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'.

Who do you recognise in these photos?

We've got a good selection of group photos here on Gwulo, but many of the faces remain unnamed. Here's a recent example from Barbara Harding (née Landau), showing her with form 3A at Maryknoll Convent School in 1963-4:

Maryknoll Sisters School, form 3A, 1963-64


Barbara can spot herself at 2i, Tina Payne at 1b and Rita dos Remedios at 3c, but says though she recognises the other girls "the names have gone..." Please can you identify any of the other people in this photo, or forward it to anyone else who might be able to help?



You may be wondering how you'll recognise any of those faces at such a small size. It'd be much easier if we could see a larger view:



Fortunately the Gwulo website has a Zoom feature, that lets you zoom in to see a photo's details. If you haven't used it before, please take a look at this short tutorial video to see how the zoom feature works.


Here are some of the other group photos we have that I'm hoping we can add some names to. We'll start with ...

1923-24: Photos from Warren Swire's fourth visit to Hong Kong

On Warren Swire's fourth visit to Hong Kong, his photos show he'd settled into a predictable routine as far as the places he visited. There was one major change on this visit though. He'd learned a new photographic skill, panning the camera to form panoramic shots like this one, looking up the valley behind the Sugar Refinery:

View up the valley behind Quarry Bay


Taikoo Sugar Refinery

I used the computer to make that panorama from three of his photos. Here's one of the original photos, titled Taikoo Sugar Refinery housing, Hong Kong

Taikoo Sugar Refinery housing


At first glance it just shows a row of houses, but that faint line running up the hillside caught my eye. It shows us the

1911 Gunners at West Battery

1911 West Battery


When: The sign they're holding shows the date the photo was taken, and will help answer several other questions too:

The Repulse Bay Hotel: Hong Kong’s Grand Old Lady

(The text of this article was written by Harry Rolnick. It originally appeared in the April 1980 edition of the Peninsula Group magazine, and is reproduced here with their permission. The illustrations are from Gwulo's contributors.)

1920s Repulse Bay Globe-trotter


One fateful day in the autumn of 1912, Hong Kong’s end began. A group of the most prominent citizens of the Colony – incensed at the fact that their horses shied away from horseless carriages, irate that the public weal was endangered, that human life was fated to die out and totally confused by the newest juggernauts of the road – signed what was called a “monster petition” and presented it to the Governor.

Motorcars (said the petition) were a danger to Hong Kong. They were to be eliminated immediately. The dozen-odd cars which had found their way into the Colony were henceforth to be exported out of the Colony.

The Governor took the petition, read it carefully, agreed that something should be done…but did not believe that motor cars should be eliminated completely…

Thus Hong Kong’s fate was sealed.

The dozen-odd little chug-chug’s multiplied tenfold by 1915. And when those people with country houses on the southern side of Hong Kong island no longer felt that transportation by sedan-chair was the ultra plus non for travel, automobiles, those new-fangled noisy contraptions, were the and only the means of getting around.

Except for one slight problem: no road. So the evolution continued inexorably. First sedan chairs, then cars, then roads envisaged for the wooden sylvan glades of southern Hong Kong – and then, just as inevitably, came The Repulse Bay Hotel.

Repulse Bay Hotel - panoramic
1920s Repulse Bay Hotel, by Fergus Macdermot


This year (1980) marks the 60th anniversary of The Repulse Bay Hotel’s official opening – a positively hoary age, in Hong Kong’s terms, for the grand old place. Yet, to rephrase the old age, had there been no Repulse Bay Hotel, it would have been necessary to build one. After all, where else could

1920s Wandering Shoemaker

I liked this photo as soon as I saw it, so I bought it without any story in mind. Let's see what we can find out about it.

1920s Wandering Shoemaker


When: No help from the back in this case:


Subscribe to Gwulo: Old Hong Kong RSS