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: 2018, week 33 - Part 2

Here's the second half of the summer update:

A book I've been waiting for impatiently is finally available: Barbara Anslow's wartime diaries are now available in print, under the title Tin Hats and Rice.

Barbara had just had her 23rd birthday when the Japanese attacked Hong Kong in 1941. Her diary follows her through the battle & surrender, the long internment, and the eventual liberation in 1945.

Barbara has added comments throughout the book, explaining any events and descriptions that might not make immediate sense to modern-day readers. She has also added material from her mother's and sister's accounts of the events, and rounded it off with an index of all the people mentioned.

Tin Hats and Rice will be invaluable reading for anyone who had a family member imprisoned by the Japanese, or who wants to learn more about Hong Kong's wartime history.

More information:


Other news




1956 Kai Tak Airport
1956 Kai Tak Airport, by Eternal1966


New on Gwulo: 2018, week 33 - Part 1

There's lots to catch up on after the summer break, so I'll split this update into two parts: People and Places first, then new Photos and other news in a second message. As always, you can click on any of the links below for more information, and each page has a link to add a comment if you can tell us any more about the topic.



Looking for information about:


Memories of:

New on Gwulo: 2018, week 26

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



Looking for information about:

  • Mavis Gock MING [1916-2008], daughter of Chinese father and Australian mother. Moved to Hong Kong in 1939 and involved with Women's League of Health and International Women's Club. Escaped into China in 1942, where she worked for the British Embassy until 1944.
  • Chung Wan LO [????-????], compradore of the Netherlands Trading Society.
  • Michael Constantin YATSKIN [1907-1965], born in Russia then moved to Harbin, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Studied at HKU. POW at Shamshuipo. Saved the Lei Cheng Uk tomb.
  • Cecil Henry DALTON (aka Jim) [1903-1966], ex RASC, involved with running The Sportsman's Arms in TST, died in HK in 1966.
  • William Nuttall, a sergeant in the Naval Yard Police in the 1880s
  • Louis O'Mahony, chancellor at the French consulate, died in HK in 1866.
  • Can anyone identify the man in this sketch? 
    • Welsh, Major (possibly)
      Welsh, Major (possibly), by Briony Widdis


Our daughters have just finished their school year, so we'll be away on our summer holidays shortly. I'll be checking in here regularly, but won't be posting as often over the next few weeks. If you've been thinking about sharing any photos or other information, now would be a great time to add them to the Gwulo website.


Memories of:

1957 Map of Hong Kong & Kowloon

The following map is courtesy of Andrew Suddaby. He picked up this copy in 1957 during his National Service here in Hong Kong.

Cover, by Andrew Suddaby


It shows Hong Kong island's north shore and Kowloon at three different scales:

New on Gwulo: 2018, week 24

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



We're lucky to have had several interesting articles about people added to the site since the last update.

First is a memoir written by Catherine Hellevik, a Russian lady who spent several years in Hong Kong. Her memoir has many of the same ingredients we see in the life stories of other Russian men and women who arrived in Hong Kong in the 1930s-50s. First the family moved east to settle the new lands around Vladivostok, and had initial success. But then they faced a string of wars and upheavals, with the family moving to Harbin, later to Shanghai, then to Hong Kong. Catherine and her son Norman survived the Japanese occupation interned in Stanley Camp, only to have Norman die very soon after liberation due to a doctor's mistake. It would have been very easy for her to become bitter about the problems she had to face, but she ends her account:

'One does not escape one's fate, "Qui sera sera”. One had to be sensible and there was nothing to complain about. All was, and is O.K.'

Catherine Hellevik and her son Normann Hellevik
Catherine Hellevik and her son Normann Hellevik, by larspetterhellevik


Second is an extract from John Hansbury's memoir, describing his time in Hong Kong in 1946. He was a young airman with the RAF, taking one last posting before being demobbed. His account describes the tension between wanting to see more of the world, and wanting to get back to routine civilian life. It's also clear how dangerous flying was at that time - to the degree that he chose to travel back to the UK by ship rather than by air. The danger was brought home when he has to undertake a grisly task during his stay in Hong Kong, locating bodies after a plane crashed on Lantau.


Third, we have a a timeline summarising Stephen's research into the life of Alexander Findlay Smith (AFS). Stephen welcomes your corrections and/or additional information. AFS is a well known figure in Hong Kong, as he is credited with starting the Peak Tram and the Peak Hotel. Stephen is using contemporary reports to separate fact from fiction in the later accounts of AFS's achievements.


Finally, Geoff invites readers to document any "first and second hand memories from Shamshuipo of HK Volunteers POW". He's made a start, with memories of:


If you can share any memoirs, diaries, or other information about people who've lived in Hong Kong, please post them to the website, or get in touch if you need any help.


Looking for information about:


Memories of:


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