Alexander Findlay SMITH [1844-1926] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Alexander Findlay SMITH [1844-1926]

Names
Given: 
Alexander Findlay
Family: 
Smith
Sex: 
Male
Status: 
Deceased
Birth
Date: 
c.1844-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Death
Date: 
1926-01-10

Some background first: He arrived in HK on his own account on 1.1.1867 (story in Social and Personal column, The Straits Times, 10.1.1917). That makes him 23 because he was born in Nairn to a tinsmith called William Smith in 1844. On 11.1.1873 there's a notice in the HK Govt Gazette to the effect that on 31.12.1872 Leopold Frickel had resigned from L Frickel & Co and in his place had come A.F. Smith. The following day a notice from AFS informed the general public that his new partner in L. Frickel & Co was one William Dolan. Five years later the Jury List announced that AFS was a "storekeeper" for McEwen Frickel & Co.

But that is not really what this is about. That's the biz of AFS having had work experience with the Highland Railway (eg https://www.hongkongheritage.org/pages/post.aspx?post=2), hence his fascination with tramways. This smacks rather firmly of a story-after-the-event. For AFS, given his dates, extensive experience with the Highland Railway pre-arrival in HK would have been unusual or he would have had to have been markedly precocious.

The Great North of Scotland Railway only opened its first line in 1854 (AFS 10 - and he was 8 when the very short precursor, a 5.5 mile line in Morayshire, had opened in 1852). The Inverness and Nairn Railway extension opened the following year (AFS 11) and the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway in 1856 (AFS 12) and so on as other bits opened in the late 1850s. The Highland Railway, bringing them all together, wasn't formed until 1865 (AFS 21), two years before his arrival in HK!

Assuming AFS had packed up and left with despatch in 1866, when he was 22. It seems improbable that he would have racked up a great deal of experience as a railwayman beforehand. Possible of course, but one's hunch is that this is a story that needs to be treated with some caution until some more is known of the years between 1867 and 1872 in HK (what did AFS do to amass his capital to buy in to L. Frickel & Co.) and the years before 1866 and AFS lighting out for the East and opportunity. After all, had he worked in the late 1850s/early 1860s railways, given his background, he'd probably have been an apprentice engineer at best, or possibly a plate layer, driver, fireman..., maybe starting at 14 (1858) with a possible 8 years until lighting out for the Orient, but not exactly building entrepreneurial skills in railway building.

He was obviously a chap with an eye to an advantage. He married Eulalie Gustavine Louise de Sonnaville (1857-1920), daughter of Johannes Antonius de Sonnaville, heer Van Craenenbroeck (1793-1860) and Sophronie Guislaine Sonnaville (2nd wife, 1820-1860) on 6 November 1884 in The Hague. My rough knowledge of Dutch backed by Google translate suggests that the family may have been connected to the world of Dutch colonial shipping. There's a bunch of legal documents anent marriage settlements and trusts at HKU in the Deacons archive (I think - lib.hku.hk/hkspc/Series_File_Lists.xls), where AFS is given as hailing from Finsbury Park, London. That part of the life of AFS in itself would be a most intriguing story to follow up.

Best,
Stephen 

Comments

Findlay Path on the Peak, (close to the Peak Tram terminus), is of course named after him.

He really did like his trams - Annelise found this mention of him discussing the idea of the Peak Tram in 1876, so he had the plan in mind for many years:

When en route to Japan in 1876, I had the pleasure to meet, in Chicago, Mr. A. Findlay Smith, of Hong Kong, and during our journey between there and Yokohama he spoke of a tramway which he thought could be made to the Peak on the mountain behind the city of Victoria, and on meeting him again after the lapse of eleven years, I was both surprised and delighted to find his former crude ideas not only matured, but worked out; and I believe the Hong Kong High Level Tramway will be in operation before this is in print.

The Peak Tram opened in 1888, but this extract from page 508 of the extracts from Colonial's Old Hong Kong show he later sold his share in that first business, then planned to start a second, competing line:

"A quarter of a century ago Mr. Finlay Smith ((sic.)) was the proprietor of the Peak Hotel. This gentleman it was who was responsible for the inception of the Peak Tramway. After he sold his interest therein he Conceived the idea of starting a rival line to the Peak by way of Ice House Street, Glenealy, Queen's Gardens thence to Victoria Gap. Having acquired a concession for this undertaking from Government, the Peak Tramway bought him out and the new scheme never developed. On the proceeds, Mr, Finlay Smith became Boniface at the Peak Hotel.

The story of Alexander Findlay Smith and the Peak Tramway is featured in the China Mail dated 12 (p.7), 13 (p.7) and 14 (p.7) July 1934.

in 1861 he was living at home with his parents at 8 Bridge Street Nairn and his occupation is recorded as railway clerk. Taken from the 1861 census.

He was baptised on 9 April 1844 in Nairn and his date of birth was recorded then as 7 February 1844.

In 1911 his wife Eulalie   is recorded as 53 born in The Hague married  for 25 years and having given birth to four children two of whom have survived. She is living in a twelve roomed home at Myrtle Bank, Oaklands Drive, Walton on Thames with her two surviving sons Egmont and Vivyan both born in The Hague and has resident staff of a butler born in Liege, a cook born in Brussels and a housemaid born in Sheffield.

Her husband is elsewhere.

22 August 1891 New South Wales Australia  Government Gazette he is listed for "improvements in brakes for cars worked by cable haulage on inclined railways and tramways". His address is given as 17 Surinamestraat  The Hague

This timeline is a summary of my research into Alexander Findlay Smith (AFS). I have added the useful information on chistening, whereabouts in 1861, NSW mention in 1891 and Mrs Smith in 1911. Thank you. Please let me know in the comments below if you spot any errors, or can add any more information.

Regards, Stephen

Notes:

  1. Years followed by an "*" are years that I believe AFS was out of Hong Kong.
  2. Several of the names below are names associated with the Nairn area in Scotland, ie Smith, Findlay, McEwen, Wilson, and Rose and this may be a hint as to a set of connections of patronage and, possibly, kinship and marriage. The four Smiths in this story, all of whom are directly connected by business or other links were possibly, even probably brothers. They were John Grant Smith, Alexander Findlay Smith, Frank Fraser Smith and Patrick Rose Smith. The interest here is the middle name that may hint at a patronage/family connection, since all the names (save 'Grant') appear in the story below as surnames of people connected with the history of Morgan, McEwen & Co, McEwen & Co and McEwen, Frickel & Co.
  3. de Sonnaville is the name of a Dutch family associated with tramways into which AFS married.
  4. the Scottish railway and Dutch tramway data appear to give context to AFS' claims to railway expertise as his authority for involvement in creating a tramway company.

