1910s Praya East (Wanchai Road)

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 20:08
Date picture taken


There's another copy of this just been added to Flickr. It has the date 1928, not 1910s as shown here.

It looks as though the picture shows construction materials related to the reclamation that was done in the late 1920s, so I think 1928 is more likely. Any arguments in favour of 1910s?

Normally coloured postcards of this sort of old Hong Kong were available for sale prior to the 1920s. After the 1920s. photographs became popular. I think the artist may have copied the scene from a real photo and the intention was to show the Wanchai Police Station on Praya East and not of the reclamation works itself.

The Praya East Reclamation works were tendered out in 1921 and finally completed in 1930. By 1928, the reclamation works were nearly completed. If the assumption is that the 'construction material' in front are related to the said works, then at best the postcard is from 1922. Just my two cents.


Here's the larger version on Flickr. It looks to be a hand-tinted photo. I'm interested to learn more about dating postcards - any idea if that was really a hand-tinted photo, and when the hand-tinted photos were popular?

At the right of the larger version, it looked as though there's already building on the seaward side of Johnston Road, which made me think the reclamation was well underway, if not already finished. So, somewhere between 1922 and 1928 seems a likely range.


My feeling is that this is sometime between 1918 and 1920. For Seamen's Institute reasons I have closely tracked the Praya East Reclamation saga. It begins in 1900 with a proposal from Paul Chater and HN Modi. They dicker with government through to 1903/4 and then the two sides agree on modalities and government gives the go ahead. There's then a meeting of lot holders in 1905 at which they allm decide that because the new tramway has not brought boom times to Wanchai, they are not interested in going ahead - the main reason being that government was going to make lot holders pay for the work.

There is then a pause until 1914 when the issye begins to pop back into circulation, with govt hiring two new surveyors. Unofficial members of Legco keep badgering through 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 (usually in the budget debate) and are told here and there that preparatory work is going on. It is this work that I think this postcard reflects, because it is a complete reorganization of the drainage of the district that has to be in place before work begins on the reclamation and, of course, the tearing down of most of Morrison Hill. The real work on Morrison Hill and filling in the harbour begins on 1st November 1921, so my hunch is that the postcadr shows preparatory drainage work before that, hence the possible date of 1917-1919.

Stephen D