1931-32 Mildred Dibden

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 06:10

Mildred Dibden with little one and Billy Wups the dog. I don't know the setting though. Suggestions welcome. 

Edit:  Thanks to the capable assistance given below I have been able to establish that this was taken on the verandah of the BCMS Foundling Home which we now know was at 24 Broadwood Road.  This takes the date back from my guess of 1938 (and Tsim Sha Tsui) to Broadwood Road  sometime between October 1931 and November 1932.  My grateful thanks.  This gives me real hopes for others of my HK photographs from this time where I have had to guess place and date.  

Date picture taken
1932 (year is approximate)

Comments

Near the top left corner of the photo there's a distant ridge line with the vague silhouettes of two buildings of the same height, the one on the right being wider than that on the left. There isn't enough detail to be sure, but they look like the two buildings known as 520-522 The Peak ( https://www.gwulo.com/node/26700 ).

If so, Mildred was to their east, and judging by their small size, I'd guess she was a mile or two from them. Looking through the balustrade appears to show that she is above ground level, although well below the level of 520-522 The Peak. That would put her somewhere behind Causeway Bay. Leighton Hill perhaps?

A bit speculative, so open to other suggestions.

Perhaps south side? The view has various things in common (I can't match exactly though, so this is just a suggestion) with the view looking east from Matilda Hospital area. In the far background (left of baby's head) there seems to be a very faint ridge which could possibly be the area around Parkview/Violet Hill? 

Have a look at the pic at https://gwulo.com/media/14864 . I reckon that the outline of 520-522 The Peak (the two buildings silhouetted on the far ridge line ) are a decent match to those in the pic of Mildred above.

As Mildred had been running the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society in the "Ventris Road area"  ( https://gwulo.com/node/59084 ), which is roughly behind and above Causeway Bay, perhaps the pic of Mildred was taken at or near the Society premises.

It's a good match and I think you might be right, but I'm having a hard time recreating the angle where that hill is proud/away from the other hills. Closest I can get is further south along Blue Pool Road,or perhaps somewhere near to the junction of Broadwood Road and Tai Hang Road? 

I think gw has got the general area correct.

Perhaps the houses on Broadwood Ridge in the 1930s may assist in the location of the photographer. Mention had been made previously of a Foundling Home below at Ventris Road. 

I'm delighted with all the helpful suggestions.  Just to get an approximation is a huge help in establishing a more accurate place and date for the pic.  I have long wanted to know more about the photos that have come to me down the family. If this was the Foundling Home site it would bring the date back to 1931/32.

Referring back to the book, we are told the following:  When she arrived, Mildred Dibden was taken by rickshaw from the Ferry terminus eastwards from Victoria, through Queen's Road East to Happy Valley.  From there to the Wong Nei Chung Gap Road “to start an ascent along the side of Leighton Hill.  At the approach of Ventris Road, sedan chair carriers were waiting at the kerbside.”

Boarding one of these, Miss Dibden proceeded upwards “on the steep approach road.  The road seemed long and dusty.  Several attractive Colonial-style bungalows and white-painted houses were to be seen.  Suddenly the sedan chair turned into a driveway and she was lowered before the steps leading to a spacious verandah…‘What a lovely house, I didn’t expect anything like this’ she thought.” (The Foundling Home)

It was a big house with big windows and the reason the BCMS could afford it as a Foundling Home was because the owner’s wife had died while he was building it.  He believed this was a bad omen and that it must be haunted, so he wouldn’t use it himself or sell/rent it to any other Chinese.  Hence the windfall in the Foundling Home’s favour!

The other bit of info we are given is that when she stood at the large window at night, ‘a diamond pointed panorama lay before her’ looking down towards the harbour.

In addition to this, Mildred and Barbara Lomas made frequent visits to Wong Nei Chung village to tell gospel stories to the villagers.

Hopefully some of this may help in the locating of this Foundling Home.

SourceThe Yip Family of Amah Rock by Jill Doggett

I found this information in the Mildred Dibden story Mission of Love in Woman's Own Magazine, which was serialised in 1962 in the UK.  It talks of a car ride instead of a rickshaw and sedan, which is puzzling.

"The car swung off the road and began to climb up a steep pathway flanked on either side by spacious, stone-built, detached houses, each fronted by a wide verandah.  We continued to climb until I could see stretching out beneath me the vast panorama of the islands...

