Katoomba, 22 Magazine Gap Road [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Katoomba, 22 Magazine Gap Road [????- ]

Christine wrote:

Does anyone have anything, any info on the house called Katoomba, located on 22 Magazine Gap Road? I really want to know about it's first owner, and who owns it right now. This house has been in my childhood neighborhood for as long as I can remember. I lived at 17 Magazine Gap Road (also seeking old neighbors) with my family from 1974 - 1989. No. 17 was owned by my family from 1968 to 1990. No. 11 is still being owned by my best friend's family and No. 21 is also being owned by my Great Uncle. I have found out a lot of history on this road through this site about the history of the houses on the Peak and through my own research of every single lot (FL), Taipan houses that I know of. 

Katoomba, is the ONLY one that I could not find anything on. Despite numerous attempts and over 20 years of research - all leads to a dead end. I am so desperate, because my mother really loves that house. 

Note - Katoomba, Australia - A place high up on the blue mountain in Australia.. The only thing I know is that location does somewhat resembles the place in Australia. But why in Hong Kong, and what Australian ties does this house have?

Would really appreciate it if anyone out here could help.

Many Thanks. 


Here are some suggestions.

First I made a new Place for this, which is a good way to gather information about a certain building.

Then I took a look through some of the sources listed under the ' Where to find Hong Kong's history' page listed on the right of this page.

I started off with 'Old Hong Kong buildings' to check the age of the building. The 'Names of Buildings' document just says 'Pre-1945'. So it doesn't show how old it is, but we do know it was old enough to previously have a 'NNN The Peak' address, rather than 22 Magazine Gap Rd.

A check on an old map shows it was number 513. That map, estimated to be from 1938, shows it was already named Katoomba then.

Google Books is good for looking for people at old addresses. A search for "513 the peak" shows there was an R. A. Dermod Forrest living there in 1928. A search on his name finds he was a Hong Kong cadet, "(born 1893), Educated at Aberdeen University, Hong Kong Civil Service 1919; Inspector of Vernacular Schools; Immigration Officer 1940. In 1928 he'd have been 31, and doing well to have an address up on The Peak.

Another Google Books result for 1947 gives a Hong Kong Health Officer, John Macfarlane Gray living there.

A search for 513 the peak on HKGRO found a couple more entries in Juror's lists:

  • 1927: Frank McDougal Courtney, Sub-Manager, The National City Bank of New York.
  • 1939: Henry Charles Durrschmidt, Engineer, Standard Vacuum Oil Co.

Even these few searches show four different people living there over a twenty year period. Not much of a pattern though - two are from government, two from private industry. Maybe it was rented out?

A search on 'Old Hong Kong newspapers' didn't show anything very useful, though I see in the 1930s there were a couple of mentions of a 'Katoomba Handicap' run at the Happy Valley Racecourse. It could be worth looking to see who initiated that race, and whether it's the same person that named the house Katoomba.

Hopefully that gives some ideas for further research.

You must also have a lot of interesting photos and information from your family history, and from your research. I hope you'll be able to share some with us, as we'll be very interested to see them.

Regards, David

Photos that show this place


22 Magazine Gap - This lot is not listed on my 1915 map, but appears on a 1924 map with address of "513 The Peak, Katoomba".

Click through to https://www.iris.gov.hk/eservices/byaddress/search.jsp, enter the lot info and let us know what you find.


21 Magazine Gap - is listed on the 1924 map as "Gap Lodge", RBL 216, address "512 The Peak"

26 Magazine Gap - is listed on the 1924 map as "Tevlot", RBL 195, address "514 The Peak"


It may be owned by HSBC or one of the trading houses.  How about a lands search like the estate agents do?

 I tried the land search already...It has never been sold after 1940s....

thanks guys!!!

Royal Asiatic Society member addresses are also useful for finding previous occupants: a Mrs J Eitzen lived there in 1964 and 1965, if not longer(http://sunzi.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/44/4401065.pdf)

By 1971 she was living in Singapore at 155 Mount Pleasant Road, according to their records. I couldn't find any details on her; there's a Norwegian shipping company called Eitzen which has been around for a long time.

incidentally the Hong Kong cadets were the forerunners of today's administrative officer class; they were the government elite. Three of them became governors. Appears R.A.D. Forrest survived the war and was quite a linguist. He published a book on the Chinese language in 1948 and one on Tibetan-Burman in in 1956, among others.
http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/723120 and http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1205118

Arthur Ramsden Cavalier leased the property in 1920 for 75 years (renewable for another 75 years). A snippet in 1916 Hong Kong Blue Book lists him as "Inspector of Vernacular Schools". 

In 1938, Henry Charles Durrschmidt leased it for 5 years.

In 1971 it was bought by a Mr. & Mrs. Wong for HK$1,205,000.  Mr. Wong died in 1998.

In 2004 it was sold to Champ Art Investment Ltd. for US$4,500,000


The ground rent, is HK$32,040 per year.


does anyone know how old the current building is? should it be protected by the govt? or was it rebuilt

DEAR ALL, and especially annelisec

Thank you so so much on sharing your finds on this property, I do not know how u guys did it. So much knowledge and such thorough research. The bits of info supplied by Annelisec is precious. Thank you soooo much.

