c.1950 View across Wanchai

Submitted by David on Sat, 09/05/2015 - 18:00
c.1950 view across Wanchai

Where: Looking out over Wanchai, with three landmarks to help us get our bearings:

  1. Southorn Playground is easiest to spot, the open area near the centre of the photo.
  2. At the bottom corner of the playground there is a light-coloured building. We can see its left side, a strip of the left back, and its roof. The building is still here as "The Pawn".
  3. Look up from the playground and you'll see Kellett Island when it was still a real island.

Then how about the photographer? Where were they standing to take this photo?

The roads in the bottom-left corner can help us answer:


Ship Street crosses over Queen's Road East and continues up the hill to Nam Koo Terrace. That's the area we're overlooking.

I'm not sure how high up the hill the photographer was, whether they were above or below Kennedy Road. The building highlighted in blue has a distinctive outline, and might be visible in views of Wanchai from the harbour to help answer that.

More confirmation of the location from the bottom right corner:


If you follow the washing line to the left, there's the top of a sign for a school. Can anyone identify which school it was?

We can see also see that the hillside curves out around a spur. We can see that curve in Kennedy Road:

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When: I bought this photo as one of a set. They're mostly photos taken in the mid-1950s for sale to tourists, but this one was taken earlier. I'm hoping you can help me pin down the exact date.

The first clue is the old Causeway Bay typhoon shelter.

Typhoon shelter

In the 1950s it was filled in to make Victoria Park. There isn't any sign of reclamation work here though, so we must be earlier than that.

Next look to the left:

Kellett Island

There's a smart new building on Kellett Island. Compare it with this view taken around 1930:

c.1930 Kellett Island

The new building is the Yacht Club's clubhouse, completed in 1940. So we're later than that.

Then was the photo taken before or after WW2? 

The ship above Kellett might tell us. It is moored at the pier belonging to the Asiatic Petroleum Company. Does anyone know if the pier was still in use after WW2?

Or how about the tenement buildings in Wanchai? Wanchai was badly damaged by American bombing during WW2, as shown in this 1945 photo:

1945 Wanchai

Now compare Luard Road in both the photos:

Luard Road

The corner of the building has collapsed in the 1945 photo, but it is intact in the main photo. Either the main photo was taken after the damage was repaired, or it was taken before WW2.

Look across to Southorn Playground for the last clue:

Southorn Playground

The white building on the right is the Violet Peel Health Clinic. It was completed in 1935, which doesn't help us. But can anyone identify the building under scaffolding to the left? Its construction date will giive us a firm date for the photo.


The buildings facing the playground have a couple of advertisements:


With a bit of a squint I can see Carlsberg & Lux, two brands with staying power!

Reference: A225G

Also on Gwulo.com this week:


The building under scaffolding was the War Memorial Welfare and Recreational Centre (formerly the Children's Playground Association, now the Hong Kong Playground Association). The building opened on 5 June 1950. China Mail 6 June 1950 refers. I guess your photo is from early 1950. Facing the Welfare and Recreational Centre and in between the two white buildings, would be a full size outdoor basketball court which opened in July 1950. A roof would be added to it not long after.

A photo of the building appears in the Sunday Herald dated 4 June 1950.

As Moddsey had rightly pointed out, the building under scaffolding was The Children's Playground Association. 
The photo below showed you how it looked like when it was completed. One can just make out "The Children's Playground Association" in the middle row of the words above its main entrance. 
You can also see the Calsberg and part of the Lux ads in the photo. 


32430357_10214635473013258_6817153606119063552_n.jpg, by Ashley