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'.

Pre-order the new Gwulo book, get special offers

29th Nov 2018 Update: The pre-launch offer has finished, so normal book pricing now applies. But you can still download the free sample pages from the book, and overseas readers can still order two or more copies delivered to the same address to get free shipping. Click for details.


Four pre-order offers as we get close to the launch of the new Volume 2: special price, free shipping, signed copies, and a free sample.


Special price

The book's list price will be HK$168, but regular readers can pre-order copies on or before 28th November at HK$150.

Please click a "Pre-order ..." link below to pre-order your book(s). Payment can be made online using a Paypal account or a credit card. Readers with a Hong Kong bank account also have the option to pay by bank transfer, or HK$ cheque.


Free shipping

All deliveries to Hong Kong addresses are shipped free of charge.

Overseas orders are very welcome. If you live overseas, you can also get free shipping if you order two or more copies of the book to be delivered to the same address. (Copies of Volume 1 also count, so order two or more copies of any combination of Volumes 1 & 2 and you'll get free international shipping.)

Overseas orders for a single book pay the airmail postage rate. The cost of airmail varies by country, and will be shown to you before you confirm payment for your order.


Signed copy?

If you'd like your copy to be signed, that's easy to arrange. When you've placed your order you'll receive an order confirmation email. Please reply to that with a message "Request signed copy", and I'll take care of it.

The standard signature is "With best wishes, David", but if you'd like something different just let me know.

Gwulo book - Volume 2 - Front cover


Free sample

You'e seen the cover, but if you'd like a look inside please click here to download a PDF sample of pages from the book.



Orders will start shipping as soon as the printed books are delivered from the printer. The printer is expected to deliver the printed books on "the last few days of November, or the first few days of December".

Many overseas customers will want to receive their books in time for Christmas, to give as presents. Based on last year's experience, orders placed on or before 10th of December should arrive before Christmas.

Gwulo book - Volume 2 - Back cover


If anything isn't clear, or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below, or contact me at



New on Gwulo: 2018, week 47

A summary of what's new and updated on Gwulo:



Looking for information about:


Memories of:

1940-41: Hong Kong's "Phoney War"

Barbara Anslow has previously shared extracts from her diaries in the article "Memories of life in Hong Kong, 1938-39". The end of 1939 was roughly half-way through the period known in Britain as the "Phoney War": Britain had declared war against Germany that September, but in the months that followed, nothing much seemed to happen.

In this article, Barbara tells us of her experiences in Hong Kong in 1940 and 1941, again drawing on her diaries from those years. She soon reports the end of Britain's Phoney War:

New on Gwulo: 2018, week 45

A summary of what's new and updated on Gwulo:



Memories of:

  • Konrad Hans Traugott GOLL [1947- ], lived & worked in HK 1976-2000.
  • William TODD [1916-????], policeman interned in Stanley, awarded Colonial Police Medal.
  • Leonard STARBUCK [1911-1953], worked for the Observatory, and probably one of the first prisoners captured by the Japanese in 1941
  • Albert JILLOTT [1901-????], prison officer
  • Charles Henry HART [1808-1867], one of the bidders in the first land auction in 1841
  • Ron FREER [1915- ], fought in Hong Kong in 1941, and now the oldest veteran in this year's march at the Cenotaph in London
  • Frederick Stanley Lowing, who died while a prisoner of the Japanese




Birthday Buildings in 2018

It's time for our annual roundup of buildings that celebrate a major birthday this year.


50-year-old buildings:

The "Sincere Insurance Building" name caught my eye, as I worked in an office there in the 1990s. One end of the building faces Queensway, making it a prime site for large advertisements - see the red advert in the photo below.

Queensway 1980
Queensway 1980, by Leroy W. Demery, Jr.


The buildings on the right in the photo above were originally part of Victoria Barracks, and had belonged to the British Army. In 1968, the Army had recently given up a strip of land at the western edge of the Victoria Barracks area. That land was home to the Murray Barracks, and ran between Garden Road to the west, and the Albany Nullah to the east.

The new Murray Building was built on part of that land, with the new Cotton Tree Drive running uphill nearby. The Albany Nullah seems to have vanished, but it still exists - it was covered over, and Cotton Tree Drive was built on top of it. Here's a view up Cotton Tree Drive in the 1970s, with Murray Building on the right.

Cotton Tree Drive.JPG
Cotton Tree Drive.JPG, by Quicksilver


We have to leave Hong Kong Island, and head to the New Territories for the most memorable of the new buildings from 1968


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