To answer your questions, for the times I have seen it, and as it is located just up the road from my apartment - I am pretty sure that the house has just been preserved. No major change or have they torn anything down. It is still the same. I guess it would be very hard to bring in large tractors or machineries to do any major work to it, as the path leading to the house is built on stilts leaning on the rocks of the cliff itself. The platform it is built on, is very small and have no room for even a small car to turn around. 

Thank you for all your help. I have so much to learn from all of u.


No special talent needed (except to have the map that shows the RBL number).  Once you have that, all the info came from the link on my first post.  There was a nominal $25 charge, to view the info online, about the same as a Pacific Coffee hot chocolate, so very reasonable.

This kind of research is not rocket science, and not just for the educated few. It is for everyone willing to take a little time and review the "how to" links Gwulo describes on the top right of every page " Where to find Hong Kong's history".

If you really want to say thank you and support Gwulo, then take a look at the photos on sale.  Without David, who created this place for us, there would be no Gwulo, and our pieces of history would be languishing in our private collections - not shared and multiplied.  I've just placed my order for my favourite old photo.


You're spot on - no special talent needed, just a bit of time and a web browser. Thanks to you and 80skid for not just sharing what you know, but also where you found it, so we can all learn new ways for searching.

For the Lands Office Records, do they distiguish between leasing land, and leasing the property built on it? So was the 1938 transaction someone buying the property (and so leasing the land), or just leasing the property from the existing owner?

If there was no change of owner between 1920 and WWII, it suggests the building would date back to 1920 too (since the government list it as pre-1945). Odd that it isn't a listed building, or was it considered but rejected?

Another little connection, both AR Cavalier and RAD Forrest were the Inspector of Vernacular Schools at different times.

Does anyone have any photos of the building they can share?

Regards, David

I have not got any on hand right now, but will go and take some over the weekend.

The building is kind of hidden in the jungle - very hard to take photo. There isn't much of a pedestrian path/ foot path either.. Very dangerous place... Hence really PRIVATE!!!

the building isn't on the list of sites considered for grading - they also list those given no gradings. we should check with the Antiquities department to see if they missed it/have further info

I took this photo at least 10 years ago. Is that Katoomba peeking out on the left?

1990s Admiralty and Central

Annelise confirms it is:

Here is the streetview link.  Now, the question is - is it historically significant.  I like it, but it is just a concrete box with a few curves - and there does not seem to be much "historical significance" regarding the owners or tenants.  We barely know who they are.


Hi Christine,

I am very interested in old taipan houses as well.  Do you have any history regarding your great uncle's property at 21 Magazine Gap Road?  Who did he buy the house from?  Do you know what year he acquired it?

Did your family own an apartment in 17 Magazine Gap Road or did they own the entire building?  I think some of these older lowrises had single ownership and the apartments were only available for rent.

If you have the DVD of the miniseries called "Noble House", you can see Katoomba in the beginning.  The taipan of the Noble House drives past Katoomba in his gold Mercedes.  It looked like the house exterior was being  renovated at the time (1987/1988).  Later in the miniseries, a Rolls-Royce takes him to Macau but the house was really No. 2 Shek O Road.

Since the death of my great uncle, access to his house became difficult. We have been restricted to 1 day of Chinese New Year only. I was told he brought the house for about $30,000 a very long time ago from one of the "gwailo" companies. I will dig more into that.

My grandpa did own the entire building of 17 Magazine Gap Road. His friend Mr. Fung own the building of 11 Magazine Gap Road. The Fung family demolished and redeveloped it (together with SHK) into a higher building with more apartments, which they had some of it sold off. My grandpa has his fears of China government and have sold off No. 17 and ALL of the families' property in Hong Kong before 1997.

Since I am doing a project of Tai Pan houses, I have a few pictures of his old home on Island Road, I could share, but not sure where to post it. Not very sure if posting them here is appropriate. 

Thank you for telling me about the Noble House miniseries. I will definitely go get it. 

I am so glad I came upon this site. There is so much to learn from all of u.

Thank you.

I have some pictures of old taipan houses as well.  However, they are all faded and I need to find a way to get them restored and catalogued.  They are mostly interior pictures though.

Wow, $30,000 for that house at No. 21 must have been a long time ago - maybe 1940s if not earlier.  Most houses on The Peak were selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars by the mid-1950s. 

Your grandfather's friend, Mr. Fung King Hey, owned The Ridge on Pollock's Path at one point.  Yes, it would be nice to see the pictures of your family's old house on Island Road although I am more interested in taipan houses on The Peak. 

Christine, if you doing research, can you keep an eye on any information about the original Altadena and Cragside on Barker Road?  I have never been able to find much information about them.  Thanks.

I posted some photos of our other residence here -


It is not Fung King Hey, the No. 11 belongs to the family of Li & Fung's founder Mr. Fung Pak-liu's son Fung Hon Chu. 

I only know 27 barker Road Altadena when it is a duplex apt. Will do some research.


