Seafront | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Friday, September 25, 1874


This photo appears at  entitled "Aftermath of the 1874 Hong Kong Typhoon", with the photographer named as Lai Afong. The typhoon of 22nd & 23rd September 1874 was said to be the most destructive to have hit Hong Kong by that time.

The photographer was positioned a few meters off the Praya, so must have been onboard a ship or standing on a wharf. Given the perspective, would it have been the Peddar Wharf, and would the badly damaged wharf in the center of the photo be Douglas Wharf? The HK Daily Press of 24th September 1874 described the Peddar Wharf as "almost a wreck", and said of the Douglas Wharf, "only a few piles remain".

Masts of sunken ships can be seen sticking out of the water beyond the far wharf. Another photo taken by Lai Afong at around the same time but looking back from beyond the sunken ships is at The HK Daily Press (24-9-1874) talked of two Spanish steamers, the Albay and the Leonor, sinking close to each other in this area. "It appears that the immediate cause of the disaster of these two vessels was their having drifted ashore and collided when close upon the Praya". The newspapers description fits what is seen in the photo, so the sunken ships are probably the Albay and the Leonor.   

Thanks for the extra information. I've added in the date.

Your description of the location sounds right too. I think the two-storey building, second from the left, is the one we see with the Lane Crawford sign in other photos.

Regards, David