Fire. | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong



The people on the balconies do not look very concerned.  I suspect that Albert would not have been able to take the photograph from so high up.   Is it a commercial photograph?  (Andrew S)

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Monday, December 1, 1958


That's a dramatic scene. 

Does anyone recognise the location? Maybe one of the side streets with Queen's Road East in the background?

Hi there,

This is just a hunch.  In the photo there was a shop called 同新行顏料油漆.  Their business was dye and paints.  Fast-forward to present day, there is a Tung Sun Hong (HK) Limited located in Swatow Street in Wanchai, also selling paints and other carpenter\mechanical tools.  This may be Swatow Street or its neighbouring street.  This being for local small businesses, if they survived that long, tend to stay in the area.

The area was literrate lined with these kind of houses with wooden & concrete elements.  The houses on this side were likely older as they were between Queen's Road East and Johnston Road,  The roof spoke for themselves.


Thanks Thomas and David,

In 1957/8 the back streets of Wanchai all looked very similar - especially the older ones further away from the harbour, and I remember that many had busy workshops there, alongside the shops and tenements. Albert could have easily climbed one of the staircases onto the roof of the building and nobody would have stopped him, so it could be his photograph. Are the buildings on the modern Google image the same 4 storey ones - just with their fronts modernised. Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Unlikely.  Very few remaining old houses have that kind of roofs today.  There is only one of these (a Pawn shop) in Wanchai that old today.  If you use Satalite view top down, you should be able to find out. 

If the very back of Albert's photo was Queen's Road East, the current location would be on the opposite side of the street.


Did a quick search of fires in Wanchai.

On 26 March 1959, 3 tenement houses were damaged by fire which originated at 3 Lun Fat Street. One person was slightly injured. Fire operations were hampered by dense smoke. A turn-table ladder was deployed. The China Mail of the same day reported the fire as detailed here Scroll to Page 10.

If one looks at satellite view of Lun Fat Street towards Queen's Road East (QRE), the tall narrow white building behind QRE still exists but is obscured by high rise buildings fronting QRE.

I think Lun Fat Street is the fire location but I am curious as to where the photographer was standing. 

Hi There,

Excellent find.

Street View seem to be abel to show that white block up the slope.  The one shown in Google Map was dated 2014.  The Google Staff responsible for the Backpack must have walked up the steps back then.

If you have Google Earth, the scene is a bit more up to date showing Sino had boarded the empty lot up up on street level.  The Google Earth version dated 2016.  If you use the Saterlite view of  Google Earth, the image was dated 2018.  Messing around with Tilt and Direction you should be able to see the building had been maintained quite well. I believe it is a service appartment now.

The location is called Miu Keng Terrace, in the proximity of Nam Goo Terrace.  Lots of urban legend stories floaing around that area involving ghosts or bad tree spirits or other stuffs.


Hi, thank you all for your research into the location. 3 Lun Fat Street looks very likely, both from the article in the SCMP and the comparison with recent Google Earth images.  It's certainly somewhere where Albert could easily have been attracted by the events and if there was a tall building nearby he would have been able to access its roof.  Should I change the title and, if so, to what - Miu Keng Terrace, Nam Goo Terrace or 3 Lun Fat Street?  David would you place a pin for me and add it to the image location?  I've just a few more photographs from Gordon Innes showing the New Territories to add (locations anyone?), then there will be quite a few taken up on the Peak by Peter Keeley when crowds went up there to celebrate the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, one year between 1952 and 1955.  There'll be lots of faces for the oldies to try to identify!  Many thanks Andrew

Hi Andrew,

The white building appeared to be called Kaza.  I found some reference in GeoInfo Map.

Miu Keng Terrace is #53 Ship Street.

Nam Koo Terrace is #55 Ship Street.