every Saturday at 3:30pm, conducted by retired firefighters who used to work on the fireboat.
Direction: Take Exit E of Tai Koo MTR Station, walk through Cityplaza and then cross the footbridge to Quarry Bay Park (about 10 minutes).
Want to discover another lunchtime adventure around Quarry Bay? Read on here.