c.1900 Peak Hotel

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Where: We're looking across at the Peak Hotel, where the Peak Galleria stands today. You can just make out its name on the corner of the building:

The building on the left is the upper terminus for the Peak Tram. The clouds of smoke and steam come from the coal-fired steam engine that pulled the trams up the hill.

My first guess for where the photographer stood was up on the slope of Mount Austin Road. But comparing it with other photos of the Peak Hotel, the angle isn't quite right. More likely he was standing outside the #6 Police Station [1], up the slope above Mount Austin Road.

Across to the right of the photo, the road forks:

The upper road is called Peak Road today, but then it was known as Chamberlain Road. The road forking down the slope leads to the Pokfulam Reservoir.

Who: The photo above shows a couple of sedan chairs moving along Peak Road, probably heading to or from the Peak Tram.

Nearer the camera you can see a group of people in the shadows. They are the chair coolies, the men who carried the sedan chairs, waiting for the next tram to arrive and bring them customers.

We can't see any of the hotel's residents in the photo. If we could, we'd find a mix of people - some visiting as tourists, others living there long-term. We can get an idea of the long-term residents at least from the Jurors Lists. In the 1900 list [2] the following men gave the Peak Hotel as their home:

  • John du Flon Hutchinson, Merchant
  • Alexander Findlay Smith, Merchant, MacEwen Frickel & Co.
  • Arthur George Stokes, Broker
  • George Harry Dann, Assistant, H. Wicking
  • Andrew Forbes, Assistant, Bradley & Co.
  • John Ernest Lee, Architect, Leigh & Orange
  • Carl Wilhelm Longuet, Merchant, Kruse & Co.
  • Charles Eugene Maligny, Assistant, China Traders Insurance Co. Ltd.
  • Robert Mitchell, Draughtsman, Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd
  • Alexander Moir, Manager, Peak Hotel
  • Bertie Walter Morrell, Local Manager, South British Insurance

And "long term" could be very long. We have consecutive years' Jurors Lists from 1894 til 1913. Of those, Arthur George Stokes appears in the lists from 1894 til 1904, again in 1906, and always living at the Peak Hotel!

What: The hotel is the centre of attention, but take a look back to the previous photo for a moment - there's an old pillar-style postbox, down to the left. Now back to the hotel:

It went through many changes over the years. Originally it was the same height all the way across, but here we can see the right end has had an extra storey added. It must have worked out well, as later photos show the extra floor was extended across the full length of the building.

The centre of the building has the main entrance. There used to be three paths to it - one from either side, and one sweeping drive that lead down the hillside in front of the building. Here most of that slope has been dug away to create a flat piece of land in front of the hotel. In later photos, an annexe has been added to the hotel, built on that flat land.

When: The postbox gives us a starting date, as it was erected in 1892. And  in early 1901 a stone-built chair-shelter replaced the matshed shelter shown here, so the photo must have been taken before then. (The stone shelter still stands today. In 1947 it was converted to the Peak Cafe, and is now called the Peak Lookout.)

I'll guess 1900 as the date, but if you can narrow it down any more, please leave a comment below.

Regards, David

References:

  1. Location of #6 Police Station
  2. 1900 Jurors List
Date picture taken (to nearest decade for older photos): 
1900
Reference: 
EC016