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On the Edge of the Changhua Railway Village 彰化台鐵宿舍村

Featured here are a handful of photos and some notes from an incomplete exploration of the Changhua Railway Village 彰化台鐵宿舍村 (pinyin: Táitiě Sùshè Cūn) just across the street from the amazing Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫 in Changhua City 彰化市. While living there in the winter of 2014–2015 I made several lazy attempts to gain access to the more interesting and historic parts of the old village without success (mainly due to all the wild dogs around). The only part of the village I was able to explore were some of the newer KMT authoritarian era residential buildings on the edge of the block—which have much less aesthetic and historic value. That being said, since I’ve recently been filling in some archival content from my time in Changhua’s capital I decided to share these photos as well. This is not a full exploration by any means—so if I ever get around to seeing the rest of the old village I’ll be sure to update this post.

I won’t go into great depth about the history of the village since I haven’t any good photos of the oldest buildings. In short, this village was built in 1922 to serve the needs of the nearby railway station and roundhouse. It wasn’t solely residential; the village also contained various facilities of use to the railway corporation including a guest house, laundry, barber shop, and so on. There are also several air raid shelters on site—and they would have seen some use as Changhua City, a vital transportation link on the Western Line, was bombed by allied forces in World War 2. After the KMT took over the village was extensively damaged in the catastrophic 8/7 Flood 八七水災 in 1959 (briefly discussed in this post about a Qing dynasty academy in nearby Taichung 台中). Not long thereafter brick and concrete apartment blocks were built—including the one featured in these photos.

The entire village, like so many others of its vintage, fell into disrepair and was on the verge of abandonment by the 1990s. Residents were evicted sometime in the mid-2000s and an urban renewal plan drawn up by the county government in 2008 called for the wholesale demolition of the village. This, in turn, spawned protest groups exemplified by the Changhua Railway Dormitory Village Preservation Movement 彰化台鐵宿舍村保存運動 (also found on Facebook) advocating for a stay of demolition and a reassessment of the cultural value of the old village. To my knowledge no resolution has been reached and the village remains abandoned and neglected as of summer 2016.

For a broad overview of the village check out this drone video or this animation. For more information (in Chinese, of course) I suggest consulting these blogs here and here. Now that I have some idea of the historic value of the buildings deeper within the village I hope I have a chance to return some day—but for now this is all I have.

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