General Post Office (Connaught Rd / Pedder St site) [1911-1977] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

General Post Office (Connaught Rd / Pedder St site) [1911-1977]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1911-06-19
Date Place demolished: 
1977-01-01

The second generation GPO (General Post Office) stood on the site of today's World Wide House.

According to the book 'Hong Kong Roads & Streets':

Photos that show this place

Comments

1910s Former GPO

1910s Former GPO

This is up there with the Hong Kong Club (the real, old one) as one of my favourite buildings of old Hong Kong.  Is there any info on why it was demolished or if anyone tried to save it?

Hi there,

In this respect you would have to blame the Mass Transit Railway and the Government as the then Island Line terminus was built under it.

Best Regards,

T

My memories were that it was dark, dank and depressing inside.  My mother liked it because they had a special "Ladies" window for ladies only.

Anyone else have personal memories of using the old GPO.

I recall it was demolished because this enabled a huge sum of money gained from the site development  to be distributed amongst the Club members! There was some media coverage of this aspect at the time.

"It will be necessary, at some not too distant date, to build an entirely new General Post Office, but in the meantime it is proposed to decentralize to some extent, by building new Post Offices at various centres of the population." HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR (SIR ALEXANDER WILLIAM GEORGE HERDER GRANTHAM, K. C. M. G.) 19th March, 1948. took another 30 years...! http://www.legco.gov.hk/1948/h480319.pdf

It is interesting to note that Sir Robert Jardine had originally purchased the site during the Praya Central reclamation. Government purchased the site from Jardines in 1902 for the building of the GPO. Work commenced in 1903.

I've set the completion date to 19th June, 1911, and the demolition date to 1977.

The Post Office's report for 1911 says:

10. The removal of the Post Office Department to the New Post Office Building took place on the 19th June.

And the demolition date comes from the photo of the building's demolition.

Regards, David

Am I right to say that the old Post Office was demolished and the site was replaced by Worldwide Centre in late 70s?

Hi Raymond,

Yes, that sounds right. (If you look up on the right side of the screen the "Later at this location" box gives information about the next building on this site.)

Regards, David

Hi David,

thanks for pointing this out to me.

Ray

Guy Shirra writes:

Postal staff recount GPO tales:

http://www.news.gov.hk/en/city_life/html/2014/06/20140605_165142.shtml

The following is a brief history of the circumstances connected with the erection of this building.

 

It was realized in 1891 that the Colony had outgrown the accommodation afforded by the buildings occupied by the various Government Departments including that occupied by the Post Office and Treasury (erected in 1867) and, in September of the year first mentioned, a committee was appointed to consider the question of erecting new buildings for the Government Departments generally. The Committee reported in November 1896 recommending inter alia the erection on the site now occupied by the Courts of Justice of a building to contain the Post Office, Treasury and other Government Offices, the design to be put up to competition among Architects in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

 

After prolonged correspondence and discussions, chiefly concerning the site upon which the building should be erected (ride Sessional Papers 2, 1898 and 16/1902 and Legislative Council Minutes 28/2/98), it was finally proposed in February 1902 to purchase, at an outlay of $508,280, that portion of the recently reclaimed area on the west side of Pedder Street, containing 25,414 square feet and belonging to Sir Robert Jardine.

 

This proposal was confirmed by resolution of the Legislative Council on the 10th April 1902 and the purchase was subsequently completed.

 

The sanction of the Secretary of State to invite competitive designs was obtained and the Conditions of Competition were published in December 1902, Shanghai and Singapore Architects being invited to compete. The building was specified to be three stories in height with a basement underneath for storage purposes, etc, and the limit of cost, exclusive of Architects’ fees, was stated as $500,000.

 

Only three designs were submitted, - two by Hongkong firms and the third by a Shanghai firm. Of the three, that prepared by Messrs. Denison, Ram & Gibbs was selected, official intimation of the fact being communicated to them on the 17th July 1903. The designs had been adjudicated upon by the Public Works Committee, who, in forwarding their report to Government, recommended that a fourth storey should be added to the building and this recommendation was approved.

 

Messrs. Denison, Ram & Gibbs, having expressed some doubt in the report accompanying their design as to the adequacy of the sum mentioned in the Conditions of Competition as the limit of cost of the building, namely, $500,000, to provide for granite dressings and the use of teakwood, &c, the matter was referred to Government and it was decided by the Governor, then Sir Henry Blake, that a very important public building such as this should be constructed of first class materials and of granite where the Architects considered it desirable to introduce it in the principal fronts.

 

To facilitate the erection of the building, it was arranged that a Contract for the foundations and basement only should be let in the first instance and tenders were invited accordingly.

 

Difficulty was experienced in obtaining reasonable tenders but ultimately a Contract for this portion of the work was let in November 1903. Delay was caused in the execution of the work by the loss of at vessel containing a cargo of piles and by unexpected difficulties which were encountered when the foundations were opened up, and the Contract was not completed until January 1906. Meanwhile a Contract for the superstructure had been entered into in July 1905 but the Contractors were not given possession of the site until the 23rd January 1906.

 

When the foundations were nearing completion, Sir Matthew Nathan, who had succeeded Sir Henry Blake as Governor, proposed that a Clock Tower should be added to the building. This proposal was adopted and the necessary alterations in the foundations were carried out, contributing towards the delay in their completion.