Date

*

Event

Pre-1844

*

John Grant Smith born, Nairn, Scotland to William Findlay Smith (tinsmith) and Jane Smith (née Wilson)

1844

*

7th Feb: Alexander Findlay Smith born, Nairn, Scotland to same parents

He was baptised on 9 April 1844 in Nairn.

 

Also either before or later Frank Fraser Smith (see below 1869) and a ‘Pat’ Patrick Rose Smith (Morayshire public library – see also 1881 below)

1845

*

 

1846

*

 

1847

*

 

1848

*

Aberdeen Railway commences construction of line from Forfar & Montrose to Aberdeen

1849

*

 

1850

*

Aberdeen Railway completes line from Forfar & Montrose to Aberdeen

1851

*

 

1852

*

10th August: Morayshire Railway opens 5.5 miles track between Elgin and Lossiemouth

1853

*

 

1854

*

19th September: Great North of Scotland Railway’s Kittybrewster to Huntly line opened

 

19th December: Great North of Scotland Railway’s Aberdeen to Huntly line opened

1855

*

George Norris (later McEwen Co) working in undesignated activity from premises on Queen’s Rd

 

5th November: Inverness & Nairn Railway opens

1856

*

George Norris (ditto) working in undesignated activity from premises on Queen’s Rd

 

21st July: first elements of  Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway open, completing in 1858

 

11th October: Great Northern Railway Huntly to Keith line opens

1857

*

Messrs Morgan, McEwen & Co, Merchants and Commission Agents, London & Glasgow, trading in Singapore, Manila and Batavia as McEwen & Co. dissolve the partnership between Francis Richardson, Charles Bannatyne Findlay and John Harvey. Charles Bannatyne Findlay (1821-1877) of Cambusnethan House, Lanarkshire, and Boturich, Dumbartonshire was a prominent Scots banker and businessman with interests in London and elsewhere. Whether there is any connection to the Nairn area is unknown.

 

In Hong Kong the annual Jury List lists George Norris, Auctioneer, and James West as (storekeeper’s) clerk for Messrs McEwen & Co. McEwen & Co name does not appear before 1857 as trading in HK and may be some sort of fraction of the dissolved Morgan, McEwen & Co. (McEwen is variously spelled MacEwen in the record.)

 

28th September: Eulalie Gustavine Louise de Sonnaville born in The Hague to Johannes Antonius de Sonnaville and Sophronie Ghislaine de Sonnaville (nee Steenberghe)

1858

*

James West as (storekeeper’s) clerk for Messrs McEwen & Co

 

25th March: Inverness & Nairn Railway Nairn to Elgin stretch opens

 

18th August: Inverness & Nairn Railway Elgin to Keith stretch opens

 

23rd August: Rothies extension to Morayshire Railway opened

 

23rd December: Craigellachie extension to Morayshire Railway opened

1859

*

Julius Hallpike, George A.F. Norris and Alexander Wilson are storekeepers, and George Embrechts (previously Burd & Co) is clerk of Messrs McEwen & Co. James West has shifted to become the Secretary, Club House (Hong Kong Club)

1860

*

Norris just ‘storekeeper, Queen’s Rd’ with no affiliation

 

In this year the de Sonnaville family begin investments in the development of Scheveningen as a seaside Kurhaus

 

18th April: Inverness & Nairn Railway open Kinloss to Findhorn branch

 

17th June: Johan Antonius Frédéric de Sonnaville born in The Hague

1861

*

AFS living at home with his parents at 8 Bridge Street Nairn and his occupation is recorded as railway clerk. Taken from the 1861 census.

Maurice A. Correa, accountant, E.F. Regan clerk of McEwen & Co

1862

*

Alexander Wilson storekeeper with. Maurice A. Correa, accountant, and E.F. Regan, James Wilson and William Wilson as clerks of McEwen & Co. (Alexander, James & William Wilson seem to have been related and all to have come from the Nairn area.)

 

12th June: Inverness & Ross-shire Railway opens Inverness to Dingwall line

 

22nd December: Inverness & Nairn Railway opens Alves to Burghead branch

1863

*

Maurice A. Correa, accountant and William Wilson clerk of McEwen & Co

 

25th March: Inverness & Ross-shire Railway opens through line Inverness-Dingwall-Invergordon

1864

*

William Wilson & John Falconer Rose clerks of McEwen & Co (Nothing is known about John Falconer Rose, but his surname connects with the pattern noted above in the Smith sons' given names.)

 

1st June: Inverness & Ross-shire Railway opens Inverness-Invergordon extension to Bonar Bridge

1865

*

William Wilson & John Falconer Rose clerks of McEwen & Co

 

Highland Railway Company formed by merging all north of Scotland lines

1866

*

John Grant Smith, Storekeeper, William Wilson & John Falconer Rose clerks of McEwen & Co

 

16th December, William Wilson, ex-clerk McEwen & Co dies in Nairn, Scotland

1867

 

1st January: in a 1917 story in the Straits Times (10th January, 1917), Singapore, this is the date Alexander Findlay Smith says he arrived in Hong Kong

 

John Grant Smith, John Falconer Rose Storekeepers, William Wilson (actually at this point dead) & Henry Gibson clerks of McEwen & Co

1868

 

John Grant Smith and Alexander Findlay Smith storekeepers, Henry Gibson clerk of McEwen & Co.

1869

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, Frank Fraser Smith clerk of McEwen & Co (don’t know what happened to Frank Fraser – no trace bar this one)

 

The de Sonnavilles and others invest in the first horsedrawn tramline between The Hague & Scheveningen

 

L. Frickel & Co, Ship Chandlers, Sailmakers, General Storekeeper and Commission Agent at 45, Queen’s Rd, HK

1870

 

John Grant Smith and Alexander Findlay Smith storekeepers, Edwin Farrell clerk of McEwen & Co.

