Kai Tack bund nullah-mid 1930s

Sat, 03/18/2023 - 23:32

Kai Tack aerodrome’s open nullah next to the Kai Tack Bund residential development.

Wherever there is water, children gravitate into it no matter how dirty it is. In this case effluent drainage from nearby tanning factories and farmer’s fields further back behind the aerodrome.

Date picture taken


IDJ, thanks for the latest uploads - lots of new scenes to enjoy.

I noticed the nullah is still open in this photo, but in later photos (example below) it has a bridge across it at the entrance, and a crane on the corner where the people are sitting.

Please do you know when the bridge was added, and what the crane was used for? The bridge will be a useful clue for dating photos of the area and I'm curious to know if the crane was used to lift seaplanes, or just unloading supplies.

1930s Kai Tak Airfield, by Admin

The crane was primarily to lift aircraft carrier borne aircraft fitted with floats up onto the airfield.

The aircraft in use at this time could be switched from operating on floats or wheeled undercarriages as deemed appropriate for their missions.

When not at Kai Tack the aircraft would be away on duties with the China Squadron’s aircraft carriers, HMS Argus, HMS Hermes & HMS Eagle which were rotated between their ‘China Squadron’ cruises.

Contemporary reports stated that if the steam-powered seawall crane was not operational as it required its steam boiler to be fired up, there was a practice of hooking an aircraft onto the crane hook and by the aircraft’s own engine power “flying off”, swinging the crane’s jib over the water. Then lowering the aircraft onto the sea.

The bridges across the nullah halfway up would have been to facilitate access for airmen living in the properties just across on the Kai Tack bund. No specific dates for the bridges construction I am aware of at present. The image I posted just had mid-1930 written on the back.

The heavy-weight bridge at the seawall could have been constructed to give access via Kai Tack bund and the now developed roads in Kowloon, rather than the other access to the site at the northwest corner of the airfield.

Kai Tack airfield seawall steam powered crane
Kai Tack airfield seawall steam powered crane, by IDJ

Taking more time to examine later images of the Kai Tack nullah appears to reveal that the bridges including the seawall front one had been removed by at least 1938. Presumably the RAF with its move to the east side of the aerodrome around 1935 no longer need them.

On-going site security would have been another consideration, the fully open nullah being an effective barrier to trespassers trying to enter from the Kai Tack bund area.

The original picture shows signs of the seawall bridge's removal by the brickwork damage at the top of the nullah wall, above the pipe.