 

Besides giving rise to extra work in the foundations, the proposed addition of a Clock Tower necessitated the substitution of granite for brickwork in the construction of those walls upon which the tower would he carried, thus causing additional expense. Owing to the increased cost of the building resulting from the addition of a fourth storey, the alterations entailed by the proposal to construct a Clock Tower, the general and large advance in cost of work which occurred about the time the Contracts were let and other causes, it was ultimately decided, in January 1910, that the tower should not be proceeded with in the meanwhile and the structure has been terminated and covered over immediately above the ridge of the roof of the main building.

 

As already recorded, the building was occupied by the middle of 1911, though the installation of the heating apparatus and various minor alterations had to be carried out subsequently.

 

Source: PWD Report 1911 (No 78)

The Building which contains basement, ground, 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors, is situated between Connaught and Des Voeux Roads at their intersection with Pedder Street. The basement and ground floor extend over practically the entire site, but, at the level of the first floor, a large, central courtyard, measuring about 60’ x 50’, is introduced, round the four sides of which the remainder of the building is disposed. The various offices are arranged on the three sides abutting on the above mentioned roads, whilst on the fourth, which abuts on a private lane, jointly owned by the Government and the P&O. S.N. Co., are arranged the lavatories and coolie quarters. The courtyard over the central portion of the ground floor, which consists of a concrete flat is utilized as an emigration yard, certain portions being provided with a glazed roof supported on brackets projecting from the walls to form a shelter.

 

The verandah pillars and arches on the ground floor are constructed entirely of granite, which is also extensively used in the pillars and arches of the remaining floors and in the main walls of the building on all three principal fronts. Otherwise the walls are of Canton red brick, faced externally with Amoy bricks. Many of the floors are constructed of cement concrete covered with tiles or granolithic, the others being of teak boarding on hardwood joists. All corridor walls are tiled to a height of 3’ 6”, all lavatory walls to a height of 5’ 0”: the walls of the Chinese Letter Department, which is situated in the basement, to a height of 4’ 0” and the remaining internal walls are plastered and distempered. The whole of the doors, windows and finishings are of teak, stained and dull polished.

 

For heating the Postal and Treasury Halls, a system of low-pressure hot water heating through radiators is provided. Arrangements are being made to extend this to some other portions of the building which are unprovided with open grates.

 

The roofs generally are covered with Canton tiles on hardwood rafters supported on iron purlins, but at the gables special tiles and rolls of cement concrete reinforced with small iron rods are used

 

The flat roofs to verandahs and over the central portion of the ground floor are formed with cement concrete, covered with “A Grade Pabco " and finished with grenolithic.

 

The building is lit with electric light and fitted with electric fans throughout and is also provided with two electric passenger lifts and one electric goods lift for conveying mails from the basement to the ground floor. Exhaust fans are placed in the Chinese Letter Department for the extraction of foul air.

 

The main staircase, which is situated at the south-east angle of the building, is of teak. Subsidiary staircases, constructed of granite, are provided in the north-west and south-west angles of the building. A staircase for office attendants is also provided from the first to the third floor. An iron fire escape connecting with all floors is fixed on the West Front adjoining the private lane previously mentioned.

 

The arrangement of the various Government Departments on the different floors is as follows:

 

Basement, occupied principally by the Postal Department, contains the Chinese Letter Department, a tiffin room and a number of store rooms, one of which is used by the Sanitary Department. The boiler for the heating apparatus is also located in the basement.

 

Ground Floor, entirely occupied by the Postal Department, contains the Postal Hall, 93’ x 45’, Sorting Hall, 93' x 65’, Registration Room, 57’ x 29’, Box-holders’ Room, Postmaster Generals and Assistant Postmaster General's Offices. As already mentioned, an electric lift for raising letters to the main sorting hall connects this floor with the basement.

 

First Floor, occupied by the Treasury and the Registrar General’s Departments, contains the Treasury Hall, 76’ x 36’, the Stamp Office, 43’ 6” >< 14’ 3”, Stamp Vault, 40' x 18’, 12 other offices, ranging from 34’ x 30’ to 13’ 6” x 10’, and 2 strong rooms. 3 small rooms on the Western side of the building, adjoining the private lane, are used in connection with the inspection of emigrants.

 

Second Floor, occupied by the Sanitary Department, the Local Audit Offices, Education Office, Southern District Office and a telephone exchange, contains in all 21 rooms used as Offices, ranging in size from 50’ x 21’ to 13’ 6” x 10’.

 

Third Floor, provided for the future expansion of the Departments housed in the building, contains 20 rooms ranging in size from 36’ x 30’ to 13’ 6" x 10’.

 

In addition to the above, there are 16 small rooms for office attendants on the Western side of the building, adjoining the private lane, a mezzanine floor being here interposed between the first and third floors of the main building.

 

Lavatories are provided on all floors except the basement.

 

The steel structural work throughout the building has been encased in fine cement concrete with a view to protecting it in case of an outbreak of fire.

 

Source: PWD Report 1911 (No 79)

In 1939 the Medical Department was on the third floor of 'The Post Office Building'.