31 Barker Road (2nd generation Richmond House?) [c.1952-c.1999]

Submitted by David on Thu, 05/14/2015 - 20:27
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)
Date closed / demolished
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)

This appears in the 1980 photo with a flagpole in its garden. I guess it was also called Richmond House, but can anyone confirm? It should have been around til the 1990s at least, as the current buildings on the site were finished in 2003.

Photos that show this Place


Notes from Compradore:

The design of the house looks similar to Shell's Belvedere on Plantation Road.  The long structure that connected to the house (rightmost side of the picture) would almost certainly be the servants' quarters.  I wonder if the garage was located there also, as it was with Belvedere. 

It seems there is another structure on the lot that is a small and square shape, with the roof visible above the servants' wing.  Any ideas what it is? 

Richmond House was sold in the late-'90s, if I recall correctly.  I think it was post-'98 Asian Financial Crisis.  In the late-1960s and 1970s, the general manager of the Union Insurance Society of Canton Limited resided in the house, although I don't know if the company actually owned it and if it was the eventual seller of the property. 

This house is really elegant and my favorite of all the houses on Barker Road during that era.  I will try to find out more about it. 

It seems Union Insurance Society of Canton Ltd. owned this house for at least 30+ years, if not considerably longer, because it was the seller of the property in 1997.  Based on the square footage of the four houses on the site today (over 24,000 sq. ft), the site area of 31 Barker Road would total at least an acre. 

The original house looked considerably smaller than its neighbors, Cragside and Altadena.  Its neighbor across the street, No. 22, is the only still standing.  It looks more like a lowrise block of flats, but I believe it has always been classified as a detached house.  I wonder why its design is so different.  Perhaps it was constructed much later than the others?


David, could you update the title of this topic to include the year of demolition to 2000? 

I found that the house was sold in '97 and planning permission to redevelop was granted in 2000.  The second generation Richmond House would have been built before 1956.  I checked the 1956 Peak map and it showed a house with the servants' quarter attached to the main property.

From IDJ's picture of this house from 1996, the exterior looks to be concrete, although the ground-floor might have had brick laid over top according to the 1960s and 1980 pictures..

IDJ, many thanks for looking looking through your slides for more pictures.  Curiously, comparing your May 1991 and 1996 pictures, it appears that some minor remodelling was done.  There was a balcony, on the side of the house closer to Altadena, in 1965, 1980 and 1991, but on your 1996 pictures the balcony was enclosed. 

I wonder if the enclosure was for security reasons, due to the number of robberies on The Peak.  HSBC's Middle Gap Road taipan house was broken in to by a knife-wielding intruder around that time.  Sir Douglas Clague was bashed in the head with a hammer by a burglar at his Middle Gap Road residence as early as 1975 or 1976.

Interestingly, I wonder why the renovators did not not bother to fix two missing shingles when they did the balcony!  There are two missing ridge shingles in both the '91 and '96 pictures.  You see it above the air-conditioning unit and window in this picture: http://gwulo.com/atom/21001

David, I will check SCMP because I am quite certain that the second generation property was called Richmond House at the time of its sale. 

It wouldn't surprise me if the balcony was enclosed for security puposes.

The influx of IIs brought robberies to all areas of the territory.

One of my colleagues had an arm nearly severed by an intruder's machete while trying to protect his family from robbers in their flat, and that was a high-rise one. They had come up the outside of the building or had dropped down from above.

In the 1970s, another colleagues wife was confronted by robbers in her low-rise apartment kitchen and she managed to severely stab them with her kitchen knives for which the police gave her a HK$500 reward!

I do appear to have a few slides of similar properties to No31 in the Barker Road/Peak area but I've no idea now what the addresses are or were.

IDJ, would you mind taking a quick look through your slides for a house in the Peak area with a flat (red?) roof and a tennis court? 

The house is Abergeldie at 52 Plantation Road, the old Standard Chartered taipan residence.  I wish I could be more helpful, but that is all I remember.  I visited the house while Mr. D L Millar was still Chief Manager in Hong Kong.  A neighbor of my family was a long-time manager at the bank and invited us there while a bank function (tennis tournament?) was going on.

The new townhouse development at that site is also called Abergeldie, as is the new Belvedere.  Therefore, I think all three-generations of 31 Barker Road used the Richmond House name.

To find earlier photos of second generation Richmond House I searched though the 1940' and 1950' galleries. I found one among 1950s Fred Evans' photos.

