Photos of old Hong Kong

Here we bring together the photos of old Hong Kong that are hosted on this site, and links to other collections.

Gwulo - Photos for sale

If you'd like to buy a photograph of old Hong Kong for yourself, or as a gift, we have a catalogue of photos suitable for framing. Click here to see the Catalogue. All orders include free shipping worldwide, and your money back if you are not satisfied.

Digital copies are available too, for you to use in your own creative projects (event backdrops, brochures, printed materials, etc). Please contact me for details of licencing:

David email

Gwulo - Photos for browsing

Most photos here are not for sale, but they are great for browsing. We have over 3,500, so there are lots to see. If you know what you are looking for you can:

  • Search by location - Use our photo map of Hong Kong to choose the building or area you are interested in, then see what photos we have that show them.
  • Search by decade - Visit the galleries to find photos grouped by decade, from the 1860s to the present day.

Or if you like surprises, just click the photo on the right (see 'Random Photo'). That will show you a larger copy of the photo, some information about it, and ... a new Random Photo!

Most of the photos have been kindly contributed by readers like you. Do you have any you can share? It's easy to upload them to Gwulo.com, or to show them here if they're already on Flickr.

Other photo collections

Other websites with good photos of old Hong Kong include:

  • The Hong Kong Public Records Office offers an online catalogue to their 'Archives for Still and Moving Images'. There are over 8,000 images in the archive.
  • The Hong Kong Public Library also has a good online search for old photos. The photos can be viewed and downloaded in high-resolution (though with the library's logo on the picture), which means they can be cleaned up well in an image editor. [3-Oct-2008: For me this site only works with Internet Explorer, not Firefox. When you click the link you should see a search screen. If you don't, check the opening hours as the service closes at different times for maintenance.]
  • Hedda Morrison took several hundred photos of Hong Kong in 1946-7. Over 300 of these photos have been scanned at high-resolution and placed online in Harvard University's VIA system. VIA's viewer allows you to zoom in to see a high level of detail.
    To see the photos:
     - Visit the Via website at: http://via.lib.harvard.edu/via/deliver/advancedsearch?_collection=via
     - In the "Search for: " section, type hedda morrison in the first box and hong kong in the second. Choose Place from the second drop-down list. It should look like this:
    Harvard VIA

     - Click the 'Search' button
     - You should see "Search results: 1 to 15 of 309 hits from the search hedda morrison in (Anywhere) and hong kong in (Place)", followed by a list of photos
     - Click any photo to see its 'Full record'
     - On the Full record page, double click the image to open the viewer, which lets you zoom and pan around the image.
     - NB if you want to give someone a link to one of these photos, don't just use the url shown in your browser when you're viewing the photo.  When you try to view it later, you'll just see an error. Instead you need to double-click the thumbnail to see the full record, then look for the link 'Bookmark this item'. That's the link you can share that will work reliably in future.
  • The St Georges School website has a gallery of photos of Kowloon believed taken in the 1960s.

I was brought up in Hong Kong in the 60s and went to the Peak School and KGV. These photos were mostly taken by myself on a Kodak Instamatic and Olympus OM10 between 1969 and 1987. A few other photos were given to me and some slides were bought from a street vendor in the late 70s. I hope you enjoy this bit of nostalgia as much as I did compiling it.

If you know of any other sites with good photos of old Hong Kong, please add a comment below with the details.

Regards, David

Comments

BWG has a collection of pictures: http://www.bigwhiteguy.com/photos/

Mostly from the 1980s and 1990s, but some older shots too: http://www.ibiblio.org/hkpa/scenic/by-year/en/1846_1955.html MrB

Excellent B&W photos by Fan Ho. Thanks to Moddsey for the tip.

MrB

The Yesterday Hong Kong site has good quality photos from that period for sale, and gives thumbnails and a brief description for most of the photos. Thanks to Moddsey for the link.

