"Baidu Fakir" (spelling?) on Kennedy Road | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

"Baidu Fakir" (spelling?) on Kennedy Road

The 1905 map of HK N. shore was interesting. In the map near No.3 Police station and the reservoir on Kennedy Rd. is blanked.

If my memory  is still correct my father did mention our family home was at Kennedy Rd. around that area-------the name of the estate was Baidu Fakir (not sure of the spelling). That would have been around the 1910s-1930s.

It was owned by the surname el Arculli. He was the founder of a co. called Arculli's Brothers, they are the compardore to supply provisions for the Indian troops with the British army in HK .

Any info would be much appreciated.



The 1920 Jurors List shows three men surnamed "el Arculli", all living at number 16, Kennedy Road. Could that be the house?

c Arculli Abdul Kader el Manager S. C. Ismail & Co.     16 Kennedy Road  
c Arculli Ebrahim el Assistant Arculli Bros     16 Kennedy Road  
c Arculli Omar el Merchant Arculli Bros     16 Kennedy Road

Ebrahim el arculli is my great grandad . I now live in the U.K. But have been to HK recently and been to the cemetery.  Do you know much more about them op?

I am also the nephew of your great gran-dad.Your dad I do know casually and he was a prison officerYour mom knows me as Sandy.Pl. contact me at sandymadar@hotmail.com

Hi Sandy,

Page 3 of the Hong Kong Daily Press of 3rd February 1920 spelt it as "Baitul Fakir" in the wedding notice of Abbas el Arculli and Halima Madar when they married on 1st February 1920.

Baitul means 'House of' in Arabic I believe.

I am researching the various Indian Muslim families in HK including the Arcullis, Madar etc

Source: https://mmis.hkpl.gov.hk/coverpage/-/coverpage/view?_coverpage_WAR_mmisp...


Hi David,

Would Kayamally (a fabric company that used to be in its own building on Queen's Road Central) be in your scope?  It had a long history in Hong Kong (1860s to 1990s) and was owned by the Hoosenally family.

Sure, any extra information about the company, the building, and the people is welcome.

Hi C,

Unfortunatley no, it's not on my scope at the moment but you never know, mine is a work in progress.

I am descended from the Rumjahns, Razacks and Omars so these names are of most interest to me but also others who have married into the wider family tree and include el Arculli, Abbas, Suffiad, Moosdeen, Madar, Ismail, Bux, Hamet, Dallah, Daubasha, Gafoor, Din, Mohamed, Rafeek, Sadick, Curreem - just off the top of my head. I am sure there are more. I notice the aforementioned names are Sunni and the Kayamally were of the Dawoodi Bohra Shia faith - maybe that is why they haven't come into my orbit as yet. 

Many of these South Asian families have been present from the inception of the colony (some even before or shortly thereafter) and have played a vital role in the history of Hong Kong with important roles in the civil service, military, business, legal and political spheres. Many were great sportsmen especially in the fields of tennis, cricket, lawn bowls and hockey. 

Back to the topic of the thread. 'Baitul Fakir' probably means 'House of Fakira'. Abbas el Arculli's parents were Abdullah (or Abdoola) Fakira (or Fuckeera) el Arculli (1857, Hong Kong - 3rd September 1920, Hong Kong) and Amina Ismail (1862, Shanghai -4th February 1932, Hong Kong) and they lived at 16 Kennedy Road, Mid-levels certainly in the 1910s and 1920s. I would be most interested if anyone has any photos of that area from that time.

One interesting snippet comes from The Hong Kong Daily Press page 5 of 31st March 1919 when Mr. A.F. el Arculli, as head of the local Indian community, hosted an entire brigade at his residence with space for 225 people. Must have been quite a decent size! 

