Does anyone recognize this 1930s building?

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 05:39

I'm wondering if anyone knows this building. My family lived in Hong Kong then moved to Shanghai, but I've been looking in old docs and photos and have ruled out Shanghai because of the hills.The car looks like 30s but I can't see any definite IDs. Someone out there might recognize the building?

Date picture taken


Hi David,

              You were right on!  I zoomed in an the car badge and it was better but still blurry....

Car badge close-up.jpg
Car badge close-up.jpg, by seemex

however I found a Royal Auto Club HK Badge on Pin-it...looks very close. The badge I found is listed as pre-1952 HK 

Royal Automobile Club HK Car Badge.jpg
Royal Automobile Club HK Car Badge.jpg, by seemex


Hi Brian,

Good job with the car badge.

Do you know who any of the people are? The man on the right reminds me of Charles Olson, second from left in this photo:

Tennis in Hong Kong
Tennis in Hong Kong, by Sean

Regards, David

They do look very similar. I wonder what year that tennis photo was taken? I don't recognize anyone in the photo other than the similarity between the ones you mentioned. I think I have other photos of this guy in our family groups, though I don't think he's related in anyway. Maybe a business associate or friend. I'll do more research. Still working on the building...the railings and columns are quite distinctive....but still I think that car puts the time frame quite a long way back

I can date Sean Olson's photo precisely to the year 1924. The boy in the photo is my father, Reggie Warren, here aged 14 when he came back to join his elder brothers in Hong Kong the year after my grandfather, Charles Warren died.

I think you'll find that the man under discussion is not Charles Olson, although the same build. Charles Olson left for Canada in 1926 or 1927 and did not return to Hong Kong.


Hi Jill,

           I don't know how I missed this message but as you mentioned in your email, I should point out that I know for sure the man on the left is my grandfather Tobias Hunter, age about 56. If indeed the fellow on the right is not Olsen, as you say ( and the men are the same guy in both pictures?) then there's still a possibility that it was my great uncle James Hunter. If the year was 1933 in my photo James would have been about 59 so that sort of fits.If the women are his wife and daughter, would be 56  and 34 respectively. It's all a stretch though! 


Over the past few years I've continued my search, utilizing Facebook Group pages for Hong Kong and Shanghai and recently had a breakthrough. One of the members, Donald Gudgin, seems to have hit the nail on the head, with a some comparative pictures from his time with Royal Engineers Fld Squadron #56 Tai Lam, in 1956. It was located off Castle Peak Road. He posted a couple of photos along with a map inset showing the location. Apparently the buildings were demolished not long afterwards, but the railing or balustrade on the upper floor is I think unmistakable. When I brought up the location on Google Earth, I found that I already had push-pins marking the location for two houses that my grandfather apparently owned way back in the 1940s. Land records unfortunately do not substantiate this, however letters between my grandfather and his Hong Kong attorneys in 1949 suggest otherwise.

In any case, I'm going to try to upload the correct photos to explain the findings along with some excerpts from the correspondence.

Taim Lam Camp 1956 showing Castle Peak house.jpeg
Taim Lam Camp 1956 showing Castle Peak house.jpeg, by Seemex

This is a land registry plot showing Lot #177 and Lot #437 which represent the preasent day map. In 1949 the #177 woud be approximately where the 333 Castle Peak Road house was located

Screen Shot 2021-08-15 at 4.59.26 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-08-15 at 4.59.26 PM.png, by Seemex

One last shot which I should have put earlier is of the house from a bit closer. This view is from the opposite end of the road from the view in my original photo but the protruring section on the facade is visible as are the window shapes and locations in the structure. These photos were from 1956 when there were other buildings having been erected at the site, so a bit different from my own picture which was likely 1933

Tai Lam house.jpeg
Tai Lam house.jpeg, by Seemex

Hi Seemex

I'm a bit confused about the location. Tai Lam camp was located up near to where the Gold Coast development is located but your Google image shows an area in Ting Kau - several miles to the east. Were there two sections to the camp?


Hi Phil,

             I'm not sure as I've never been there so I'm going by photos and maps. I did notice what you said about the slight difference in locations but I put it to pssible name changes. There's a good possibility that there were similar design homes in that area and that would explain the land registry discrepancy. I'll get the original map that Donald sent and compare again. This is good info as it may help explain things. We are definitely on the correct path. So this is the inset that Don sent. He said the building was just to the right of the letter "G" in Training. I noticed the name of the beach as being different but I thought maybe it had been changed over the years. Maybe you can clear this up. It would help me a lot. I just looked up "Cafeteria Old Beach" and I can see it is now "Golden Beach" and the location apperas to be about 6 miles west of the location that I had previously marked. Numbering could have been different back then also, which would explain the lack of corresponding information at Land Registry. More investigation needed!


