1957-8: Andrew Suddaby's photos
Thanks to Andrew Suddaby for uploading over 200 of his photos showing Hong Kong in 1957-8:
Over to Andrew ...
An amazing year in Hong Kong
In 1957 I was half way through my National Service in the Royal Air Force. I’d spent the first year living in bleak wooden huts on various camps in England, but now I was bound for Hong Kong. It’s strange to recall but I even had to look up ‘Hong Kong’ in an atlas to find out where I would be spending the last year of my National Service. It wouldn’t be on yet another wooden-hutted camp in some remote and boring area of Britain; it would be to the exotic and mysterious Far East. Yes, in the 1950s Hong Kong was still both.
The end of October 1957 saw me going abroad for the first time and flying for the first time in a wonderful if somewhat noisy B.O.A.C. Argonaut. Three and a half days later it landed on the old runway at Kai Tak - the one that preceded the one jutting out into the harbour. My first, rather worrying, sight of Hong Kong was of people waving at us from their flats level with the plane as it dropped down literally between some buildings in Kowloon.
The day I arrived it was a glorious, sunny morning and, having been taken across the harbour to North Point by R.A.F. launch, a Chinese funeral procession passed by. So this is what the exotic East is like! And the R.A.F. camp at Little Sai Wan (Siu Sai Wan) was modern and so different to anything that I had previously experienced, with great swimming just round the Point. Yes, that spot is still there and nostalgia drew me back to it whenever I re-visited Hong Kong.
For the next year I marvelled at what seemed a different world. The sights, the smells, the unfamiliar sounds, the rat-a-tat of mah-jong tiles, the clanking of the trams, the exotic fruits in the street markets but, I’m afraid to tell, so little of the wonderfully different food. In Britain a purchase tax of 45% was still levied on most things but in Hong Kong, everything was a bargain. On the other hand, one couldn’t help but feel sorry for all those people doing their best to scratch a living in such a crowded place. I spent as much of my very limited pay as I could afford on rather expensive Kodachrome film and I have often wished that I’d had more to record Hong Kong before it changed for ever. I hope that you enjoy seeing my photographs, taken nearly sixty years ago. If you are old enough, they might even bring back some memories for you. Sometime soon, I hope to add more colour photographs that I took in 1981 and 1987.
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Thanks again to Andrew for showing us his photos. If you have any photos of old Hong Kong you'd like to share on Gwulo.com, please click here for details of how to upload them: http://gwulo.com/node/2076
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