c.1925 Pedder Street

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 21:22

Where: We're looking south along Pedder Street, from the junction with Des Voeux Road Central. Here's how it looks today:

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When: The buildings can help us work out the date this photo was taken.

From left to right we have:

  • The Hongkong Hotel [1] (red): This photo shows the hotel in its prime, extending all the way along Pedder Street from Des Voeux Road in the foreground to Queen's Road in the distance. The North Wing [2], nearest to us, was destroyed by fire on New Year's day in 1926.
  • Asiatic Building [3] (green): This was finished in 1924, as were the next two buildings. It later changed hands and was renamed "Shell House".
  • China Building [4] (blue): Almost out of sight from this angle, it was a large building on the corner of Pedder Street and Queen's Road Central.
  • Pedder Building [5] (red): Still standing today, and celebrating its 90th birthday! It is much easier to see it in the present-day view above. The modern buildings around it are set back from the road, and no longer extend out over the pavements.
  • Un-named building [6] (green): I'm not sure of its name, but on a 1911 map [7], it is shown as "2 Pedder Street", occupied by the U.S. Consulate and Mitsubishi Co. You can see Mitsubishi were still here when this photo was taken, as their flag is flying from the building:
  • Jardine House [8] (blue): Their second building on this site, completed in 1908.
This photo was taken after the completion of the Asiatic, China, and Pedder Buildings in 1924, but before the Hotel fire of 1926. I'll guess 1925 as its date.

Who: Look at this group of people over on the left of the photo:

Jogging along the street there's a rickshaw puller, and a smaller figure behind him carrying a load on a shoulder pole.

Back on the pavement the people are standing, probably waiting for a tram as the round sign above them marks a tram stop, "All cars stop here":

The hotel doesn't look too impressed with the idea of having tram passengers standing in their arcade though. Their notice on the left reads:

Passengers waiting for tramcars are requested not to obstruct the passage.

Towards the centre of the photo are these people:

The man with the large basket on his shoulder looks as though he might be delivering the laundry. To his right is the first of two policemen in this view. He's got his back to us, and appears to be holding a striped stick - something to do with traffic control perhaps? Over past the car is another policeman, this one wearing a white uniform with what look like sergeant's stripes on his arm.

What: The cars in the photo have low registration numbers, marking them as early cars in Hong Kong. In the bottom-right corner is number 1260, while the car in the previous view is even earlier, number 494:

The other thing that caught my eye is this, sticking out from the 2 Pedder Street building:

It looks something like a lantern. Does anyone know if it was just for decoration, or if it has any meaning?

If you spot any mistakes, can add any information, or have a question, please leave a comment below.

Regards, David


This picture was printed as a photograph (that's why the details are so sharp), but sold as a postcard. Who ever bought this jotted down a note on the back:

"I go up here every time I go ashore, as it leads practically everywhere."

It sounds as though they lived on a ship when they visited Hong Kong, and made regular journeys to and from Central. Their launch would have brought them to Blake Pier [9], at the northern end of Pedder Street.

Elsewhere on Gwulo.com this week:


  1. Hongkong Hotel: http://gwulo.com/node/7087
  2. North wing of Hongkong Hotel: http://gwulo.com/hong-kong-hotel-north-wing
  3. Asiatic Building / Shell House: http://gwulo.com/node/7001
  4. China Building: http://gwulo.com/node/7070
  5. Pedder Building: http://gwulo.com/node/5699
  6. 2 Pedder Street: http://gwulo.com/node/19554
  7. "(1911) Map of Hong Kong Central", Plate 3-4, Mapping Hong Kong.
  8. Jardine House: http://gwulo.com/node/7007
  9. Blake Pier: http://gwulo.com/node/4422

Reference: EE061

Date picture taken


It seems the police in those days were much better at preventing  illegal double parking of cars in Central. Perhaps we should bring back the European Sergeants with their big sticks.............. ?

Fascinated by the way you analysed & deduced all the information from that old photo of Pedder St & adjacent bldgs. Made me appreciate my own copy of that photo all the more. So Pedder Bldg's 90 yrs old this year. Is there an illustrated commemorative book coming out that you know of? And who was this William Pedder that it was named after?

I note that from detailed Govt maps, China Bldg was 2-10 Pedder St, Pedder Bldg is 12-12A, Jardine House Annexe was 14-16 fyi. I have no idea what that lantern object could be other than to serve as advertisement for a restaurant upstairs.

But who could forget what happened on Double Tenth 1990 when a row of 12 gargoyle masks on the 1/F of Pedder Bldg suddenly keeled over at about 10.50am crashing onto the street below but injuring no one. The remaining masks were also removed as a precaution.

Thank you!

I don't know of any commemorative book coming out. I wonder if the owners have anything in mind?

William Pedder was the first harbourmaster. There is some more about him in this thread:


Thanks for the street numbers, the road would have been re-numbered sometime after China & Pedder Buildings were finished. Please could you let us know the date of the map you're quoting from?

Regards, David