I've typed out the text:





The officers and men of the Hongkong-Singapore Battalion, R.G.A., were entertained at tiffin, yesterday, by the members of the Mohammedan Community in Hongkong at No. 16, Kennedy Road, the residence of Mr. A.F. Arculli. The Committee responsible for the arrangements were Messrs. A.F. Arculli, Sirdar Khan, Mohamed Akbar, Khan Sahib Hasham Khan, Nawab Khan, Faeth Mohamed, Feroz Ali, G.D. Mehal, Gulam Mustapha, Miram Bux, G.H. Hussain, Kawaz Khan, and Babu Noor Khan.

Mr. Arculli presided and covers were laid for over 225 guests. After the repast, speeches were delivered.

The Chairman, in proposing the health of “Our guests,” said: -Capt. Skilton, British Officers and N.C.O.s of the H.K.S.B., R.G.A., You have shown the world that you are worthy successors of those gallant men who fought and conquered under great leaders like Marlborough and Wellington. In fact, what they did is mere child’s play in comparison with what you have gone through successfully. Your country is proud of you and the peace-loving world is gratiful to you. You, Subadar Imam Din. Mussulman officers, N.C.O.s and men, we thank you and those others who have fought in the various battlefields not only for upholding the reputation of Indians as fighters, but also for proving that, when justly and fairly treated, they will always be found loyal and faithful. It requires a great poet to sing praises adequate to your achievements. All I can say is this – every one of you is a Rastoum and Isfandayar in one. To us Mussulmans, it is the more gratifying that your sense of Nemak Halal has enabled you to withstand all sorts of bogus religious propaganda.

If I may strike a personal note, your doings appeal to me more than those of any other unit of the Indian Army, because I have known your battalion in my childhood days when its members were called Gun Lascars. These men were recruited from the Central Province, and the Bombay and Madras Presidencies. Though they were not as fine-looking a body of men as you, they did well in the 1st and 2nd wars with China. When I was eighteen, in 1875, I first had business dealings with them, and it was about then that the time-expired men were replaced by Punjabis and Sikhs. In 1890 the C.O., Capt. Hawkins, invited me to start a regimental bazaar in Macgregor Barracks, and if I mistake not, it was about this period that the name of Gun Lascars was taken away and that of H.K.R.A. substituted. At the end of 1891 they were increased to four companies, and later on a company was raised for duty in Singapore, followed by another for Mauritius. They then became known as the H.K.S.B., R.G.A.

I have an idea that your Subadar Major, who is now absent, and Subadar Mehdi Shah were amongst those fresh arrivals in 1891. As for you, Subadar Imam Din, I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance in 1898 when your company came from Singapore under the command of Capt. Campbell to relieve the company transferred from here. In the Boxer trouble two companies of your battalion proceeded north and rendered good service in the relief of Peking. With these words I beg again to tender, on behalf of my associates and myself, our grateful thanks not only for what you have done for King-Emperor and the Empire but also for doing us the honour of accepting our invitation. I need hardly add that I am more than glad you came. (Applause).

Captain Skilton, commanding the Company, in returning thanks, said that it was the Mohammedan Community who had honoured them, and he thanked them for all the kind things they had said concerning his brother officers and the men. On their behalf he wished sincerely and truly to say that they felt honoured and pleased to be present that afternoon. The Mohammedan community had done their duty by the Empire just as much as the Hongkong-Singapore Battalion had done. He had the privilege and honour of commanding Indian troops, and he could testify to the fact that the men had done their duty honourably, and deserved all the praise bestowed on them. (Applause).

