When: Here's the pencil note on the back of the photo, showing it was taken in October 1937, from H Block.
Where: Where was H Block?
Looking at the line of the buildings, I think the photographer was just above / south of the Bowen Road Military Hospital. A second photo that I bought at the same time is from the same photographer. It shows a different view, marked 'From Military Hosl (sic.)'.
There was a Barrack Block above the hospital, visible in the foreground of the photo below:
I guess that was the H Block (maybe H for Hospital?).
What: There are a couple of large houses in the foreground, one just below the photographer:
And one over to the left:
Does anyone recognise them? They're on the slopes along Bowen / Macdonnell Roads.
In the middle-distance it's all army land:
The long block stretching away from us is marked "A. Block" on a map of the barracks . The building beyond A. Block, with the small windows, is marked "Cells", and is part of the Detention Barracks area. Then on the left, the high-walled building at an angle to us is marked "Racket Court".
Beyond the Cells runs Garden Road, and across the road we can see these buildings:
St John's Cathedral is clear to see on the right of the photo. Next to it is the old Volunteers' HQ building, with an open grassy area behind it. Beyond the grass is the cluster of Government Offices.
Further up Garden Road are these buildings:
The white building on the right was the Peak Tram's lower station. Running up the hillside from that building, towards the left edge of the photo, is a terrace of Army buildings. They are marked "B. Block" on the map, and a similar terrace marked "C. Block" is partially visible behind them. C. Block is still standing today, and now houses the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre.
Across Garden Road from the Peak Tram station is a rough patch of open ground. For many years HSBC had a couple of large houses here for their Manager & Sub-Manager. The houses had already been demolished when this photo was taken. Later the American Consulate will be built there.
On the right of that land, facing the Government offices, there's the pitched roof of the old stable buildings peeping through the trees.
Finally the building at top-left, above a grassy slope, is the Governor's residence. We're looking at it sideways-on, with the ballroom extension facing us. The buildings were extensively re-built a few years later, during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.
Who: I don't have any more information about the photographer, just those two pencil notes. Maybe he was a doctor at the hospital, or a patient?
If you've spotted any mistakes, or anything interesting to note, please let us know in the comments below.
I bought this because I thought it was an unusual view. We see lots of photos taken from the Peak, and looking down over Central, or East over Wanchai. But views of Central from the East are less common.
Although I usually buy individual photos, later it's often clear that two or more photos bought at the same time were originally part of a single album. It's a popular way to sell photos: buy an album, then break it up to sell the photos individually. It makes sense from the seller's view, but it's a pity that the links between the photos, and any information about the photographer get lost when this happens.
- c.1924 map of "Cantonment of Victoria" available at the Survey & Mapping Office, their ref: HG7.