View of Hongkong island from TST | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

View of Hongkong island from TST

View of Hongkong island from TST

What: The old KCR Terminus and clocktower is in the foreground. It's the reason I bought the photo, to add this view to the clocktower project.

Where: The photographer is somewhere high up. See those pointy shapes in the foreground? We've seen them before:

Roof of Peninsula

They're decorations along the roof of the Peninsula Hotel. We can see a few more of them over on the right of the photo.


So the photographer was standing on the roof of the Peninsula Hotel's east wing.

When: The photo is one of a pair on a stereoview card. Most of the stereoview cards I've bought before were taken between 1895-1905, but this is clearly taken much later.The KCR Terminus didn't open until 1916, and the Peninsula Hotel was completed in 1927, so we must be later than that. But across the harbour, the bell tower of the Roman Catholic Cathedral still has its roof, so it is definitely a pre-war photo. 1927-1941, still a wide range.

One last clue is the tower in the bottom-right corner. You'll need to zoom in to see it, and even then just one edge of it is showing. It probably belonged to the fire station across the road and was used to dry fire hoses.

If you know when that tower was built, or you can spot any other clues that narrow down the date please let us know in the comments below.

Who: The card was published by the Keystone View Company, with these details:

23982 Looking Across the Bay of Kowloon to Hong Kong and Victoria Peak, China

The bay of Kowloon, through which we here see an ocean steamer passing out to sea, separates Kowloon from Hong Kong, visible in the distance across the water. The Hong Kong Bund, lined with modern office buildings, and the business section beyond, lend to this part of the city an aspect Western rather than Eastern. Were it not for the few small junks in the bay we would hardly guess that this is an Oriental city, lying near the southern extremity of the coast of China. Nor does the imposing height of Victoria Peak, in the background, rising 2,000 feet above the sea, suggest the fact that Hong Kong lies, not on a mountainous mainland, but on an island about the size of Staten Island.

Hong Kong is a British crown colony, ceded in 1841. In 1860 the peninsula of Kowloon was added. In 1898 the territory immediately behind Kowloon, together with the adjacent islands, 376 square miles in all, was leased by Great Britain from China for ninety-nine years. The cities in 1923 had a combined population of 681,000. From Hong Kong one may take a tram part way up Victoria Peak and then complete an interesting journey by jinriksha ((rickshaw)) around the crest by the road which we see outlined by a white railing. In this airy height stands the summer residence of the British Governor General, as well as the homes to which many of the 16,000 foreign residents of the city resort in summer to escape the heat of the lower town.

At our feet is the Kowloon customhouse, which houses also the terminus of the railroad, 120 miles long, running to Canton. China still depends chiefly upon canals and natural waterways for transportation, since a total of 7,500 miles of railways is far from adequate for a country 4,200,000 miles in area.

Aha! That answers the question for when it was taken. A search on Google for the card's title leads to the "Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1931 Engravings, Prints Etc. For the Year 1931 New Series Vol 26 Part 4". They'd apply for copyright soon after the photo was taken, dating the photo to around 1930-1.

Trivia: I like the stereoview cards because the photos are usually very sharp. This one isn't as good as the cards from the early 1900's though. I'm not sure if it was just a one-off problem, or if the quality tailed off with later cards.

Gwulo reference: A368

Also on this week:


The Fire Brigade's drill and hose drying tower was erected in the vacant ground opposite the Kowloon Fire Station in 1923. Source: 1923 Fire Brigade Report. Next to the drill tower is a one storey building built around 1929 as a motor garage for Alex. Ross & Co. Ltd. HK Daily Press 2 July 1928 refers. The building would later be taken over by the Government and converted into the Kowloon Post Office from 1 November 1934.