Pile Driver ... and the Noise | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Pile Driver ... and the Noise

Pile Driver ... and the Noise

Rialto Theatre was still operating when this photo was taken.  If not the arrow on this ad tells us where the theatre was, the historical and decorative building on the right should -  a bit up and to the right.

The pile driver across the street from my home was nice to see when they set it up, until the pounding noise began and ran all day except during breaks.

Source: uwants.com - post #2247 by user 4rex -  http://www.uwants.com/viewthread.php?tid=14833421&page=150#pid215946686



Hi There,

By the look of it, the future occupant of the construction site would be the Duke of Windsor Social Service Building, inaugurated back in 1975.  That would become the Head Quarters of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.


Also visible at the right hand side is the Chinese Methodist Church, Wanchai [1936-1994].

The film being shown at the Rialto was "Zatōichi Sakategiri", a Japanese film in 1965  produced by Katsu, Shintarō.  Information referenced from the following site (Stanford University Library), about 2/3 of the way down the page.



Hi There,

If it was that earlly (according to the film) the site may not be the Duke of Windsor Social Service Building.  I'll see if I could find any older maps.

On the other hand, that kind of pile driver seemed to be very common in the 1960s through 1970s.  When Jardine-Matheson built the Excelcior back then there were quite a few of them pounding very close to Paterson Street.  Could someone confirm if that was a steam engine back there?


That was certainly a steam boiler at the rear of this machine. The vertical silver riveted cylinder with a chimney at the top.

Steam is exhausting from the piston-driven hammer at the top of the pile-driver.

It is surprising that given these boilers were perched on the back of the piling rig rocking on skids, that accidents seem to have been rare.                                                                        

A steam producing boiler this size and operating pressure has the same characteristics as a large bomb. It could explode if not monitored very carefully while in service.

Looks like Wah Yan College and the AIA Building on the right? If it is the latter, then the photo would be after 1967 or later.

The technology looks little changed from this photo taken c.1906:

Detail of construction work


Another clue for the date of the main photo is the East Asia Mansion / 東亞大樓 building in the background. It was finished in 1966. It has already aquired a few illegal structures in this photo, so it should be at least a year or two later than 1966.

Hi There,

The low rise is Wah Yan College alright.  The white high rise behind it should be the St Margaret's back then.  Since the St. Margaret's folded It's now the Ramondi College Primary Section.