2010年11月29日 星期一

龍目井Wells of Dragon's eyes

All regime change fundamentally means property transfer and land re-distribution, often by force, sometimes by newly enacted laws. This has occurred many times in the past 400 years in Taiwan. Danshui is certainly no exception. Unfortunately, this was also why the once-thriving British shipping establishment disappeared - under the weight of the new laws, and with it, the start of the decline of Danshui's status as the most prominent international seaport of Taiwan.

In the beginning, "龍目井,烽火街 and 砲台埔" together constituted an area that covered the present-day Shan-min Street三民街 all the way to Fort Santo Domingo紅毛城. In the Qing era, in the 龍目井 district, there were two wells that provided water for local residents, hence the name. During the Japanese colonial period, this was where the elementary school teachers and their families lived, in single-story Japanese style houses built by 中野金太郎Nakano Kintaro who acquired the land from the 學租財團 in 1912 which in turn obtained the property rights from its previous owner 太古洋行 [the Douglas Shipping Co].

Douglas Shipping Company was founded by a Scot, Douglas Lapraik, in Hongkong in 1863. In 1871, the company established regularly scheduled routes (with 3 ships, sailing once every two weeks) between Hongkong, Swatow, Tainan, Danshui, and Amoy. It was headquartered in Danshui on lands leased in perpetuity from the Qing Gov't - with 3 large warehouses, docks, offices, living quarters, and horse stalls. Dr George Leslie Mackay in fact arrived in Danshui on March 9, 1872 aboard the Douglas-owned Sea Dragon from Tainan. The most notable company building was the 2-story warehouse (the large building on the left in the picture below):

[Above: a closer view of the same warehouse. In 1958, it temporarily housed refugees from 大陳Da-Chen. It was destroyed by fire in 1959-60.]

After the Japanese takeover of Taiwan and starting in 1907, the Colonial Gov't, through executive orders and legislation, began to shut down the sea routes of the Douglas. In 1909, that from Danshui to Amoy and Foochow ceased to operate. In 1910, the Danshui <-> Hongkong route was restricted and the port of entry/exit was moved from Danshui to Keelung. This was followed by subsidizing the operation of the Osaka Shipping Co for international transports as well as the 伊萬里 I-man-li Shipping Co for inter-port shipping in Taiwan itself. Soon after, the Douglas went out of business with its warehouses and horse stalls taken over by Danshui Postal and Police Offices, respectively. And the company living quarters at 龍目井 given to Japanese businessman 中野金太郎. As mentioned above, 中野 re-built the residences to accommodate teachers from Japan who taught at Danshui and Wen-hua elementary schools.

It should be noted that during the Japanese colonial rule, private properties and lands that belonged to Danshui-ren were left untouched. Unjust land reforms came much later in 1953 when small land owners were forced to give up their properties, compensated with worthless stocks of nationally-owned businesses. The beneficiaries were the then tenant farmers, now the landlords of numerous hi-rises dotting the shorelines of Danshui River and beyond. This land reform has not foreseen/stipulated what happens if the farmers no longer till the land and sell it instead. Often unnoticed but this was the biggest wealth transfer in Taiwan history.

On a personal note: The clinic of Eyedoc's father, a noted surgeon, was located on a small lot on the outskirts of 龍目井, at No 29 - re-named 264 Chung Cheng Road after 1945.

9 則留言:

  1. Just out of curiosity, where was Wen-hua Elementary?

    "Unjust land reforms came much later in 1953 when small land owners were forced to give up their properties, compensated with worthless stocks of nationally-owned businesses." I was taught that this land redistribution was a success. I was also taught that the stocks were good ones.

  2. Hi Patrick,

    文化WenHua Elementary School was for girls (and Danshui ES, boys), is still located at the beginning of 真理街. This street links several others, going towards Ft Santo Domingo, you'll also see 淡水國中, Tamkang High School, and 真理 University, with a kindergarten and a daycare on the old site of 純德 Girls High.

    "Land distribution was a success" - Being law-abiding citizens, and the reform commenced not long after the 228, it was naturally a peaceful hence successful transfer of wealth. No one dared to voice any opposition. The compensation was based on the face value of the stocks. The actual value was less than 1/10 and there were no buyers even if you want to sell them.

    This land reform was a deliberate attempt to contrast with the bloody land re-distribution in Mainland China at that time. The CCP ended up owning all lands in China. But that is another story.

  3. Very interesting to learn about the Douglas Shipping Company. I have a bunch of old Danshui pics with the Douglas building that you mentioned here: http://taipics.com/taipei_danshui.php

    Please feel free to use any photo you wish for future posts. I really enjoy your site.


  4. Thank you very much, Marc. I have in fact browsed your site often - a true treasure trove indeed.

  5. Fyi, I recently came across an old picture of "Shintengai Street, Tansui" and posted to the taipics link mentioned above. Maybe you can use it for a then/now type of post in the future.


  6. Hello EyeDoc,

    I posted a short follow-up to your "Douglas Shipping Company" introduction here:



  7. Hi Marc,

    Thanks. That is very nice of you. The warehouse did appear to have been renovated at one point. The one with the Presbyterian Church in the background would put a date sometime after 1932 when the church was built.

  8. EyeDoc, I am curious, in the caption under the old photos that you posted, you mentioned the Douglas warehouse was burned down in 1959/60.
    In the photos that I posted, which are from 1965/1966 the building is still standing. Maybe there were two warehouses next to each other?

    btw, A Goggle search brought me to this very interesting article about Douglas Lapraik:


    Lastly, he must have known Robert Dollar. Both Scots, both in the timber and shipping businesses, etc.



  9. Hi Marc,

    There was only one warehouse. It was occupied by the evacuees from 金門 after the 八二三砲戰 in 1958 and it was burned down soon after in 1959/60. I only recall an empty lot in that area. I wonder if the building with chimneys in the 1965/66 photos might not be a movie prop based on remnants of the old structure.

    And the location of the warehouse is indicated by the yellow circle at the bottom, not in the middle, on your map.

    I am not surprised if these Scots knew of each other. Danshui resident John Dodd was also one.