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Tainan Shan-Shang Garden and Old Waterworks Museum

  • Publish Date:2023-05-29

Chinese Name: 臺南山上花園水道博物館

Date of Establishment: 10 October 1922

Location: Tainan City


Did You Know?

Located in the Shanshang District (山上區) of Tainan City, the original Tainan Waterworks has a century-long history and is an important historical site that has borne witness to the development of water resources in the greater Tainan area. Today, the Tainan Waterworks has been transformed into a charming museum that exudes a rich historical atmosphere. The well-preserved Baroque-style factory building houses a collection of rare antique machinery that is truly a sight to behold.

During the Japanese colonial period, the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office began constructing modern water facilities in the Tainan area to provide clean water for daily use and improve sanitation. This replaced the traditional method of drawing water from streams and digging wells. In 1897, the government hired William Burton, a sanitation engineering consultant from Edinburgh, Scotland, and his student and assistant Yashiro Hamano (濱野彌四郎) to investigate the water sources and quality in Taiwan. Burton is known as the father of Taiwan’s tap water for his significant contributions to the water system. Hamano came to Taiwan with his teacher in 1896 to work as a civil engineering technician and dedicated 23 years to completing water projects in major cities across the island, laying the foundation for Taiwan’s modern development and achieving great success.

In 1912, the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office began construction on the Tainan Waterworks, with a planned completion time of four years, in order to provide clean water for the citizens of Tainan. However, due to adjustments in the city’s planning and the outbreak of World War I, the project was delayed. The rising cost of materials also caused the budget to be revised, resulting in a total delay of seven years. The project was finally completed on October 31, 1922, after a total of 10 years. Once completed, the clean drinking water provided greatly improved public health in Taiwan and ensured the well-being of its citizens. In 1982, with the completion of the Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫), the Tsengwen Reservoir (曾文水庫), and the Tanding Water Treatment Plant (潭頂淨水廠), the Tainan Waterworks was retired after witnessing the modernization of Taiwan’s public health engineering during the Japanese colonial period.

On December 12, 2010, the President of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers came to Taiwan to present a heritage certificate to the local water company. The certificate recognized the historical value of the original Tainan Waterworks, built by Japanese engineer Hamano Yashiro, as a piece of civil engineering heritage. The hope was that by presenting this certificate, they would be able to ensure the preservation of the facility. This was the second Japanese civil engineering heritage certificate awarded by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers in Taiwan, following the Wushantou Reservoir.

The architecture and spatial design of this place are very distinctive. It was designated as a county-level historical site in 2002 and a national-level historical site in 2005. In 2011, the Tainan City Government began a restoration project for the site, which has now been transformed into the Tainan Shan-Shang Garden and Old Waterworks Museum. The museum officially opened for visitors in 2019.

The “waterworks” refers to the five facilities of the tap water pipeline, including the water intake facility, sedimentation tank, filtration chamber, water delivery chamber, and clean water tank. These facilities are considered historical treasures and include various architectural styles such as Western-style reinforced concrete, red brick buildings, and stone houses. Additionally, the preserved machinery includes 14 British quick filter tubes and components, a courtyard mobile crane, and a vertical shaft motor set. These machines are precious cultural heritage among Taiwan’s tap water industry production equipment.

The museum is divided into three main areas: the “Jungle Zone,” “Garden Zone,” and “Museum Zone.” The “Jungle Zone” and “Garden Zone” preserve the rich natural ecology and mountain nurseries of the original Tainan Waterworks Park. Through landscape integration, they also incorporate green spaces, plantings, and gardens with historic structures to create an overall atmosphere that combines cultural depth and a relaxed environment.

The construction of a city’s water system is a symbol of modernization. The Tainan Waterworks, completed in 1922, has been continuously used since the Japanese colonial period until the 1980s and bears witness to the development of modern sanitation engineering during that time. It also reflects the evolution of Taiwan’s water supply and has significant historical significance. The facilities related to the Tainan Waterworks have made significant contributions to the economic development of the greater Tainan area. The unique architecture and spatial design of the waterway have gradually been appreciated for their value, making it not only an important local attraction for cultural education and tourism, but also a national cultural treasure.

(Photo courtesy of Tainan Shan-Shang Garden and Old Waterworks Museum)