1940s (1).jpg | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1940s (1).jpg

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1940s (1).jpg

A Photo from my mother's album taken, I think, circa 1940.  Can anyone help with identifying date, venue or any other information pertaining to the photo?   Many thanks in advance.  Mike

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Friday, November 1, 1940


I don’t know where/when this photo is off the bat. This will depend on inside knowledge and someone will eventually recognize it. But a few things I’ve noticed which might prompt someone hopefully, assuming this photo was taken at the same time:


When: There is a meeting of well attired ladies of various ages (mostly Chinese, but one Caucasian and possibly Macanese mix) in the daytime. They will collectively need time off work/duties for this. So it’s likely a weekend gathering. Also a number of ladies have a pale sticker/badge on their front of their clothing on their chests. This reminds me of ‘Flag Days’ (e.g. St Johns Ambulance etc) in Hong Kong (I had fun dodging them in the streets like an obstacle course in my youth!). We are likely looking at this photo being taken on a Saturday, reinforcing the weekend theme.  


The concrete ground is wet indicating recent rain, the vegetation behind look lush. A number of ladies are showing bare arms indicating its relatively warm. Wet season is typically April to October although of course rainfall occurs in the dry season. November is generally a very dry and cool (by HK standards) month.


My hunch: Saturday in early (2nd or 9th) November 1940


Where: There is a ladder street in the background going up to the left of the photo with a high retaining wall. The flat concrete courtyard where the ladies gathered for the photo is at a higher level than the building behind. Knowing HK terrain, we are likely looking north (ish), with the harbour (eventually) further down in the distance of the photo. There at least 5 vertical wooden or bamboo poles mounted on the concrete wall with fine wire netting between them (why? are people engaging in activities on the concrete courtyard like badminton so shuttlecocks don’t plummet onto the property behind and below?) suggesting a clear demarcation with the property behind. The second photo shows a formal interior décor. So its not residential but a communal building of sorts (club house?). Is that a ceramic lamp with a saint and keys (Saint Peter?) in the corner? Are the women holding hymn books and singing or are they reciting? Their formal clothing and casual sitting postures does not suggest much physical activity but more a meeting of minds. Was your mum a religious person (e.g. Catholic) or a volunteer for a civic organisation or had an interest in a literary or artistic direction?


My hunch: Club house location near a very steep ladder street for a civic, educational or religious meeting anywhere in Central, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan


Anyone have any other suggestions that might help?

My wild guess is that it could be an alumni reunion at a prestigious all-girls school. The badges were their school badge. The older ladies in the front row were their teachers. Micar, what school did your mother go to? See if the badges in the photo match her school badge.

Thank you for your very perceptive observations.  Please check out the other photo I posted which, I think, was taken at the same location and about the same time.  After comments from moddsey on the other photo, I checked and found an imprint of "King's Studio" on the photo and a very faint "November 1940" date in pencil on the back.  I also subsequently heard from a distant family friend that my Mum went to St Mary's on Kimberley Rd so the photo might have been taken at St Mary's which would be a surprise to me as we went to St Andrews (Anglican) when we lived in HK.  Thanks to everyone's comments, I am much farther ahead now than before.      

King's Studio was located at 16 Queen's Road Central. Don't think it is St Mary's as there appears to be a path with railings up a rise on the left.