(The text of this article was written by Harry Rolnick. It originally appeared in the April 1980 edition of the Peninsula Group magazine, and is reproduced here with their permission. The illustrations are from Gwulo's contributors.)
One fateful day in the autumn of 1912, Hong Kong’s end began. A group of the most prominent citizens of the Colony – incensed at the fact that their horses shied away from horseless carriages, irate that the public weal was endangered, that human life was fated to die out and totally confused by the newest juggernauts of the road – signed what was called a “monster petition” and presented it to the Governor.
Motorcars (said the petition) were a danger to Hong Kong. They were to be eliminated immediately. The dozen-odd cars which had found their way into the Colony were henceforth to be exported out of the Colony.
The Governor took the petition, read it carefully, agreed that something should be done…but did not believe that motor cars should be eliminated completely…
Thus Hong Kong’s fate was sealed.
The dozen-odd little chug-chug’s multiplied tenfold by 1915. And when those people with country houses on the southern side of Hong Kong island no longer felt that transportation by sedan-chair was the ultra plus non for travel, automobiles, those new-fangled noisy contraptions, were the and only the means of getting around.
Except for one slight problem: no road. So the evolution continued inexorably. First sedan chairs, then cars, then roads envisaged for the wooden sylvan glades of southern Hong Kong – and then, just as inevitably, came The Repulse Bay Hotel.
This year (1980) marks the 60th anniversary of The Repulse Bay Hotel’s official opening – a positively hoary age, in Hong Kong’s terms, for the grand old place. Yet, to rephrase the old age, had there been no Repulse Bay Hotel, it would have been necessary to build one. After all, where else could <Read more ...>