1871

*

John Grant Smith storekeeper, Edwin Farrell clerk of McEwen & Co.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1872

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Assistant and Edwin Farrell, clerk at McEwen & Co

 

Hermann von Drensche, assistant and Thomas Henry de Silver, shipchandler at L. Frickel & Co.

 

31st December: retirement of Leopold Frickel, proprietor of L. Frickel & Co (ship chandlers) and assumption of proprietorship by Alexander Findlay Smith – no explanation for this development. 

 

John Grant Smith out of town on leave in Scotland to get married?

1873

 

1st January: William Dolan admitted to partnership in L. Frickel & Co (but in the year’s Jury List as Assistant)

 

Edwin Farrell is clerk of McEwen & Co at 13 Queen’s Rd, Central

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Storekeeper, Frickel & Co, 45 Queen’s Road, Central

 

John Grant Smith out of town

 

16th April: John Grant Smith marries Marjory Janet MacEwen in Dyke, Morayshire (about 6 miles from Nairn), her father was a local Presbyterian minister - a possible link to some unknown Mc/MacEwen in early 19th century business in Manila, Singapore and Batavia?

1874

 

Farm Lot 53 (Later the lot was re-designated as RBL 77) sold to Nathaniel J. Ede, Manager, Union Insurance Co of Canton, 1871-1899 

 

John Grant Smith and Alexander Findlay Smith storekeepers, William Dolan and Edwin Farrell, Thomas William Sewell Assistants, McEwen, Frickel & Co

 

In The Blockade of the Port and Harbour of Hongkong, by the Hoppo, or Farmer in Canton of Customs Duties Levied upon Chinese Vessels. Proceedings at a Public Meeting Held at the City Hall, Hongkong, on the 14th September, 1874. London: Kent and Co., 1874, J.G. Smith signs statement as manager of the ‘shop’, William Dolan seconds a motion as firm’s representative.

1875

*

John Grant Smith & William Dolan, storekeepers, Alexander McConachie, Thomas William Sewell, William Griffiths Humphreys assistant, McEwen, Frickel & Co

 

N.J. Ede builds ‘Dunheved’ on a plot on The Peak at Victoria Gap

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1876

*

Earlier in the year Alexander Findlay Smith may have been returning to HK via Chicago and Yokohama – see 1888 below.

 

 

John Grant Smith, Alexander Findlay Smith & William Dolan, storekeepers, Alexander McConachie, Thomas William Sewell, William Griffiths Humphreys assistants, McEwen, Frickel & Co

1877

 

John Grant Smith, Alexander Findlay Smith & William Dolan, storekeepers, Thomas William Sewell, William Griffiths Humphreys (unknown whether this Humphreys is connected with H. and J.D. Humphreys who enter the story in 1891) assistants, McEwen, Frickel & Co

 

John Grant Smith posts notice in Hong Kong Government Gazette as administrator of the state of William Wilson

1878

 

John Grant Smith, Alexander Findlay Smith & William Dolan, storekeepers, Thomas William Sewell, William Griffiths Humphreys assistants, McEwen, Frickel & Co

1879

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, William Dolan, sailmaker, Thomas William Sewell, William Griffiths Humphreys, Henry Maclehose, assistant, McEwen, Frickel & Co

 

John Grant Smith, Commission Merchant, Queen’s Road – at this point for reasons unknown the Smith brothers cease working together, John Grant Smith is no longer clearly involved in McEwen, Frickel & Co. and never seems to have had any direct or obvious connections with his brother’s businesses hereafter until his death.

 

Phineas Ryrie builds ‘Craig Ryrie’ on R.B.L. 11, a site on Victoria Peak above the future Tram Terminus

 

The de Sonnavilles and others invest in transition to steam of The Hague to Scheveningen tramline

1880

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, McEwen, Frickel & Co

 

John Grant Smith, Commission Merchant, Queen’s Road

1881

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, McEwen, Frickel & Co, Special Juror

 

John Grant Smith, Commission Merchant, Queen’s Road

 

May: Alexander Findlay Smith is said to have presented a petition for Peak tram to Governor Pope Hennessy (see below HK Telegraph, 1889) Alexander Findlay Smith petitions for right to introduce funicular railway to Hong Kong (HK Heritage Project document: no trace of this in extant government records online) petition mentioned in The China Mail, 27th June 1885, p.2)

 

June: Mr Robert Gervase Alford (Bishop Alford’s son and a Civil Engineer, once with HK Govt but at this time in private practice), Secretary of the Hongkong & China Tramway Co writes to Alexander Findlay Smith proposing amalgamation (see HK Telegraph, 1889), it was about this time that “the Hon. P. Ryrie appears to have joined hands with Mr Smith”, to whom it was jointly proposed that they “should become Co-Promoters of the ‘Hongkong and China Tramway Company,’ with seats on the Board.” Ryrie & Smith rejected these proposals (according to HK Telegraph, 1889).

 

18th June: HK Government Gazette, Notice No. 220: Bill authorizing Chinese Tramway Company of Hongkong to build low level tramways in Hong Kong gazette -  no shareholders listed

 

25th June: HK Government Gazette, Votes & Proceedings of the Legislative Council, No. 4 1881, F. Bulkeley Johnson (whose junior colleague was Edward Alford, Robert Gervase Alford’s brother) supported by Phineas Ryrie introduce bill for construction of tramways in the Colony – introduction of bill postponed to allow “for proper formalities to be observed”

 

Honourable Ng Choy asks permission to introduce “at a future date, of a Tramway Bill on behalf of another company.”

 

2nd July: HK Government Gazette, notice given of proposed Bulkeley Johnson tramways ordinance with text. Five low level lines along coast.

 

15th July: HK Government Gazette, notice given inviting those whose property may be affected to make representations. Five low level lines along coast.

 

18th July: Revised Proposal to link the Ryrie/Smith company and promotion to the alternative “to which these two gentlemen finally attached their signatures and by which they consented to amalgamate their tramway scheme with the of the rival concern.”

