The British Consulate at Takow
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The first British Consulate established  in Taiwan
After 1840s, as American and European influence was moving toward the Eastern Hemisphere to promote trade with China, the Ching government was forced to open five treaty ports. Following the campaign of the British-French alliance, the Treaty of Tianjin was ratified by the Ching government with the British and the French in 1858. Taiwan (Anping) and Danshuei ports were opened for foreign trade. As the trade volume increased, opening more ports was proposed. In 1863 Jilong and Takow were opened as the secondary ports of Danshuei and Taiwan (Anping). On May 5, 1864, a customs office was established in Takow; thus, Takow officially made its international debut. To expand the economic benefits of trade with Taiwan,the British established a consulate to protect its expatriates and commerce, as well as to exercise its consular jurisdiction and mediate with local authorities. In July 1861, the first British Vice-Consul, Robert Swinhoe was stationed in Taiwan and set up the first British Consular Office in Taiwan Prefecture (nowadays Tainan). In November 1864, subsequent to the opening of Takow port and the establishment of the Customs, the British relocated their Vice-Consulate in Taiwan south to Takow. In February 1865, the Vice-Consulate was promoted to Consulate and R. Swinhoe became the Consul General. The British Consulate at Takow henceforth became the first official British Consulate in Taiwan.

Initially when the British Consulate was relocated to Takow, it was based on a ship, Ternate, in Takow port. Later, the office leased a house in Chihou. Not until 1876 were the preparations officially launched for constructing the Consulate building at Shaochuantou. The British Royal Engineers were in charge of its design and the supervision of its construction. The lot selected for the residence was located northwest of the entrance of the port looking down from a height, whereas the office was at the foot of the hill facing the port next to the customs, an arrangement convenient for consular service and commercial trade. A connecting trail was built between residence and office. The consulate was completed and in service in 1879.

The Ching dynasty was defeated in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894. In 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed by both countries. Taiwan was ceded to Japan. The British Minister at Tokyo thus took over control of the consulates on Formosa.

With the accumulation of sedimentation in the lagoon and the blockage from the sandbar at the entrance, Takow port progressively stagnated. In March 1910 the British consulates of Takow and Anping were closed simultaneously, with the consulates' affairs and interests shifting to Danshuei. In December 1925, the property rights of the consulate and its residence were transferred to the Japanese government, which officially brought to an end of the British Consulate at Takow.

In 1931, the Former British Consular Residence at Takow was converted to the Kaohsiung Marine Observatory of the Taiwan Governor-General Office. In 1946, it was taken over by the National Government and designated as Kaohsiung Meteorological Observatory of the Central Weather Bureau. After May 1973, it fell into an idle state. In 1977, Typhoon Thelma laid the building in ruins. In 1985, the Kaohsiung City Government embarked on a restoration process and, after finished, operated it as Kaohsiung Historical Heritage Museum. In April 1987, it was publicly proclaimed by the Ministry of the Interior as an historic site. Since 2003, together with the private enterprises' participation and maintenance, it has been repurposed and reutilized as a leisure cultural heritage site, a place for people to reminisce and immerse themselves in its particular historical and cultural context.

In 1932, at the foot of the hill, the office of the Former British Consulate at Takow was converted to Kaohsiung Aquatic Research Station engaged in canning research, development and manufacturing. After the war, in June 1950, it was designated by the National Government as the Kaohsiung Branch of Taiwan Provincial Fisheries Research Institute. In 2004, the entire staff of this branch moved away. In the following year, the building was publicly proclaimed by the Kaohsiung City Government to be a Municipal Historic Site, along with the trail path that connects the Residence on the hill to the office of the Consulate at the foot of the hill.

Thanks to some scholars who have been combing through the historical records of the UK National Archives in recent years, the development history of the Former British Consulate at Takow has been gradually clarified and sorted out. After the 2010 restoration of the former consulate and its hiking trail, they have been grouped together with the former residence to become a cultural park. This is the only primary historic site in Taiwan that presents a complete group of buildings, including British Consulate office, Residence and a hiking trail.

         

The British Consulate at Takow | Address: No.20, Lianhai Rd., Gushan Dist., Kaohsiung City. Phone number: 07-5250100 | The Bureau of Cultural Affairs Tel: 07-2225136.
Opening hours: Monday through Friday 9:00-19:00 (The box office will be closed 18:30) Saturday,Sunday and National holiday 9:00-21:00 (The box office will be closed 20:30)
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