Where: Here's a 1903 map  of the area shown in the photo above:
The Blue arrow shows my best guess at where the photographer stood, and the direction he was looking.
The dotted line running left-to-right across the map (between the red H and B) marks the old boundary between British Kowloon and the Chinese land to the north. Today, Boundary Street runs along that line.
The hill marked 'B' is a short distance south-west of today's junction of Prince Edward Road and Argyle Street.
What: Here's an annotated copy of the photo. You can match the letters on the photo to letters on the map to see where everything is.
Let's see what we've got:
- A - It looks like a small group of ships tied together. I guess they're moored at the Lung Tsun Pier, which extended from the shore at Kowloon City.
- B - This marks the peak of the nearer of the two low hills in the middle-distance. The map is a contour map, and clearly shows the location of the hilltop.
- C - A solid building on the hilltop, with a large wall running around it. Possibly the Victoria Girls' School - see 'D' below for details.
- D - This looks like a church.
There's a church very near here on modern maps, the S.K.H. Holy Trinity Church at 135, Ma Tau Chung Road. Luckily it is a listed building, so the AAB have more information about it : "[The present building] was built in 1936/37. In 1890 the Holy Trinity Church was founded by Koo Kai-tak (顧啓德) and his wife of the Anglican Church who preached the gospel in a family format. The congregation grew in the following years. In 1902, with the help of Pastor Kwong Yat-sau (鄺日修牧師), the first church was built at the foothill of Sung Wong Toi (宋王臺). It was relocated and rebuilt on the land next to the Victoria Girls’ School in 1905 due to the construction of Sung Wong Toi Park (宋皇臺公園).
In 1936 the Church moved to the present site to make way for the
construction of Kai Tak Airport (啓德機場)."
I believe that the church shown in the photo is the second generation Holy Trinity Church, "rebuilt on the land next to the Victoria Girls’ School in 1905". That suggests the building 'C' above is the Victoria Girls' School.
- E - This is the original location for Sung Wong Toi, where the young Sung princes took shelter. The hill was excavated as part of the work to extend Kai Tak Airport during the Japanese occupation, but part of the boulder from the top of the hill still exists today.
- F - Probably the pier that extended off Ma Tau Kok.
- G - This building looks like it has only recently been finished. It is built in western style, with several chimneys, one billowing smoke when the photo was taken. It is just north of the old boundary.
- H - Marks where the path meets the base of the hill, and skirts around it. The section of the path that points towards 4 o'clock ran along the old boundary.
- I - Another new-looking, western-style house.
When: The seller wrote 'circa 1910' on the back of this photo. I don't see anything to contradict that, but if you do, please leave a comment below.
Who: There isn't anyone to be seen, but I wonder who lived in the two new buildings, G and I.
Were they the original local landowners, upgrading their houses? Or new arrivals, living far away from the town center to get cheaper land? Or maybe they were connected with the church or school in the distance?
If you can tell us any more about what we're looking at, please let us know in the comments below.
- Source: "Plate 4-3 (1902-3) Sheets 4 and 8 of the new 8 inch series." from book Mapping Hong Kong.
- "Built heritage in Hong Kong", AMO website.