Godown/pre-Star House 1935

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 19:17

Source: This image came from Flickr, see https://flickr.com/photo.gne?id=1747681714

Date picture taken


I wonder was this also the site of the Star Hotel?

My great grandfather. John Olson, transferred the hotel to a William Walters in 1892 according to the Carl Smith Archive. He was also living there with his wife, Ching Ah Fung, when she was baptised in 1890 by the Rev John Ost of the London Missionary Society.

From what I can make out my great grandfather was involved with the hotel at 200 Queen's Road from 1877 to 1892.


Sean - I thought your great grandfather was involved with the Stag Hotel which was on Queen's Road on Hong Kong Island.

The building on the left was a godown-cum-commercial premise prior to the buidling of Star House in Kowloon.


Sorry moddsey. Put it down to old age and too much web browsing. You are as usual quite right. Thanks for being so eagle-eyed.

My great grandfather was of course connected with the Star Hotel. I think what threw me was the fact that I understand there is a building to this day in HK called the Stag Building which I assume  - in all likelihood incorrectly - was on the site of the hotel.

Again thanks.


No problem. Actually the Stag Hotel crops up a few times in my book (pages 44, 55, 76 and 91). The owner from 1878 was Jesse Cook, who took it over from old Soldier John Robinson White, a veteran of the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, who went bankrupt that year. Cook renovated it and raised a family there through the 1880s, when it became a popular venue for international billiards tournaments. I read somewhere that the hotel was still going in World War II, when  it was a Chinese brothel run for servicing Japanese soldiers.

Thanks for that info. 

You will see from a post by David that The Stag Hotel was considered to be acceptable in earlier days.

Except for the Carl Smith Archive, Jurors lists other odds and ends I have never been able to trace much of my great grandfather's dealings in the hospitality trade! 

Have you ever come across the name of John Olson attached to the National Tavern from 1869 onwards? This morphed into the National Hotel which he was the proprietor of. He also appears to have owned The Star Hotel around 1877 and then is mentioned as transferring The Stag to another owner in the early 1890s.

Also, according to Carl Smith, he became manager of a Temperance Hall on Ladder Street in the early 1890s! Some his children's birth certs support the Ladder Street address but her describes himself as a land owner on them.

If you have any information which might shed light I would be most grateful as there does not seem to be any book or research paper about the pub/hotel trade in early HK.

My great grandfather survived the great fire, the plague, was at the fire at Happy Valley racecourse and married off his eldest son the week of the great typhoon in 1906 so he was a lucky man. But, as I say, it's a pity he did not hang on to at least one of the businesses!

All this is on my website www.thehongkonglegacy.com which you might like to glance at.

Good to meet another hack. I ended up as Managing Editor of The Irish Times. Came across Jonathan Fenby a few times in the UK years ago before he moved out to the SCMP.

Thanks again.

Sean Olson 



Yes, the Stag seems to have been a very respectable place in the 19th century, and advertised regularly on the front page of the local papers (see col. 2, page 1, HK Daily Press, December 25 1878 for an example).

John Olson shows up, getting his National Hotel license renewed, in the China Mail (col.6, page 2) of November 5 that year. This is actually quite a nice little list of taverns/hotels and their owners, and a useful reference list.



Sean, further to my previous post, I don't know if you are familiar with the name Josephine Bracken, but one of your compatriots has written a very authoritative piece on her here: http://brackenjosephine.blogspot.com/

I mention this because Josephine's adoptive father, George Taufer, was a contemporary of John Olson, and a regular in the tavern district (he was down there when the Great Fire broke out). The material on Josephine and her Irish roots will probably interest you in itself, but you may want to get in touch with the author, as he appears as diligent as your good self in matters pertaining to late 19th-century Hong Kong characters.


Thanks Adam,

Very interesting stuff about this lady about whom I must confess total ignorance. 

Some points of interest:

1: My granmother Anniie Lousia Moore Bourke spent some time at th Italian Convent. There seems to have been two sorts of resident. Those who were paid for by their families and those who were taken in.

2 My ancestor was also Irish, her father James Moore who was born in Dublin in 1863, and her mother Maria Aloysia Fitzgerald. She was the daughter of according to Carl Smith " a certain Fitzgerald of Foochow". What that means I am not sure.

3: Bracken is a name from that region of Ireland and not far south of where James Bracken was born is a town called Templemore which is in Co Tipperary where Brendan Bracken - once rumoured to be Churchill's illegitimate son- but in fact the offspring of the local monumental mason was born. He was later owner the FT.

Will contact the author of the Jospehine Bracken to see if there is anything to add to my search for the colour of the booze business in early HK.

Thanks again and don't forget me if anything else strikes you.