c.1946 View over HK harbour from May Road
When: A couple of clues say this photo was taken not long after the end of WW2. First there's the blotchy appearance of the Peninsula Hotel, still wearing the camouflage paint applied during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.
Second are these masts sticking up from the sea, and what looks like a salvage boat working next to it. The masts belonged to one of the many ships sunk by American bombers during the war.
Other clues for the date are the two Royal Navy C-class destroyers.
Out in the harbour is R34, HMS Cockade , then back in the dockyard's tidal basin is its younger sister R76, HMS Consort . HMS Consort wasn't commissioned until March 1946 so this photo must have been taken after that date. I'll guess mid-1946, but if you can give a more accurate date please let us know in the comments below.
Gwulo in London: Talk on 20th February, 2016
What: We often see this in post-war photos of the harbour.
I'm pretty sure it is a floating dry dock, but I'd be interested to know where it came from, and what it was used for. We can see the dry dock at the Naval dockyard was already working again as it has a ship in. Then why the extra floating one?
Was it originally part of the preparations for the invasion of Japan that got re-deployed to Hong Kong after the end of the war? You can imagine them having lots of surplus useful equipment that needed a good home.
Or was it part of the salvage operations to recover the wrecks from the harbour? Could they float a wreck high enough to bring it in to the lowered floating dry-dock, then raise the dry-dock to work on the wreck and patch it up?
These are just my guesses, so please put me straight if you know more about it.
Who: Down in the centre foreground, the photo shows two groups that were affected by the war years.
Let's get our bearings first. The bridge at lower-left is where Macdonnell Road crosses the Peak Tram tracks. Follow the tracks beyond the bridge and you'll see there is a dark-coloured section about half way along. That's the bridge where the tram crosses Kennedy Road.
On the downhill side of Kennedy Road are the ruins of a building. From the appearance of the remaining arch it looks to have been burnt down by fire. Before WW2 this was St. George House . Today it's the site of the Freemasons' Zetland Hall , replacing their previous building that was destroyed during one of the American bombing raids . I'd wondered how the Kennedy Road plot of land was available for them to build on, and now we know.
Across on the uphill side of Kennedy Road is a bare patch of land that has another mystery. The land belongs to the Union Church , and when its congregation was interned in early 1942 the church was still standing. But when they went back to the church after liberation, all they found was a small pile of rubble, and the three dedication plaques from the walls of the old church.
The church's historian says the material from the old church was used by the Japanese in their reconstruction of Government House, but did the Japanese demolish the church or simply make use of rubble from an already destroyed building? My guess is that both St. George House and Union Church were hit in a bombing raid, but again please let us know if you have the facts.
Where: No mystery about this, the card is titled:
H.K. harbour from May Rd.
This was a popular view for postcards. Here's one from the 1920s, showing the spire of the old Union Church building, and St. George House beyond. (You can click any of the photos to see a larger copy that you can zoom into.)
And another from the 1950s after the new Zetland Hall had opened.
Gwulo reference: A360
Trivia: This has been a fiddly photo to restore. It looked good at first glance, but once it was scanned and zoomed, there were lots of blemishes to fix. Here's a close-up of the area around the tidal basin, as it looked after scanning.
Here are the all the fixes.
And the final result!
Also on Gwulo.com this week: