[4 May 2014 Update: Moddsey has found firm evidence this was taken in 1940 outside St Joseph's Church. See http://gwulo.com/node/9954#comment-28185]
What: Can any readers tell us more about customs at a Naval wedding?
The car in the background is dressed up with ribbons:
Two ropes lead out in front of it, with these handles attached at regular intervals:
There are four sets of handles per rope, so sixteen men in total. I'm assuming they didn't actually have to do any pulling, as once the driver released the handbrake, gravity would take care of the rest!
Are they a reminder of a time when sailors would actually pull a cart to / from a wedding?
Who: There are a couple of clues on the back of the photo:
I guess the name in the top corner was the customer who'd bought this print - a Mr G Taylor, ranked 'Able-bodied seaman' (from the 'AB'), and serving on board HMS Thanet. Probably one of the men we can see holding the ropes.
We can also see that the Photographer came from King's Studio at 16 Queen's Road in Central. Older maps  show #16 was on the western corner of the entrance to Zetland Street.
The men in the background are dressed differently from those holding the ropes:
I believe the man on the left in the white jacket is an officer in the navy. How about the men on the right in the dark uniforms - are they policemen?
When: The seller dated it '1930s', but we should be able to narrow that down by finding when HMS Thanet was in Hong Kong.
A search for 'Thanet' in the local newsapers gives several matches. The first relevant match is from 17th January 1938 (The China Mail reports HMS Thanet "was responsible for a Japanese armed trawler releasing a Chinese junk which had been captured"), and the last was on 14th August 1939 (The SCMP reported "HMS Thanet proceeded to Swatow yesterday").
It must have returned from Swatow to Hong Kong, as Tony Banham mentions it left Hong Kong on December 8th, the same day that the Japanese invaded . It sailed to Singapore, and was sunk by Japanese ships on 27 January 1942 .
So we know when HMS Thanet left, but was 1938 the year first arrived in Hong Kong?
Where: A church, but which one? I took a walk around St John's Cathedral, but couldn't match any views with this photo. Can you recognise any other church that matches?
- 1911 Map of Central. Plate 3-4, 'Mapping Hong Kong' book.
- "Not the slightest chance", page 32, 19.30
- "Not the slightest chance", page 341, item 35