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'.

Views along the tram line in the 1900s

Join us for a ride on one of Hong Kong's new trams. Here's how The China Mail reported the first trial of the trams on July 2nd, 1904:

"To the clanging of the alarm-bell, and the whirling round of wheels, the first tram to run on the Hongkong tramway line left the shed last Saturday. [...] The cars used were the combination and the ordinary open car. In their new coats of paint, the colour of which is mainly yellow, relieved here and there with darker hues, the cars looked very well, [...] The motor men and ticket collectors are nattily dressed in white with narrow black facings, and attend daily at the sheds for instruction and trials."

I don't have any photos of the nattily dressed staff, but here's what those first trams looked like:

Third class tram
Third class tram, by UKNA


First class tram
First class tram, by UKNA


I'm not sure how long these all-first-class and all-third-class designs continued in use. Later reports describe a different design, where each tram had a mix of first- and third-class seating (maybe this is the "combination car" described in the newspaper report above?). However we do know that throughout the 1900s, all the trams were

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 11

A look at what's been added / updated at Please click on the photos or the blue links for more information - and please leave a comment if you can add any new details.

UK readers, please join me in London on 30th March

I'll present Gwulo talk #4, and all are welcome to attend. Please click here for details and how to book.







c.1907 Quarry workers at the new Taikoo Dockyard

c.1907 Quarry workers at the new Taikoo Dockyard


Where: A hand-written note stuck on the back of the photo explains where the photo was taken:

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 08

A look at what's been added / updated at Please click on the photos or the blue links for more information - and please leave a comment if you can add any new details.




  • Does anyone recognise the building from the 1950s-60s in the upper centre of the photo below? It was in TST on the south side of Salisbury Road, across the road from the YMCA, and in front of the KCR terminus. I think it housed the Post Office's Kowloon sorting office, and may also have housed a postal facility for the British Armed Forces, but I don't have any firm proof. If you have any information about it, or can point me to any photos with a clearer view of it, please let me know.
    • HE Arrives Outside Peninsula Hotel
      HE Arrives Outside Peninsula Hotel, by Gordon Randall
  • R.A.F. Kong Wei, listening post [c.1952-????]
  • Kai Pak Ling [????- ]
  • Nam Koo Terrace 南固台 #55 Ship Street (IL 2140) [c.1918- ]
  • Miu Keng Terrace 妙鏡台, #53 Ship Street, 1-5 Schooner Street (IL 2093 RP & IL 2093 S.A RP) [????- ]
  • A Hing photographic studio [c.1909-c.1935]
  • Streets: Cornwall AvenueLun Fat Street




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The Victorian selfie

Though "selfie" is a modern word, sending photos of ourselves to friends is almost as old as photography itself. The photos below were taken in the photographic studios of Hong Kong in the mid- to late-1800s, and given to family and friends around the world.

I've added notes to the photos, but I'm hoping your detective skills can add more information. If you can identify military uniforms, I'll be especially interested to hear what you can tell us about the soldiers and sailors in the group. Please leave a comment below if you spot anything interesting.

In date order ...


c.1865 - Western man, by Kai Sack

c.1867 - Western man

The back of the card gives the photographer's name as "Kai-Sack", and his address as "Opposite Stag Hotel, 109 Queen's Road". The seller dates this to c.1867, but when I


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