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: 2020, week 32

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see all the latest additions to the site.





Book news

  • UK readers: Gwulo's books are now available at and are eligible for Prime shipping. (Affiliate link - It doesn't affect the price you pay, but if you order via this link Amazon will pay a small commission to Gwulo.)
    Gwulo's books now at
  • Last week's newsletter about the new book Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong had a good response. In the newsletter I thanked all the contributors who helped me searching for images. I'd also like to extend my thanks to The Hong Kong Jockey Club for sponsoring the book project, and to Hong Kong University Press for the high quality of the printed images.
    From the back cover
    From the book's back cover




Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong

Way back in January 2013, I sent out a newsletter titled: Please help - looking for old photos of the Central Police Station compound. The photos were for a new book, and I smile now to see I wrote, "The finished books won't start appearing until next year". The project took much longer than that, and at times I wondered if we'd ever see the book in print. Over seven years later I'm happy to see that the book has just been published:

Front cover


The book documents the history of the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy, and Victoria Gaol. My job was to track down the pictures to illustrate it.



May Holdsworth, leader of the project, was clear from the start that the book would have pictures throughout, not just a few pages of photos in the middle as an afterthought. May also encouraged me to find as much colour as possible, as old photos and engravings tend to be in black and white, which can get a bit monotonous.

We ended up with a collection of over 1,000 candidates, but even after narrowing them down the book still has over 200 pictures. That's a lot of pictures - open the book at random, and you'll almost always see at least one - and many of them are published for the first time. Here are some examples, grouped by their source.


Public Archives and Collections

Archives are the obvious place to look for old pictures, and the UK's National Archives (UKNA) are always a rich source of material about Hong Kong's history. The UKNA is also a joy to visit, as despite the enormous size of their collection, whatever you order is soon delivered for viewing.

This document was the first surprise from the UKNA. It shows

Book type: 

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 30

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see all the latest additions to the site.



  • We had several interesting replies to last week's photo of the sewing lady, adding more photos of similar scenes and confirming the location was Wyndham Street.
  • Nona has uploaded two examples of the documents sent to thank uninterned members of the public who helped POWs and internees during the war:
    • letter.jpg
    • lettertomom.jpg
  • Alfred has uploaded a rare set of maps, drawn by his father Charlie LEUNG Chung-Yee in August 1945. Charlie was a skilled draughtsman, working for the BAAG. I've included one example below, then here's the link to the index and all 14 detailed maps.
    • Chung Wan
  • Frode introduces his book, Fighting for Two Kings: 'a book about the Danish community in Hong Kong in the 1930's and 1940's as well as Danish volunteers in the defence of Hong Kong 1941 is now available also in English.'




A Chinese woman sewing

A Chinese woman sewing


Who: As the postcard's title says, it shows a Chinese woman, sitting on a stool on the pavement, busy sewing.

Woman sewing


She offered a mobile repair service, using the shoulder pole leaning on the wall behind her to carry her material, thread, needles, etc., from place to place. I've seen other postcards showing sewing women, so they must have been a common sight in Hong Kong at the time, but I haven't found much information about the ladies. There's a brief mention in

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 28

I've listed some of the recent highlights below, but you can visit the What's New page at any time to see the latest additions to the site.



  • Stephen tells us more about the history of the 1960 chart of the harbour we saw in last week's newsletter, and also how those wooden structures became known as dolphins.
  • @Chinarail has posted Shipbuilding in Hong Kong – Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Company, to provide some more pictorial information about the company’s early origins in Whampoa (Huangpu黃埔), and also photographs with brief information about some of the ships built by the company in the early 20th Century during the inter-war period.
  • Alexandra shares a chapter from her father’s “Autobiographical Sketch” entitled “Tweed Bay Hospital”. He was a doctor in that hospital at Stanley Camp during WW2.
  • I've stopped sending out the mid-week Top Ten newsletters as we'd just about caught up with the present day, and interest in them was falling off. But to round things off, here is the list of the Top Ten pages on Gwulo from 2019, and also a list of the Top Ten pages of all time.





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