Repulse Bay Hotel verandah

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 14:12

This photo originally appeared in the April 1977 edition of the Peninsula Group magazine with caption:

The charm and graciousness of The Repulse Bay Hotel remain to this day, over 20 years after this photograph was taken on the Hotel's Verandah.

It is reproduced here with their permission.

Date picture taken


The balcony is just as I remember it in the autumn of 1968 when I took British actor John Mills (later Sir John) and his wife, writer Mary Haley Bell for lunch there while escorting them on a round trip of the island followed in the afternoon by  the customary New Territories tourist circuit. This entailed  the  cross-harbour vehicle ferry from Central to Jordan Road, north through Kowloon  to join Castle Peak Road near the Garden Bakery and then around this coastal road past the swimming beaches. We then cut northwards through Yuen Long, a brief stop at the top of that hill at Lok Ma Chau for a stare across to the duck farms of then totally undeveloped Shum Chun in “Red China”.  After this we then headed back towards Kowloon through Fanling, Taipo and Shatin , long before they were any shorts cuts through tunnels.

Mill’s wife Mary wanted to go past the Fanling Golf Club hoping to spot the bungalow where in the mid 1920’s she had lived as a child. Her father Col. Francis Haley Bell, had at that time been serving as Commissioner for Kowloon of the Imperial Maritime Customs. Mary was unable to remember which bungalow it was because “it had all changed so much”…….. after some 55 years here I know the feeling.

This had been the first of the few occasions I had ever stepped foot in this hotel to eat. The bill for a light lunch for the three of us was over one hundred dollars, which at that time represented for me about one week’s average living expenses. The cost was later refunded to me by the Hong Kong Exchequer under a budget heading of ‘Commissioner of Police’s entertainment expenses’. It was a past-time of famous people passing through Hong Kong in those days, who were “in the know”, to drop by Police Headquarters to pay a courtesy call on the Commissioner, having been tipped off that they would probably be offered a free guided tour around Hong Kong in a police staff car. It was one way the Commissioner could keep the interruption to his routine as brief as possible.

As a junior police inspector attached to HQ, I was given this escort duty on several occasions, meeting global tourists ‘elevated enough’ to think they could get away with this ploy for a free tour.  I met some fascinating people. As well famous actors, there were Thai police Generals, a commissioner of police from S. Australia and an Indonesian general who was the henchmen of dictator President Suharto.