MrB

Reader Fred has kindly sent in a set of Hong Kong photos from 1979. Here's a link to the first photo, then just keep clicking the 'next image' link to see the rest.

MrB

Several more received by email and added to the galleries for the 1920s, 30s, and 50s.

MrB

Reader Geoffrey has sent in some interesting family photos, together with some background information. He's also asked for help in identifying some of the locations, and what's going on in the photos.

There are six photos, so use the "next image" link to see the next photo, and use the "original" link if you want to see a larger version of the image.

Many thanks to Geoffrey for sharing these, and now on to the first photo...

MrB

Reader Geoffrey has sent in another set of family photos:

I came across this photo album supposedly belonging to my grandpa (he was a keen photographer), once again one of many old things which I was able to dig out from my grandaunt's home. Anyway, thought you would be interested in this photo montage (is this the right word?) of various street scene in HK, quite possibly dating back to just before the war in 1940.

As you could see, there are some known locations, especially the one featuring what's currently a school/temple on Shan Kwong Road in Happy Valley. And those two pics of TST, any idea on the rooftop of which building were these photos taken? The rest I am going to have to leave them to you or for that matter other viewers of your website. 

I've set the date to 1940 for each of the photos, but if you believe the date should be earlier or later, please leave a comment on the photo. I hope you can help identify their loction too - though bear in mind that they may not all have been taken in Hong Kong.

You can click the "next image" link to see the next photo in the series, and click the "original" link if you want to see a larger version of the image. Here is the first photo.

Thanks again to Geoffrey for sharing his photos.

MrB

A very colourful set of photos from Tom Briggs.

MrB

Reader Fiona has forwarded a good set of 15 photos from the 1960s. Here's the first photo, then click "Next image" to move through the set.

Many thanks to Fiona for sending them over.

MrB

Rarer than photos, but all the more enjoyable for that. Received by email:

Have enjoyed viewing Michael Rogge's videos of Hong Kong from the 1950s. There are clips from 1953 of the Shek Kip Mei Fire, Coronation and Typhoon that pounded Hong Kong. Here is the link to all his videos, and the best of all is the video of himself walking down Battery Path into Central
 
Here is a link to
his webpage and more photos from an interesting era.

This site has old Hong Kong pictures taken by the Royal Military Police.

http://www.redcap70.net/

Cheers,

Isdl

Over the last few weeks I've posted up over 200 photos taken in the late 1950s. Where did they all come from?

As the title for the album says, they are “Fred Evans' photos”. Fred is a family friend, who lives a few houses down the hill from my mum. She heads along there every week for Sunday lunch with him and his wife. One time he mentioned that he'd been out in Hong Kong with the army, and had some photos. The message was duly passed on to me, and so when I visited mum last year, we arranged for a time to go and see Fred and his photos.

I only expected to see a handful of photos, but instead out came an album. Fred had been a keen amateur photographer, and had taken several hundred photos while he was in Hong Kong. Of course most are of his army life, but there are also plenty of photos of the countryside, local people, and visits into the city.

He arrived in June 1957, stationed in Hong Kong with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment. He was based at Sek Kong throughout, sailing home again in October 1959.

As he talked me through the album I took photos of his photos with my digital camera. You'll see that some came out better than others – when they look blurry it's my shaky hand that's the cause, not Fred's! I also tried using MrsB's MP3 player to record Fred talking, except that ran out of battery half way through without me noticing...

But there should be a second chance, as I'll be visiting the UK again in February 2008. So if you have any questions for Fred, or requests for better copies of any of the photos, please let me know in the comments.

Readers Moddsey, Raymond and Oldtimer have already done a great job of filling in the background information about what you can see in many of the photos. I hope you'll add further comments if you have any memories or information to share. I also hope to persuade Fred to get connected to the internet, so we can hear from him directly.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Regards, MrB

The Univerity of Hong Kong's Museum & Art gallery occasionally run free exhibitions of old photos. They currently have an exhibition entitled "Early Hong Kong's Kowloon Peninsula", which runs until 16 Mar 2008. I went along this morning, and enjoyed it. The photos cover the late 1800's up til the 1960's, and include many of the areas we've looked at in photos here.

