Views along the tram line in the 1900s | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Views along the tram line in the 1900s

Join us for a ride on one of Hong Kong's new trams. Here's how The China Mail reported the first trial of the trams on July 2nd, 1904:

"To the clanging of the alarm-bell, and the whirling round of wheels, the first tram to run on the Hongkong tramway line left the shed last Saturday. [...] The cars used were the combination and the ordinary open car. In their new coats of paint, the colour of which is mainly yellow, relieved here and there with darker hues, the cars looked very well, [...] The motor men and ticket collectors are nattily dressed in white with narrow black facings, and attend daily at the sheds for instruction and trials."

I don't have any photos of the nattily dressed staff, but here's what those first trams looked like:

Third class tram
Third class tram, by UKNA


First class tram
First class tram, by UKNA


I'm not sure how long these all-first-class and all-third-class designs continued in use. Later reports describe a different design, where each tram had a mix of first- and third-class seating (maybe this is the "combination car" described in the newspaper report above?). However we do know that throughout the 1900s, all the trams were single-deck like these. Double-decked trams weren't introduced until 1911.

Here are the scenes we have on Gwulo that show views along the tram line in the 1900s, arranged as though we're travelling from west to east:

1900s Kennedy Town

St Peter's Church, Praya West

Hong Kong tramcar test run in 1904

1900s Central Market

1900s Central Market

Building under construction, Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

Hong Kong tramcar test run in 1904

Alexandra Building, Hong Kong, 1909

Tram passing City Hall

"Rickshaws and trams coming from races"

Queen’s Road East - Corner of Arsenal Street

Sailors & Soldiers Home Praya East

1900s Royal Naval Canteen

1905 Wanchai Road

Praya East (Sternberg PC)

1906 Typhoon - Tram

c.1905 Tram ticket

Metropole Hotel

Tramway to sugar factory Hong Kong

North Point Beach 1904


Further reading:

Thanks to all the contributors who've posted these photos to Gwulo. If you have any more photos of trams or locations along the tram lines, please upload them and I'll add them to the page for their decade.


Cheers David! The term 'combination' means the different cabins for 1st class passengers (centre enclosed) and 3rd class passengers (cross bench). Single deckers were progressively replaced/modified by later covered-top trams by 1926, there are three existed in postwar time, two of which were workscars. Hence, I stet back the earlier comments in elaborateing 'generation' on trams as it is incomplete. Most of the official records were in the 1st edition "Hongkong Tramways", as to our new edition. You will find it informative. Regards, Joseph

Found this on Gwulo:

Hong Kong tramcar test run in 1904
Hong Kong tramcar test run in 1904, by Edmond

Thanks Joseph, it's good to have the explanation of the combination tram.

If any readers would like to see the book Hongkong Tramways Joseph mentions, you can find details and how to order at

Thanks to Klaus as well. I've separated the two photos you found, and they now appear in the list above.

Regards, David