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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2006, 16:27 GMT
Hong Kong landmark piers closed
Star Ferry terminal, Hong Kong
The old piers will be replaced by a shopping centre
Thousands of Hong Kong residents have said farewell to a cultural landmark on their city's famous waterfront.

The Central Piers which served the iconic Star Ferry for 48 years closed finally at midnight on Saturday.

The government says they will make way for a new major highway and shopping centre in an already shrinking harbour.

The piers - a symbol of Hong Kong's maritime history - were much loved in a city which feels its heritage is being lost to developers, observers say.

The green and white Star Ferry will still cross the harbour, but from a new pier hundreds of metres away.

'Romantic place'

But on Saturday, those visiting the old site brought friends and family, including babies and grandmothers, the BBC's Vaudine England in Hong Kong says.

They lit candles, listened to protest songs and took photos. When the clock chimed, people blew whistles to mourn its demise, she said.

Star Ferry terminal, Hong Kong harbour
Hong Kong's harbour is shrinking fast

"I care because I think this place really represents Hong Kong," said Oscar Lee, one of those who came to say goodbye.

"To me, it is the place where I used to go on dates with my girlfriend. We will lose a very romantic place if it is demolished," he said.

It is the third time the pier has been moved to make way for land reclamation since it was founded in 1898. Nearby is Queen's Pier, also now closed for demolition, where leisure yachts and junks docked to pick up partygoers.

It is also where each governor of colonial Hong Kong used to begin and end his tour of duty.

Passengers take a final ferry journey through the pier

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