Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

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Kind regards,

David

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

2017 Kai Tak

Greetings from sunny San Po Kong!

We moved flats last weekend, so after 25 years living in and around Kennedy Town on Hong Kong island, it's time to get to know Kowloon better. The new flat looks out over the old Kai Tak Airport site, so let me show you the view, and a few points of interest.

 

Looking northeast

Looking northeast over Prince Edward Rd E & Kai Tak

 

That photo looks northeast along Prince Edward Road East, with old Kai Tak on its right. Despite all the construction underway on the airport site, traces of its history remain. The road I've marked (A) above is an example - it's named Concorde Road.

Concorde's first visit to Hong Kong-harbour low level fly-by-1976
Concorde's first visit to Hong Kong-harbour low level fly-by-1976, by IDJ

 

Looking south

Looking south over Prince Edward Rd E & Kai Tak

This view looking south towards Hong Kong island gives the best idea of the size of the site. It's mostly just an expanse of flat ground, but the old runway (B) is still clear to see. There is a better selection of landmarks if we turn further to the right.

Early 20th-century postcards of Hong Kong

About 20-30 years ago, when postcards were still widely used, I had a deal with a friend that we'd send each other the least attractive postcards we could find: 1960s concrete shopping centres were a popular choice! This view from 1900s Hong Kong would have been a fine contender:

Jubilee Road

 

It's not obvious why a tourist would want this card, but Jubilee Road was actually a popular destination. Despite the unattractive card, in real life it was famed for its beauty. Here's a description from a 1924 guide book:

Some new old photos (but are they any good?)

We'll start with some photos and postcards I bought last month. Then as I've been arguing with the book designer about what makes a good photo, we'll take a look at that too.

The seven photos are all the small type that were typically sold to tourists to go in to their photo album. In this case I don't see any sign that the photos were mounted, so the original owner probably just kept them loose. (As always, you can click on any photo to see a larger copy you can zoom in to.)

Chinese junk
Chinese junk

Machine Gun Posts around Hong Kong's coastline

This week's guest post from Rob Weir introduces a collection of military sites around the Hong Kong coastline from the 1930s. They're small enough to be easily overlooked, but they have an interesting history.


The Machine Gun Posts are first found in the 1935 Hong Kong Defence Plan, where they are listed at various beaches assessed as potential landing sites for an invader, both on HK Island and the Mainland. Here are their locations shown on a map. (e-mail subscribers, please click here to view the web version of this page and see the map.)

 

Whether they were built before then is unknown, however within a couple of years their usefulness was in question, firstly on the Mainland with the construction of Pillboxes on the Inner Line, and then on the Island when the New Policy determined that, effectively, only the Island was to be defended. All beaches were then considered as landing places, and were to be defended with Pillboxes. These were subsequently built, often within a few metres of the Machine Gun Post position.

 

What remains today?

The markers on the map are colour-coded to show if any remains of a site still exist (yellow), or if the site has been cleared (red). With the exception of a few built in still-isolated areas, most have succumbed to development, their original positions now hundreds of metres from the nearest water amid buildings and streets.

This photo shows

Early 1900s view northeast from the Peak - part 2

We first looked at this photo a few weeks ago (see the newsletter for 20th August).

c.1904 View over Hong Kong Harbour

 

That time I concentrated on the area around the Naval Yard Extension project, which helped us date the photo to early 1904.

Naval Yard Extension under construction

 

Today we'll take a closer look at the right of the photo, running from eastern mid-levels, through Wanchai, and ending at Causeway Bay

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