Hong Kong Shop Houses

Submitted by philk on Tue, 09/16/2008 - 17:20

I find these building fascinating - harking back to an era that is sadly no more (as per usual with somewhere as 'dynamic' as HK). I get quite excited whenever I see one, sometimes on main thoroughfares, sometimes tucked away in the maze of streets that litter the territory. Perhaps it is their relative scarcity adds to their allure? Either way I have decided to try and document as many of them as possible and, at the inspired suggestion of David, to do this on Gwulo.

I have a few in mind that I have already added as places, and a few more I intend to revisit over the coming weeks (e.g The Pawn and some more on De Voeux Rd) so I can pinpoint their exact location and document them here.

However, I am not really as familiar with HK Island as I know many of you are. So, please feel free to comment with some suggestions or, even better, add them as places yourself so we can get a consolidated map in order. If you do add one, please attach a shop house tag.

EDIT: According to a local news report (19/09/2008), regarding the renovation of the row of shop houses (described as 1930's pre-war housing) on Prince Edward Rd West, there are only 73 examples of Shop Houses still standing in HK. So let's see if we can get photos of all of them.

Hi there,

My observation is that these old Pawn Shops usually own the whole block, which means the owner must have been quite wealthy.  These Pawn Shop blocks also act a a stronghold for storing valuable items.  But hey, if one doesn't have quite a lot of cash on hand, or a continuous flow of cash on his or her disposal, how could one start a Pawn Shop business afterall?

Best Regards,

T

I suspect that the pawn shops are just well established. It wouldn't surprise me to find that they have been in the same location for a long time (i.e. since shophouses were a bit more common) and as a result have managed to help protect the buildings from redevelopment.

I had a message from Barrie as follows:

"Like yourself, i have been interested in the shophouses and have begun photographing them.  Near my school are several shop houses as i wander around in my lunch break.  there are plenty if you go up Lai Chi Kok Rd to the Sham Shui Po area eg in Nam Cheong st just off Lai Chi Kok rd, in Yen Chow St opp the Golden Computer Centre and many more in the  area - as well as a few behind the Prince Edward MTR to the west (heading to Sham Shui Po)"

I recommended to Barrie that he come to this site and start helping us documenting, especially with decent photos. Let's hope he has a look in and helps us out.

In the meantime perhaps T can clear up if these (mentioned above) have already been tagged.

Cheers

Phil 

PhilK & T, another idea for you. Is it worth agreeing on tags to show if it's a complete building, or just some evidence like an old pillar? eg use tags

shop house

or

shop house pillar

Then I can make a new page for you that lists all the complete shop houses, ie a table list, instead of the current view that shows them on a map.  It will help you track progress towards finding the 73 that the government know of.  (And I won't be very surprised if you find there are more than 73!)

MrB

Reader IDJ has sent in this photo:

1960s Connaught Rd C Shop Houses

He writes:

I took this in the late 1960s from the Rumsey Street car park. The road is Connaught Road Central and the Wing On department store was out of shot to the left. On the roof levels of these buildings can be seen the squatter huts and illegal extensions that were common on top of most buildings of this type in that period. A transition can be seen in the buildings in the image whereby the deep set first floor balconies either still remain areas for hanging out washing/sitting out and others glassed in for more living or working spaces. Some have started to have air conditioners fitted. Many were used as small factories.

When they were common these overhung buildings were useful when it rained, but were slow for pedestrians to negotiate as the pillars were obstructions as were the inevitable goods cascading onto the pavements from the shop fronts. But they were much slower times all round though.

I’ve always been wary of these buildings where the pavement pillars have been removed as I don’t suppose the owners or residents have bothered to have structural surveys done to determine whether the unsupported overhung floors remain structurally safe. There have been several collapses of overhead canopies onto pavements over the years.

My late mother-in-laws flat in an old block in the back streets of Causeway Bay has been completely revamped in recent years to become a shop with large areas of the external walls knock out to make picture windows for display purposes despite being on the first floor.

Great photo! The buildings are showing their age - none of the floors seem horizontal, nor the pillars vertical.

There's a marker in Tsuen Wan on the map, but nothing further north than that. Did any of the towns in the NT have any - do any still remain?

