Early photos of Hong Kong people

Thank you to Martyn Gregory for sharing these old photos of Hong Kong people with us. They date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

You can click on any photo to visit its page. There you can zoom in to see more detail, read any notes about the photo, and add a comment if you can tell us anything about the photo.

The first set shows posed scenes of Chinese life. I doubt if the tourists who bought these photos ever saw the scenes in real life, but no doubt they were a good source of stories when they got back home again.

c.1928 Houses on a hill

c.1928 Houses on a hill

Where: Any ideas? There's a sign where the path splits left and right, but it is too far away to read. And though I don't recognise the location this is

A visit to Aladdin's Cave

Here are a few gems from a recent visit to Roy Delbyck's collection of ephemera.


1957 Map of Central

Originally meant to be used and thrown away, these old tourist guides are now a valuable snapshot of old Hong Kong. Roy's 1957 copy of Hong Kong Guide includes this indexed map of the buildings in Central, always handy when we're trying to identify buildings in old photos.

Press photos

In the stoke-hole of H.M.S. Terrible. Hong Kong, China. 1902.

In the stoke-hole of H.M.S. Terrible. Hong Kong, China. 1902.

Where: As the title says, we're inside the "stoke-hole"* in the Royal Navy's HMS Terrible, a Powerful class of protected cruiser [1]. The men are feeding coal to the fire that heats the boilers, generating the steam that powered the ship's engines. (* - This photo describes it as a "stoke-hole", but the Navy book quoted below calls it a "stokehold".)

When: The copyright date on the photo is 1902.

A book about the ship, The commission of H.M.S. "Terrible," 1898-1902 [2], says the Terrible first arrived in Hong Kong on

Ah Hop

Date(s) of events described: 
Sun, 1899-01-01

In the third and last of Mary Unsworth's memoirs, she tells us the sad story of Ah Hop, a Chinese nurse she came to know. Unlike Mary's previous tale of Chow Sing, this one doesn't have a happy ending.

"Ah Hop" by Mary Unsworth, copied from handwritten pages, punctuation as original.

When I first became acquainted with Ah Hop she was nursing a great friend of mine who was ill, and whom I saw a great deal of, so consequently I heard and saw much of Ah Hop she being the professional nurse. She was a small woman, with kindly looking face, small bright black eyes, white even teeth. Of course, as her profession demanded, scrupulously clean, dressed in Chinese women's dress, loose silk trousers, long white jacket, black hair rolled in a knot behind with a jade stone comb in, and large jade stone ear rings.

I met Ah Hop in many sick rooms, visiting my friends in their illnesses, and everywhere I heard her praises sung. She was so gentle, so neat, so soothing, so deft handed, and quiet. In course of time I learnt her history,


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