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'.

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 45

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.


  • The weather's looking perfect for tomorrow's Gwulo lunchtime meetup (Thursday, 7th November) - we'll be at the outdoor seating area of the American Club in Central, which has great views. Hope to see you there.
  • If any UK readers would like to attend Barbara Anslow's funeral service and celebration of her life next Monday, 11th November, Jill has kindly forwarded these details from Barbara's daughter:
    • Barbara’s funeral will be held at the Sacred Heart and St Francis Catholic Church in Frinton-on-Sea on 11th November at 1.45pm followed by a cremation at Weeley Crematorium at 3.30pm and a celebration of her life at Frinton Cricket Club afterwards.

      Please do let anyone you know who may wish to attend.  We received truly wonderful support from St Helena Hospice based in Colchester who enabled us to care for her at home until the end which was her fervent wish, if you could let everyone know that we would ask in lieu of flowers anyone who wishes to could send a donation on Mum's behalf to this charity.

  • Newspaper clipping of the arrival of British Troops in 1945
  • A look at old bottles found around Hong Kong




Photo (19): Ah-King’s 'Paula'

This week's newsletter is an extract from the new Volume 3 of the Gwulo books. It includes a lovely story from Barbara Anslow, but I'm very sorry to have to pass on the sad news that Barbara passed away earlier this week, peacefully at home.

In memory of

Barbara Anslow (née Redwood) [1918-2019]

Regular readers know Barbara as a frequent and generous contributor to Gwulo. Using extracts from her diaries and letters, combined with her clear memories, she told us about life in Hong Kong as a child in the 1920s, and as a young woman during the long wartime internment at Stanley Camp. She helped countless people learn more about their own family's experiences in Stanley, often knowing the person, and able to share a story or two about them.

Heading into her nineties, Barbara just packed more and more into life, with visits to Buckingham Palace, giving the reading at a national event, interviews, talks, and closing off the decade with the publication of her book about her wartime experiences, Tin Hats and Rice.

Here she is in July of this year - aged 100, but you'd never guess it.

Barbara and Dawn


David, Barbara, Grace, and Doris


Though her mind was as sharp as ever, she told us she wasn't feeling great. Our regular e-mail exchanges slowed down, then stopped last month - her last message ending simply 'am still weary'. So Barbara, take your rest, you deserve it. Your generous and modest nature will continue to inspire, and you leave a wonderful legacy with your book.

Love, David

PS If any readers would like to make a contribution in memory of Barbara, her daughter Maureen asks for donations to the the St Helena Hospice based in Colchester. She says that 'the help we received from them during Mum's final weeks was immeasurable', and hopes that their service can be extended to more families in need. 


Photo (19): Ah-King’s 'Paula'

Boat under construction


Just like the Corinthians’ club, Ah-King’s slipway survived the 1906 typhoon, but couldn’t fight the 1920s reclamation. It stayed in business, though, relocating to the typhoon shelter at Causeway Bay. When that was reclaimed in the 1950s, the slipway moved for the third and final time, just far enough north to get access to the sea again.

Back in 1919, Ah-King pops up in the story of Ming Yuen Gardens, and their first dragon boat races. The Gardens announced that ‘… the judge will be Ah King. Whilst Mr Mok Lin, of Ah King’s slipway, will act as starter.’  Ah-King’s presence was clearly meant to inspire confidence, and shows he was also well-known in the Chinese boating community.

But western-style boats, like this launch under construction, were his main business. I can’t be 100% sure the photo above was taken at Ah-King’s, but the photo below makes it very likely. It shows

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 43

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.





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.





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