Gloucester Building / Gloucester Hotel [1932-1977]

Submitted by David on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 23:08
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
Date closed / demolished

I had the feeling that the Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel were two separate places (or possibly different buildings on the same plot). But the first mention of the hotel in the newspapers was the 4 Aug 1935 issue of the Sunday Herald, noting a wedding reception held there. That means the Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel were in existence at the same time.

So was the Gloucester Hotel the business name for the 'apartment house' described in the Feb 1932 clipping below?

Does anyone know when the building was demolished? And were the names Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel still both in use at that time?

Here are the early mentions I found of Gloucester Building in the newspapers:

Feb, 1930: "The pile-driving, I am glad to say, as I expect also are the occupants of all adjacent buildings; is now almost completed and the erection of the steel frame work will commence very shortly. It is hoped that a portion of the building will be revenue-producing in about a year's time." From Chairman's speech at AGM of the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, quoted in 11 Feb 1930 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Nov, 1930: The nuisance caused by the smoke emitted from the [coal-powered] hoisting gear on the Gloucester Building site was the subject of a series of questions by a member of the sanitary board at the fortnightly meeting held yesterday afternoon. 26 Nov 1930 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Feb 1931: The construction of Gloucester Building is proceeding satisfactorily. In spite of loss of time owing to bad weather, it is anticipated that the greater part of the ground and mezzanine floors will be ready for occupation in May. The whole building, granted no unforseen delays, is estimated to be completed before the end of this year, some two months ahead of contract time. Chairman's speech at AGM of the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, 11 Feb 1931 Hong Kong Daily Press.

June 1931: Gloucester Building [...] is rapidly nearing completion, work having just commenced on the tower [...]. Several shops opened for business on the ground floor for the first time today. 29 Jun 1931 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Dec 1931: The four top floors [...] when ready are to be utilised as a residential furnished apartment house, to be operated by the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co., Ltd. itself. [...] A feature will be that each room will be equipped with a bathroom, with hot and cold water. Provision is also being made for a restaurant, a bar and a tea lounge, while there will also be a private dining room. [... The eighth floor restaurant] will be fitted with a special spring dance floor. 11 Dec 1931 The Hong Kong Telegraph

Feb 1932: "Gloucester Building is now nearing completion. The installment of the internal fittings in such a large building inevitably takes time and is liable to be attended by unforseen delays. However it is hoped that the finishing touch will be completed by April.
There have been various rumours I understand of our intentions with regard to the upper floors. In case there are still any doubts I must say that it is proposed to run them on the lines of an apartment house. There are numerous fully furnished single rooms, double-bedded rooms, and a number of two-roomed suites. There will be a restaurant and lounge on the top floor."
From Chairman's speech at AGM of the HK Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, quoted in 16 Feb 1932 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

May 1932: Gloucester Building "Flats" Opened. 2 May 1932 Hong Kong Daily Press.

May 1933: I think it's fair to assume that 31st May was a quiet day for news in 1933. The headline in The Hong Kong Daily Telegraph that day was "Gloucester Building Band Slander Action", with sub-headlines "Manager sued by leader", and "Alleged criticism of trumpet-playing"!

Oct 1938: CNAC placed an advertisement noting they are the general traffic agents for Pan Am, and that their offices are moving to Gloucester Building.

Previous place(s) at this location
Later place(s) at this location


Photos that show this Place


Robert - many apologies for not replying sooner but I only just came across your comment!

I will post a few photos here of the Gloucester which I got from a book my parents had about various cities in the Orient. 

I hope they will be of interest 

Gloucester_Hotel_charges.jpg, by Nona


Gloucester Hotel.jpg
Gloucester Hotel.jpg, by Nona


The Gloucester was renamed the Matsubara Hotel during the Japanese Occupation ...

Matsubara.jpg, by Nona

Hi Nikki,

Just curious to find out when did your Mom live in Alexander House? Cause I was born there and moved to Gloucester Building in the late 60’s or early 70’s (can’t remember exactly the year). Then we moved to P&O building across the street and then to Star House in T.S.T. in the early 80’s. I am sure that we might have ran into each other back in Gloucester Building.




Hello Nona,

Thanks for your comment and photos of Gloucester Building. If you have any other photos from the time of the Japanese occupation during WWII please let me know. I remember Gloucester Building well from my childhood when I used to go to the arcade where my aunt worked at a travel agency and to have some refreshments! Thanks again. Robert


I'm trying to find suitable photographs of H.K taken just before and during the Japanese occupation from 1941-45 for my book The Farthest East which is basically a narrative about my family during the War Years. I think that the photo that you have on your Piu-Ulski site or one similar to it with more of the Peak would be perfect for the cover. Please let me know if you would consider that? Thanks. Robert Jones  

In January 1946, my grandfather Edgar de Chaffoy opened a small shop for the company Perla del Oriente in the Gloucester Building in Central, with an office above. The shop sold watches, crystal, and other luxury goods. He had worked for the company before the war, but as a manager of the cigar factory in Mong Kok.

The Hong Kong Land Investment and Agency Company, Ltd. published a booklet "In Far Eastern Waters" in 1933,  describing the Gloucester Building as originally envisioned as being businessmen's "bachelor flats" on the upper floors, with commercial offices and retail shops below.  However, the booklet states that when completed, the building's plan was altered to allow women, and function more as a hotel for wealthy tourists, as well.  This may have come about due to the deterioration of economic conditions at the time.

Interestingly, the management bemoans the fact that there is no air service to Hong Kong, and the colony may be reached only by ship.  