MrB

PS Raymond, several of Kowloon's old cinemas are shown, so you may be interested in visiting.

This thread on the local Discuss website has pages and pages of old photos. Some are displayed from the local governmnet websites, but there are also many others.

We received this by email, linking to some good photos:

Hello there Mr B & Mr Tall,

Greetings.

It is not that often that one sees pictures of people in old HK pics especially Westerners. I've come across a couple of links from Flickr that shows a French family living in Chatham Rd. Kowloon around 1910.

Marie-Félicité Grandel (1870-1950) , husband Jean-Baptiste Jules Semichon (1867-1915) plus two daughters and an amah. Very nice pictures from old glass plates. All together 28 shots. Quite animated too which is also unusual for photos from the Victorian/Edwardian era.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjacques/sets/72157594150897836/
And if one should peruse further in the relevant sets of photos then one can see pictures that were taken before the family moved out to HK as well as pictures taken after they had moved back to France (to a place called Clamart). The link is posted here below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjacques/sets/

So one can sort of follow their lives (especailly Marie-Félicité's) from the late 1890s to say 1915-ish.

Question is what did they do out there in HK? The husband is working for some local hong or the French legation? Maybe you chaps can find out from the local HK archives if time permits.

Their genealogy can be traced from this French site,
http://clamart.genealogie.free.fr/index.htm

Fascinating stuff.

Kind regards,

Kent

Mind if I ask which cinemas were shown?

Sorry, I remember seeing cinemas, but not sure which ones. Now if there had been photos of ARP tunnels ... ;)

MrB

A series of short colour clips taken in Hong Kong in 1939.

Thanks for your favourable comments.Always glad to see these old films get a new life.

The 'Historical Photographs of China' site has a large collection of photographs, including many from the G. Warren Swire collection. Many of his photos are work-related, documenting Butterfield & Swire's operations around China. So expect lots of photos of ships and dockyards, but there are some interesting photos of general Hong Kong scenes too.

The other collections at that site also include a few photos of Hong Kong, so I found the easiest way to see all the Hong Kong photos is:

 - Click 'All images' from the Collections menu on the left

 - In the top-right grey section,
      Set Nb/p to 100
      Type Hong Kong in the first 'Text Search' field
      Tab to the next field and change 'In all fields' to 'Title'

 - Click ok

It returned 321 photographs, displayed in pages of 100.

MrB

Some great detail on this photo.

This webshots album has a great selection of photos taken around the end of the war in Hong Kong in 1945:



WWII Liberation of Hong Kong, End of World War 2, Japan surrendered, August 15, 1945

Several of those photos come from the HMS Nabcatcher photo archive, as referenced by Moddsey.

you may wonder why I have not been back in touch , having promised you some more photos from the 1950s and early 60s. It is because I cant find the things! They were taken by my father, who now has altzheimers (in his 90th year now) and is now in a home. My stepmother thought she had found them, but it turned out not to be, so they are still missing. As she lives in Bognor. and I live in Bovey Tracey, we dont see each other very often. It doesnt help that I am disabled. My Dad had about 60+ boxes of 35mm film, that show things like the old car ferry(the only way to cross in those days). I will attemot to find them again soon. We lived there from 1948-1964. I still miss it. Greg

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the update. I understand the difficulties involved, so don't worry if they can't be found. But we'll keep our fingers crossed that the photos surface at some point - sounds like there are some great photos there.

Regards, MrB

facebook - if you don't have an account - get one and join the group: I grew up in Hong Kong in the 1970s/80s a great resource for old HK photos, especially from the 70s and 80s, as well as video footage (including a colour tram ride through HK from 1965) and a collection of 80s TV adverts

Don't keep us in suspense - what's the name of the group to join?

sorry I mentioned it but wasn't clear - it's called "I grew up in Hong Kong in the 1970s/80s" Search groups for Hong Kong and that will come up... anyone can join

Aha! Just had a look, and you're right there are some good photos there. The old tram-ride video is well worth a watch too.