 

20th July: Letter from R.G. Alford to Ryrie and Smith saying the amalgamation was not to be ratified and Ryrie and Smith were free to pursue their own scheme independently, but the two schemes (Low Level Tramway and High Level Tramway) would be “obtained by a single bill, and their part (messrs Ryrie and Smith’s) assigned to them by deed, which was afterwards accomplished.” (see HK Telegraph, 1889 below)

 

30th September: HK Government Gazette, Notice of Special Committee meeting on Tramway Bill to take place 10th October 

 

11th October report of meeting (Hong Kong Telegraph 11.10.1881, p.3) – president Francis Snowden (Acting Chief Justice) present W.M. Deane, A. Lister, P. Ryrie, E.R. Belilios, F. Bulkeley Johnson. N.J. Ede objects to “any tramway scheme with the terminus placed where it was proposed to erect this one, on the ground that he had a house at the Gap, to which the tramway would prove a great nuisance.” William Danby (an architect) mentioned as “a professional gentleman connected with the Tramway scheme”. Conspicuous absence of Alexander Findlay Smith at any of these meetings, or of any mention of his name. N.J. Ede’s objection to the funicular was the only discussion of that line, the rest being a discussion of the merits of single v. double tracks and the possible lack of adequate space for double tracks.

 

13th October, second meeting (The Hong Kong Telegraph, 13.10.1881, p.2), present again as on 11th Oct. 

 

Quarter ending Dec 1881 (27.11.1881), Patrick Rose Smith death registered in Greenwich district of London aged 33. See below for AFS involvement as an executor of the estate HK in 1882.

1882

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, McEwen, Frickel & Co, Special Juror

 

John Grant Smith, Commission Merchant, Queen’s Road

 

Mar 13 Alexander Findlay Smith one of executors of estate of GBP4000 of Patrick Rose Smith, who died in England, 27th November 1881.

 

9th February: Tramways Bill accepted and gazetted HK Government Gazette, 18th February Bill No.1 of 1882.  6 lines now incorporated, the 6th being the Peak Tram line.

 

5th December: Tramways Bill read for first time permitting the Hongkong and China Tramways Co. Ltd. To build 6 lines

1883

*

16th June: Ordinance No. 6 of 1883, Tramways Ordinance passed. The promoters are Francis Bulkeley Johnson, Frederick David Sassoon, Charles Vincent Smith (at the time of Victoria, but by 1885 of Shanghai, businessmen with Russell & Co.) and William Kerfoot Hughes. Alexander Findlay Smith name not mentioned at any stage. Line 6 to be “moved by means of locomotive or stationary engines and steel-wire ropes”

 

20th December: Ordinance No. 18, Amendment to the Tramways Ordinance. Amendment allows the promoters “with the assent and approval of the Governor in Council, (to) grant the right to construct and maintain any one or more of the Tramways hereby authorized to be made, and all or any of the privileges hereby conferred, without receiving any valuable consideration therefor, or for any consideration that the Promoters may think fit to accept, to such persons, or person, Corporation, or Company…”

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town? 

1884

*

20th August launch of The Hongkong and China Tramways Company and expectation that “within at most the next twelve months we shall have steam tramcars traversing Hongkong from end to end.” (The China Mail, 20.8.1884, p.2) No mention in story of proposals of a line up the Peak to the Gap.

 

8th October: letter from Brereton, Wotton & Deacon, 35 Queen’s Rd, seeking an extension of the time limit for commencement of construction, the $500,000 capital raised by means of 10,000 $50 shares not having been subscribed because of poor business confidence thanks to the Sino-French war.

 

13th October: extension of time to build the tramway granted

 

1st November: prenuptial settlement between Alexander Findlay Smith & Eulalie Gustavine Louise de Sonnaville

6th November: AFS and Eulalie de Sonnaville married in The Hague.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town?

1885

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, storekeeper, McEwen, Frickel & Co, Special Juror

 

John Grant Smith, Commission Merchant, Queen’s Road

 

26th January: letter from Wotton & Deacon, 35 Queen’s Road, seeking permission to transfer right to construct and maintain Tramway, Numbered Six to Phineas Ryrie and Alexander Findlay Smith for the sum of $2,000. This is probably the formal accomplishment of what was "obtained by a single bill, and their part (messrs Ryrie and Smith’s) assigned to them by deed" referred to for 20th July 1881 above.

 

11th February: permission granted

 

2nd March: Survey of the line for the track of the Peak Tramway begun by James Fettes Boulton (see HK Telegraph, 1889 - J.F. Boulton was a Civil Engineer (elected M.I.C.E. in 1884 and an ex-student of the Institute of Civil Engineers), who not only played a role in the Peak Tram construction, but was in charge of the Praya Reclamation, was one of HK's first registered architects (1903-1911), and in 1904 was Acting Director of Public Works - little is other wise known.

 

4th March: Order in Council under s.4 of the Tramways Ordinance as amended, transferring right to “construct and maintain the Tramway, Numbered Six” to Phineas Ryrie and Alexander Findlay Smith” for a consideration of $1,000 each. By implication construction was required to commence by 3rd March 1886.

 

26th March: tenders advertised for construction of the Peak Tramway line. Tender for first section won by Sun Shing (a leading local contractor, whose leading figures seem to have been Tam Kwok-Ying and Tam Kwok-Hing), who afterwards won the tenders for all the other sections (see HK Telegraph, 1889)

 

17th August (China Mail, 17.8.1885, p.3) Hongkong High Level Tramways Co. Ltd. formed (newspaper data of chairman, Alexander Findlay Smith, and consulting committee (i.e. board of directors), which includes JAF de Sonnaville), has early financial difficulties that are overcome. It appears with completion of line Alexander Findlay Smith ceases to be chairman but McEwen, Frickel & Co become General Managers

 

31st October (China Mail 31.10.1885, p.2) applications for shares in Hongkong High Level Tramways Company opened until 4th November. 

 

Francis Bulkeley Johnson retires from Jardine, Matheson & Co around this year

 

Around about this year also Edward Alford moves to work for Jardines in Shanghai and his brother Robert Gervase returns to UK.

1886

*

15th Feb: Francis Bulkeley Johnson died in Cannes, France aged 57

 

28th August: HK Government Gazette, notice of tenders for abutments for tramway bridges

 

Alexander Findlay Smith not on Jury List so out of town. 

 

John Grant Smith at ‘Greenmount’.