I seem to recall that in the late 60s and early 70s there ws a restaurant on the uipper floor of the building which was called the Cosmo Club. Richard Hughes and other writers and newspaper men dined here regulalry and at great length

The October, 1932 edition of "The Far Eastern Review" extolled the benefits of Hong Kong's newly-completed Gloucester Building with its large four-faced clocked tower, at that time dominating the landscape of the central business district.

Gloucester Building - Prominent in Central Hong Kong -1932
Gloucester Building - Prominent in Central Hong Kong -1932, by Chinarail (Enhanced scan from The Far Eastern Review Oct.1936)

 Verbatim extract from  'The Far Eastern Review':

Hongkong Tells Time by Telechron

PROMINENT in the downtown section of Hongkong, near the busy docks of its spacious harbor, a new and attractive building has been erected in the recent past, containing apartments, business offices, and on the ground floor, shops and arcades. Rising from the front corner, 135 feet above the street, a clock tower gives the time of day to dwellers of the city. It is visible for a long distance out in the harbor that teems with ships and small craft, and can be seen from the residential section in the hills whose rise is so abrupt from the business streets that an inclined railway is utilized for transportation.

The Hongkong Land Investment Company, owners of this, the Gloucester Building, and its architects, Leigh & Orange of Hongkong, in taking upon themselves the rendering of a time service for so wide an area, took also an accompanying responsibility. It was of highest importance that the four great dials, on the four sides of their tower, should not only be always in accord as to the hour and minute but should point the correct time, so as to be depended on for accuracy and so that clocks and watches of all the city could be set to them as a standard.

Gloucester Building Clock Tower - 1932
Gloucester Building Clock Tower - 1932, by Chinarail (Enhanced scan from The Far Eastern Review Oct.1936)

The timepiece chosen was the Telechron, an electric clock that has made itself popular in homes and business places of many parts of the world because it never has to be wound, calls for no periodic attention, and tells the time of day with remarkable and consistent accuracy. Each of the four dials on the Gloucester Building is 10 feet in diameter, and each has a little motor to drive the hands. The reason that the four motors run at identical speed is that each revolves at the identical speed of a motor in a master clock at the central station, and the reason that this and all other Telechrons on the system make the same number of revolutions in a minute is that, being synchronous motors, their speed is a function of the frequency of the alternating current that supplies them. By the aid of the master clock, this current is held to a constant frequency of so many cycles per second and all the Telechrons respond by a definite number of turns per minute. It is very ingenious, very simple, and very reliable.

To meet the remote contingency of a stoppage in current supply, provision is made for resetting the hands of the Gloucester Building clocks when current is restored. This is accomplished by feeding the motors temporarily. at a considerably higher frequency from a special motor-generator set, thus speeding them up until the hands have caught up to their correct position in agreement with the master clock.

Gloucester Building is an ornament and business acquisition to Hongkong, and its towering clocks, with faces illuminated, give a very useful service by day and night.


Gloucester Restaurant was one of my early childhood memories. I was recently looking for some interior photos online, but I could not locate anything.

Last night, I was going through my childhood photos, and found this one photo of me holding a red balloon (see image below). I discovered the red balloon had "Gloucester Restaurant 告羅士打酒家" and the face of a clown clearly printed on it,

Balloons were given out to children, so that the parents could eat their lunch in peace.


042F3D22-F7B0-48FA-9022-83CF8B552C45.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮
CE52A761-C2B2-40BD-A802-757AE367868F.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮
B7AD2255-FCDF-44A9-8C8E-D99EA97E33ED.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮

Gloucester Arcade was a myriad of shops, including Watsons Chemist, a great toy shop and Gilman & Company Limited's showroom where my mother was manager (1957-71) and involved in selling airconditioners and refrigerators manufactured by Philco.  There was Godown storage underneath the arcade, also owned by Gilman & Co., and as a child I was allowed to go there and choose tins of chocolate covered peanuts, Cadbury Milk bars etc.  The cake shop in the arcade was from the marvellous Gloucester Restaurant upstairs.  Their chau siu bao (pork buns) and dan tarts (delicious warm custard tarts) were a real treat.  The dim sum restaurant upstairs was one of the best in town, whereas now the best, in my opinion is the City Hall Restaurant.  In the 60s a new building, Central Building was attached by a walkway to Gloucester Building which allowed access to more wonders such as Da Silva Jewellers and an escalator upstairs to Joyce dress shop.

After WWII, my mother worked at the Hong Kong Hotel which was in Gloucester Building. Later, she was transferred to Hong Kong Land where she worked until the early 80s. I remember Gloucester Building as I used to visit my visit her at work until the building was demolished in 1977. I would like to contact some of the staff and their children who used to live staff quarters in the Building. 

Also, Mr. and Mrs. Au Lam and their famous cake shop are entrenched in my mind. I would also like to contact their children/grandchildren and share my memories with them. 

Tell me, was your brother Michael? And lived on Old Peak Road?
I was friends with him until he went to boarding school. 

Yes Michael Gough is my brother.  He is 14 years younger than I am and lives in Lanzarote.  His name is now Mike Cliff-Jones.  He has written a couple of books about living in Lanzarote.  We lived in Luginsland.  He went to boarding school much too young in my opinion and our family left Hong Kong in 1971.  carol gough

Is this the "Gough" family who used to live on Green Island where the gunpowder and explosive storage were? If not, do you know that family and what became of them? My father used to be the lighthouse keeper on that island. 

Thanks for that Carol,
I'm Alun, and lived in Luginsland as well, but I'm not sure if we ever met.
I was in the same year at Glenealy with Michael.