If you're already logged in to facebook, here are links to the photos, videos, and the group.

In 1966 Peter was in the Merchant Navy, and made several visits to this part of the world. I saw him on our recent trip to the UK, and asked if he had any photos from that time. Luckily for us he has 20+ slides taken in and around Hong Kong, and was willing to lend them to me to bring back and scan.

Here are the first few, dated September 1966.

1966 Street scene
1966 Nathan Rd, TST

1966 View from Star Ferry pier towards Holt's Wharf

1966 Nighttime view from the Peak
1966 Nighttime view from the Peak
1966 Nighttime view from the Peak

Unfortunately at this point my scanner decided that it also needed a vacation. Once I've fixed or replaced it, I'll scan in the remainder.

Click on a thumbnail for a larger view, then on the 'original' link (you'll need to be logged in) if you want to see the full-size version. Peter says he'll add his memories of the photos, but please add your own comments to the individual photos (especially the two street scenes) if you recognise them.

MrB

The scanner is home again with a brand new bulb, so here are the rest of the slides.

There are two more from the September set:

1966 Hong Kong island skyline
1966 Tsing Yi

 

Then we switch to a second set dated November 1966.  It starts with fishing junks out in the South China Sea:

1966 Fishing junks under sail, out in the South China Sea.
1966 Fishing junks under sail, out in the South China Sea.
1966 Fishing junks under sail, out in the South China Sea.
1966 Fishing junks under sail, out in the South China Sea.

Then there is a sequence of photos as he sails towards Hong Kong Harbour from the East, then in past Shau Kei Wan and Kai Tak airport:

1966 Hong Kong harbour - Eastern entrance
1966 Entering HK Harbour from the East
1966 Shau Kei Wan
1966 Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay
1966 Kowloon and Kai Tak

 

It looks as though they continue to sail round past TST and Ocean Terminal, then up the coast towards Yau Ma Tei:

1966 Aircraft Carrier in Hong Kong harbour
1966 Star Ferry, Star House, and Ocean Terminal
1966 Star Ferry, KCR Terminal, Holt's Wharf
1966 Peter Lisle-Taylor's photos
1966 Peter Lisle-Taylor's photos

I was very excited when I stumbled across the collection of photographer Harrison Forman. There are over 300 photographs taken in Hong Kong in 1941 - fantastic!

I though that the PRO and the Public Library were the only government-run image collections. But here's another, as introduced by the AMO: The Museum of History's Online Catalogue.

It uses yet another system to index and view images, with its own strengths and weaknesses. First if you try it and nothing happens, which browser are you using? I tried with Firefox several times, but it only worked when I switched to IE (Internet Explorer).  Even with IE, when I clicked an image thumbnail to see a larger copy, the pop-up window was usually blank. The museum staff say when this happens just press the F5 key, and the image appears. That worked for me.

If you can get past those problems, the search works well and there is a good collection of images, including many I hadn't seen before.

It's worth visiting their resource centre if you have time.  (You have to make an appointment, but I was the only person there when I visited, so I don't think you'll have any trouble getting in). There you can use a much faster tool to search their photo collection, and can scroll through images as fast as you can view them. Much quicker than searching via the internet. It also seemed to me that the search in the resource centre shows results that don't appear in the internet search.

Mr B - I was looking through Mr Fred Evans' photos and wondered if my father Brian Colburn (also known as 'Butch') could have been in one of his group photos? As my father died 11 years ago, do you have any way of asking Fred if it could have been my father? Looking at the timing of Fred's service in Hong Kong they would have overlapped at Sek Kong for 18 months. I now live in Hong Kong and have been trying to visit the areas where I believe my father spent two wonderful years. I hope you can assist Many thanks Regards Amanda

Hi Amanda, I'll pass on the question, and let you know what I hear back. It'll take a while as unfortunately Fred has no connection to the Internet.