1887

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, ‘Myrtle Bank’, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, Special Juror, ‘Greenmount’

 

N.J. Ede still listed in Hong Kong Directory as living at ‘Dunheved’ but Jury List gives Seymour Terrace

 

D.R. Crawford living in ‘Craigieburn’

 

13th June, John Grant Smith granted a patent to 14 years of exclusive rights to manufacturing ginger products by processing machinery patented by JGS and Oliver Imray in London 

 

N.J. Ede may at this point sell ‘Dunheved’ to Alexander Findlay Smith and move to ‘Terverbyn’ nearby but dating uncertain.

 

16th November: Application for a licence for The Peak Hotel by William Thomas

1888

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, ‘Craigieburn’, The Peak (the Peak Directory has J.S. Anderson in ‘Craigieburn’ and Alexander Findlay Smith in ‘Myrtle Bank’, N.J. Ede in ‘Dunheved’)

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, The Peak (Peak Directory, ‘The Shieling’)

 

21st February, A.C. Wylie an engineer writing from Tianjin to the journal Industries, recall meeting Alexander Findlay Smith in Chicago in 1876 and journeying with Smith from Chicago to Yokohama during which Smith talked of the possibilities of a tramway up the Peak (The China Mail, 21.2.1888)

 

10th February: Erika de Sonnaville, daughter of Johan Antonius Frederic de Sonnaville born in Hong Kong

 

21st February, promotional, pre-formal opening trip on Peak Tram for Ng Choy (Wu Tingfan, 伍廷芳)and Wong Shing (黃勝, also Wong Tat-kuen, 黃達權) (with journalists) arranged by Alexander Findlay Smith in attendance (The China Mail, 21.2.1888, p.3)

 

26th May: HK Government Gazette, Notification No. 219, Tramway permitted to open for public use

 

28th May: Governor, Lady des Voeux, Maj. Gen. Cameron & Mrs Cameron, the Attorney-General, Mr Slingsby Bethell (PS to Governor) and Lt Anderson (ADC) make inaugural trip on Peak Tram and met by Phineas Ryrie and Alexander Findlay Smith at Peak station. After inspecting machinery, they were entertained at The Peak Hotel. (Hong Kong Daily Press, 2.6.1888, p.3) 

 

29th May: open day on Peak Tram with no fares charged

 

30th May: fare charging service on Peak Tram begins and carried 600 pax (see Hong Kong Telegraph, 1889 below)

 

12th-13th June: letter of complaint about fares and refusal to allow westerners to travel on other than 1st class ticket. Alexander Findlay Smith answers indicating single car service but implicit ‘class’ divisions in car between that “‘belong lady and gentleman’, that ‘belong soldier man’, the other ‘belong Chinese coolie’” even if everyone actually has to travel in the same car. (The China Mail, 12th June, p.3 and 13th June, p.3) 

 

20th June: first case of drunkenness on Peak Tram before magistrate (The China Mail, 20.6.1888, p.3)

 

3rd July: A Sunday with fine weather. Peak Tram running for 5 hours and carried 900-1000 people (The China Mail, 3-7-1888, p.2)

 

17th August: published timetable with cars running weekdays 0800-1000, 1200-1400, 1600-2000 and on Sundays 1230-1330 and 1600-2000. MacEwen, Frickel & Co, General Managers (The China Mail, 17.8.1888, p.2)

 

20th December: 4th annual report and accounts, Alexander Findlay Smith chairman (board members P. Ryrie, J. de Sonnaville, J.B. Coughtrie), shareholders present J. Anderson, A.G. Apcar, R. Lyall, J.D. Hutchinson, Cheong Kai, A.F. de J. Soares, C. Mooney and Remedios), total receipts $14,953.75 – dividend of $4 a share paid “at the rate of 16% per annum”, representing 90.5% of the net profits! (The China Mail, 20.12.1888, p.3)

 

21st December: Suggestion of information leaks to manipulate Peak Tram Company’s share values. Company reported to be carrying a debt of $29,000 at 7% interest. General Manager’s fees 5% of gross receipts. (The China Mail, 21.12.1888, p.3)

 

Egmont Findlay Smith born in The Hague, Vivian Findlay Smith born, possibly in The Hague, between this year and 1896 

1889

*

Conversion of ‘Dunheved’ into a three-storey hotel begins. It seems that Alexander Findlay Smith may have sold ‘Dunheved’ to The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. Ltd.

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 6 West Terrace.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith not in 1889 Jury List and in annual meeting stated as away.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith listed in The Peak Directory as resident at ‘Craigieburn’ (N.J. Ede at ‘Treverbyn’ (Jury List, Robinson Road), J.S. Anderson (Jury List, Storekeeper McEwen, Frickel & Co. The Peak), Alexander Findlay Smith and J. de Sonnaville at ‘Craigieburn’ (Jury List, J. de Sonnaville at The Peak)

 

27th April: 1st Annual General Meeting of The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. Ltd., chairman Phineas Ryrie, also attending James Anderson, W.H. Ray, E.W. Maitland, W. Parlane, George Murray Bain, Johan de Sonnaville, W.K. Wyllie, W. Thomas (Manager), C. Mooney (Secretary) – note here both Johan de Sonnaville and the speculator who later got him into trouble, Charles Mooney (this refers to a court case on 12th March 1890, when a contractor, Tang Kit, working for Charles Mooney (who had gone bankrupt in 1889) sued Johan de Sonnaville to try to get money back for a house he had been building on the Peak for Mooney, for Sonnaville to buy (China Mail, 12.3.1890, p.3). Mooney (born in HK in 1859, father Captain Mooney, buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery), who had been an assistant for McEwen, Frickel & Co earning $175 a month, had been living on The Peak (in a fully mortgaged house), with total assets of $33,467.75, but had been speculating in shares to the tune of indebtedness of $72,868.17. In 1892 the courts had refused to discharge him from bankruptcy. Yet by the early 1900s Mooney was company secretary of the Hong Kong Hotel Co and a respected businessman, his obituary in the SCMP (23.8.1913 - he left a wife and 9 children) making no mention of his period of errancy 1889-c.1893.

 

May: severe weather caused landslip that damaged the permanent way resulting in cessation of service for some period.

