The Iec Long Firecracker Factory site in Taipa opened to the public on Friday, following the completion of the first phase of the historic building’s renovation.
A 400-metre wooden walkway enables visitors to take a look at various buildings across the revitalised area, such as those used for fuse glueing and firecracker crimping as well as storehouses, ponds and a waterway.
The whole Iec Long Firecracker Factory site covers around 25,000 square metres.
The revitalised area’s entrance, where three buildings have been repaired, is located next to Chun Su Mei (“Pine Tree Tail”) Community Centre. One of the three buildings is used as a visitor information centre and a souvenir shop, while another is used as an exhibition hall. The remaining one, which has yet to open, is slated to be used as a café.
Admission to the revitalised area is free. While the walkway is open daily from 6 am to 7 pm, the two restored buildings are open daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
Cultural Affairs Bureau President Leong Wai Man said that the government will soon launch a public tender for running the café. Leong also said that parent-child play facilities will be installed in the revitalisation project’s next phase, which is expected to be completed next quarter.
Leong pointed out that the firecracker industry was one of Macao’s three major traditional handicraft industries in the not-so-distant past, adding that Macao’s firecracker industry was in its peak period in the 1950s and 1960s.
Leong also noted that the Iec Long Firecracker Factory, which operated from 1925 to 1984, was Macao’s second largest firecracker factory at that time, adding that it was operating for the longest period of time among firecracker factories in Taipa.
Leong noted that the Iec Long site is currently the biggest heritage site of a firecracker factory in Macao, adding that the site is also one of best-preserved industrial heritage sites still left in southern China. The Iec Long site is a “precious concrete” example illustrating Macao’s industrial history, Leong said, adding that the Iec Long Firecracker Factory site’s opening is a “milestone” in the government’s “successful” revitalisation of an industrial heritage site in the city.
The exhibition hall is currently used for an exhibition of the history of Macao’s firecracker industry and the Iec Long Firecracker Factory.
According to the exhibition, named Echo of Firecrackers, Macao’s firecracker production reportedly commenced as early as 1863. After its peak period in the 1950s and 1960s, the city’s firecracker industry began to decline in the 1970s, before the last factory closed for good in the 1990s.
Macao’s firecracker production was hit by numerous fatal accidents, especially before the Second World War.
The most serious accident occurred in the area that is currently known as Toi San district on the peninsula in 1925, reportedly resulting in hundreds of fatalities and injuries. After the accident, the then-Portuguese administration ordered all firecracker factories on the peninsula that handled high-risk production methods to move to Taipa.
A number of firecracker factories that handled less dangerous processing steps of firecracker production were still operating on the peninsula in the 1950s.
The Iec Long site old’s waterway enabled workers to directly transport firecrackers from the factory to the peninsula’s Inner Harbour, without the need to use the then pier on Taipa island.
Macao’s first and largest firecracker factory was Kwong Hing Tai Firecracker Factory, which began operation in 1923 and closed in 1974, The Macau Post Daily reported.