Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


Welcome to, and over 30,000 pages about old Hong Kong.

If it's your first visit, you might like to use the search box at the top of the page to find what you're looking for, check out the latest old photos, or just scroll down to browse through recent articles.

I hope you'll join in too, and share your questions and knowledge with us. Most pages let you leave a comment, it's easy to upload a photo, and the Forum is waiting for you to post a new message.

Finally, if you're interested in Hong Kong history, please stay in touch by signing up for Gwulo's free weekly newsletter.

Kind regards,


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

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 38

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see all the latest additions to the site.





Talk on 5 October, and other book news

On Monday evening, 5 October, I'll join May Holdsworth and Christopher Munn in the JC Cube theatre at Tai Kwun to give a joint talk about the recently published book, Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong. (The book will be on sale at the event with a special 30% discount.)

May and Christopher will share some of the colourful characters and other discoveries that they encountered during their detailed research for this project. I'll follow up by showing a selection of my favourite images from the book, focusing on several that surprised me. After the talk there is plenty of time for Q&A.

I'm looking forward to hearing what May and Christopher have to say, and also to showing you the images - JC Cube has tiered seating and an enormous screen that make it a great venue for showing off high resolution images.

Please visit the Tai Kwun website for more details and to book your seats.

Front cover


The first reviews of the new book are also starting to appear.

South China Morning Post:

Written in an approachable style, the book is full of historical data, personalities and anecdotes that illuminate [Tai Kwun’s] history... At once informative and entertaining, it brings both Hong Kong’s judicial system and its early history to vivid life.


Asian Review of Books:

Anyone with a passing interest in the city and its colonial past will find something to enjoy in this book. For readers who know Hong Kong well, it might even help to

"Hong Kong Mary's Sampan Girl"

"Hong Kong Mary's Sampan girl"

Where: The distinctive building at top left shows we're looking at the Kowloon Wharves, site of today's Ocean Centre and Harbour City. It also places the ship alongside the No. 2 Pier.

Here's an aerial view of the area from 1935, showing the piers along the eastern shore of Tsim Sha Tsui. The tower seen in the main photo is just to the right of

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 36

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see all the latest additions to the site.






9. Living with Grandparents and Schooling (1955-1964)

In a previous newsletter, Peter Yee described his childhood in Hong Kong up to the year 1955. That was the year he turned 11, and the year his parents and two younger siblings emigrated to Canada. In this issue he continues the story, taking us up to 1964 when he made his own emigration to rejoin his family in Canada.

9.1 Ki Lung Street, 111, 2nd Floor (Level 3) 

My daily routine at first remained unchanged, as I still went to Tak Yan College on class days. The big change is that there are now two elderly persons caring for me, and no more family outings like movies, swim at a beach, and visiting my parents' friends. Adult supervision was minimal and no more reminders to read books. Communications with grandparents were infrequent, and when it happened they were short. There was not much in common that we would talk about, and our age gap did not help. Besides,

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 34

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see all the latest additions to the site.





Book news

  • New review of Volume 3
    • Thanks to Veronica Pearson for her generous review of the latest Gwulo book. An excerpt: "What is so extraordinary about Bellis is the detail and knowledge that he brings to such a wide array of subjects as he decodes for us, in the most accessible ways, what we are actually looking at. There are examples on virtually every page of the book; but I have chosen one that demonstrates Bellis’ ability to draw readers into a subject even when they expect it to be boring; in my case Photograph 10—The Naval Yard. First he ..."
    • The full review will appear in the latest Journal of the RAS HK. The Journal is one of the perks of membership of the RAS HK.
    • This is the not-as-boring-as-it-looks photo of the Naval Yard ...
      c.1890 View of Naval Yard, harbour & TST from Scandal Point
    • ... that you can read all about in Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell, Volume 3.
  • Volume 4 is moving along
    • We've really missed not being able to visit the UK to see friends and family this summer, but a sliver lining has been getting a head start on the latest book. I finished the first draft of the text last week, and that's away with Ross (MrTall if you remember Batgung) to benefit from his editing and extra polish.
      While the text is being edited I've switched attention to the book's photos, working on them in Photoshop to get them looking their best. I was really happy with the way that the printed photos look in Volume 3, so I'm aiming for as good or better in Volume 4.





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