Thanks for the correction.  When I saw your previous post about Mr. Fung and SHK redeveloping No. 11, I assumed it was Fung King Hey.  I am pretty sure he owned one of those lowrises in that area.  

Great picture of the Island Road home.  It looked like a great house.  How big was that house?    

Christine wrote:

Since I am doing a project of Tai Pan houses, I have a few pictures of his old home on Island Road, I could share, but not sure where to post it. Not very sure if posting them here is appropriate.

Yes, please do - you're very welcome to post them here.

Compradore wrote:

However, [the photos] are all faded and I need to find a way to get them restored and catalogued.

Here's a quick way to restore faded photos. Not to a professional standard, but certainly good enough for general viewing.

And to both of you, I recommend creating Places for new buildings as you mention them. It's a little more work up-front than just listing them in comments, but you'll find it a lot easier to manage as the amount of information builds up. And if you add the the taipan house tag to each one, you can see them all on a map like this (only one there so far, it is looking a bit lonely!).

Keep up the good work,

regards, David

Christine -did you ever find the answer to your question about who lives at Katoomba? I can verify that it is currently occupied by Dr Lucy Lord and her family but I don't know for how long they have lived there or whether they own or rent it. Hope that helps.

You are quite right that the Eitzens were a Norwegian shipping company and they lived as a family at Katoomba.  Lisa Eitzen is a schoolfriend from Glenealy Junior School and I used to visit her at Kattomba  This would be around 1960 to 1970.   A fabulous house and fabulous parties. I hope this helps.

Hi Christine,

Thank you for posting the photo of your grandfather's house.  I remember it so well from your birthday parties! :)  I will try and dig out some old photos playing pass-the-parcel on your front lawn.  Such a beautiful house it was.

My mum looked at the white one in front of you (with the red roof and tennis court) and almost bought it when we were young.  They're all gone now.  So sad.

I also grew up sleeping over at my childhood best friend's house at the Fung's (Koo's) at 11 Magazine Gap Road before they re-developed it.

15 and 17 are still the same but so run-down inside.

Are you still in HK?

Marisa Z.

Hi there,

Maybe I can shed some light on Katoomba which was where I was brought up and my parents Tove and Jorgen Eitzen lived from around 1948/49? to 1971.

My father Jorgen was head of the Norwegian shipping company - Thoresen & Co and lived in HKG for 25 years. Us three siblings (Per - born 1946) - Anne (born 1951) and Lise (born 1953) all lived there during our upbringing. We went to different schools - incl Old Peak School, The New Peak School, Glennelly and Island school and subsequently KGV.

The original address was 513 The Peak - which was subsequently changed to 22 Magazine Gap Rd. When that was I do not recollect, but my guess would be late 50's or early 60's. As can be imaged it had - in our opinion - Hong Kongs very best view!

When my father retired in 1971 and moved to Singapore the house was sold by Thoresen & Co to one for me unknown buyer.

It is however touching to see that Katoomba is still there - in the same shape and with - almost - the same fantastic view.

Thanks for now

Hello Per,

Thanks very much for writing in - good to hear from someone who lived there. Looking back up the page, we're still not sure exactly when it was built - sometime between 1920-1024 is our best guess. Any chance you know?

If you have any photos of the area (or the view!) you can share, we'd enjoy seeing them. Here are photos of a couple of the schools you attended.

The old Peak School:




Regards, David

Just found this thread! Lived in #17 from.68 to 80 in 9-A. Best of times!!

You were at my birthday parties? And u are friends of Candy? WOW. Photos would be lovely please. I live in England.

Hi, I was too little to remember anyone's surname at the time. If u lived in 9A, did u have 3 other siblings ? and which school did u attend? Or was it boarding school in the UK? I am looking for Justin of 6B, right above us, and Gabby in 4A, Nigel in 7A, Robin in 11A. Do you know any of them and if you were in touch with any of them before or even now, do u have surnames? SO I can find them???

Really best of times there.. playing everyday in the LG gardens. Climbing on the little jungle from LG that led to G. Jumping off from 1A to the Ground floor on a mount of building sand... Miss u all.

PLEASE CONTACT ME, rocket4rocket@gmail.com

Dear Per, There is a very long time since we last sad each other. Ås you know er share the same childhood home. When my family returned to Norway in 1949/50 your family moved in. In 1996 I was on holyday in Hong Kong. The first thing I did was to catch the tram up to the Peak and then walk the road downwards until I stood by the garage with the Australian name. Through å Hong Kong friend I managed to be invited for tea å couple of days later. To me it was fantastic to enjoy the tea outside and taking in the magnificant view of the town. At that time the house belønnes to the Wong family. The exterior of the house was slightly changed in terms of having new and glaced tiles on the roof and having aircondition boxes outside every room. Mrs Wong told me the property was worth 10 times as much as when they purchased it.

Interesting post! Sadly I note that the house appears to be on sale now (also a chance to look into its interior)


Hope the new owner won't demolish it.

Wow.  It says it was built in 1945, but clearly the interior has been renovated recently.  That is a stunning property, hope it doesn't go the way of Hilden in Pollock's Path.