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September 18, 2020

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WorldSkills Museum has own history to tell

VISITORS to Shanghai for the 46th WorldSkills Competition next year will also be able to enjoy a trip to a new WorldSkills Museum on Huangpu River waterfront in Yangpu District.

Work is underway to turn the century-old Wing On Warehouse, also known as Yong’an Warehouse, at 1578 Yangshupu Road into a showcase for vocational skills, an international platform for communication, an education center for young people and a documentation center for WorldSkills International.

The location of the museum was carefully selected to demonstrate how important skills are in promoting industrial and economic development.

Yangpu is known as the cradle of modern industry in China, where a British company built the country’s first modern water plant — Yangshupu Waterworks. It was designed by British architect J.W. Hart and put into use in 1883.

The district also had China’s first sugar processing plant and urban gas plant.

By 1949, there were nearly 1,000 enterprises in the district with about 100,000 workers. Gross industrial production was 720 million yuan (US$103.6 million), accounting for 5 percent of the national total and 20 percent of the city’s.

The Wing On No. 1 Cotton Mill, built in 1921 by Chinese merchant brothers Kwok Lok and Kwok Chuen was one of the successful in the district.

The brothers set up the Wing On Department Store, one of the four big Chinese department stores on Nanjing Road at that time.

The roar of the 700 machines in the 40,000-square-meter mill used to be one of the live demonstrations of the city’s booming modern industry.

The twin buildings, which cover about 20,000 square meters and will be home to the museum, were the mill’s warehouse built in 1930.

The structures were unique in being supported by octagonal prism concrete reinforcing pillars without beams. Batches of goods were transported from the inconspicuous grey buildings every day, and the unremarkable wharves and warehouses were tightly linked to the flourishing national industry of the day.

The Wing On Warehouse was occupied by the Japanese army in 1937, and Shanghai No. 29 Cotton Mill took it over after the liberation of the city.

When the country began to develop chemical industry in 1961, the western part of the buildings was assigned to the Shanghai Chemical Plant as a raw material warehouse, while the eastern part still belonged to the Shanghai No. 29 Cotton Mill. It changed its name to Shanghai No. 29 Cotton Dyeing Mill in 1966 but gradually fell into decay.

Today, the Wing On Warehouse is one of the 64 non-movable historic relics in Yangpu under protection status.

In 2017, the 2.8-kilometer Huangpu River waterfront in south Yangpu was completed while the Wing On Warehouse under the Yangpu Bridge was also restored to its original appearance as one of the key scenic spots in the area.

The inner structure and rust remained to show its history and the water tower on top of the buildings was rebuilt according to historical photographs.

Meanwhile, workers used modern technology to make them zero-carbon buildings.

On October 14, 2017, the Chinese delegation told a news conference in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates that Shanghai, as the host city for the 46th WorldSkills Competition, would be building a WorldSkills Museum.

On May 2, 2018, the Wing On Warehouse was selected as the site for the museum.

On June 12, 2018, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Shanghai government and WorldSkills International signed an agreement to jointly build the museum.


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