To my astonishment, we pulled up in front of a palatial Western-style house, more beautiful than anything I had ever seen in Britain.  I almost expected the door to be opened by a butler...."  and then..."spacious rooms, polished floors and exquisitely carved furniture of Chinese design.

Miss Lucas turned to me and said, 'We get this place cheap because it's haunted.'"

This photo at  https://gwulo.com/media/27390  shows the landscape looking down from 19 Broadwood Road in the early 1930s. It was near the junction with the Tai Hang Road. Perhaps the view behind Mildred Dibden is from a house a bit further down the road. The terrace wall of the house shown is a different design to those of our family's three houses in Broadwood Road.

Card ref. 173841 in the Carl Smith Collection gives the address of the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society as 24 Broadwood Road. The reverse (I think) of the card states that they would move to Taipo in November 1933.

Number 24 would have been at the Tai Hang Road end of Broadwood Road.

Awesome just awesome.  I will add more to this later.

Thank you gw et al and I see philk was right in his guess of junction of Broadwood Road and Tai Hang Road.

Thank you also moddsey for the sedan chair location and the Google links. 

GW- Good find and well done in ascertaining the location of the Foundling Home as being up on Broadwood Road.

Going by the description of the ascent uphill, the junction of Ventris Road and Broadwood Road would have been the location of picking up a sedan chair ride to reach the Foundling Home.

Comparing the main photo, the current Google street view of the hills in the distance in the vicinity of 24 Broadwood Road.

Great find moddsey (post above).  This is really interesting. It looks like it's been written by Dr Harry Lechmere Clift (qv) himself who had come to HK from Kwangsi (sic) and was wondering whether to go back.  He set up a mission with church services and book room in Nathan Road. The card mentions a SS (Sunday Service?) in Wong Nai Chong(?).  Is that in Kowloon? 

The Foundling Home moved to Taipo after a year at Broadwood Road. The owner saw that no one was suffering any ill effects (from any curse) and put the rent up! They all went to The White House in Taipo, a smaller property. 

Dr Clift never did go back to China but died in 1949 in HK.

The reference information cards would have been transcribed by the late Reverend Carl T. Smith through his research of records, documents and newspapers held by the Public Records Office.

Many different spellings for Wong Nai Chong over the years. Wong Nei Chung (currently named Wong Nai Chung) Road and Village has been mentioned above in the thread.

The location of Wong Nai Chung Village is given here to the south of Happy Valley Racecourse. It was abandoned after the heavy rains and floods in 1923. I think the villagers were relocated nearby but away from the valley floor. The book "The Lost Century" by Larissa Lai here mentions village life in Wong Nai Chung.

Yes, the SS mentioned would probably refer to a Sunday Service/Sermon in the village.

 

 

Better and better moddsey.  Thank you for this extra detail. It really brings the story alive.   I should have known Wong Nai Chung as I've already posted that Mildred and Barbara Lomas (BCMS nurse) often went to the village to teach Bible stories (accompanied by the  home matron, Mrs Chung), which the locals loved to hear.  Mildred had been learning Cantonese since her arrival in HK earlier (Oct 1931) and says her Cantonese was often imperfect at this stage.  

The 'friendly and affectionate' villagers responded to the missionaries with gifts of eggs, fruit and vegetables, poor as they were, which they were hard put to to accept.  Mrs Chung advised keeping half and giving back half, so there should be no loss of face.

The account describes the homes of the villagers as 'Heath-Robinson type contraptions, which were death traps in typhoon rains.'  After floods, they would always rebuild, hoisting soil back uphill to plant vegetable plots in small cavities.  Mildred loved them for their indomitable patience and incredible endurance.

Can anyone read the two words after '24 Broadwood Road H/C - in Nov'?

Link https://gwulo.com/wong-nai-chung-village#17~22.26953~114.18428~Map_by_G…

I've managed to decipher the handwriting on the card and come out with this:

Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society Foundling Home

24 Broadwood Road, HK – in Nov lease expires.  3 years ago came to

HK from Lungchow, Kwangsi, when Communists held power there.  Now

debating whether we should return to Kwangsi. 

On Sundays hold a SS in Wong nai  Chong – St Johns Review No 3 vol 5

Trans 1937


E Lucas

Vol 5 No 11 – Nov 1933 – St Johns Review –

moving to Taipo (a smaller house)