1910s Knutsford Terrace

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:41

Received via email:

The postcard most probably was taken from Signal Hill looking down onto Mody Rd and looking north across the side streets that connect Chatham Rd with Nathan Rd.

Knutsford Terrace is the long row of houses on the top left. Chatham Rd is on the extreme right with the road leading up to Gun Club Hill Barracks visible just off to the right turning road leading to Hung Hom.

The long road in the middle looks like Granville Rd. The mansion on the flickr set would most probably have been located south of Granville (probably Cameron) and may well be one of the houses seen on the right.

Date picture taken


The one in my photo must be the yellowish one on the far right. I used a similar photo from the Hong Kong Prublic Records Office (online) to identify it. If you look closely at this photo, you can see that the rear of the mansion has two exits, so it was a duplex (semi-detached). The Semichon/Grandel family lived in the southern half between 1908 and 1913, but I think I'll have to visit the PRO personally to get details.

Another email:

Sending you the photo that bjacques (the owner of the Flickr pics) was probably referring to in his last comment about the Chatham Rd Mansion. It was downloaded from the HK Library´s archive.

The photo was snapped in 1908. It is interesting to compare that with the one which you have put up on your site (the coloured postcard from 1910). It seems between 1908 and 1910 a new house was built alongside the one which the Semichon/Grandel family was living in.

You can see that by looking at the shapes of the windows or arches of the verandas. The so called "yellow" house in your photo had different windows as compared with the house in the 1908 photo (the one that is furthest to the right and a bit darker in colour). In the 1908 pic, there was an empty lot next to the house in question as well.

The 1908 pic also shows an amah hanging up the laundry behind the said house in what appears to be a pair of tennis courts (there were white lines on the ground). The family played tennis I think as was shown in some of the Flickr photos from another set which were taken in France. The amah could even be the same one that is featured in the set of HK photos from Flickr.

It seems likely that this big house was a semi-detached property. There were two small back patios or back entances sharing the same access to the "tennis courts". It also appears that in the 1908 pic, the house was situated virtually next to the shoreline whereas in the 1910 pic some reclamation had been done outside the house already, I think. It must had been very hairy during typhoon seasons then with the waves coming ashore only feet from the house.



The building on the foreground could be the one I am thinking which was located on the south side of Moody, where Hart Avenue and Hanoi Road meet (Moody Hotel). I am trying to track down my primary school class-mate who lived in that hotel in the 1950s. He might be able to recall his times and this neighbourhood while there.

Here's a section of the 1902-3 map of the area.

The red dot marks the junction seen in the lower left corner of the postcard above. Note that neither the yellow-tinted house at the far right of the postcard, nor the red-roofed building behind it appear on this map, so the Grandel house should have been built after 1903.

In one of the photos of the flickr set, mention is made of the possibility that the mansion was called 'Holyrood' after the famous Scottish castle. A search through the government archives indicates that the Holyrood mansion in Kowloon was first mentioned in February 1905. Three gentlemen on the jury list who worked for notable 'hongs' at the time listed their place of residence as 'Holyrood' Kowloon. This would tie in with the building being built probably after 1903 and prior to 1905.

A search for the Grandel and Semichon family names, however, proved fruitless.

So it is likely that Jules Semichon worked for one of the hongs at the time. Perhaps the French Consulate in HK could still be archiving records from those years about the French citizens living in HK then. Furthermore, could this area had been a so called "French" area of HK during the late Victorian era? MrB mentioned one of the roads in the neighbourhood was renamed to Hanoi Rd. Hanoi for me conjures up images of French Indochina...Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and so on.

Regarding the hotel in the foreground of this photo, my friend said the following:

"Yes, it was Lyton House Hotel where I lived from 1956 to the late 1960s. I think it was #4 Mody Road. This was my father's hotel which catered to British Army officers exclusively."

Physically, it was located on Mody Road. I have visited him many times at this hotel. What a great photo to recall my childhood memory standing on that top floor balcony!!!

The old hotel building above is long gone, but the building that stands in its place today is called the Lyton Building. It's at 32-48 Mody Road.

As a further link to the past, there is a Lyton House Inn guesthouse in the current building.


Just checking old photos showing the Observatory and come across this one. On closer look, the first-generation typhoon signal mast (1917-1932) is clearly visible to the left of the Observatory Building.  Furthermore, the extension (constructed in 1912) on the left hand side of the Observatory Building can also be seen.  Thus this postcard has to be dated after 1917.