P&O Building 2nd Generation [c.1850-c.1885]

Submitted by Herostratus on Fri, 08/19/2016 - 22:27
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)
Date closed / demolished
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)

The name of todays Tit Hong Lane refers to the Iron House of the P&O company, so called due to its elaborate Iron balconies.  


Photos that show this Place


This building was used as temporary premises by HSBC while the bank redeveloped its own building:

From 1882 until 1888, the Bank was accommodated in the offices previously occupied by the P. and O. Company, situated west of the present Central Market, on the corner of Jubilee Street and Des Voeux Road.

Source: p.493, "Old Hongkong" by "Colonial"

The exact location of the first P&O Headquarters Building is still not exactly known.

The “Twentieth century impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other Treaty Ports of China: Wright, Arnold” (1908) refers:

In the early days the Company was known in the Colony as the "Tit-Hong," or Iron House. Their headquarters used to be where Jardine's wharf is now situated, and around the offices was a very handsome iron verandah. It is presumed that the name was derived from this ornamental structure, which now adorns a house on the Peak. These offices were sold and pulled down in about 1881, and the Company moved to the site of the present Central Market. In 1887, however, the ground was sold to the Government, and the Company then moved into its palatial premises at No. 22, Des Voeux Road.

If these facts were correct, the location of the first HQ would have been on Queen’s Road in Sai Ying Poon (near Jardine's Wharf [1885-1981]) – and if I read the text correctly.

A different story is told on the P&O Heritage site. Here a painting of the first HQ building is shown, the caption is “P&O's Hong Kong Headquarters which extended along the present Jubilee Road” [several clicks are necessary: go to the 1840s, then click on the photo].

P&O sailed to Hong Kong from August 1845 onwards, so the building should be from the late 1840s.

Probably P&O should know better than the "Twentieth century", so the building was likely close to the site of the second generation building, but closer to Queen’s Road because the land in front of Queen’s Road wasn’t reclaimed yet. [Herostratus assumed this in his comment above].

Another evidence for this location – at least that the building was on Queen’s Road - gives the THE CHRONICLE & DIRECTORY for 1864:

P&O entry in the chronicle for 1864
P&O entry in the chronicle for 1864, by Klaus

The second generation HQ building was likely built on reclaimed land in front of the existing 1st generation building at the new praya (later Des Voeux Road). The year of construction should be c.1860 when the reclamation along the coast of Sheung Wan was completed in 1859. The 1st generation building was demolished in 1881 (if  the "Twentieth century" is correct).


Addendum: It would be interesting to know to which house on the Peak the iron verandas from the P&O Building were transferred.