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'.

Memories of my childhood years in Hong Kong, 1947-1951

In this week's newsletter, guest author Celia Hicks remembers her childhood years in Hong Kong. Celia has provided several family photos, and I've added in extra photos from the Gwulo website where they match the story.

I arrived in Hong Kong in 1947 as a six-year old with my mother Winifred Alice Collins and older sister Sheila on the troop ship Dunera to join my Dad who had been posted to HK by the Admiralty after the Japanese surrender. He had travelled out via Malta in 1946 and must have seen the devastation caused to the island by German bombing raids. Malta had been crucial in being a supply and repair location for the Allied war efforts. It has been said that Malta received more bombs than London suffered in the blitz. It survived, which is why its Government was presented with the George Cross by King George VI.

My father, George C. S. Collins, had travelled out on the aircraft carrier Ocean to become the Superintendent of Gyro Compasses for the Far East, based at the HK Dockyard. At that time, we had a large Navy as did the Americans.

HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean, by Celia Hicks


On arrival he joined other men at The Cecil Hotel where rats visited the rooms at night! Also

New on Gwulo: 2021, week 30

A look at what's new on the Gwulo website...





A Silver Trowel and St Paul’s History

Guest author Geoffrey Charles Emerson unearths the history of a small, silver trowel:

In January 2021, I received an email from Michael Stewart in England. Michael is the son of former St Paul’s Headmaster (1930 – 1958) Evan G. Stewart. Michael was born in Hong Kong in 1931, so 90 this year, and he is now retired in southern England near to his two daughters, Frances and Isobel. Ever since 2008, when Michael visited Hong Kong for Speech Day and for the Stewart Dinner in the school hall, in honour of Michael’s father and his father’s older brother, Michael’s uncle, Rev. A.D. Stewart, Headmaster of St Paul’s before E.G., Michael and I have kept up an active correspondence.

Michael wrote to me because recently he and his daughters have been going through family records and mementos, and they were puzzled by a silver trowel with a Chinese inscription on it, but no English. Longman’s dictionary defines a trowel as “a tool with a flat blade for spreading cement”, and trowels are often used for laying foundation stones. They are usually presented as a souvenir to the person, always a VIP, laying the stone. Michael sent me a photo and asked if I could provide a translation of the Chinese.

The silver trowel


A friend of mine, Sylvia Fok Midgett, was happy to assist, and not only did she provide a good translation, but she also found

New on Gwulo: 2021, week 28

A look at what's new on the Gwulo website...





1964: Typhoons & Telephones

As we head into the typhoon season, guest author Peter Kelly remembers the troubles they caused him in 1964, when he was in Hong Kong as a telecoms engineer with the army:

Our busiest time was during the typhoon season. This occurred every year with some years being spectacularly damaging. I had one of those years, with cables being uprooted by anchor chains and mass flooding of many of our manholes.

The warnings would start at number one or two and slowly climb to ten.

Storm Warning Signal Card a.

1950s Storm Warning Signal Card by Andrew Suddaby


By about six all movement outside had been banned and the city hunkered down to sit out the storm. The wind was hurricane force and the rain torrential. One night we were all turfed out of our beds to


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