I was thinking of Yuen Long in particular. It was a market town before the war, so would likely have had some.

MrB

PS Found this post giving more history about shophouses, especially in Singapore & Malaysia.

My old Tai Po photo shows them, and there are afew older low-rise buildings could have been in the past, but as for pillar'd front facades - I haven't found any in Tai Po (yet).

I don't know Yuen Long well enough but I guess there is as much chance there as anywhere else. Especially as Yuen Long and surrounds hasn't modernised quite as quickly as Tai Po. It wouldn't sdurpise me if there were some in Fanling or Sheung Shui, both have some fairly old streets.

 Great link BTW. 

In yesterday's talk, Carrie Lam gave preservation of shophouses as an example of preserving heritage. I found a couple of mentions on the government website:

  • March 31 2008: 48 shophouses to be preserved, with details of how they will be handled according to their grading.
  • September 19 2008: Details of a group of 20 shophouses to be preserved, one set on Shanghai Street, and one set on Prince Edward Road West.

This is good news, and they are going to save many more than I expected.

However, they mention 56 'others' of no historical/preservational value. This means they have identified 104 properties altogether? Is there a document that contains all their locations?

Did Thomas manage to get all of these in the Batgung shophouse hunt?

Would be interesting to know of any we missed.

Phil, I'm not sure if they have a list or not. Probably the Commissioner for Heritage's Office would be the place to ask.

Here are the shop houses we've found so far. At this point there are 107 listed, but some of them are just pillars or walls, not full shop houses.

Place name Sort descending Author
#1 Playing Field Road [1932- ] philk
#1 Queen's Road West, Possession Street, Sheungwan [????- ] tngan
#103 Parkes Street, Yaumati [????-2011] tngan
#105 Parkes Street, Yau Ma Tei [????- ] philk
#109-111 Lockhart Road [????- ] tngan
#110 Johnston Road, Shop House Candidate [????- ] tngan
#111 Pei Ho Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#112 Jervois Street, Sheungwan - (源吉林涼茶) Yuen Kat Lam Herbal Tea [1923- ] tngan
#113 Bonham Strand, Sheungwan - Pang Yue Tai [????- ] tngan
#1166 - 1168 Canton Road [????- ] philk
#117-125 Nam Cheong Street, Shamshuipo. Nam Cheong Pawn Shop took up #117 here. [????- ] tngan
#12-20 On Lan Street, Central [????-2011] tngan
#121 Bonham Strand, Sheungwan, Monsieur Chatte Grandes Saveurs de France [????- ] tngan
#122 Nam Cheong Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#1235 Canton Road Shophouse [????- ] philk
#130-132 Portland Street, Mongkok, near Dundas Street [????-????] tngan
#141 Pei Ho Street, Hang Jing Pawn Shop [????- ] tngan
#142 Un Chau Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#147 Lai Chi Kok Road [????- ] philk
#153 Queen's Road West, Sheung Wan [1941- ] tngan
#16 San Lau Street﹐ Tokwawan [????- ] tngan
#167-169 Lai Chi Kok Road [????- ] tngan
#168 Lai Chi Kok Road, Surviving Wall [????- ] tngan
#173 Tai Nan Street [????- ] philk
#18 & 20 Nullah Road, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#18 Ship Street, Wanchai [1937- ] tngan
#185 Tai Nan Street [????- ] philk
#187 Apliu Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#190 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui [1937- ] tngan
#192-194 Ki Lung Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#197-197A Reclamation Street, Yaumati [????-c.2015] tngan
#20 High Street, Mid-Levels, Western District [????- ] tngan
#20 Pau Chung Street, Surviving Pillar [????- ] tngan
#23 Argyle Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#235 Hennessy Road [????-2010] tngan
#235 Temple Street [????- ] tngan
#24 Mongkok Road, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#26 Ki Lung Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#28-32 Graham Street, Central [????- ] tngan
#282 Portland Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#286 Lockhart Road, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
#287 Portland Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#29 Hau Wong Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#295 Queen's Road West, Western District [????- ] tngan
#296 Reclamation Street, Yaumati, Surviging wall of a former Shop House [????- ] tngan
#297 Portland street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#3 Nam Kok Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#3-5 Pennington Road, Causeway Bay - Tak Hing Pawn Shop on #3, IL 6650 [????- ] tngan
#3-5 Temple Street, Yaumati [????-????] tngan
#30 Temple Street, Yaumati, Surviving Pillar with a small tree on it. [????- ] tngan
#301-303 Castle Peak Road & Fat Tseung Street, Cheung Sha Wan [????- ] tngan
#31 Fuk Wah Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#313-315 Shanghai Street, Yaumati [????- ] tngan
#32-34 Argyle Street, Mongkok [????-2008] tngan
#326 Ma Tau Wai Road, Tokwawan, Surviving Pillar [????- ] tngan
#344 Ma Tau Wai Road, Tokwawan [????- ] tngan
#36 Cochrane Street, Central [????- ] tngan
#36 Eastern Street, Western District [????- ] tngan
#414 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#422 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City [????-2016] tngan
#454 Castle Peak Road, Cheung Sha Wan [????- ] tngan
#5-7 Ki Lung Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#538-540 Canton Road, Yaumati [????- ] tngan
#54 Taipo Road, Shop House Candidate [????- ] tngan
#55 Yen Chow Street﹐ Shamshuipo [1932- ] tngan
#554 Canton Road, Yaumati [????- ] tngan
#578 Canton Road, Yaumati [????- ] tngan
#58 Pei Ho Street [????- ] philk
#6 Arran Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#60 Hollywood Road, Central [1925- ] tngan
#600-606 Shanghai Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#612-614 Shanghai Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#62 Hollywood Road, Central [????- ] tngan
#620-626 Shanghai Street, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
#629 Reclamation Street [????- ] philk
#65 Ha Heung Road, Tokwawan [????- ] tngan
#68 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#72 Des Voeux Road Central, Tak Wing Pawn Shop - Since 1940 [1940- ] tngan
#75 Un Chau Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#75 Wanchai Road [????- ] tngan
#8 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#83-85 Fuk Wah Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#88 Nam Cheong Street, Shamshuipo [????- ] tngan
#9 Ko Shing Street, Sheung Wan [1957- ] Klaus
#9 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
#91 Wanchai Road, Chun On Pawn Shop [1925- ] tngan
#95-97 Parkes Yaumati Shop House Candidate [????-2011] tngan
#96 Ap Liu Street [????- ] philk
#99F Wellington Street, Central - Fresco Cafe Bakery [????- ] tngan
#Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City [????- ] tngan
110-114, Castle Peak Road, Yuen Long [????- ] David
163-169 Castle Peak Road, Yuen Long [????- ] David
190-220 Prince Edward Road W Shop Houses [????- ] philk
1A Marble Road, North Point [????-2017] leungpk
264, Lai Chi Kok Road [????- ] David
29 & 31 Bridges Street [1952- ] David
31 Wing Fung Street [1957-c.2018] David
67 Des Voeux Road West, Shop House [????-c.2015] David
69 Des Voeux Road West, Shop Houses [????-2018] philk
729 Nathan Road near Mongkok Road, (since 1929) [1929- ] tngan
An interesting building at Shantung Street and Nathan Road, Mongkok [????- ] tngan
Back of the Green Block, Burrows Street, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
Century Hong Kong Hotel, surviving pillar and wall of a former Shop House [????- ] tngan
Copy cat shop house at 6 Stewart Road, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
Corner of Amoy Street & Queen's Road East [????- ] tngan
Corner of Wing Kut & Des Voeux Central [????- ] tngan
Fung Leung Kee Watches, Johnston Road, Wanchai [c.1943-2020] tngan
Hau Sang Rice Wine [????- ] tngan
Lui Sang Chun, at Lai Chi Kok & Tong Mei [1931- ] tngan
Shop House at 39 King's Road [????-c.2020] David
Shop House at Chung On Street, Tsuen Wan [????- ] tngan
Shop House at the corner of Kweilin & Yu Chau [????- ] tngan
Shop House on Ap Liu Street [????- ] David
Shop Houses on Queen's Rd Central [????- ] David
Shophouse at 22 Pottinger Street [????- ] David
Shophouse at Corner of Belcher's Street and Davis Street [????-c.1998] moddsey
Shophouse at Corner of Lai Yin Lane and Tung Lo Wan Road [????-2007] moddsey
Shophouse at junction of Fuk Tsun Street & Pine Street [????-2013] tngan
Some relocated pillars of former Shop Houses [????- ] tngan
Tai Wong Street East, Wanchai, surviving wall of former shop house [????- ] tngan
Tak Sang Pawn Shop (since 1940) at Saigon and Shanghai [1940- ] tngan
The Blue Block, #74 Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai [1922- ] tngan
The Green Block, Mallory Street, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
The Pawn, Johnston Road, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
The Yellow Block, #2-8 Hing Wan Street, Wanchai [????- ] tngan
Tung Tak Pawn Shop, at Marsh & Hennessy [????-2015] tngan
Wicker Shops on Ki Lung Street next to Yen Chow Street 1954 [????-????] OldTimer
Wing Wo Ho Grocery Store, Graham Street Wet Market [1930- ] tngan

