Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


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

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 50

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.






79 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

December, 1941.

79 years ago tensions were high as war with Japan seemed inevitable. On December 8th, those fears were confirmed when Japanese planes attacked Kai Tak, and Japanese soldiers crossed the border into the New Territories. The fighting continued until the British surrendered on Christmas Day.

The end of the fighting marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation, a time of great hardship for Hong Kong's residents. They would have to endure for three years and eight months, until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, and Hong Kong was liberated shortly afterwards.


What was it like?

Let the people who lived through these times tell you themselves.

We've collected several wartime diaries, and split them into their day-by-day accounts. Each day we send out an email message containing all the diary entries written on that day, 79 years ago.


How to sign up to receive the daily messages?

Please click here to subscribe.

You'll see another screen that asks for your email address. Enter your details, hit the "Subscribe" button, then each day you'll receive an email message with today's diary entries.

It's free of charge, your details stay private, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


What do the daily messages look like?

Here are sample extracts from the messages you'll receive:

  • 30 Nov 1941: "Topper says we are as near war now as we have ever been, that Japan with her militarist Govt. can't very well back down now."
  • 1 Dec 1941: "Government advising further evacuation.  Only hope seems to be that Japs now say they will keep on talks with USA in hope that USA will change viewpoint - that isn't thought likely."
  • 7 Dec 1941: "There must be something in the wind, G.H.Q. staff are preparing to move into Battle HQ, a huge underground structure just behind the Garrison Sgts. Mess."
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary

Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary: "war had been declared"

  • 8 Dec 1941: "I started my birthday with a war. Kowloon bombed about 8AM."
  • 10 Dec 1941: "Sid has been wounded.  Bullet through shoulder.  He told Hospital to phone Mum at the Jockey Club and she went to see him."
  • 13 Dec 1941: "We hear rumours that

Photo (19): Telephone House 

The fourth and final extract from the new Gwulo book introduces Kowloon's first skyscraper.




This photo looks south along Nathan Road from near the junction with Kimberley Road. It was taken in the 1950s, and captures

Photo (16): Queen Victoria’s statue

Simmering cauldrons, steam cranes, and a disappointing statue all make appearances in this third extract from the new Gwulo book.




Hurley stuck with the patriotic theme, choosing a photo of ‘The Queen Victoria Jubilee Monument’ that was taken from Prince’s Building. Queen Victoria had died the previous year, ending a 63-year reign that began just a few years before Hong Kong became a British colony.

The monument, shown in the left foreground, was built to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee of 1887. It consisted of a stone shelter, housing a ‘disappointing’ statue of a seated Queen Victoria. The disappointment was due to a

Photo (10): Pedder Street

Four buildings, a uniform, and a 'traffic stave' will pin down the date of the photo in this second extract from the new Gwulo book.




This time we’re looking along Pedder Street in the opposite direction, across Des Voeux Road towards Queen’s Road. That means the Hong Kong Hotel is on the left, where The Landmark stands today.

We’re obviously several years later than the previous photo as


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