1950s Fred Evans' photos
1950s Fred Evans' photos, by Admin

Although the photo is not in perfect quality I think that the building in the upper right hand side is 2nd generation Richmond House. Unfortunately, there is no exact date given. David, do you have additional informations?

Left of Richmond House could be Cragside.

Thanks, Klaus. It looks like the second generation Richmond House appears in the Fred Evans photos.  The Gordon Honeycombe picture leaves no doubt that the house was there in '56.  Also, 22 Barker Road is cleary visible in both pictures. 

Interestingly, in the Fred Evans picture, I cannot see Cragside beside Altadena.  Has my eyesight abandoned me? 

The more I look at this house, the more I wonder if it was designed by the same architect as Shell's Belvedere at 51 Plantation.  The front and rear of  Belvedere house looked very similar, but not so much for the second-gen Richmond House.

Is there any possible way of locating and/or acquiring the blueprints for these houses?  Any ideas?   

Below 31 Barker Road there is another building. Could this be Martinhoe?

Another one is shown on this one (below Cragside and Altadena)

Cragside and Altadena 1980
Cragside and Altadena 1980, by Klaus

Any idea what this might be. Could be where houses of 26, Barker road are today.

The white facade house that resembles a block of lowrise flats below Richmond House is 22 Barker Road.  Though it was built on the site of the former Martinhoe, it never adopted that name.  Despite its unique design, I believe it was always a house and not divided flats.

The seven-story building below Cragside and Altadena in your 1980 picture was Knightsbridge Court.  It was a 14-unit rental apartment block owned by Hutchison Whampoa, though I don't know if Hutchison International owned it previously.  It was demolished a few years ago and the 28 Barker Road development was constructed on its site.

You can see both No. 22 (completed) and the Knightsbridge Court (construction site) in your first comment on this page, i.e. the detail you cut from a 1965 picture http://gwulo.com/atom/18665

Photos of HSBC building (3rd generation) also are a good source for Barker Road buildings. Unfortunately, the ones on Gwulo don't show details of houses on the Peak.

So I found one by Cliffdive and uploaded it (http://gwulo.com/atom/21288), and magnified a part of it. The photo is from the mid sixties.

Barker Road houses 1965
Barker Road houses 1966, by Cliffdive

Second generation Richmond House is there, the others could be (first generation) Cragside and Altadena.

Cragside is just out of view in this picture.  I think I see a flag above No. 22, so I wonder if the Belgian consulate was already occupying the property by the 1960s.

Correction: In an earlier comment, I wrote that Richmond House was the Union Insurance General Manager's residence, but it seems it might have been the Assistant General Manager's residence instead.

I don't see Richmond House in the Nov 2000 picture.  Most of the main house looks to have been demolished, though I think I see a portion of the former servants quarters. 

In the 1967 picture, the former house at No. 3, Severn is at the top right.  It was demolished in the early 1990s for the Severn Villa lowrise.

Compradore, I think you're right. It seems that the upper floor has already been demolished so that all parts (including servants building) almost have  the same height. So the end of second generation Richmond House has been confirmed to end of the year 2000.

Peak Tram and Barker Road 2000 - detail
Peak Tram and Barker Road 2000 - detail, by Klaus


So the year of construction is still open.

Klaus, if you want to search through pictures to get a definitive answer about the construction year of the 2nd gen house, perhaps 1951-1953 would be the time period to focus on.  I believe the house was visible in a 1954 picture that I have seen. 

No. 22 Barker was still under construction in 1950, while the Richmond House site above was an empty lot.

Found two more photos with 2nd gen. Richmond House (or what is left). First is from December 14, 2000 (http://gwulo.com/atom/21758), a detail is here: 

2000 Demolished Richmond House 2nd generation
2000 Demolished Richmond House 2nd generation, by Klaus

Again, it looks that the house is being demolished.

Another one taken four months later is http://gwulo.com/atom/21759. Again, a detail from this one:

2001 Richmond House demolished
2001 Richmond House demolished, by Klaus


Unfortunately, is was a bit misty that day, but despite of that yellow construction containers can be seen (and the house is gone).

I also had a look at pre-1953 pictures and did not see any that could narrow down the year.

This 1953 picture is a great find because it shows the old house that was demolished around 1964 for Knightsbridge Court.

