c.1900 Panorama of Hong Kong | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

c.1900 Panorama of Hong Kong

Thanks to Tim Luard and Alison McEwan for sending in this wonderful panorama of Hong Kong:

Panorama of HK

Squinting at this thin gray strip, you're probably wondering what's so wonderful about it! Let's take a closer look at six sections, and all will become clear:


From left to right we have:

Houses on the Peak

Where: This first section shows houses on the Peak. The one at the bottom-right corner was bought by the Bishop of Victoria in 1899, and given the name Bishop's Lodge [1]. Today it is accessible from Lugard Road, but of course that road hadn't been built when this photo was taken. Instead you'd walk down to it along the path from the umbrella seat.

The photographer looks to be almost as high up as Bishop's lodge, but over on the opposite slope. Would he be standing near where the Lions Pavilion stands today?

Here's the next section:


What: We've taken the road down from the Peak (today's "Old Peak Road"), and reached the first houses in mid-levels. This one was called Luginsland [2].

Continuing down the road we reach a crossroads. Robinson Road is on our left and right, and Albany Road is dead ahead:

Houses near Albany / Robinson Road junction

The long roof in the bottom left corner belongs to The Albany [3]. That's Robinson Road on its left, and the road above it is Albany Road. Top-centre we can see the Roman Catholic Cathedral [4] in the distance.

(The photo is sharp enough that there are many more buildings we can identify. I'll link to a high-resolution copy of the photo below, annotated so we'll all know which buildings we're talking about.)

When: The next two sections show buildings on the newly reclaimed land. They'll help us pin down the date for when the photo was taken.

Queens Building

At the top is Queen's Building [5]. That was finished in 1899, and gives us the earliest possible date for the photo.

In front of it, Princes Building [6] is under construction. It was built in phases, and the PWD report for 1901 [7] says that the "Princes Buildings (south-western section)" was under construction.

In this photo, construction of the eastern side of the building is still underway and the western half remains unbuilt, so I'll guess the the photo was taken in 1900, mid-way between those two dates.

Cricket pitch

Across Statue Square we see the cricket pitch, and four more new buildings beyond. Those four buildings were all finished in 1897 and 1898, but there's still a space for a fifth building, the Hong Kong Club Annexe [8]. That was also listed as under construction in 1901.

The last section shows a site being prepared for a large building that still stands today. Do you recognise it?

BMH site under preparation

The roads might help - the curving road below the site is Bowen Road, and the road running downhill to the left is Borrett Road. The British Military Hospital [9] will open on this site in 1907.

Who: Here's Tim to tell us more about the panorama and its original owner:

"I've just had it scanned from the original print, which extends over several pages in an album. Because of the shape it's hard to see much unless you enlarge it, of course, but we were surprised at how much detail there is when you zoom in.

The album was left by my late grandfather, Colonel Trant Luard. He was a gunnery officer in the Royal Marines with the China Fleet from 1901-4, so the album also has various postcards of Chinese scenes he bought during a visit to Peking just after the raising of the siege of the legations after the Boxer rebellion.

It seems from his letters he had a good time in HK anyway when his ship, HMS Blenheim, put in there -- dining at the Club, playing golf at Happy Valley and shooting in the NT."

If you can help us identify more of the buildings in the photo, there is an annotated, full-size copy at http://gwulo.com/atom/25321

Thanks again to Tim and Alison for sharing this photo with us. If you have any old photos of Hong Kong you'd like to share on Gwulo, please contact me. (Or even better, upload the photos straight to Gwulo for us to see. Here's how: http://gwulo.com/node/2076)

Regards, David

PS We're off on our summer holidays tomorrow, visiting family & friends, and escaping the summer heat for a few weeks. I'll check in to the site each day, and I've got the next few newsletters written and ready to post, but otherwise I won't be posting much while we're away. Enjoy yourself if you're taking a break over the summer, and safe travels if you're heading overseas.

Also on Gwulo.com this week:


  1. Bishop's Lodge
  2. Luginsland
  3. The Albany
  4. Roman Catholic Cathedral
  5. Queen's Building
  6. Princes Building
  7. Public Works Department Annual Report for 1901
  8. Hong Kong Club Annexe
  9. British Military Hospital on Bowen Road