 

16th June: long retrospective ‘history’ of the Peak Tram with details is first mention of Alexander Findlay Smith “travelling on several separate occasions in America, as well as part of two winters in Europe, during which time he visited and made himself conversant with nearly every existing method of railway employed for mountain ascent.” The story goes on to mention San Francisco, Scarborough, Rigi, Monterey, Lucerne, the Rhine, and Mt Vesuvius. Here also is sketched the history of the 1881 petition and effective takeover of Smith’s proposals by the Hongkong & China Tramways Co. Ltd. (see those years) (Hong Kong Telegraph, 16th June, 1889, p.2)

 

16th December: HK Government Gazette, Notification No. 522, regulations for the tramway operated by The Hongkong High Level Tramways Company Limited.

 

17th December: 5th annual meeting of The Hongkong High Level Tramway Co. Alexander Findlay Smith and J.B. Coughtrie away, replaced by James Anderson, B. Layton. More specific accounts on liabilities reveal that $29,874.98 are owed to the General Managers and that the General Manager’s fee for 1889 on a gross ticket income of $20,930.35 was $1,046.52. Salaries and wages @ $10,758.30 are 51.4% of gross receipts.

 

20th December: meeting of shareholders suggested that debt to General Manager should be met by issue of new shares, since additional expenditure will also be required for a new tow rope to replace the one damaged by the landslip. J. de Sonnaville no longer on the board/consulting committee perhaps because he had become a partner in McEwen, Frickel & Co and therefore one of the Generalk Managers (see Dec. 1893).

1890

*

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 6 West Terrace

 

Alexander Findlay Smith not in Jury List but JAF de Sonnaville is resident on The Peak. James Anderson resident at ‘Craigieburn’

 

The Peak Hotel opens, proprietor The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. Ltd., Alexander Findlay Smith NOT chairman or a member of the board, manager William Thomas. AFS may probably have sold his interest in the hotel (see 1892 below). 

 

14th June: “a portion of the New Building” is opened for business

 

15th June: Second call to shareholders in The Peak Hotel & Trading Company to pay $15 a share with a 12% interest penalty if not paid by 17th July (it seems most did not respond)

1891

*

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 6 West Terrace

 

19th Feb: 2nd AGM of The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. Ltd., Chairman Phineas Ryrie, directors: N.J. Ede, C. Ewens, J.B. Coughtrie, W. Judd, J.A.F. de Sonnaville. Company in difficulties and clearly burdened by cost of rent for ‘Craigieburn’ leased from Alexander Findlay Smith

 

5th July: HK High Level Tramway company meeting with J de Sonnaville Chairman, where proposed to replace McEwen, Frickel & Co as General Manager by James Anderson, at this time also Secretary to The Peak Hotel & Trading Co., so that both companies would be run by a common management and savings achieved.  J. de Sonnaville clearly against, but prepared to accede to majority view. Question of takeover of The Hong Kong High Level Tramway Co by the Hongkong Land Investment Co. Letter from HKLI Co’s Mr Hooper read out – 5% of gross earnings and a minimum of $2500 p.a. and 25% of net profits after net profits exceed 7% of gross earnings and 50% of net profits after net profits exceed 10% plus full and complete control of whole operation. If terms accepted, HKLI Co will advance loan of $30,000 @ 8% (later increased to $35,000) on security, subject to HKLI Co solicitor’s approval. So Anderson or HKLI Co?

22 August 1891 New South Wales Australia  Government Gazette he is listed for "improvements in brakes for cars worked by cable haulage on inclined railways and tramways". His address is given as 17 Surinamestraat  The Hague

 

28th November: The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. Ltd., main shareholders Henry Crawford and John Macallum (Lane Crawford), present winding up petition to courts because of inability to pay bill of Hong Kong & China Gas Co. Ltd. If Anderson dispenses with services of engineer W.C. Wylie @ $250-300 a month would be saved. Meeting ended without decision because not sufficient shareholders present (only 523 shares) to make binding resolution.

 

9th December: McEwen, Frickel cease being General Managers of HK High Level Tramway Co

 

18th December: meeting of HK High Level Tramway Co., gross receipts $27,920.90, net profit just $787.32 – new wire rope cost $2,401.20

 

24th December: Company meeting, Creasy Ewens in chair, J. de Sonnaville (a partner of McEwen, Frickel & Co., General Managers – see Dec. 1893) present and answering questions about the replacement tow rope which had only lasted 3 months as a result of wrong design (electric wire on outside, not inside of cable) – compensation being sought. Not clear who new general managers are (China Mail, 24.12.1891, p.3) but it turns out to be J.D. Humphreys & Co (see below)

 

26th December: winding up proceeding for Peak Hotel (Henry Crawford and John MacCallum of Lane Crawford and the Hongkong & China Gas Co.) but liquidator James Anderson removed and in place Frederick Thomas Pearce Foster (James Anderson involved in Hongkong High Level Tramway Co.). The answer as to why the hotel went toes up is complex. Space constraints with ‘Dunheved’ as an hotel had resulted in the decision to expand. Additional space had in the meantime been gained by the renting of ‘Craigieburn’ from Alexander Findlay Smith (who was to go on to work the same trick a few years later in renting ‘Craigieburn’ to the government as the Governor’s summer residence after ‘Mountain Lodge’ was wrecked by a typhoon), which, an 1891 meeting was told, was for an “excessive rent”. The expansion project obviously required extensive investment and the 1890 general economic downturn meant that calls on shareholders had gone significantly unanswered. Worse, a “void” agreement made by AFS to provide the hotel with water via the tramway’s peak station (AFS, not being on the tramway board, had acted ultra vires), meant that over several months in 1890 no water was supplied. Yet at this time the General Manager (and as far as I can see also Chairman) of the HK High Level Peak Tramway was Johan de Sonnaville, Alexander Findlay Smith’s brother-in-law…who was also on the board of The Peak Hotel & Trading Co. A later history of the Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels (which ended up taking over the Peak Tram) suggests that Alexander Findlay Smith contrived this bankruptcy, enabling him to buy the hotel back in 1892 for less than half its value.

 

30th December: Meeting of The HK High Level Tramway Co. to alter articles of association. Alexander Findlay Smith present, J. de Sonnaville not so.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town until end of December this year.

1892

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, Merchant, McEwen, Frickel & Co, residence at The Peak Hotel.

