Tramway Managers House or Tramway Station House [1893-????]

Submitted by gw on Fri, 07/16/2021 - 04:48
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
(Month is approximate.)

The Tramway Managers House, also known as the Tramway Station House, was built on Rural Building Lot (RBL) 80 situated adjacent to, and just down the track from, the Engine House at the Upper Terminus of the Peak Tram, as shown in this extract from a 1924 map.

Extract from 1924 Map showing RBL 80 at Peak Tram Upper Terminus.jpg
{C}{C}{C}Extract from 1924 Map showing RBL 80 at Peak Tram Upper Terminus.jpg, by Annelisec{C}{C}{C}

RBL 80 was advertised for sale by auction to take place on 9th May 1892 (Government Notification 190/1892 in Government Gazette). A condition of sale was that the purchaser must complete construction of a substantial building on the site within one year of the auction. I have been unable to find any other direct record of the auction so cannot confirm if it actually took place on that date, whether it was successful or not, and if successful - who won. However, the following circumstantial evidence strongly implies that the site was developed within one and a half years of the auction.

The Report of the General Managers for the 8th Ordinary General Meeting of shareholders of the Hongkong High-Level Tramway Co. Ltd. (owner of the Peak Tram) on 21st December 1892, stated that;

"Arrangements have been made with A.S. Watson & Co. Ltd. to erect a building adjoining the engine house, a portion of which is to be leased to the Tramway Co. so as to afford godown, waiting room and other accommodation which is much needed". (China Mail, 13th December, 1892).

The following years Meeting was held on 21st December 1893 at which the General Manager informed shareholders;

"We induced Messrs. A. S. Watson & Co. to build a Buffet and waiting rooms for the further convenience of the public and with a view to give you (the shareholders) the godown accommodation absolutely necessary to keep your reserve material from the effects of the weather without any additional cost to you. There was no spare material, not even a spare rail, when my firm (i.e. the General Managers firm) took charge of the Company (i.e. the Tramway Co.), and what valuable machinery did exist was left out in the sun and rain throughout the year. All this has been altered". (China Mail, 21st December, 1893).

Whilst neither of these passages specifically mention that the building being referred to was constructed on RBL 80, I believe it was because;

a. Its location was described as "adjoining the engine house" - the structure at the Upper Terminus containing the engines that pulled the tramcars up the hill. Only the building that appeared on RBL 80 fits this description.

b. The building described at the meetings was said to contain a waiting room, buffet, godown and other accommodation. This sounds more like a substantial building than just some temporary prefabricated hut. 

c. The timeframe could fit within the one year construction window if RBL 80 had been sold by auction on 9th May 1892, i.e.

9th May 1892 - RBL 80 sold by auction.

Late 1892 - A.S. Watson Co. agrees to construct a building on RBL 80.

21st December 1892 - Agreement with A.S. Watson Co. reported at Peak Tranway AGM.

Before 9th May 1893 - Building on RBL 80 completed within one year of auction.

21st December 1893 - Completion of construction reported at Peak Tramway AGM.

From the above I think it's safe to say that the building was constructed at sometime between 9th May 1892 and 21st December 1893, but the actual construction period may well have been between late 1892/early 1893 and 9th May 1893.   

Something else that can be concluded from the 1892 and 1893 Reports of the High-Level Tramway Co. Ltd. is that this company was not the purchaser of RBL 80, probably due to its poor financial position at the time. As A.S. Watson & Co. Ltd. constructed the building on RBL 80, perhaps they were the purchaser of the lot? I've tried but failed to find reports of their AGM's in the old newspapers.

Following completion the building was referred to as either the Tramway Managers House (1909 map at; 1912 map at; 1924 map at or the Tramway Station House (Government Notification 190 in 1904, 208 in 1914 and 569 in 1923).

Over the years, as the Peak was developed, the building was given the following official addresses.

Prior to 29-5-1914 - No. 15 The Peak on Chamberlain Road. (Government Notification 190/1904).

From 29-5-1914 to 1-1-1924 - No. 17 The Peak on Chamberlain Road. (Government Notification 208/1914).

From 1-1-1924 - No. 50 The Peak on Stubbs Road. (Government Notification 569/1923).



Photos that show this Place


At that date the High-Level Tramway was managed by the firm of J.D. Humphreys and Sons, who also managed A S Watson & Co Ltd as a public comapny, having been sole proprietor from 1871-1886.. Presumably Humphreys organised the financing of the Tramway manager's House through the accounts of A S Watson. I would also presume that RBL 80 was bought by Humphreys through his estate and finance company,

My grandfather John Ambrose Jupp was a director of J D Humphreys & Sons and my uncle John Edmund Jupp an employee until the Japanese invasion.

Believe these two photos show the Tramway Managers House in the early 1900s.

Peak Tram-early image
Peak Tram-early image, by IDJ
Tcitp_d174_hong_kong_peak_tram_station, by Arnold Wright