c.1902 Shau Kei Wan

c.1902 Shau Kei Wan

When: The date, 1902, is printed on the photo's mounting card.

Where: The card is titled "Looking east over the bay and fishing village of Shaukiwan, China". An 1895 map of this area [1] shows the bay marked "Aldrich Bay", with Lyemun Barracks at the top of the hill.

Lyemun Barracks

The names have changed over the century or so since this photo was taken. Aldrich Bay has fallen out of use, though Mr Aldrich's name is still used for several buildings in the area.

The Barracks buildings are still there, but they no longer house any soldiers. The area is now open to the public, and known as the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village [2].

Who: The most obvious person in the photo is the girl in the foreground. She had a special reason to be in this photo, which we'll talk about later.

Beyond her, most of the

1. The fire

This guest post is written by David Twynham. Please click here for the background to this post.


 On 26 February 1918, just after the running of the Derby at Happy Valley Racecourse, Hong Kong, a long bamboo matshed set up beside the course on a temporary basis for the highly popular annual three day racing programme and holding an estimated 3,000 spectators at the time, collapsed ‘like a pack of cards’ and fire was seen to break out.  

Within minutes the area was a blazing inferno.  Escape from the area proved extremely difficult and for the many trapped within the collapsed matsheds impossible.  Hundreds were asphyxiated and/or burned alive and  others trampled to death in the stampede to flee the scene.  The catastrophe was later reported to have taken the lives of  614 [1-1] men, women and children representing slightly more than one thousandth of the territory’s 1918 population which, according to Sayer (1975:139), stood at  561,500 [1-2] , with a further 400 or so injured.  It remains the worst man-made tragedy in Hong Kong’s history. Moreover, according to Matthews (1995:220), it continues to be the world’s worst sports related disaster in ((modern history)) [1-3].

    Coates (1983:171), briefly remarks that, in the aftermath of this tragedy, a Commission of Enquiry was set up by the then Governor of Hong Kong to determine the cause(s).  The Coroner’s Enquiry jury was unable to determine the exact cause of the disaster but criticised both the Director of Public Works and the Captain Superintendent of Police for inadequate construction and safety precautions.

The Initial Collapse

    As Coates (1983:171) describes it, 26 February 1918 began as

1920s View down the Peak Tram line

1920s View down the Peak Tram line

Who: There are a couple of people to mention this week. Here's a clue for the first one:

Camelus bactrianus - Camel

Early photos of Central District

Thank you to Martyn Gregory for sharing these old photos of Central with us. The newest was taken in 1902, with all the others taken in the late 1800s.

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 about where and when it was taken.


Queen's Road Central
Queen's Road Central


Wellington street
Wellington Street

c.1955 Pok Fu Lam Road

c.1955 Pokfulam Road

Where: The road heading downhill with its distinctive curve is Pokfulam Road. The road on the right is High Street, and Water Street leads away from the bottom left corner. The layout is still the same today:

WhatThere's still a fire hydrant on the corner, though it's been upgraded to a newer model. The streetlight has swapped sides of the road and may have had a more significant upgrade. The modern light is definitely electric, but the old one looks to be a


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