This detail is cropped from http://gwulo.com/atom/12110. It's pretty poor in quality as I could only make a screenshot. (David, you could help by either sending me the original file or you crop for us.).

1950 HSBC and Barker Road houses
1950 HSBC and Barker Road houses, by Klaus


I believe to see Altadena (1st gen.), below that the house 22 Barker Road, and right hand side just an empty space whre 1st generation Richmond House should be. There are also two houses above Knightsbride Court. If you compare this one with the 1966 image below you find these two (now three) and the others, but no Richmond house. I wouldn't bet for that, but be might be very close. Hopefully we can see more with a higher resolution image.

Barker Road houses 1965
Barker Road houses 1966, by Cliffdive


Another discovery from flickr, uploaded to Gwulo as http://gwulo.com/atom/21900. This image is from 1952 (at least attributed to that year).

A detail is shown below (with a circle around 31 Barker Road):

1952 Barker Road houses
1952 Barker Road houses, by Klaus


Compared to a detail from http://gwulo.com/atom/21781 (1953-06-02), again, as on the 1950 image, no house can be seen on 31 Barker Road. 

1953 Barker Road Houses
1953 Barker Road Houses, by Klaus
1950 HSBC and Barker Road houses
1950 HSBC and Barker Road houses, by Klaus


Looks like you found the year of construction, Klaus.  Nice work.

I am surprised that the site sat empty between 1950 and '52.  The driveway and podium from the previous generation were already there, so it should not have taken two-years to construct a new house in that era.

Hi Klaus, I've added a higher definition screencap for you. I tried to amend the original but was getting some sort of system problem.
Cheers, Phil

Soldier of Fortune - Barker Road Station.jpg
Soldier of Fortune - Barker Road Station.jpg, by philk

Philk, thank you for the new screenshot.

Compradore, I am also surprised about the long time that the podium was empty. Maybe is wasn't that long as the the 1950 image (dated 1950-01-01) may come from - at least - end of that year or even from early 1951. The Bank of China building is almost finished, so 1951 might be more accurate.

On the internet photos from 1950 to 1946 are very rare, and when available, of poor quality. 1945 is easier as many photos are online from former soldiers (UK, Canada, USA) who liberated Hong Kong then. I keep on searching. 

Klaus, it is mighty impressive that you found a 1949 picture on a New Zealand website!  It really does look like the site sat empty for a few years.  However, when Union Insurance did get around to building, it finished a very elegant house rather quickly.

I have no doubt the first-generation house is shown in the 1910-1913 picture you have just commented on: ( http://gwulo.com/atom/17400 ).  From the angle of the picture, the house atop the podium on the hill that is accessed by the sweeping driveway has to be Richmond House. 

Falconridge was the only other house on that part of Barker Road on an elevated site, but it was not that close to Martinhoe.

There is a 1924 picture ( http://gwulo.com/atom/15859 ) that shows Martinhoe clearly, albeit from a slightly different angle.  The chimneys and what looks like exterior stairs on the side of the house match in the 1910-1913 and 1924 pictures. 


Klaus, thanks for adding so much information about this house.  Although I will not be visiting any longer, I hope you find the date you are looking for. 

Thanks David for all your hard work keeping gwulo running.  Take care.

It is still unclear, when the first generation Richmond House was demolished. The site where it stood was empty at least in the years 1949 and 1950. I could not find any images between about 1941 and 1948 with sufficient resolution to give any statement.

From the years 1951 and 1952 I found nothing at all on the internet showing Barker Road houses.

The first appearance is in June 1953 , a detail from this one is here:

1953 Barker Road Houses
1953 Barker Road Houses, by Klaus


Here is one from 1965  (detail):

1965 Barker Road Houses
1965 Barker Road Houses, by Klaus


One from 1980:

View on 27-31, Barker Road
View on 27-31, Barker Road , by Klaus


From 1998 (detail):

1998 Barker Road houses
1998 Barker Road houses, by Klaus


Last evidence is from October 1999:

Hong Kong (1999)
Hong Kong (1999), by Klaus


The final entry here is an image from January 2000. The house is gone, only a fence is left (see detail below):

Demolished Richmond House (1/2000)
Demolished Richmond House (1/2000), by Klaus


From January 2000 on the site was empty, first signs of building Richmond Houses A-D (that I found) are from March 2001.



Richmond House (2nd generation) was built (most likely) in the years 1951 to 1952. Last evidence is in October 1999; in January 2000 it’s gone!