Des Voeux Road

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:19

Photo courtesy of Greg Fripp

Date picture taken
2 May 1956


Reader 'moddsey' has asked some local friends about this photo:

I was asked this difficult question. Where was this photo taken ? The decade is 1950s.

It looks like some kind of funeral procession is taking place with a police marching band and vehicles behind.

My initial answer was somewhere on Des Voeux Rd, Central or Western.

Would the advertising signboard of " On Lok Yuen " help? I believe they used to sell ice cream

and received the reply:
I was living in Des Voeux C. during the 1950s. There was an On Lok Yuen a little east of the Central Market on the side nearer to the water front. The funeral possession, not too infrequent during those days, which I and my brother liked to watch as pass-time 'entertainment', should be a eastbound one.

In fact there is still an "On Lok Yuen" building at No 25 Des Voeux Rd, (the building with the HK Book Centre in the basement), so it looks like we have the location confirmed.


More insights from 'moddsey', making me realise just how little I know!


I also received other answers from my local friends on the Des Voeux Rd photo. They all pointed to the general direction of the On Lok Yuen Building, next to the former General Post Office (now World Wide House). Here are some of the comments:


The On Lok Yuen signboard pins down the location as Central District. The tram track has always been on Des Voeux Rd. Central, running its course to the west onto Des Voeux Rd. West.

Social dignitaries in that era (especially members of the colonial ruling classes like government's exco and legco, flamboyant business figures and the like) could get military bands involved in their funeral processions. The band in the picture could be that of the HKP, HKAP, Fire Services, St. John's Ambulance Brigade and many more. They were and are all in white tunics.

If it was that of the HKP, the procession could well be that of an officer killed in the line of duty, in the light of (1) the level of publicity as depicted by the huge no. of by-standers, and (2) the fact that the procession went through Central, which was deemed the heart of the colony in the 50's.

The officer figure between the motor car and the last tram resembles a
police officer in his classic, white rubber raincoat - executing some
kind of traffic & crowd control !?

(name of writer deleted)

With reference to my friend's comments on social dignitaries that were allowed a full procession through Central Dustrict, the only person that I could think of that would could command such respect and homage was Sir Robert Hotung who passed away in 1956. Anyway enough surmising and back to the real world!



Saw the random photo pop up and revisited the comments made. The funeral of Sir Robert was held on 2 May 1956. From newspaper photos of the day, the cortege made its way through Des Voeux Road Central passing the HSBC amidst a steady downpour. There was that looks like a police band at the head of the procession.