Who: "Coolies wearing Chinese raincoats" is written in pencil on the back of the photo.
They're loading the boat / barge on the left of the photo. We can just make out another man working down in the hold:
What: It's not all manual labour, there's also this hi-tech crane on the right of the photo:
Possibly powered by coal & steam, judging from the clouds of smoke billowing out above it.
The rails in the photo are unusual. The crane is only resting one of the pair of rails that we can see, so there's a third rail out of sight to the right. Was this three-rail system a common arrangement? It seems odd because a wagon on the left pair of rails wouldn't be able to pass the crane on the right pair.
Here's a closer look at one of those "Chinese raincoats":
They're made from some sort of broad-leafed grass, with the leaves laid down in parallel and stitched together. I can see a couple of Chinese characters, probably the name of the manufacturer.
I wonder how long they kept waterproof, or if they soon became waterlogged?
In the distance is the bow of a much bigger ship.
If there's enough detail for you to identify which ship it was, please let us know in the comments below.
Where: We're on a wharf, with a small boat alongside and a much larger ship at right-angles to it. I guess we're at the Kowloon wharves , near today's Harbour City.
Here's an overhead view of the wharves from the 1930s, showing the wide variety of ships that used them:
When: The seller dated this photo to 1927, probably from the album that held this photo. As support for that, several other photos we've looked at lately are from the late 1920s, and use the same narrow format .
Hopefully this photo was taken in the summer of 1927. Those bare feet would be very chilly at this time of year.
Photo reference: A229
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