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'.

c.1950 Central from the harbour

We'll start the new year with a popular view - Victoria Harbour with a junk sailing by, and Hong Kong Island in the background.

c.1950 Central from the harbour


Where: The photo shows buildings along Connaught Road in Central, and the hillsides beyond.


When: The buildings along Connaught Road were built in the 1890s and 1900s, on what was then newly-reclaimed land. When this photo was taken, most of those buildings were still standing, with one exception:

New on Gwulo: 2019, week 01

I've just learned that, according to the ISO standard, the first week of the year is the week that has the year's first Thursday. So despite the title above, it's still the 31st of December, and I'm writing our last roundup of what's new for 2018. 

I hope you've enjoyed reading all the contributions to Gwulo over the last year, and wish you all the best for the new year ahead,




(If you're researching family history in Hong Kong, some excellent news is that cards in the Carl Smith Collection can now be viewed online. Thanks to Patricia for letting us know.)


Looking for information about:


Memories of:

Christmas Dinner in Hong Kong

Traditionally, Christmas Dinner was the biggest meal of the British calendar. Here's a look at how the meal has been enjoyed in Hong Kong over the years, based on mentions and photos here on Gwulo.

Sweetmeats in the 1800s

The oldest one is

New on Gwulo: 2018, week 51

A summary of what's new and updated on Gwulo:



Looking for information about:

  • Brian is looking for information about the DAVIS family, in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation. The husband was a banker with HSBC. Initially they lived in the Sun Wah Hotel, then later they were in Stanley Camp.
  • Vanessa is documenting the FERREIRA family, and is trying to find the given names of her great great grandfather.


Gwulo meetup on 27th December - hope to see you there!

Click for details.


Memories of:

Felix Villas Murder

Guest author Patricia O'Sullivan describes this bloody murder, and the flawed police investigation that followed.


Often, waiting at the bus stop at Pacific Place, I’d see a No.1 bus roll past and wonder about the murder at Felix Villas.

Bus #1 to Felix Villas


I knew that Tim Murphy had been involved in this case, but, aside from noting the headlines, I’d not properly looked at it. Murphy was the ‘poster-boy’ for the Newmarket HK policemen, being one of the first constables to rise through the ranks to become a gazetted officer, and I had plenty of material about his police activities from the papers as it was, so I’d never quite got round to reading the case. But then I stumbled across the Antiquities and Monuments listing for the residential building and became curious.


Tim Murphy, poster-boy policeman

Tim Murphy, whose career spanned most of the first 40 years of the last century, had been born in Newmarket, Co. Cork, Ireland in 1882 and came to HK on the urging of his uncle, former Naval Dockyard Police Inspector-turned-property developer, William Lysaught.

Tim Murphy
Tim Murphy, by patricia


A wiry, sharp-witted and hardworking young man, he soon gained a command of Cantonese and was quickly moved into the Detective Branch, as the CID was then called. He had the rare distinction of gaining two (of a possible four) merit medals in one year, and by the 1920s his name was rarely out of the papers in connections with some daring arrest or successful investigation. In 1923 he was awarded the highest honour, the King’s Police Medal, for his leadership in the Canton Road Affray. By 1930 he had assumed charge of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, becoming an Assistant Superintendent the following year, thus joining the executive team of just twelve men. But, as I found out, the investigation of the brutal murder at 9 Felix Villas in the early hours of 12th December 1930 would not be his, or the Bureau’s, finest hour.


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