Chinese Methodist Church, Wanchai [1936-1994] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Chinese Methodist Church, Wanchai [1936-1994]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1936-01-01
Date Place demolished: 
1994-01-01

1936: The original was built. It was a distinctive landmark, with it's triangular shape, and green glazed roof tiles.

1994: Original building demolished.

1997: Current building completed. I think the goal was for a sympathetic redevelopment that kept the key feature of the old building. The new building is a poor imitation though.

[Thanks to T & C for help with the dates.]

Photos that show this place

Comments

Hi there,

It shouldn't be that difficult.  I believe there should be a foundation stone of sort somewhere close to the entrance.  I'll see if I could go for  awalk by after work in the next few days.

Best Regards,

T

I hadn't thought of that - good idea. A quick google turns up this photo - which I can't read :(

Hi there,

The photo showed two foundation stones.  The white one was the one from the original building.  The red one was for the new building.  It only mentioned they started to demolish the old building sometime in 1994 and expected the existing building to be completed by year end of 1997.  

Unfortunately despite I was working in Wanchai during the time period I could not recall it's completion date.  Anyway, we have an approximate time period now.

Best Regards,

T

I've added in the extra dates above.

The Chinese Methodist Church was built not long after the Praya East Reclamation was completed in 1930.

I have just been looking at old cine film of the laying of the foundation stone - my grandfather (Arthur Henry Bray) was heavily involved in the building of the church (he actually bought the site without it being approved because the site was about to be sold and it took 6 weeks to get a letter to or from the Mission House in London).

Simon, that must be an interesting film to see. If it ever makes it on to the interent, please could you give us a link to it?

Regards, David

Simon, you say that Arthur Henry Bray was your grandfather. Are you then a cousin of Denis Bray?

The old foundation stone is dated Apr. 13, 1935.

The new foundation stone (dated 1997) states that the church was founded in 1936, the old building was demolished in July 1994, and the new building is expected to be completed by the end of 1997.

The church's web site states that the new building was completed in 1998 and a "ceremony of entering the church" was held on Apr. 11, 1998 to mark the opening of the building.

Denis Bray was my father and son of Arthur Henry Bray.  I think "Simon" is my cousin Simon, son of Denis' sister Eleanor.  Arthur Henry Bray was our grandfather and Denis was Simon's uncle.

Hi Jenny,

My grand father and my father used to run an ice cream and confectionary place in HK and they were very much involved with the church in Wanchai.

Back in the 60's,  I was booked to go to school in Bath,  I think it was called Kingswood school and your grand father or your father was going to be my guardian!

At the last minute, my father sent me down to Australia instead.

I remembered my oldet brother who also lives in Melbourne Australia talking after visiting Rev Mr Bray when he was doing his specialist training in the UK.

Would love to hear from you.

Philip Cheung,  son of Peter Cheung

Hi Jenny and Simon


I knew your grandparents the  Reverend Mr Arthur Henry  Bray 黎伯亷牧師 (Lai Bak Lim) and Mrs Bray and  I was very fond of them.
 
I was born in Hong Kong in 1934.  It was my home  until 1971 when I moved to Melbourne with my family.
 
I believe  I first met the Brays and some of their children on a visit to Fatshan 佛山(now Fosan) before World War II when I was a few years old.
 
In the early 1950s Mr Bray was sent by the Methodist Missionary Society (MMS) to Hong Kong to supervise the building of the Chinese Methodist Church and school  in Gascoigne Road, Yaumati, Kowloon.  I think Mr Bray was drafted from his retirement.  He came out to Hong Kong with Mrs Bray.
 
My late parents Peter and Maisie Cheung were great friends (the Aussies would say 'mates')
of the Brays.   My dad was  honorary treasurer of the church building fund.  
As a teenager I had the privilege of seeing a lot of your charming grandparents.  They deserved great credits for  my improved English conversational skill.
 
The Brays were very popular among members of the Wanchai Chinese Methodist Church.  They always showed their trade mark smiling faces.   Mr Bray was well known for his sermons which he delivered in faultless Cantonese without any trace of a  gweilo  accent.
 
They always had a chat with me after morning worship on a Sunday.   I remember one morning Mr Bray told me excitedly:  “I have received news Jeremy got first in mathematics at Cambridge!”  
(Some years later,  Jeremy Bray, PhD, gave up a promising academic career as a mathmetician to become a politician and enter parliament)
 
The Brays were thrilled when their eldest boy Denis came out to Hong Kong to take up his job in the colonial government..
They told us how the Secretary for Chinese Affairs   helped  to 'design' a Chinese name for Denis.
Mr Bray was  happy to see that Denis was given the Bray Senior's Chinese adopted surname 黎 Lai.
(Bray Senior's Chinese given name  伯亷 Bak Lim  is the phonetic transliteration of BRAY.  Rather strangely,  his Chinese surname 黎 Lai  was adopted, possibly from the translator!)
The Brays told us stories about how  Denis' nanny 二嫂 yee so taught  Denis Cantonese.
They also told us about the school in Chefoo, Shangtung (Shangdong) Province where Denis went.   It was a school where most missionaries sent their children.
On days when Mr Bray had work to do in town he would always finish by 4:30 pm to call in to see my father in my father's little office of the On Lok Yuen Company (restaurants, ice cream, confectionery) at 25 Des Voeux Road Central  (Hong Kong Book Centre is now in the basement of the current building on that site).  My father would order a pot of tea and cakes for his mate.   At 5 pm the two would leave the office and would be picked up by my father's car.   Mr Bray would be dropped off at his 'home' at  the Soldiers and Sailors' Home in Wanchai  (now site of Wesley Hotel, diagonally opposite the Chinese Methodist Church).
From September 1966 to March 1968  I was on study leave (Cardiology) in UK from the Medical & Health Department of the Hong Kong Government.  
In November 1966 and again shortly  before we left London in 1968 my wife Flora and I took a train to visit Mr Arthur Bray and Mrs Bray in their home in Oak Bank Drive,  Leighton Buzzard.  Mr Bray met us at the station in his little car. 
Their house was 'semidetached' to the house belonging to their daughter Barbara and her husband Russell.
We had two memorable days with the Brays and Barbara.   Mrs Bray made lunch on both days.
One day it was  'Toad in a Hole'.  She told us it was the favourite of  the boys (Denis and Jeremy) when they came home from Kingswood, their boarding school in Bath. 
Looking back,  those two visits to the Brays in Leighton Buzzard were some of the highlights of our stay in Britain.  They were very happy in seeing us too.
On one of our visits to Hong Kong (I think it was 1980) we literally ran into Denis in the lift of an apartment building in Tregunter Path  when we were visiting friends.  It turned out the Denis and Marjorie were living in the same building.
Titus Cheung (aged 79+)
Melbourne (possibly with his heart still in Hong Kong, after 42 years)
PS  You may be amazed by my long term memory.  Sadly I am unable to tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. That,  I am afraid, may be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease.