1950s View north along Nathan Road

Notes: 

There were lots of interesting comments to last week's photo. Here's another Kowloon photo, which I hope will also spark a few stories.

Where: We're looking north along Nathan Road. The crossroads in the foreground is the junction with Jordan Road.

The photographer has chosen a high vantage point for this photo, the roof of the Shamrock Hotel [1]. It was a popular place to take views over Kowloon like this one.

Who: We can see a mix of people at the crossroads:

Junction of Nathan & Jordan Roads

Down in the bottom-left corner there's a policeman directing traffic from a small stand in the middle of the junction. He is exposed to the weather, but later photos of this area show him sheltered by one of the police pagodas [2].

The biggest group of people is out of sight, the passengers heading south on the buses to Tsim Sha Tsui, or to cross the harbour on the Star Ferry. There are also several soldiers in the photo, heading south in their ambulance.

What: The sign on the far side of the crossroads is for the Evergreen store. We've heard a couple of memories of this store on previous posts, from Vanessa:

Probably doesn't count as a department store but there was evergreen - once on the corner of austin/nathan later moved to jordan, they imported plastics from the states (!) and is where one of my friend's parents met back in the 50s.

And Richard:

We lived just around the corner at Cox's Path. The Evergreen Company (visible on the corner) was a great old shop full of all sort of stuff. I remember there being a large submarine model in a as you walked in which was totally incongruous as the shop seemed to sell mainly material and haberdashery.

Across from the Evergreen store, on the western side of Nathan Road, is this building:

Mansion on Nathan Road

It's very different from the other buildings in the area, set back from the road and more ornate. The top of the building shows a date, which I think is 1917. If that's right it was built when this area was still not very densely built-up, and was probably a family residence.

Looking further north, there's a cluster of larger buildings:

Kowloon Methodist Church

In the bottom-right corner is a building with large columns, the Kowloon Magistracy. In the centre there's the Kowloon Methodist Church, with it's large tower. Left again there's an interesting, older two-storey building up on the hillside. Does anyone know what it was?

When: The Shamrock Hotel opened in January 1952, so we're looking at a date after that.

Then over to the right of the magistracy are these huts:

Camp & flats

Looking at later maps, I think that's the site where they'll build the Queen Elizabeth Hospital [3]. That opened in 1963, and since there's no sign of building in this photo, I'll guess this photo was taken in the late 1950s.

Another possible clue for the date are the six-storey buildings on the hillside above the huts. I can see them marked on maps, but without any name. Does anyone recognise what they were and when they were built?

If you have any other memories of this part of town, please let us know in the comments below.

Regards,

David 

References:

  1. Shamrock Hotel
  2. Police pagodas
  3. Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Reference: NA001

Date picture taken (to nearest decade for older photos): 
Thursday, January 1, 1959
Image node reference: 

Comments

I think if the photographer is standing on the Shamrock then the junction should be with Jordan rd. The shamrock hotel is north of Austin rd.

Doh! Thanks Phil, Jordan it is - I've corrected the mistake.

Those buildings could be the Government quarters on King's Park Rise.

the blocks of flats are king's park (government quarters), four blocks in total

I think the Alhambra and Po Hing Theatres and Grantham College of Education (completed in 1952) next to the Methodist Church should also be visible.

Bruce Lee's family lived across the road of Shamrock hotel (nowadays Prudential Hotel).  Unfortunately it couldn't be seen in the photo.

The ornate building at the junction of Nathan and Jordan Roads was rumoured to be haunted.  I recently found out that people in the area called it Wong Tong Kee (黃棠記).  A quick Google search brings up a Mr. WONG Cheuk Hing (黃卓卿), born 1877, who was the owner of a Wong Tong Kee Mechanical Sawmill (黃棠記機器鋸木廠).

Thanks for the extra information.

I've made Places for the King's Park Government Quarters, and also the Grantham College of Education.

@orangepage, you can see a view of Bruce Lee's apartment at:

http://gwulo.com/node/3056

Regards, David

The site of the two-storey house on the hill (behind the Methodist school) now has The Regalia sitting on it, but if you go up the steep road next to the church and magistracy, right at the top is what looks like the old gate opening for the house. I may have a picture somewhere, I was up there a while back snooping around :-)

Another photo of the ornate building (Wong Tong Kee):

http://i.uwants.com/u/attachments/day_130310/20130310_e34b6e7c196de4380d...

The building on the opposite side of Nathan Road still stood in the 1970's (or late 1960's?):

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/27747234@N04/3221568337/

 

Yes, there was a softball / baseball diamond there as well where I played.

Thanks tanghb for providing the photos!

In the second photo, the Wong Tong Kee mansion is the one on the right.  I read somewhere that the Yue Wah Emporium used to be at the southwest corner of the junction.  After the Wong Tong Kee building mansion at the northwest corner was demolished and a new building was built, Yue Wah then moved to the new building and stays there ever since.

Your first photo seems to show three Chinese characters on the façade of the Wong Tong Kee mansion, but I cannot make out what they are.

A close up of the hillside building:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/76716456@N06/8570463867/

The Government Quarters and King's Park 1952-2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/76716456@N06/8571692568/in/photostream/

 

The four (not three, at the bottom are two small characters) Chinese characters means "Lux Soap Bar". But they are on the external wall of the building on the right-hand side of Wong Tong Kee mansion, not on its facade. 

In the second photo, the old building on the right is not Wong Tong Kee mansion. It is the building where Evergreen store was, on the northeast corner of the junction. Wong Tong Kee mansion was on the northwest corner.

Thanks tanghb, but I still think I am correct.  The side of the Wong Tong Kee building in your first photo is identical to the side of the old building in your second photo -- chimney and shape of windows etc.  Also, I checked the building at the southwest corner of the junction using Google Map Street View, and it looks similar to the building with a watch advertisement on your second photo.  Also see Post 14  of this thread in Chinese: http://www.uwants.com/viewthread.php?tid=10988110

...and Post 11 of this thread in Chinese: http://www.uwants.com/viewthread.php?tid=6886762

There seems to be 3 Chinese characters just under the curved uppermost part of the façade of the Wong Tong Kee building.  However, the following photo seems to show that they are just holes in the façade!  http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n100/wlc666/925c4803.jpg

Yes, you are correct. The old building in my second linked photo in my earlier post is actually Wong Tong Kee mansion. That photo was taken from the junction of Nanking Street and Nathan Road, looking South along Nathan Road.

Thanks for the correction!

 

You are welcome!  I had the same impression as you about this photo, and was corrected by someone else.  The presence of Yue Wah is deceiving.  Who would have thought that it had moved across the street?

Hi C,

if I am right, I remember in the 60s there was an old walled 2-storey house sitting on NW corner of Nathan Rd and Jordan Rd, which was later demolished and replaced by a commercial building with Chinese Department Store (國貨公司)on the street level. At one time Tai Lam Electrical Appliances Store was on the oppoisite side of Nathan Road, and Oriental Ballroom on the other side across Jordan Road. Am I right?

Every time I passed by, I couldn't stop staring at it. This colonial designed house has a private garden full of palm trees and was such a gem in the city.

I wish someone can post a photo of this building.

Ray

Hi Ray,

I believe the old building is the "Wong Tong Kee" building that tanghb and I have been talking about.  You can see photos of it through links in tanghb's post (2013-03-18 at 23:25).  It is also in the third photo of the main article posted by David.

The second photo in tanghb's post was taken outside of Tai Lin Radio Service (泰林無線電行): http://www.flickr.com/photos/old-hk/3530506133/

 

Hi C,

thanks for pointing out. Mistery solved!

Ray

Glad to see this photo which clearly reveals the early appearance of the King's Park Meteorological Station which was established in 1951.

CM Shun

Vanessa was forwarded a copy of this message, but isn't sure who wrote it. So I've cut out the family references but left the information about the area:

This is very nostalgic for me as we lived in the bldg. at the corner of Jordan and Nathan Road, across from Evergreen, on the second floor. You can see our flat in two of the photos. I also remember that old house on the other side of the street and remember the mirrors they hung outside the house to ward off bad luck.

Across the street on Nathan Road were apartment buildings [...]. There was a bakery/cafe at the corner. [...]

We knew the owners of Evergreen, [...] Evergreen also had a small toy section at the back and some clothing as well.

Past the Evergreen building was Majestic Theatre, and across the street one block up was the Ahlambra theatre. There was also a Chinese theatre (po wah?) that offered Chinese opera performed on stage.

There were shops on the ground floor of our flat at 244 Nathan Road, including Lee's piano shop and Jones Wong where my mom bought my Clarks shoes. [...]

The Shamrock Hotel was opposite Catherine Bldg, where [...] Bruce Lee's family lived. On the ground floor of Catherine building were several shops, including National Toy Shop and a shop that sold model airplanes and a linen store. There was another apt. building between ours and Catherine bldg. and I believe the street after that was Tak Shing Street [...], also the back of that boys' school which fronted Austin Road. Was the school also called Tak Shing? There was a Shanghainese restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. Later on it housed many white Russians who fled Shanghai.

Thanks to Jane Hayes for the following:


Before I go any further I would like to introduce myself. My Aunt is Barbara Anslow, I am daughter of Mabel Large who was also interred at Stanley. I was born in HK in 1947 after my parents returned to HK after they were released. I know that I was living in King's Park quarters in 1952 when my brother was born.

The following comments are from Cathy Low, who first moved to King's Park quarters in 1949, soon after they were built:

The first one was as you said when King's park was first built and we all lived there, the next one of the methodist church with King's Park in the background, showing what Dad used to call the "Witche's hat" was next door to him as he used to work at Kowloon courts which is also shown.

The building on top of the hill was beside King's Park where they used to send up a weather balloon every morning. We used to go for walks in the evening and watch the sun set at the top of that hill.

And the last photo with the wooden huts in front were where the Salvation Army had their quarters before they moved to permanent building years later. I used to stay some nights there as my girlfriend lived there with her parents and brother, as her parents were in charge of the camp.

For most of the time I lived in HK it was at the Kings Park Flats and it was long before the hospital was built.

HI David,

1. the theatre you mentioned was called 'Po Hing', which was close to Methodist Secondary School.

2. The boys' school fronted Austin Road is Tak Shung, which still exists. I used to play soccer there in their playground a few times with my friends who studied there. That was late 60s.

3. You mentioned about Russians from Shanghai. That reminds me of the prestigious Cherikoff Restaurant on Nathan Road, little bit south of Austin Road. I hope someone can post a photo of it. Missed it so much.

Ray

We came to HK in early 1958 when my father joined Cathay Pacific Airways. The first school I attended was a kindergarten at the back of St Andrew's Church, then opposite Whitfield Barracks. Then in 1959 I started at Kowloon Junior School and much later at KGV. 

As a young kid I always loved wandering around Kowloon and spent many an hour in the Kings Park area often walking to and from the USRC (三軍会)、my personal oasis where you just signed for everything!

I certainly do remember those government apartments that were built before QE Hosp and the British Military Hospital. My guess is late 1940's and that they probably are about the same vintage as Nairn House at the bottom of Perth St. Some of the first high rise buildings built in Kowloon.

The name Large rings in my ear as a classmate from KJS...I also being a 1952 birth.

I also remember White Russians working as labourers on the streets of Yau Yat Chuen in 1959 when we lived in Dianthus Road.

I have lived in the far east most of my life and have spent most of the past 30 years in Japan although I often visit HK and still stay at the USRC from time to time.

Hi gkwalker,

Thanks for your post. Talking about Yau Yat Chuen reminds me of the old days when I visited my schoolmate who lived there. My vague memories tell me that there used to be a group of shops including a Shanghainese barber's shop and they formed a circular plaza (not sure). This barber shop once appeared in a Cantonese film and therefore reinforced my memory.

Does anyone happen to have photos of this neighbourhood?

Ray

Hi there,

I believe only a small strip of shops exist wheref Tseuk Kiu Street meets Tat Chi Road today.   It was likely that those shops you remeber were also around that location.

Best Regards,

T

I think I went to KJS with a Robin Large...any relation?

Thanks for your suggestion, T.

Looking carefully at the map, I think it might be Begonia Rd. that I am referring to. Does anyone know?

Barbara Anslow (Mabel's sister) writes:

Yes, Mabel's son is called Robin, born in 1952 in Hong Kong.  If this is the Robin that Geoffrey Wheeler remembers, tell him Robin now lives in New Zealand & is a grandfather.  I hear from him every year and have a contact email if Geoffrey should want it.

Barbara,

Thank you very much for your reply. I too was born in 1952 so I am sure it is the same Robin Large I remember.

My email address is : gkwalker1@me.com

I spend my time these days commuting between family in Tokyo, Sydney and Perth.

Best wishes

Geoff Walker

The last of these photos shows the Kings Park blocks in front of which was built QEII Hospital, opening ceremony 6/9/63, the total build time was 22 months for the building - 950,000 sq ft- Asia's largest building at the time. I think the photo shows some of the ground works for the satellite buildings (staff quarters etc) underway. I guess 1960. Tom