Don Gudgin's map inset of Tai Lam.jpeg
Don Gudgin's map inset of Tai Lam.jpeg, by Seemex

So, now I am adjusting to the location further to the west by about 6 miles from my original location. I think this is the spot that Donald Gudgin meant and I made the error aligning it with my original guess. It would be in the area represented on this land registrhy map, I think!

Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 10.42.21 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 10.42.21 AM.png, by Seemex

Have not done any cross-checking but I note the military camps at Tai Lam are listed here and established with effect from 16 September 1933. You may wish to refer to them for further details.

Thanks so much. That's a lot of info. I just took a quick look and the one that comes closest I think, is the Perowne Camp. I'll dig into it some more. My grandfather's letters are from 1949, so I'm not sure that they pertain to the prewar bases. This is all great information!

Hi Seemex

Thanks for clarification. In that case I wonder if anyone who contributed to the Dunrose thread would be able to help out seeing as it was also in this area and probably of similar colonial vintage. There is mention of a large mansion and gardens formerly owned by Tsan Yung (of Blue Taxi cabs) and later by Henry Fok, but this was located on the south side of the road where "Spring Seaview Terrace" now stands, so perhaps not the right location.

Do you know whether Don's image is looking east or west? This might help to pinpoint the buildings on older aerial images.Sadly the older aerial imagery available for free on the mapping website is not particularly detailed. Here is one from 1949 showing the area (link). there appears to be a large property there that coincides with the current immigration centre. (i've circled it below to help). (note, I'e uploaded them in their original orientation, but realise this might be confusing as they are oriented with the top point west (ish). If it's confusing I'll ask david if he can rotate them).

Tai lam crop.jpg
Tai lam crop.jpg, by Philk
Tai lam cropedit.jpg
Tai lam cropedit.jpg, by Philk

However, it's very difficult to discern if the surroundings match the ones that we see on yours and Don's images.

Anyway, food for thought.


Hi Brian

I have only just noticed your earlier comment and map with your adjusted location. This is still not the area that Don was talking about. You still need to move a little more to the northwest. Cafeteria Old Beach is still called that and this is where you should be looking. The building that Don believes is where your large house was is called the "Castle Peak Immigration Centre" and it's on the section of Castle Peak Road that lies immediately NW of the Gold Coast Hotel. I've cropped an image from GoogleEarth to show you where it is in relation to the Gold Coast Hotel. If Don is correct, then your house should have been located in the middle of my very rough loop. The plot number is GLA-TM 389 - you can use this link to zoom in:

Hope this helps.


Castle Peak Road GoogleEarth
Castle Peak Road GoogleEarth, by Philk


It looks as though the house was still around into the 1960s because if you go to the 1964 aerial photo set at the Govt mapping website (they're great because they were only taken from <2000ft), you can see what appears to be the house still in-situ. I've included some cropped versions below with the house marked, but these downloadable versions are low resolution. I believe you can buy higher resolution ones if you need to. Note that the plot of land where the house was has a small road running through the middle and it looks this might be where the people are stadning in the original photo and where Don took his own picture from. i.e. it was just off the main Castle Peak Road.


Castle Peak Road House
Castle Peak Road House, by Philk
Castle Peak Road House
Castle Peak Road House, by Philk
Castle Peak Road House
Castle Peak Road House, by Philk
Castle Peak Road House
Castle Peak Road House, by Philk



        Well, this is great info and certainly looks correct. I'll have a look at the area in the land regisrty and see if any names turn up for as far back as I need. It's all a long time ago but records do exist and I've been able to find my great grandmother's name as well as other family on property records back to 1899. The fees are not huge but still one does want to pinpoint as best as possible as the large land tracts are often divided into many subsections so even at $5 each in can get pricey if one checks indiscriminately. I really appreciate your local knowledge and that of other contributors  as well. I just added this screenshot. I'd decided on this as the location but hadn't posted it before, so now it looks like it is very close to what you say. I think you are right on! On Google Earth today it looks like may have been about #89 Castle Peak Road, just west of the Immigration Centre?

Screen Shot 2021-09-07 at 9.12.49 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-09-07 at 9.12.49 AM.png, by Seemex



  You mentioned that there might be better resolution versions of these aerial photos that could be purchased.  Do you by any chance have a link to the office that would have them? In a way it's too bad that it's goverment land now, and probably has been that way since the 50s. I think it might be impossible to find the original land records now, but maybe better pictures might at least solve some of the questions about the property.



Castle Peak Road houses sale
Castle Peak Road houses sale, by seemex

I found a letter from my grandfather to his daughters making reference to the sale of the houses in April 1955. The letter above was written in 1957 and it was noted that the sale had been two years earlier