Mr. Sirdar Khan said: - Capt. Skilton, officers, N.C. officers and men of the H.K.S.B., R.G.A., and Mountain Battery, we have to thank you for accepting our invitation. The reason we have asked your kind presence at this party is to enable us to celebrate your victorious return from the battlefield, to acknowledge the mighty efforts made and the highly important services rendered by you from the beginning of the war up to the end, and to rejoice together with you over the fact that once more we Indians have proved our invariable loyalty, love and honour to our King-Emperor and country – you in the vast sandy deserts of the battlefield, and we in the safe but busy life of the city. We are proud of the fact that your many sacrifices and heroic deeds have been highly appreciated. This appreciation is a proof of the great efforts you have made at a time when the world was passing through unparalleled horrors, when the abhorred monster of German militarism was indulging in its lust of blood at the expense of the peace-loving members of the human race, when that same influence, having beguiled Turkey into the battlefield by its lies, thought that the Muslim world in general and the Mussalmans of India in particular would side with Turkey. We have however, done our share towards convincing our arrogant enemy, the defiler of civilisation, that we Muslims have no love for the stirring up of trouble but believe in and strive for peace and goodwill on earth, and it will be a very long time before Germany can forget the stand we Britons have taken up with our Allies, France, America, Italy, etc. (Applause).

An Indian Subadar Major replied.

The guests then spent a couple of hours in social chat, dispersing in the evening.” 

Source: https://mmis.hkpl.gov.hk/coverpage/-/coverpage/view?_coverpage_WAR_mmisp...

That confirms they were at 16, Kennedy Road. The next thing will be to work out which house had that number around 1920, as they may have been re-numbered since then.

If anyone has a numbered street map, or the relevant section of the rate books from that time, please let us know.

Big thanks to David and eurasian_david for your replies, and sorry about my ignorance about the different faiths.

eurasian_david, I hope your research on South Asian family history can lead to some publications as the number of works on South Asians in Hong Kong is quite limited.

Regarding Kayamally, I understand that Mr. S. K. Hoosenally, the last managing director of the fabric company, passed away around 2005. The company was listed on an online Indian directory in Hong Kong about ten years ago as a real estate business, but recent searches on the site no longer brings it up.

This is a bit random but thought it was interesting. The address 16 Kennedy Road sounded familiar when I came across this article about an amah stealing a gold watch and chain from her mistress:

Amah Theft 16 Kennedy Road The China Mail, page 4, 14th February 1917.png
Amah Theft 16 Kennedy Road The China Mail, page 4, 14th February 1917.png, by eurasian_david


Source: The China Mail, page 4, 14th February 1917

It was the residence of the Army Contractor and Merchant, Abdoola Fuckeera Arculli (18th October 1857, Hong Kong-3rd September 1920, Hong Kong) . It was listed as his address in the 1918 Jurors List and subsequently. In the 1917 Jurors List it said 15A Kennedy Road. I wonder if the mistress referred to was in fact Amina Arculli (nee Ismail) (1862 Shanghai-4th February 1932, Hong Kong), the wife of A.F. Arculli, or one of his daughters like Jamalee el Arculli (1895, Hong Kong-26th October 1974, Hong Kong )

16 Kennedy Road was stated to be a new house built on IL1744 in the Government Gazette dated August 2 1907 (in the 1927 Gazette the house was called 'Al Fresco'  and was renumbered to No 64. The same house almost certainly still survives today as the domed building here still numbered 64.)

On the 19th November 1917 Kennedy Road was renumbered with the new number 16 previously was numbered 15A and the old number 16 became no 24. (No.15 remained No. 15) At the same time No 16A, B & C were renumbered 25,28 & 29

On November 18, 1927 Kennedy Road was renumbered again with number 16 being park of the old Kingsclare site (nos 2-20) The old Number 16 became No 44 and was stated to be IL 1890 and called "Baitul Fukur" which is somewhat similar to the house name in the original post. If this is infact the same building there is a place with some photos of the old house on Gwulo here. The house was likely destroyed during the war and the site was lost when Kennedy Road was straightened sometime in the 1950s.


That information is phenomenal Herostratus! I'm glad I posted that unremarkable newspaper clip because now a lot of dots can be finally joined up....

Based on what you wrote, when the amah theft was reported in the papers in February 1917, it was not therefore the residence of A.F. Arculli as that residence was later re-numbered as 64. It was only on 19th November 1917 that 15A (the residence of A.F. Arculli) became number 16. 

