panorama - but which year?.jpg | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

panorama - but which year?.jpg

panorama - but which year?.jpg

Here's a funny one. This is actually multiple screen captures from a 1953 film called "Target Hong Kong" released by Columbia Pictures. The film was set in HK but it's quite obvious that the film used only stock footage for scene setting and no actual filming was done here. This panorama is actually reversed in the film, so I have had to flip it all around before merging into the above shot. I'm trying to date it. Obviously pre-1951 due to the missing Old Bank of China, and post 1935 because 3rd Generation HSBC can be seen.

I need the experts' help in narrowing it down. Any ideas and clues are most welcome.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Sunday, January 1, 1950


Hi Phil,

Even with my reading glass it is quite difficult to see much.  I might have one poimter though.  There doesn't seem to be any Bank of China Building yet.  I am unablet to distinquish if there is a construction site shown next to HSBC though.  If it was so, was it for the demolishing of the old City Hall Annex or the building of BOC Building?  I am uncertain.

That would mean the shot was pre-1950, I think.

My 2 cents,


I can see the white roof of HMS Tamar in the dockyard's tidal basin, so photo was ttaken not later than Dec 1941.

What about Kellett Island? I can't see any building on it. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club states  that the Club moved to Kellett Island in 1938 and the Clubhouse  was opened officially in 1940. So at least this would be pre-1940.

Regards, Klaus 

Hi there,

There is no NW/SE runway in the photo either.  Anyway if the Tammar is tere, it is gotta be pre-war.  If only the screen capture could give more details.


Have a close look at the area occupied by Central Market. The building itself is difficult to make out as it's dark and lacks detail even under maximuum magnification, but its location is easy to find as it's immediately inland behind Central Fire Station ( which is the last tall building on the straight stretch of harbour front running west from the Central CBD, just before it curves away to run down towards Western. Both buildings are clearly seen in the pic at

Central Market 2nd Generation ( stood until 1937 when it was demolished and work on the current, 3rd version ( commenced on the same site. Both the 2nd and 3rd Generations had/have distinctively different south-facing profiles, i.e. the side visible in Phil's photo. The 2nd Generation possessed a central tower with a peaked roof rising above symmetrical lower sections on either side, each with a similarly peaked roof. In contrast, the profile of the 3rd Generation is a simple, plain, box-like oblong. 

Using maximuum magnification, follow the dark area behind Central Fire Station inland. It's a bit too blurred to be certain, but it seems to end in a light patch in the shape of the profile of 2nd Generation Central Market.

Central Fire Station with Central Market 2nd Generation Behind?
Central Fire Station with Central Market 2nd Generation Behind?, by phil

If it is the 2nd Generation building, the photo was taken in 1937 at the latest. 

Agreed with GW. The south facade of Central Market (2nd Generation) facing Queen's Road Central is visible.Demolishment of the Market began after August 1937.

1930s Panorama Screenshot Blow up of Central Market


nice obsevrations everyone. Many thanks. So I guess we can say with certainty this was between 1935 and 1937. I suspected this was "borrowed" from Gateway to HK or some such travelogue film but after watching that, although the time frame is similar I couldn't find this exact bit of film. The film makers of Target Hong Kong were quite lazy and even threw in some footage of Shanghai's Bund pretending it was HK, so it's no surprise that this footage was being passed off as a post- '49 scene.

Many thanks to all