c.1915 Des Voeux Road, Central

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 21:21

Where: As the postcard says, this is Des Voeux Road in Central. We're looking east from the junction with Pedder Street.

What: We can see the name of the building on the left, Alexandra Buildings:

Alexandra Buidlings

It also shows a couple of company names: A. S. Watson along the bottom, and The China Mutual Life Insurance Co. in the window. Watsons the Chemist is still a well-known brand in Hong Kong, but it looks as though China Mutual was swallowed up by Sun Life in 1923 [1].

The tall building on the right of the postcard is the Hong Kong Hotel. Next to it is a row of three-storey buildings, running along Des Voeux Road to the junction with Ice House Street. Here's a map of the area from 1911 [2] (note that south is at the top);

1911 Map of Central

Can you tell us anything about those five three-storey buildings, eg their names and when they were built? They used to be the grand seafront buildings along the praya, but after the big reclamation in the 1890s they've been overshadowed by these newer, taller buildings.

When: The photographer is up off the ground, probably looking out from a first- or second-floor window of the GPO (General Post Office) building. The GPO wasn't completed until 1911, so the date should be after that.

I've guessed this photo was taken in 1915, but can you spot anything that dates it more accurately? Please let us know.

Who: Plenty of people waiting to give you a ride in their sedan chair or rickshaw. And one gentleman taking his chair for a walk:

Man & chair

Regards, David


  1. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 27 July 1923, Page 12
  2. Plate 3-4, Mapping Hong Kong book.

Reference: NA008

Date picture taken


My grandfather, John Olson, worked for many years in Des Veoux Road with a company named C.E.Warren and Co. His brother-in-law was Charles Warren who gave his name to the firm. They were sanitary supplier and sometime "architects" and monumnetal masons. They started in No 30 in 1904 and as business grew also bought number 32.

However, when a family split occurred the buildings were sold and The South China Morning Post reported in 1921 that the Des Voeux Road building owned by C.E.Warren and Co had been sold to a Chinese syndicate for HK$130,000 and that at the beginning of the year it had been purchased by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for HK$80,000.

I don't tink the buildings are shown here but would be interested to know if anybody has an image of them.