But then you provided a link to the 3-domed building which would point to that being "Baitul Fakir"!...and all this time I was asking for photos of the building years ago and there was already a link in gwulo!. "Baitul Fakir" in Arabic meant the 'House of Fakir" i.e. it was Abdoolla Fuckeera's house (the patriach of the family in HK). His first name was invairably spelt as 'Abdullah', 'Abdoola' or "Abdoolla", meaning 'slave of Allah' (a proud title for any Muslim). And his surname was known invariably as "Fakira", "Faqira" and "Fuckeera". He appareantly changed his surname later in life to the district where his family originated in India - it was officially changed to the surname 'el Arculli' in 1902 (Hong Kong Government Gazette, page 844, 16th May 1902), although the family migrated as merchants originally from Arabia in the 18th century before settling at Tamil Nadu.  

The distinctive 3-domed structure design of the building would make sense to echo an Islamic style as the family was Muslim. And the impressive size of that building would explain its ability to host an entire brigade of 225 people back in 31st March 1919 (see newspaper clip earlier in thread). It seemed to have been known as "Baitul Fakir" certainly during Mr. A.F. Arculli's lifetime as it was referred to by that name when the wedding reception of his son Abbas el Arculli was held there on 1st February 1920 (see earlier part of thread).

One question: A.F. Arculli's wife, Amina, died on 4th February 1932. Her residence then was '58 Kennedy Road'. Given the several episodes of re-numbering of Kennedy Road over the years, what would Number 58 in 1932 have been in earlier times?  

If Sandy Madar is reading ths, maybe he can chip in on any family history lore about the fate of "Baitul Fakir" as the 3-domed building in the link provided by Herostratus seemed to have suffered badly towards the end of WWII. 

Thanks so much Herostratus! 

Glad I could help

58 Kennedy Road was at I.L. 2299 and was renumbered from 22 on 18 November 1927. No 60 was on the same lot so its likely it was a semi detached residence. I created a place for it here I.L. 2299 is where Sakura Court is today. Confusingly elsewhere it states that  Togo Terrace No,2, was No 22 (it became 11 Kennedy Road) however Togo Terrace was on IL 1677, where Nam Koo terrace stands today. Its possible there were two 22 Kennedy Roads between the completion of the 58 & 60 Kennedy Road buildings some time in the mid 1920s and 1927

The tops of the buildings can be seen in the below photo, they are gray buildings somewhat blending into the background above the left hand side of the large white building towards the top of the photo. It looks like two separate buildings but city plans confirm it was joined at the back:

Wanchai & Kennedy Road - 1950s Fred Evans' photos
Wanchai & Kennedy Road - 1950s Fred Evans' photos, by Admin

Here is the house in the 1920s, left most house on the Kennedy Road line. Baidu Fakir can also be seen further along to the right

Wanchai Praya c.1920s.jpg
Wanchai Praya c.1920s.jpg, by marlowe


Thanks so much Herostratus...you have given me much to mull over. Also great to pin down identifcation of buildings in various Gwulo nodes and photos

The name of the house was Baitul Fakir.

I posted my findings about the house on a Facebook group two years ago.
Don't have time to translate what I wrote back then now, but you may look at the photos, maps and english newspapers' clips for the time being.
It is the unidentified house in one of your photos. 


Here is what I wrote in the introduction:

The old mansion No. 44 on Kennedy Road, named Baitul Fakir, was the residence of Indian businessman Abdoola Fuckeera Arculli (ancestor of Ronald Arculli). It was built around 1915 and was called 15A Kennedy Road in the beginning. It was changed to No. 16 in 1918 and then to No. 44 in the 1930s. It was dismantled in about 1949, and the hillside of the site was partially flattened in the late 1950s to straighten Kennedy Road. The original site became the oil station and the section of Kennedy Road next to Monmouth Terrace today.