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 for special pricing, free shipping, signed copies, and a free sample

15th Dec 2019 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.


Pre-order offers as we get close to the launch of the new Volume 3: 

Special price

The book's list price will be HK$168, but regular readers can pre-order copies until December 14th 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 dollar 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 of Gwulo's books to be delivered to the same address: if you can combine an order with a friend, or buy an extra copy to give as a gift, shipping is free. (Copies of Volume 1 and Volume 2 also count, so order two or more copies of any combination of Volumes 1, 2, or 3 and you'll get free international shipping.)

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


Signed copies

If you'd like me to sign 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 as follows:

If you'd like ... you send the reply ... and I'll write ...
Standard signature Please sign With best wishes,
Standard + names Please sign to Emma and John To Emma and John,
with best wishes,
Custom message Please sign: A gift from Ann and Charles A gift from Ann and Charles


Free sample

You've seen the cover ...

Book - front cover of Volume 3.


... but if you'd like a look inside please download a PDF sample of pages from the book.



Q. When will the orders be mailed out?

A. We'll get to work as soon as the books are delivered from the printer - they say they'll deliver the books to me on December 16th.


Q. So will they arrive in time for Christmas?

A. Hong Kong orders will arrive before Christmas, but most of the international orders will arrive shortly afterwards.


Q. How can I order a copy of Volumes 1, 2, and 3?

A. Here are the steps:

1. Go to the page for Volume 1 and click the "Buy This" button. When the pop-up window appears, click "Continue shopping". 

2. Scroll up to the top of the page to see your shopping cart, and check that Volume 1 has been added.

3. Next go to the page for Volume 2 and click the "Buy This" button. When the pop-up window appears, click "Continue shopping".

4. Finally, go to the page for Volume 3, and click the "Buy This" button there. When the pop-up window appears, click "Continue shopping".

5. Check your shopping cart has one of each Volume. If you need to make any corrections, you can make changes to the content of your shopping cart. If all is correct, please go to the Checkout page.

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



PS If you have friends who like old Hong Kong but may not be subscribers to Gwulo's newsletter, please could you let them know about this offer?

Gwulo book - Volume 3 - back cover

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 48

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.


  • I saw the printed proofs for the new Gwulo book late last week. I really thought we'd caught all the mistakes and it would just be a case of signing them off. Instead, two more small mistakes surfaced that needed fixing. That held us up for a few days, but the final changes have all been made and approved, and the book is now out of my hands and away with the printer.
    They plan to deliver the finished books on December 16th, so next Wednesday, December 4th, I'll open up pre-orders with the usual special pricing. That will run until December 14th, then we'll have a day to print labels and prepare the envelopes so the books can be mailed out ASAP after they arrive on the 16th.
  • The comments on the Mo Tat Village thread have several interesting replies about British policy in the New Territories.




Photo (2): Central and the Peak, c. 1906

The new Gwulo book continues ...

c. 1906 Central and the Peak


What a dramatic sight this must have been – such a contrast to the visitors’ ocean voyage. Their last few days had been spent looking at the featureless horizon, but here the sheer face of the Peak rises high above the city. The clean sea breeze is replaced by the smells and sounds of the city, and the open sea traded for a harbour that’s busy with boats of all shapes and sizes.

Let’s take a closer look, starting at the top of the photo. If you follow the

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 47

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.


  • Several books are in the news...
  • Congratulations to Bob Tatz on last week's launch of his book, Lost in the Battle for Hong Kong, last week. A good-sized crowd made the effort to attend, despite the public transport problems. He told us some of the stories of his time as a young orphan in wartime Hong Kong, and answered the many questions that the audience had for him.
    Bob Tatz at his book launch
  • Les Bird reports that his book, A Small Band Of Men, is now on the bookshelves at Bookazine and other local bookstores. The book looks at the 20 years he spent in the Marine Police in the 1970s-90s. Les has posted chapter 21, Deadly Game, here on Gwulo. In it, he describes how they dealt with the 'Daai Fei', the high-powered speedboats that smugglers used in the 1990s.
    A Small Band of Men in Bookazine
  • The third Gwulo book gathered momentum over the last two weeks. The last two pieces of the layout were finished, the map:
    Map for the new Volume 3
    And the back cover:
    Gwulo book - Volume 3 - back cover
    Then came the last rounds of edits to make the text and photos look their best. They seemed never-ending, but this morning we ran out of things to change and so the layout has gone off to the printer. Later in the week I'll see the proofs for one last check, then once they're signed off I'll get a better idea of when the books will be available. The layout is our best yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in print.

  • Do any residents of the Sek Kong Village remember their local newspaper:
    Twisk Times
    Twisk Times, by Patrick Hill
  • Martin asks for help about the Hongkong government's policy regarding the New Territories in the 1970s, as part of his research into Mo Tat Wan village on Lamma.
  • A personal account of the Tyndareus hitting the German mine in 1917.
  • Jill has uploaded a copy of 'Light Airs', the journal of the 4th Submarine Flotilla who were regular visitors to Hong Kong in the 1920s.
  • Details of the Dosei Maru 同生丸, the ship being bombed in this photo:
    American air strike on harbour shipping-16 November 1943
    American air strike on harbour shipping-16 November 1943, by IDJ
  • It was good to catch up with everyone for lunch back on the 7th. Thanks to Annelise for arranging it.




Photo (1): Sulphur Channel

The new Gwulo book begins like this ...


Have you noticed how so many old Hong Kong photos have a harbour-related theme?

The harbour is still important today, but it had a much greater impact on the people shown here, living in Hong Kong in the early 20th century.

Some of the people in Volume 3


Today, almost all


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