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

Buckingham Palace, The Java Club, and some new Stanley Camp memorabilia

This week’s newsletter is an update from regular contributor Barbara Anslow:

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

Thanks to the Java Far Eastern Prisoners of War Club 1942, and the Not Forgotten Association, I was able to attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Place on 30th May this year with my niece Janet (aka Jane) Hayes who came over from her home in USA to be my carer for the event. Jane's parents, Clifton Large and my sister Mabel met in Stanley Camp and were married after the war ended.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party, 2017

Jane and Barbara, 
setting off for the Palace


It was a great thrill for both of us to enter the gardens through the Palace itself!  We were not allowed to take photos inside, but Jane took loads once we were in the garden, where tables and chairs were set out, many beneath canopies, others on the grass; she even took a photo of

1950s view over Sai Ying Pun

c.1955 view over Sai Ying Pun

This week's photo looks out from the Peak, over the city and harbour towards Stonecutters Island. We can tell which part of the city this is from a couple of roads that run vertically up the photo. The one on the left is Centre Street and the one on the right is Eastern Street, so we're looking out over Sai Ying Pun.

Usually the tourists at the Peak focus their cameras on Central, so I'm always glad to find a photo of some other part of town. Fortunately I also have another photo with a similar view, but taken around 1900:


c.1900 View over Sai Ying Pun


If we compare the two photos, the most obvious change is in the shipping. The large sailboats in the 1900 photo have all gone by the 1950s, as have the many smaller sailing junks that were near the shore.

There are some big changes among the buildings too, but to see those we'll need to

Hong Kong's most lethal landslide: The Po Hing Fong Disaster in 1925

May and June have seen the worst of Hong Kong's landslides over the years. In this week's guest post, T.C. Lee, K.Y. Ma and C.M. Shun describe the worst of them all:

With a hilly terrain, Hong Kong is prone to the hazards of landslides during rainstorms, in particular for steep slopes in developed areas. Over the years, there were severe rainstorm events in Hong Kong that triggered disastrous landslides and resulted in heavy loss of lives. Apart from the notorious landslide events in 1966 [1] and 1972 [2], another catastrophic incident in the early part of Hong Kong history occurred in 1925 at Po Hing Fong, a quiet and luxurious residential area in the mid-levels near Caine Road on Hong Kong Island.

At round 9 a.m. on 17 July 1925, the retaining wall of In Mi Lane [3] which was beneath Caine Road collapsed after days of heavy rain. Large amount of debris ran down to Po Hing Fong and swept away seven four-storey houses from No. 12 to No. 16 (see Figures 1 and 2) with some thirty families inside, causing 75 deaths in this tragic event [4].


A rough sketch of the street map around Po Hing Fong in the 1920s

Figure 1: A rough sketch of the street map around Po Hing Fong in the 1920s.


Workers clearing away the debris of the collapsed retaining wall and houses at Po Hing Fong in July 1925

Figure 2: Workers clearing away the debris of the collapsed retaining wall
and houses at Po Hing Fong in July 1925 (photo courtesy of Mr C M Shun).


The victims of this incident were all

1950s Cheung Chau

1950s Cheung Chau


This week's photo comes from the same set as last week's "Shinrock Hotel" photo. The printer's bad spell must have passed, as this photo is correctly titled:


The photographer was standing on the slopes at the northern end of the island, looking south across the built-up centre towards the hills at the southern end.

Like last week's photo, this one needed a bit of tweaking to sort out the poor printing, but the underlying photo is good and sharp.

Down in the bottom-right corner there is

1950s Shamrock Hotel

c.1953 Shamrock Hotel

This week's newsletter is early, as I'll be away from Hong Kong from tomorrow for a long weekend break.

The photo above comes from a set that was printed in the 1950s, for sale to tourists. I guess they were aiming at the budget end of the market, as though the photos are sharp, they aren't always developed well. Most of them need work in Photoshop to even out the dark & light areas.

We're looking north up Nathan Road, across the junction with Austin Road. The star of the scene is the tall building in the centre. According to the caption on the photo it is the "Shinrock Hotel Kowloon". That's another sign of the photos' budget nature, as of course it's actually the Shamrock Hotel.

The Shamrock opened in January 1952, and was one of the first skyscrapers in Kowloon. It is still with us today, and still a hotel, though it no longer towers over its neighbours. Judging from the other photos in the set this was taken in 1953, which explains why the Shamrock is looking so smart.

This is another photo that I'll be using in tonight's talk at 7pm in the CVA on Kennedy Road, as part of a sequence of ten old photos taken in Kowloon. Several show Kowloon in the 1950s, and we'll talk about how it was a time of great change for Kowloon as it coped with the population boom / housing crisis. As examples of the changes we'll use this photo looking south down Nathan Road:


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