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Visit to Opium War Sites in the Pearl River Delta

posted 16 Apr 2013, 01:25 by John Leighton   [ updated 24 Dec 2017, 03:23 by OMRS Admin ]
On 16th March a good number of members and guests travelled via ferry to Nangsha to visit sites connected with the First Opium War located in and around the Pearl River Delta.  Thanks must go to Martin Heyes and Steve Verralls for their organisation of an excellent trip, returning late at night via Guangzhou by train.  The first location to visit was at Humen (the 'tiger gate' of the Pearl River) and the Opium War Museum. This museum contains the original opium pits where confiscated opium was destroyed, and also - new since the previous OMRS visit - a three story building outlining the story of the lead up to, execution of, and aftermath of the war. It was generally commented that the museum was very good, presenting a somewhat balanced view of events, which lead up to the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.  Amongst exhibits was one describing the debate on the war in Gladstone's premiership in London, painting a more nuanced picture than some popular history has usually recounted the events of the era.  From there, it was onto the 'Sea War Museum', next to the Pearl River, just below the Humen bridge.  Several galleries of the detail of the naval campaign are provided, and then it was a quick walk north along the shore to one of the main gun emplacements and casemates protecting the Pearl River at the 'tiger gate' narrows at Humen beneath the bridge.  Both lower shore gun positions and upper hillside positions were explored, before a trip by speedboat across to an island for yet moreexploration of the defences.  After a few refreshments and a bit of food, we then set off for the journey home - curiously it was thought easier to travel north to Guangzhou and return by train, meaning about double the time for the return leg of our trip than the outward leg - fortunately the time passed agreeably thanks mostly to Martin Heyes and his entertaining and unique conversation style.