Were there any of Fred's photos where you think you can see your father?

And if you have any of your farther's photos from that time online, please feel free to leave a link so others can see them.

Regards, MrB

Sorry Amanda, the reply from Fred is that he doesn't remember that name.

You're welcome to use this site to try and find other friends that might have known your father in Hong Kong. Here's a few tips if you do.

Good luck,

MrB

I don't know if anyone has already found these but there are some photos on panoramio (i.e. google earth) from a chap called Alfred Mueller. MrB - there is one of the KCR terminus - not sure if you have already found this one or not?

Hi there,

Just checked the photos and found quite a few of tham had been flipped horizontally.  I have left comments or fild for misplaced photos.  Let's hope I did not offend the photographer.

Best Regards,

T

Phil, yes, that's a good one. Here are some other albums I came across when searching for photos of the KCR terminus:

For groups of photos (ie not a person's own album), or an ongoing project like dboo, I like to subscribe to them in an RSS reader. Then I can see new photos as they are added.

David

HMCS Prince Robert saw the start and the end of WII in Hong Kong. In November 1941 it was one of the two ships that delivered the Canadian soldiers to Hong Kong. Then in 1945 it was one of the first allied ships to return to Hong Kong as the Japanese surrendered.

The main website covers the life of the ship Prince Robert. Here are some sections that are specific to Hong Kong:

Thanks to Gweipo for letting us know there's an exhibition of Yau Leung's photos at Picture This, running 'til Dec 6th.

I have a book of his photos (ISBN 962041697X) that includes several of the photos in the exhibition. There's no English text, but the pictures are excellent.

MrB

There's an exhibition of old photos from Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong in Exhibition Gallery 3 (on the ground floor) of the Central Library from 9-16th of December.

I happened to see it advertised when I was at the library today. I enjoyed it - not worth making a special trip to see, but worth a visit if you're in the area.

More details on the library website.

Chris King has uploaded some more of his videos to Facebook, and reader Kent has emailed to say that a few of them can now also be seen on Youtube.

The Corbis website is a commercial site selling images. The images are from professional photographers, and so are of a good quality.

If you use their advanced search, you can search for photos taken in a certain location during a given range of years.

eg a search for photos taken in Hong Kong between 1850-1960 returns 96 images. Unfortunately it looks as though not all photos have a date set. Those won't show in a date-search like the example I used.

Happy browsing!

The Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association has an image gallery with photos, maps, and clippings related to the Canadians' experience here in WWII. Thanks to Moddsey for the link to this.

I had used the HKPL image search for old HK pics and had landed on some good pics of Robinson Rd and Caine Rd - thanks Mr B for his tips on using IE rather than Firefox. Yet,  no such luck with PRO. What is the secret? What should I fill in for each box and what is the input format I should use? I am trying to search for pictures of Robinson Rd (really St joseph Terrace) in the 70's.

Well first go to this website

http://www.grs.gov.hk/ws/english/es_online_cata.htm#

then go into archives for still and moving images, then into photographs, then click onto the photographic on-line catalogue which then gives one a search page. Then under keyword(s) search:  type in Robinson or Caine or whatever, which then gives a host of records. However, not all records contain a digital image.  Click on the black camera to the right of the selected records to view them. Cheers

 

 

 

The precise instructions help, I manage to find a few good ones.

The HKU Museum on Bonham Road is running an exhibition of 100 old photos from Cheng Po Hung on this topic, from now until 28 June. Details here.

I had a quick look around today, but not surprisingly my 5-year old daughter didn't want to linger. Worth a second visit.

Reader 80skid has turned up a treasure trove of photos of old Hong Kong:

found a wonderful resource of high-res photos of Hong Kong on the Life web site.

Here's the statue of Queen Victoria looking the worse for wear with arm broken off.

There's a lot of spectacular photos on here; you need to be inventive with tags to find them

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