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'.

1930s Royal Dragons, Lions, Tigers and ... a centipede

1937 Dragon dance as part of KGVI coronation celebrations

When: At first glance this looks very similar to photo #4 in the Gwulo book:

Procession inches along a crowded street


We identified that was taken in May 1935, showing part the celebrations for King George V's silver jubilee. However the photo of the dragon was sold with the title

What's new on Gwulo

I've missed the last few weeks' "What's new", while I've been working on the book launch. The last set of book orders went off to the Post Office for mailing this afternoon, so let's get back to the usual routine and see what's new on the site.

A quick invitation first: Please join us for Gwulo Christmas drinks tomorrow evening, Tuesday 12th.

Now on to what's new:

76 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

December, 1941.

76 years ago tensions were high as war with Japan seemed inevitable. On December 8th, those fears were confirmed when Japanese planes attacked Kai Tak, and Japanese soldiers crossed the border into the New Territories. The fighting continued until the British surrendered on Christmas Day.

The end of the fighting marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation, a time of great hardship for Hong Kong's residents. They would have to endure for three years and eight months, until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, and Hong Kong was liberated shortly afterwards.

What was it like?

Let the people who lived through these times tell you themselves.

We've collected several wartime diaries, and split them into their day-by-day accounts. Each day we send out an email message containing all the diary entries written on that day, 76 years ago.

How to sign up to receive the daily messages?

Please click here to subscribe.

You'll see another screen that asks for your email address. Enter your details, hit the "Subscribe" button, then each day you'll receive an email message with today's diary entries.

It's free of charge, your details stay private, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What do the daily messages look like?

Here are sample extracts from the messages you'll receive:

  • 30 Nov 1941: "Topper says we are as near war now as we have ever been, that Japan with her militarist Govt. can't very well back down now."
  • 1 Dec 1941: "Government advising further evacuation.  Only hope seems to be that Japs now say they will keep on talks with USA in hope that USA will change viewpoint - that isn't thought likely."
  • 7 Dec 1941: "There must be something in the wind, G.H.Q. staff are preparing to move into Battle HQ, a huge underground structure just behind the Garrison Sgts. Mess."
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary: "war had been declared"
  • 8 Dec 1941: "I started my birthday with a war. Kowloon bombed about 8AM."
  • 10 Dec 1941: "Sid has been wounded.  Bullet through shoulder.  He told Hospital to phone Mum at the Jockey Club and she went to see him."
  • 13 Dec 1941: "We hear rumours that

Old houses of the Kowloon Tong Garden Estate

In this week’s guest post, Liz Brandon takes us on a walk through Kowloon Tong to show us what remains of Hong Kong’s original Garden Estate.

If you start at the Kowloon Tong MTR station and begin climbing the gentle rise of Kent Road, you will glimpse 4 Kent Road above a high wall on your right.  Note the pitched roof, symmetrical façade and curved footing of an upper balcony, all of which reflect the old style of Kowloon Tong homes. This one, like many others in the area, been significantly altered, but retains the same basic ‘footprint’ and structural outline as the original house. [29 December 2017 update - I have just learned that 4 Kent Rd has recently been demolished, sadly.]

4 Kent Road Kowloon Tong 2016
4 Kent Road Kowloon Tong 2016, by LizB
4 Kent Road, Kowloon Tong (2018)
4 Kent Road, Kowloon Tong (2018), by Philk

Continuing up the hill to the top of Kent Road, your efforts will be rewarded with a view of one of the few remaining gems of the old estate – 27 Kent Road.

Pre-order the Gwulo book for special price & free shipping

[5th Dec 2017 Update: The pre-launch offer has finished, so normal book pricing now applies. But you can still download the free sample pages from the book, and overseas readers can still order two or more copies delivered to the same address to get free shipping. Click for details.]


Pre-order offers as we get close to the launch: special price, free shipping, and a free sample.

Special price

The book's list price will be HK$168, but regular readers can pre-order copies before the 4th December at HK$150. (Printing has finished ahead of schedule, so I'm now expecting to receive the books on Monday, 4th December.)

Please click a "Pre-order ..." link below to pre-order your book(s). Payment can be made online using a Paypal account or a credit card. Readers with a Hong Kong bank account also have the option to pay by bank transfer, or HK$ cheque.


Free shipping

All deliveries to Hong Kong addresses are shipped free of charge.

Overseas orders are very welcome. If you live overseas, you can also get free shipping if you order two or more copies of the book. So if you can combine an order with a friend, or buy an extra copy to give as a gift, shipping is free.

Overseas orders for a single book pay the airmail postage. The cost of airmail varies by country, and will be shown to you before you confirm payment for your order.


Signed copy?

If you'd like your copy to be signed, that's easy to arrange. When you've placed your order you'll receive an order confirmation email. Please reply to that with a message "Request signed copy", and I'll take care of it.

The standard signature is "With best wishes, David", but if you'd like to add a message please also include that in your reply.


Gwulo book's front cover

Free sample

You'e seen the cover, but if you'd like a look inside please click here to download a PDF sample of pages from the book.



As soon as the books arrive, I'll start licking stamps, sticking labels, and sending them on their way! 

Gwulo book's back cover


If anything isn't clear, or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.




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