Chatham Road reclamation | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Chatham Road reclamation

Chatham Road reclamation

Chatham Road undeveloped reclamation and Holts Wharf mid 1930s. Site of Harry Abbott's first flights and postwar Camp Kowloon.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Tuesday, January 1, 1935


That's an interesting set of photos - thanks for posting.

Hi there Gwulo,

With regards to the Chatham Road reclamation photo; could you have a blow up of the central area as I believe one of the buildings there is the apartment block I used to live in about 1965-67(?). I was born in HK in 1954 and left for NZ in 1970. Great site keep it up Gwulo!!

Hi Greg, IDJ has kindly posted an enlargement for you here.

If you can give the address of the building, we might have some other photos of it - or some will turn up over time.

Regards, David

Hi Guys,

Hey thanks for the enlargement. Now I can see the building which is the one that is the last one before the empty sections, however I think this building was knocked down and the building I lived in was built in the fifties perhaps?? I cannot remember the street number 35 or 45 seems to ring a bell. The building was a four story apartment building. It had a small shop in a corner of the entrance to the court, it sold soft drinks, ice cream and ginger and other great stuff. There was a very old building next to us and it looked like an old ghost house, no one lived in it. While I was living there it was demolished and a large apartment building was put in its place almost overnight!! It blocked out the light, view and everything else so we moved to the 11th floor of another apartment building on Cameron Road. After that I went to live with my Aunt in Pok Fu Lam which is now Provident Villa. Opposite from Stone Manor. BTW I never found out anything about Stone Manor. Does anyone know.

Many Thakns and Best wishes.


I've often seen that building and wondered about it. Here are some notes from the AAB.

Regards, David

 I did some research into this road, as the forerunner school of present day La Salle College, named St Joseph’s Branch School, was located on Chatham Road between 1917 and 1931. 

In one of the chapter cover photos in the book I wrote, I have a photo of Chatham Road taken from Signal Hill, where I identified some of the names of the intersecting roads to Chatham.  The photo can be found in the link below (please flip to page 7).  It’s another photo of Chatham Road from Signal Hill.  You would have an option to enlarge the photo, and you can see the street names I inserted.  I could only date the photo as circa 1910, so if someone can date it more accurately I’d happily stand corrected.  

Greg, at the bottom left of that page 7 photo is what was said to be the school, I am told it’s close to Prat Avenue.  The de La Salle Brothers sold the building and land to raise funds for the new La Salle in Kowloon Tong.  I have no clue when the old school building was torn down, but I just wonder if that “old ghost house” was this structure in the photo? 

Hi Mark,


I gather that you are an old boy from La Salle. I was there in the primary school through to form 2 1669. see the following link!/group.php?gid=16321407670

The book shows, as you say, on page seven the old building. if you look at the very right you will see an apartment building or part of it. I think this is the building that I lived in and the old ghost house is the one in the picture. Strange that we were never taught the history of La Salle!! Only after 40 years does it now become interesting!!

Catch up with you soon!!

Thanks David for the Stone Manor update.

Greg, this is an amazingly small world.  Yes, I am a Lasallian, and it seems you witnessed the end of the St Joseph's Branch School, although in its "haunted house" condition.  Indeed that is the humble beginning  of LSC.

Here is a narrative of conditions of Chatham Road and its neighborhood in the 1930s.

Times Past and Pastimes (excerpted) by Frederic A (Jim) Silva, from his book “Things I Remember” which is a series of nostalgic essays on the Macanese life. 


I grew up in the 1930s in Hong Kong.  More exactly in Kowloon.  More specifically in Tsim Sha Tsui.  For me, life was sectioned off and defined by World War II.  Pearl Harbour, the defence and fall of Hong Kong, the Japanese occupation and nearly four years as refugees in Macau were our shared experiences.  Our lives are still partitioned off by “pre-war,” “war time” and “post war”. 


The years before WW II were a peaceful time that preceded the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.  Tsim Sha Tsui was then a patchwork of row houses with little gardens separated by that area between Chatham Road and the harbour that was open ground with a railway line running up to the Star Ferry Concourse.  Kowloon Football Club, opposite Rosary Church, Railway Recreation Club, and the Chatham Road park were then all open areas, where Indian troops of the British Army played hockey.


The Army occupied large sections of Kowloon and fortunately left them uncluttered.  Government departments were on Signal Hill and Observatory Hill.  King’s Park, where our Clube de Recreio was located, consisted mainly of open recreational fields and hillsides.  The Filipino Club and the Little Flower Club were next door.  Nearby were the grounds of the Diocesan Girls School; across the street the Kowloon Cricket Club – with cricket grounds, tennis courts and bowling greens; and the Kowloon Bowling Green Club nestled alongside.


Two-storied row houses and their small gardens lined quiet residential streets –Austin Avenue, Observatory Road, Kimberly Road, Granville Road, Salisbury Avenue, Humphreys Avenue, Pratt Avenue, Cameron Road, Carnarvon Road, Minden Avenue, Mody Road and Hanoi Road.  Occasional apartment blocks interspersed these rows of houses and many private fields and gardens dotted the landscape.


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Would you be able to describe or put an arrow as to which row of houses is Observatory Villas?


Hi Jill.

I'll have a try - Chatham Road runs up the middle of the photo, in a roughly 1 o'clock direction. On its left are houses, and on the right are three light-coloured rectangles of ground.

Observatory Road leads off to the left opposite the top of the topmost light-coloured rectangle. I guess those two-storey grey buildings were Observatory Villas.

Regards, David

Thanks, David. I've only walked Observatory Road from the Nathan Road end. I hadn't realized that it continued into Chatham Road beyond the Observatory. At the time, I thought that 'Fairview', Kowloon, where my father was born in 1909, was a part of Observatory Villas. When the Warren family moved into Observatory Villas in 1906 they only had two children. Two more then arrived, so maybe they sacrificed the tennis court for a larger house. 'Fairview' is given on my father's birth certificate as on Nathan Road itself. I don't know what it was like then or how it is now.

Hi there,

The road itself had been a through road from Nathan to Chatham for a very long time, however these days there had been two gates and fences surrounding the Observatory.

Best Regards,