The former British Consulate in Tamsui is over 100 years old, spanning a long and complex history in Taiwan. Originally built by the British, it was handed over to Australia, the USA, and then the ROC. Now it is a popular tourist destination in Tamsui.
The spot where the consular residents lies is right next to Fort San Domingo, which was originally a wooden fort built by the Spanish who were vying for control of Taiwan in 1628. Later the fort came into Dutch control in 1642, and the Spanish were driven from Taiwan. In the process, the Spanish razed the fort to the ground. The fort was rebuilt in brick by the Dutch. The Dutch were expelled from Taiwan thanks to Konxinga and his Ming loyalists.
The local Han Chinese at the time called the fort "Red Hair Fort 紅毛城" as a racial slur to the Dutch.
Later, the fort was leased to the British government.
The British built the consular residence in 1891, and continued to keep a presence there until 1972, and later it was given for a short time to Australia and the USA, and then given to the ROC government in 1980. Now the government maintains the fort as a tourist attraction.
9:30 AM to 5 PM
80 NT per person (includes passage to the British Consulate, Hobe Fort, and the Little White House).
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 north from Taipei until you reach Tamsui. The for is passed to old street on highway 2. Parking can be hard to find, but there should be plentiful parking at Tamsui Elementary School and other places further away.
By MRT: Take the red line MRT north to Tamsui station and walk 1 KM north or take a bus to the fort.
Please see below:
Please note this blog only covers the former British consulate residence. For our full blog on Fort San Doming, click here.
I recommend coming early in the day so that you can get the most out of the 80 NT ticket that lets you see multiple historic sites.
Next to the consular office is a cute DIY shop and some british themed bears.
I think the art DIY shop is open most of the time, but an extra fee is involved.
The consular residence itself is a two-story brick building with balconies one both stories. Many British buildings built in Taiwan at the time have a similar style.
Fort San Domingo sits right next to it.
Looking into the front window from outside.
Looking at the first floor porch.
The Drawing Room.
"The Drawing Room was the main living room space for the consul. It was located on the west side of the residence with fireplace inside and large French windows outside. The floor was encaustic tiling which was constructed in 1891. The fan hanging on the ceiling was made in England by G.E.C. Kingsway and equipped after 1941.
Pottery, a record player, and other ornaments on the shelf.
A view of one of the side rooms.
Family crest on the bookshelf.
Explanation of the history of consulates worldwide, which started to appear in the 11th and 12th centuries.
View out the front door.
View of the dining room.
"The Dining Room was the main eating space for consul and guests. It was located on the east side of the residence with fireplace inside and large French windows outside. The floor was encaustic tiling which was constructed in 1891. The fan hanging on the ceiling was made in England by G.E.C. Kingsway and equipped after 1941.
View of the building's floor plan.
The stairwell leading to the second story.
An exhibition on the second floor.
Ancient telephone machines.
Old Taiwanese train tickets.
Guanyinshan as seen out the window.
A poem about the beauty of Tamsui.
Old bicycle and city street.
Old photos of Tamsui.
Another side room upstairs.
Art gallery on the second floor, with some art of old Tamsui.
What I assume is a hand drawn image of the old Oxford college in Tamsui.
More paintings of Tamsui.
I'm not quite sure what this was about, maybe thank you notes.
Another Tamsui painting.
View down the stairwell.
A historical documentation of the consulate on the first floor.
"British Consulate in Tamsui"
"According to documents pertaining to British diplomacy in both English and Taiwanese archives, Following the appointment of Robert Swinton from 1894 to 1971 there were 36 successors to the post of British consul at Tamsui (excluding Dagou and Taipei). Of these 36 consuls, the fifth consul, Herbert Alan Gles, became the most renowned of his colleagues. The chronology is a list of their names and the years they held their posts."
More information about the consulars.
The kitchen, the most historically accurate room in the whole building according to the tour guide.
Original kitchen stove.
"There are two types of equipment in English kitchen: range and kitchener. A range is immovably built in to the wall, whereas a kitchener is ready-made in iron and needs only to be connected with the flue. The type of this kitchen used is Glow -Worm GM2 iron kitchener with two thermodials on the stove doors which count 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 degrees F."
Original kitchen equipment.
View out the first floor balcony.
View of the side pillar.
View of the front side of the building.
Another view from the entrance.
Side view from near fort San Domningo.
View from the east side.
View from the west side, with era cannons to the side.
View of Mt. Guanyin from the front lawn.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more historical sites in Tamsui like Hobe Fort pictured above.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.