c.1915 Des Voeux Road West | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

c.1915 Des Voeux Road West

c.1915 Des Voeux Road West

Where: We're looking east along Des Voeux Road West. In the distance you can see the road bends away to the right at the junction with Western Street. It still has the same layout today:


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When: This is a hand-tinted postcard, published by "K.M. & Co." This style of postcard was popular in the 1910s and 20s, so I'll guess a date of 1915 for now. Corrections welcome.

What: The big building identifies itself:

Sailors' Home

The Sailors' Home [1], built in 1864 to provide accomodation to sailors visiting Hong Kong.

Later a corner of the site was set aside to build a church. It was built in 1871, and opened as St Peter's Church [2] in 1872. You can see the church spire peeping over the trees:

St Peters

Today this area of land is the site for the Western Police Station [3], so the church and Sailors' Home are long gone. Their descendants live on though:

  • Christ Church [4] in Kowloon Tong describes itself as "a rebirth of St. Peter's Seamen's Church, West Point" [5].
  • Tthe Mariners Club in TST [6] traces its roots back to this Sailors' Home [7]. 

Who: Judging by their hats, we can't see any European sailors here:

People

Would they really have worn such colourful clothes, or is the painter using his imagination to liven up the view?

Regards, David

Trivia: Though the old buildings are all gone you can still see a large, 100+ year-old remnant of this site. Look at the wall behind the people. It's clearest on the right of the photo:

Wall

It's a solid wall, built from stone slabs. When the home first opened, it stood on the seafront so a strong perimeter wall was a good idea to keep the typhoons at bay. Whoever built it did a good job, as it is still standing today:

Wall outside Western Police Station

References:

  1. Sailors' Home, Sai Ying Pun
  2. St. Peter's Church, Praya West
  3. Western Police Station
  4. Christ Church, Kowloon Tong
  5. http://www.christchurch.com.hk/servlet/idxPubb6c5.html?db=christchurch&id=home&pid=12
  6. Mariners' Club, TST
  7. http://www.marinersclub.org.hk/history.html

Reference: A259

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Friday, January 1, 1915
Connections: 

Comments

Reference your postcard, not sure if the building on the right is the second generation No. 7 Police Station as mentioned here

A similar view of the area circa 1905

 

1905 Des Voeux Road West

The name "No. 7 Police Station" (in Chinese) existed on a sign at the entrance of the building up to the early 2000s.

One of the six Victoria Golden Jubilee Fountains in Hong Kong was situated outside Sailors' Home (on the south side of the building).  See:
http://www.uwants.com/viewthread.php?tid=12231437 (in Chinese)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/76716456@N06/8745535340/ (year should be 1887, not 1897)

moddsey, the link you posted only leads to the home page of MMIS.

Thanks C.

The No. 7 Police Station link can be found here

Moddsey, I'm not sure. The No.7 Police station is marked on the 1924 map (http://gwulo.com/1924-map-hong-kong-western), but the label is in a confusing place where it could mean the older site south of Queen's Rd, or the western portion of the Sailors' Home site - or maybe the Police were using both buildings at the time?

C, that's an interesting read about the drinking fountains, thanks. I hadn't heard of them before.

Regards, David

Might have to pay a visit to the Police Museum. The last time I was there they had an exhibition of the numbering of the police stations and their former locations. I seem to recall the Police Station buidlings  may have been on the west and south sides of the Sailors Home. But not sure.

As for the Jubilee drinking fountains, it is rather difficult to find photos of them. The only fountain I have seen in a photo is the one in the Chinese Recreation Ground at Possession Point. In 1912, four of the fountains were permanently removed leaving only two, one at the Chinese Recreation Ground (with water) and the other at the Sailors Home (without water).

Hi David and moddsey,

If not for user "wantus" on uwants.com, I would continue to think that the fountain was installed at Possession Point to commemorate the occupation of Hong Kong.  Here are some photos of the fountain in situ:

http://kwantailo.wordpress.com/tag/%E9%A6%96%E6%AC%A1%E5%8D%87%E8%8B%B1%E5%9C%8B%E5%9C%8B%E6%97%97/

http://www.discuss.com.hk/viewthread.php?tid=19871416&page=30

Remnants are in the Museum of History now.

As for the fountain at Sailors' Home, the only photo I saw is the one on the uwants.com page.

A reliable source says that a book on the history of police stations is being prepared by the Police Museum.  I hope it comes out soon!

Although donated by a Parsi businessman in 1887, the fountains were restored to good working order for the Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Looks as though station no.7 didn't move to the Sailors' Home in 1902, please see http://gwulo.com/node/17085

Perhaps the police were relocated to the Sailors' Home site temporarily, while the police station was being rebuilt?

Regards, David

I'm interested in the idea of No.7 Police Station being where the Sailors' Home was before 1930. The reason being that although I know the Home was in financial trouble in 1919 and planning to move, it didn't amalgamate with the Mission to Seafarers until 1930. There is no mention in any of the archives I have researched of it NOT being in its old premises in Sai Ying Pun at that date. Indeed the contrary is suggested because the new Sailors' Home and Missions to Seamen on Gloucester Rd was in large part paid for by the money paid to the Sailors' Home by government for its giving up the Sai Ying Pun site. That argues, surely (but maybe weakly?), that the home still existed at least until 1930. 

Some interesting points arise from comparing various images:

[Admin: I've moved those points to the page for the building, see: http://gwulo.com/node/6841#comment-26417]

Stephen D

Not sure if you are been through the HKGRO archives with reference to No. 7 Police Station.

You're right that I haven't yet been to the PRO to check on those files. So far all I have are images that show No.7 Station in the 1960s where the Sailors' Home was and in a building suspiciously like the remodelled Sailors' Home as of c.1910 (I'm wondering whether the additional floor was an outcome of adding lavatories in the late 1890s, which would have been done in the basement or ground floor and required an additional floor to provide the space lost.) The police themselves have plans of the intended No.7 Police Station that look nothing like this - it is two storeys only - so it looks as though it was never built. 

I have got a newspaper story from 1904 about a stabbing affray at the West Point Sailors' Home. That certainly argues that the takeover wasn't in 1902. I'm trawling for later stories, but the material I have does suggest that there was a Sailors' Home in West Point well into the 1920s, whose superintendent was a Captain Baylis, and he came to the new, combined Wanchai premises in 1933 as the first manager.

I can add that the HK General Chamber of Commerce in their 1926 annual report (http://www.chamber.org.hk/FileUpload/201108261214531386/1926AR.pdf) p.30 mention the need for a fire service sub-station in Western and recommend that it be near the Sailors' Home - so something was still there at that date.

Stephen D