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PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

1950s Shamrock Hotel

c.1953 Shamrock Hotel

This week's newsletter is early, as I'll be away from Hong Kong from tomorrow for a long weekend break.

The photo above comes from a set that was printed in the 1950s, for sale to tourists. I guess they were aiming at the budget end of the market, as though the photos are sharp, they aren't always developed well. Most of them need work in Photoshop to even out the dark & light areas.

We're looking north up Nathan Road, across the junction with Austin Road. The star of the scene is the tall building in the centre. According to the caption on the photo it is the "Shinrock Hotel Kowloon". That's another sign of the photos' budget nature, as of course it's actually the Shamrock Hotel.

The Shamrock opened in January 1952, and was one of the first skyscrapers in Kowloon. It is still with us today, and still a hotel, though it no longer towers over its neighbours. Judging from the other photos in the set this was taken in 1953, which explains why the Shamrock is looking so smart.

This is another photo that I'll be using in tonight's talk at 7pm in the CVA on Kennedy Road, as part of a sequence of ten old photos taken in Kowloon. Several show Kowloon in the 1950s, and we'll talk about how it was a time of great change for Kowloon as it coped with the population boom / housing crisis. As examples of the changes we'll use this photo looking south down Nathan Road:

Birthday Buildings in 2017

When we first looked at the Birthday Buildings for 2013, I was pleasantly surprised to find buildings still standing in Hong Kong that were 50-, 75-, 100-, 125-, and even 150-years old. Let's see how 2017 compares...


50-year-old buildings:

The biggest on the list is the Wah Fu Estate, a public housing estate on the south of Hong Kong island. Here are some photos of it under construction:

Wanchai's seafront in 1902

Wanchai's seafront in 1902


When: The photo was taken in 1902 by R C Hurley [1]. He included it in his book "Views of Hongkong", published the same year.

Where: He was looking west along Praya East. In 1902 that was the Wanchai seafront, today it's called Johnston Road. 

What: We rarely get to see views of this part of Hong Kong's seafront, so we can use this chance to learn more about the area at the turn of the century. Whenever I need to know about the history of this area I turn to

A century of cinemas in Hong Kong: 1900-2000

Photos, maps and memories of Hong Kong's cinema century!

Back to the beginning, here's a map showing Hong Kong's cinemas at the end of the first decade:



[Subscribers: if you can't see the map, please view the website version of this page.]


There had been a few cinema shows in Hong Kong before 1900, eg:

The exhibition of the Cinematograph commenced at the City Hall to-day. This wonderful invention is well worth seeing, were it for nothing else but the pictorial representations projected upon the screen by M. Charvet.

Page 2, The China Mail, 1897-04-28

But the first purpose-built cinematographic theatres (ie cinemas) were built in the early 1900s. By 1910, the handful of cinemas shown above were in operation, all concentrated along the north shore of Hong Kong island between Shek Tong Tsui and Central.


1910s memories

The newest cinema in 1910 was The Coronet, remembered in

Mr. Triggs remembers

(This article originally appeared in the April 1977 edition of the Peninsula Group magazine, and is reproduced here with their permission.)

He lives in a large house in Kowloon Tong, one of Hong Kong’s fashionable residential districts, watching his plants grow and talking to his parrot who, in-between squawks, utters a civilized “hello”. He’s a big man, hearty despite his 85 years. And he smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. “But I don’t inhale,” he says. “It’s not good for you.”

Clifton James Triggs was, perhaps, The Peninsula’s longest-staying, non-paying resident. As Chief Engineer of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd., he and his family lived “for some 35 years” in The Peninsula. If anyone knows The Pen, its ghosts, its every nook and cranny, and those of The Repulse Bay Hotel and the old Hongkong and Peak Hotels, Mr Triggs does. “My memory is not good,” he apologises, occasionally referring to a list he has made of important events during his career with the company. In fact, his memory is very good.

Mr Triggs


He remembers



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