the recent assessment of 1444 old buildings by the heritage experts for the Antiquities Board has information/grading on all the old shophouses, including some to be demolished.

http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Monument/en/aab.php

clicking on the brief assessments on grade 1,2 and 3 buildings opens up detailed descriptions and history of each building. Searching for tong lau or shop house will limit scrolling through 500 buildings at a time

 

Hi there,

In the New Territories, there are still many older houses, such as those walled villages, which are usually hundreds of year old.

Best Regards,

T

Pete

Any recent pictures and do you know the exact locations? If you do then they can be added as a 'place' and given the 'Shop House' tag to make them appear on the google map above.

Phil

Last week I ended up in Yuen Long after a hike, and had a chance to check out Pete's recommendation.

I found a couple of groups along Casle Peak Road (the main road that the LRT runs along). This group on the North side:

Yuen Long shophouse

and this on the South:

Yuen Long shophouse

One thing a bit different is that they only extend out over half the pavement, unlike the shop houses in Kowloon or HK Island that usually cover the whole pavement.

Yuen Long shophouse

Any ideas what caused the difference? Were pavements in the New Territories narrower?

The area to the North of Castle Peak Road is the older side, and there are some other relatively old buildings there, like these along Sau Fu Street:

23 Sau Fu Street

I didn't spot any more in the shop house style, but there were several more  that were old enough to have chimneys. Worth a longer wander around on a cooler day!

Hi there,

I guess pavements were likely narrower in the New Territories back then.  The existing pavement seen in the photos might be extended slightly more than two decades, when the light rail was built.

Best Regards,

T

T, I thought some more, and the explanation seems a bit odd, given the width of the roadway.

Today it is wide enough for a wider pavement, road traffic, and the platforms and rails of the LRT. If these shophouses were built in the 1930s-50s, I wonder why the road was made so wide then? There wouldn't have been much traffic along it in those days. Then given a wide road with little traffic, it would have made sense to have wide pavements.

I'll check with a friend whose family is from Yuen Long. Maybe they can remember.

Hi there,

I could not recall anything from before the Light Rail system was built.  But Castle Peak Road run along the middle, cuttong the new and old town of Yuen Long was a fact.

However I have a theory.  It might have been more or less having the same system as the Gloucester Road in Wanchai.  The original Gloucester used to run along the water front and is now being devided by a fence between the now Gloucester mains........

My 2 cents,

T

Hi there,

I bumped into two sets of then and now photos of Yuen Long Main Road (Castle Peak Road Yuen Long Section) and I guess the theory I brought up last time is flawed.

The two older photos clearly showed part of the pavements were indeed quite wide.

Best Regards,

T

 

Readers may be interested to see an article by Christopher Dewolf in today's 'China Daily' that Thomas and myself were interviewed for.

Chris has put it up on his Urban Photo blog:

http://www.urbanphoto.net/blog/2010/10/05/hong-kongs-disappearing-shoph…

The Urban Photo blog is no longer available, but an archived version of the article is here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20101012085252/http://www.urbanphoto.net/bl…