Barbara Anslow remembers old Hong Kong. Part 1: 1927-29

In February I visited Barbara Anslow for a chat about her memories of moving to Hong Kong in 1927, aged eight years old. Below the recording I've added photos and additional notes.

(E-mail subscribers, if you can't see the player, please view the web version of this page.)

Additional notes:

1906-40: Warren Swire’s Hong Kong

In 1904, aged just 21, G. Warren Swire became a director of his father’s firm, John Swire & Sons Ltd. Two years later he was sailing east to visit the company’s operations in China. Fortunately for Hong Kong’s record, he was a keen photographer.

Here’s what he saw on that first visit…

1906-7 Dockyard construction

Not surprisingly, he paid most attention to the construction of the company’s Taikoo Dockyard. When finished it would boast the largest dry dock in Hong Kong, and break the Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Company’s monopoly on large-scale ship-building and repair.

Here’s the great dry dock being built:

Constructing dockyard, Hong Kong

The dry dock was the most dramatic sight, but only occupied a small part of the dockyard. Next to the dry dock they built several slips where ships could be hauled up for repair:

1950s Farmer above Tai Hang

1950s Farmer above Tai Hang


Where: The first clue is the sea wall in the distance, the edge of the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter. The second is this line of buildings with a gentle bend half way along:

Buildings at junction of Gordon & Electric Roads

The buildings have long gone, but that distinctive bend is still clear to see on a modern map. It's at the junction of

New mapping features on Gwulo

The first project from the 2016 to-do list is finished, an upgrade to the main map we use. Enhancements include:

  • 10x faster than the previous version
  • Markers and all the old paper maps are now on the same page
  • You can change the transparency of the old maps so it is easier to compare them with modern maps

Here's a video showing how it works (subscribers, if you can't see the video please click to view it on the website):

Old Hong Kong in the UK

Here's a summary of my recent visit to the UK, listing some resources for anyone interested in old Hong Kong.

UK National Archive

A few interesting finds from this visit:

1850 Green Bank plans & map. UKNA ref: MPG 1/158 

This map shows the area we call Lan Kwai Fong today, but look how different it was in 1850 ...

1850 Green Bank

Top-left we have a Cow House and a Poultry House, no doubt suppying fresh milk and eggs to the residents. Lower down the hill is a


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