 

At some point here ‘Craigieburn’, owned by Alexander Findlay Smith, is leased to the HK Government as a summer home for the Governor, whilst a decision on repairs and reconstruction at Mountain Lodge is made after major typhoon damage

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 6 West Terrace

 

6th February: all creditors of The Peak Hotel to apply to liquidator by 11th March

 

March: Alexander Findlay Smith buys The Peak Hotel (according to the history of the HK & Shanghai Hotels)

 

24th March: Antonio Fonseca applies for liquor licence for Peak Hotel backed by Alexander Findlay Smith

 

22nd April: Fonseca’s licence transferred to Ardeshir Bejanjee

 

8th August: Lady Robinson holds At Home at ‘Craigieburn’

 

13th & 14th Dec: 8th AGM of company, H. Humphrey’s (of Humphrey’s Land & Investment Co) in chair. General Managers are John D. Humphreys & Co (HH was JDH’s son!). Phineas Ryrie had died and James Anderson had retired. No Smith or de Sonnaville representation. Receipts were $34,651.28 and a $2 dividend was paid to the 1250 $100 shares – first dividend since 1889.

1893

*

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

Pun Chu-ying incoming director of Po Leung Kuk listed as comprador of J.G. Smith & Co.

 

19th June: At meeting of Legislative Council the cost of ‘Craigieburn’ as the temporary summer residence of the Governor pending decision on works on Mountain Lodge deemed high. The decision seems to have been to demolish and rebuild with the new Mountain Lodge not being completed until 1897.

 

14th & 21st Dec, 9th AGM of HK High Level Tramway Co., $4 dividend paid on receipts of HK$38,240.74. First Chinese board member, Mr Poon Pong appointed in absence of Mr George Fenwick. At meeting on 21.12.1893 revealed that in 1891 J. de Sonnaville was a partner of McEwen, Frickel Co when the management was shifted to J.D. Humphreys. At this meeting, if obliquely, it was suggested that Alexander Findlay Smith had used the first year of the company to enrich himself (and friends) with a 16% dividend, leaving the company with no reserves to meet the costs of an ongoing operation.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1894

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

27th Dec: 12th AGM of HK High Level Tramway Co. 5% dividend declared. No mention of gross receipts. Business much affected by the plague.

1895

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

No report in newspapers for 1895, 11th AGM delayed until early 1896.

1896

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

16th Jan: report of 11th AGM of HK High Level Tramway Co. giving gross receipts of $43,226.80. Declared a dividend for 1895 of 6%. Mr Poon Pong, member of the Consulting Committee (Board) died.

 

29th Dec: 12th AGM of HK High Level Tramways Co, Hart Beck now chairman, best year yet with gross receipts of $44,461.22, on which net profits were $10,136.01, so a 6% dividend declared.

 

Yvonne Eulalie Findlay Smith born in The Hague

1897

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

Mountain Lodge demolished and work on new Mountain Lodge begins. Not known whether Governor used ‘Craigieburn’ 1892-1897, but probable

1898

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

 

5th April, John Grant Smith becomes temporary Peruvian Consul-General

1899

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, 12, Caine Road

1900

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, Rose Villa East, Bonham Road

1901

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak

 

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, Rose Villa East, Bonham Road

 

3rd August: Proposal to float new company Hotel Craigieburn Ltd, principal shareholders James Anderson, A. Dennison and John Farrow, proposed capital $200,000 in 4,000 $50 shares.

1902

*

John Grant Smith, J.G. Smith & Co., Special Juror, Rose Villa East, Bonham Road

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1903

*

HK High Level Tramway Co pays 20% dividend.

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1904

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

At some point in this year AFS "conceived the idea of an opposition line to the Peak, and promoted a bill to that purpose in the Legislative Council of the Colony".

September: Bill gazetted for creating a second Peak Tram running from Battery Path to Victoria Gap, which would have been almost duplicating existing service.

13 December: HKHLTC petitions Legislative Council, in the event of the new tramways bill being passed, to impose certain conditions on the new company (one of which was the possibility of ending the new line at Conduit Rd, thereby anticipating the present escalator!) 

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1905

*

5th June (SCMP, 5.6.1905, p.2): Very lively meeting of the HK High Level Tramways Co. Sensing a collapse in their business, because as far as they could see, despite their objection and suggestion that the new service run to Goodman's Gap (which was deemed impracticable), the government would pass the new Peak Tram Bill, the board of the HKHLTC had decided to bid for the new concession. This would cost $35,000 "of which $25,000 will go to Mr Findlay Smith" (to buy the concession which seems to have been granted to AFS, thus giving him a neat speculative windfall in effect by a form of competitive blackmail!). It was though it would also be best to wind up the HKHLTC and the form of a new company, the Peak Tramways Company Limited, with $750,000 capital of 75,000 shares at $10 each. 

17th Oct: Alexander Findlay Smith assigns "all his right, title and interest" in the new Peak tramway bill to the China Commercial Co. Ltd. (which appears to be effectively controlled or owned by E.S. Kadoorie & Co.)

18th Oct: The Peak Tramway Co. Ltd. registered as a new company.

25th October: China Commercial Co assigns all its right, title, etc. to The Peak Tramway Co. Ltd for a consideration of $35,000.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1906

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

27 Feb 1906 (SCMP, p.2) - court action begins between D.E. Brown (an HKHLTC shareholder) and the HKHLTC and its managers J.D. Humphreys & Co.

29 Mar 1906 (SCMP, p.11) - plaintiffs win case against HKHLTC and J.D. Humphreys & Co. and injunction granted restraining HKHLTC from selling itself to the new Peak Tramway Co. This cost the company $14,718.60 in legal costs.

16 Jul - EGM of HKHLTC to pass new resolutions to meet the objections of the courts in finding in favour of D.E. Brown. Meeting's resolutions carried.

1907

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

4 Apr: Final meeting of the HKHLTC at the completion of liquidation. Books of the company handed over to the new Peak Tramway Co.

25 May: Ordinary annual meeting of the Peak Tramway Co. for the period 19.10.1905-30.4.1907. J.D. Humphrey's still General Manager, new line still in play as a possibility.

1908

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak Hotel

 

18 May: AGM of The Peak Tramway Co. New line completely surveyed and believed that all objections had been overcome

 

8th January: Yvonne Eulalie Findlay Smith (12) dies in Scheveningen

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1909

 

Alexander Findlay Smith, Special Juror, The Peak – this is his last entry in the Jury Lists

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

 

31 May: Peak Tramway Co AGM - problems with lower part of new tramway route. Cost of tunnelling under the Botanical Gardens prohibitive. Trestle bridge route down Glenealy objected to on noise grounds by Roman Catholic Cathedral. Government requires rethink and plans for a scaled down operation with cars carrying fewer than 70 pax being explored.

