Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


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Kind regards,


PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

Birthday Buildings in 2019

This is the seventh year I've made these lists, and for the first time we have a building on the '175-year-old' list. Before we take a look at that, let's see how the lists for the other birthday years look.


50-year-old buildings:

The list of 50-year-olds is short this year, though I'm sure there are lots more buildings that were finished in 1969 and are still standing. One reason we don't see them listed on Gwulo is that we don't think of them as old. But in Hong Kong the typical lifespan for a building is only 40-60 years, so these are already our buildings' senior citizens!

The best known of the 50-year-olds is St George's Building. There's a glimpse of it on the left of these two photos.

View of HK from Kowloon
View of HK from Kowloon, by petespix75


Photos from HK 1976 - 1985
Photos from HK 1976 - 1985, by Born in HK


It stood out from the other buildings along the seafront because of its dark colour. It replaced this building, which was also called St George's Building:

Shewan & Tomes Head Office
Shewan & Tomes Head Office, by Admin


75-year-old buildings:

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 41

A look at what's new on Please click on the photos or the blue links for more information - and please leave a comment if you can add any new details.


  • Thanks to BM, Grace, kathrynsa, tkjho, and wingcli2015, who've all helped type up the 1931 Jurors List. As usual, the vast majority of the jurors worked as assistants or clerks, but there are some more eye-catching job titles too.
    • The 'Air Pilot' must have been one of Hong Kong's first professional pilots.
    • Did the 'Assistant Official Measurer' spending his day measuring officials?
    • There are also several people listed with the job title of 'Per Pro.' We're more used to writing it as 'pp.', when we sign on behalf of someone else. I guess those 'Per Pro.' entries on the 1932 list had been signed off by another person, and the text was typed into the final document by mistake!
  • We've started typing up the 1932 Jurors List. If you can spare 30 minutes, please join in and help by typing up a page.
  • Book updates:
    • Volume 1 will soon be sold out, so it's time to re-print it again.
    • Ross has started sending me his edits of Volume 3. It's always humbling to find out just how many mistakes I make in my writing!
  • I've listed newspaper mentions of where dragon boat races were held up til WW2. It was part of the research for a photo in Volume 3, looking at how the races moved out from the fishing villages to a broader audience.
  • More Royal Navy vessels: HMS Princess CharlotteHMS L4
  • Les Bird has posted several photos of Vietnamese refugees arriving in Hong Kong, to illustrate his recent talk on RTHK's Hong Kong Heritage.




1946: Letters from Hong Kong

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Tue, 1946-01-01 to Tue, 1946-12-31

Introduction from David: The second-half of the 1940s saw Hong Kong make a rapid recovery from the dark days of wartime. It's a period that hasn't been covered much in history books, so I'm always interested when there's a chance to read more about it. Below, regular contributor Barbara Anslow shares extracts from letters she wrote from Hong Kong in 1946.




Our family was repatriated from Stanley Camp to UK in autumn 1945. I was recalled to return to Hong Kong to my job with the HK Government in May 1946. My sister Olive was senior to me in the government, but had failed two medicals, so her return was delayed. I sailed from Tilbury on the ‘Otranto’.

The following are extracts from the letters I sent to Mum and Olive usually twice a week.


24TH MAY 1946 - AT SEA

Many ex Stanley folk on board, preponderance of women, I suppose their husbands went by air to resume their jobs. I'm so lucky Peggy ((Peggy Barton, my best friend in Stanley)) is on board: we mean to practice shorthand every day.

I am in an 8 berth cabin with Mrs Eager and her 4 young children ((Joan, Cynthia, Lesley and Cyril whom I knew well in camp)) and two non-Stanley women I didn’t know. The younger Eager children imagine they are going back to Stanley Camp, one told her mother that when she gets back to HK, she is going to the ration garage in Stanley ((to play or look out for bits of vegetable that might have dropped off the ration lorry!))

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 39

A look at what's new on Please click on the photos or the blue links for more information - and please leave a comment if you can add any new details.





1931 Draining the dry dock

Dry dock at Royal Naval Dockyard


Where: This is the Royal Navy's dry dock, part of their dockyard in Hong Kong. The dry dock still exists, but it is now hidden out of sight.

The Royal Naval Dockyard closed in the late 1950s, then the dry dock was filled in with rubble during 1960. Since then it hasn't been disturbed though, instead it lies underneath the strip of sports pitches that runs north-south down the centre of the PLA's Central Barracks. I wonder if the exercising soldiers know what's beneath their feet?


Who: There are plenty of people in this photo, but not sailors as far as I can see, more likely the


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