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.

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Kind regards,


PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

9. Living with Grandparents and Schooling (1955-1964)

In a previous newsletter, Peter Yee described his childhood in Hong Kong up to the year 1955. That was the year he turned 11, and the year his parents and two younger siblings emigrated to Canada. In this issue he continues the story, taking us up to 1964 when he made his own emigration to rejoin his family in Canada.

9.1 Ki Lung Street, 111, 2nd Floor (Level 3) 

My daily routine at first remained unchanged, as I still went to Tak Yan College on class days. The big change is that there are now two elderly persons caring for me, and no more family outings like movies, swim at a beach, and visiting my parents' friends. Adult supervision was minimal and no more reminders to read books. Communications with grandparents were infrequent, and when it happened they were short. There was not much in common that we would talk about, and our age gap did not help. Besides,

New on Gwulo: 2020, week 34

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

  • New review of Volume 3
    • Thanks to Veronica Pearson for her generous review of the latest Gwulo book. An excerpt: "What is so extraordinary about Bellis is the detail and knowledge that he brings to such a wide array of subjects as he decodes for us, in the most accessible ways, what we are actually looking at. There are examples on virtually every page of the book; but I have chosen one that demonstrates Bellis’ ability to draw readers into a subject even when they expect it to be boring; in my case Photograph 10—The Naval Yard. First he ..."
    • The full review will appear in the latest Journal of the RAS HK. The Journal is one of the perks of membership of the RAS HK.
    • This is the not-as-boring-as-it-looks photo of the Naval Yard ...
      c.1890 View of Naval Yard, harbour & TST from Scandal Point
    • ... that you can read all about in Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell, Volume 3.
  • Volume 4 is moving along
    • We've really missed not being able to visit the UK to see friends and family this summer, but a sliver lining has been getting a head start on the latest book. I finished the first draft of the text last week, and that's away with Ross (MrTall if you remember Batgung) to benefit from his editing and extra polish.
      While the text is being edited I've switched attention to the book's photos, working on them in Photoshop to get them looking their best. I was really happy with the way that the printed photos look in Volume 3, so I'm aiming for as good or better in Volume 4.




7. Home at 111 Ki Lung Street, Hong Kong (1949-1955)

This week's newsletter is a guest post from Peter Yee, an extract from his colourful memories of growing up in Hong Kong in the 1950s.

7.1 My Neighbourhood 

Ki Lung Street was quiet with almost no car traffic during my early years in Hong Kong.  It was two city blocks from the wider Lai Chi Kok Road which handled the bulk of the vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Ki Lung Street view from Portland Street (1965)
Photo 11 Ki Lung Street viewed from Portland Street (1965), by OldTimer


This photo was taken from the east end (first street block) of Ki Lung Street looking west.  My home was two blocks up and on the left.  Although it was taken in 1965, the scene on the left side was very similar to that in 1949.  The street had no parked cars on my block.  By the early 1960s, taller buildings have replaced some of the pre-war shophouses as shown on the right of the photo.

On our walk-out uncovered balcony, father had a large

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: 


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