It seems possibly to have been at around this point that Alexander Findlay Smith bought Ligoniel/The Farm (RBL 101) on Barker Road.

1910

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?\

23 May: The Peak Tramway Co AGM. The alternative line proposed now abandoned on cost grounds, the estimated cost having come in at $942,677 and it being deemed impossible for this to allow a reasonable return to shareholders.

1911

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

Eulalie Smith living in a twelve roomed home at Myrtle Bank, Oaklands Drive, Walton on Thames with her two surviving sons Egmont and Vivyan both born in The Hague. Has resident staff of a butler born in Liege, a cook born in Brussels and a housemaid born in Sheffield.

Her husband is elsewhere.

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1912

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1913

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

 

John Grant Smith out of town perhaps retired?

1914

*

John Grant Smith (?) dies in Moffat, Dumfriesshire

 

28th July: Craigieburn Hotel has Mrs John Grant Smith staying. Possibly she is with a son or, possibly, who is staying is the son and his wife since the record reads: Mr & Mrs Iron (John?) Grant Smith

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1915

*

10th May: Straits Times (Singapore) reports winding up order in bankruptcy for McEwen, Frickel & Co.

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1916

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1917

 

Alexander Findlay Smith not in Jury List

 

10th January: Straits Times implies both that Alexander Findlay Smith is still owner of the Peak Hotel and that he celebrated his 50 years in Hong Kong by walking to the Peak flagstaff on 1st January, claiming he had done so on his arrival in January 1867.

1918

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1919

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1920

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1921

*

January: Eulalie Findlay Smith (64) dies in London

 

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1922

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1923

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1924

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1925

*

Alexander Findlay Smith out of town?

1926

*

10th January: Alexander Findlay Smith (81) dies in Ryde, Isle of Wight. Home addresses given as The Farm (ex-Ligoniel, built by Frederick Henry May’s family), The Peak, Hong Kong and Claveston House, Strand, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Probate in the will, dated 29th March 1924, granted to William Edward Shenton, solicitor, Hong Kong. Estate in Hong Kong valued at $1,056,500. Not known when Alexander Findlay Smith bought The Farm but see above 1909 for a possibility.

1927

*

7th March: Vivian Findlay Smith (39) dies in Funchal, Madeira

Thanks for sharing the results of your detailed investigations. One small addition is the relationship between AFS and John Grant-Smith: they were brothers-in-law. That is given in the details of Mrs JG-S's funeral: https://gwulo.com/node/41329

It isn't clear whether "Grant-Smith" was her husband's original surname, or if the name was formed by combining their unmarried surnames.

UPDATE: Stephen pointed out that John Grant Smith's marriage is noted in the timeline above, and that the details in the newspaper report of his wife's funeral are likely incorrect - that she was the sister-in-law of AFS, not his sister. 

 I did enjoy reading all this. The intrigue is, well, intriguing.  The timeline for the Austin Arms Hotel and how it affected the Peak Hotel is interesting to. 

I was personally taken at the idea of AFS suite of rooms at the Peak hotel.  I wouldn’t mind living in those for a while, in my dreams. 

Not sure if you've already checked this, but a search for "tram" turns up lots of results. eg I wondered if this would confirm the petition from AFS to Hennessy:

CO 129/193, pp 149-154
[from: 1881-06-15 to: 1881-06-15]
Document: INTRODUCTION OF TRAMWAY BILLS
Microform: HKU 2507199
From: HENNESSY
Send to: KIMBERLEY
Encl: ENCLOSURE=1 *REPORTING MOTIONS MADE IN COUNCIL ON THE INTRODUCTION OF TRAMWAY BILLS.
Keyword(s): TRAMWAY, MOTION, COUNCIL,

Thanks David. I knew there were some CO129 files, but AFS was something of a side effort, so I wasn't going at it full on and was leaving CO129 for another day. Possibly the most interesting bit will be John Price's exhaustive report, which may cast a bit of light on the exclusion of the Peak Tram from the original draft of the ordinance. The big obsession seems to have been the problem of the width of the road, especially the Praya, a point that certainly comes out in all the newspaper coverage.

The CO 129 references are also good for the further developments in 1904-1910 (the second peak tramway - and at one stage a wish to buy the Army out of Murray Battery), and the evanescent project for the tramway in Kowloon (1904) and another down to Aberdeen (1910).

Once one gets into CO129 on tramways, there are interesting 1865 documents about a tramway and about tracks - $12,000 in the estiimates for Sept 1865 for a tramway and in October for sleepers for the tracks. Interestingly if one searches the HKU Government Reports database, the first 'tramway' hit is in an 1874 financial return with revenue from the 'sale of old tramway trucks'. Presumably they may have come from the long Wanchai pier of the Hongkong Pier & Godown Co (liquidated in 1873) - though that the ordinance licensing the pier wasn't until 1871 poses a bit of a puzzle. But if it wasn't the Hongkong Pier & Godown Co pier that begat the 1865 tramway budget item, and I don't see it as likely that the government would have stumped up the money, whence was it? Clearly I shall have to find time to go have a look.

Best,

Stephen

My great great grandfather was John Grant Smith, the twin brother of Alexander Findlay Smith. The family name was Smith and the boys used their middle names (which may have been plucked at random from a whisky bottle, for all we know !) to differentiate themselves from the other Smiths of the world. There were 8 children born to William Smith and Jane (Wilson) of Nairn; I think John went to HK first, Alexander being listed in the 1861 census as a "railway clerk" in Nairn. I have a great deal of family information, far too much to impart here, but suffice to say (for the moment) that when John married Margery McEwen ("the daughter of the Manse" of Dyke) it is said, in family lore, to have caused a rift between the brothers because Alexander had set his sights on her hand but John got in first !. Their daughter Ada married Albert Denison, an established architect in HK, and they had 3 daughters one of whom was my grandmother Marjorie. [Her sister Erica was married to "Bud" Shenton].

As I say, I have a great deal of family information... I don't know where to start !

Ed

Perhaps check this family tree and add to it, or modify it as needed. 

https://www.geni.com/people/Alexander-Findlay-Smith/6000000032126173715