C. E. Warren & Co., then C. E. Warren & Co. Ld. [1899-1941] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

C. E. Warren & Co., then C. E. Warren & Co. Ld. [1899-1941]

C. E. Warren & Co., then C. E. Warren & Co. Ld.
c.1899-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
c.1941-07-31 (Day is approximate)

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The dates of C.E. Warren & Co. are 1899-1918 and the actual dates of C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd. are 1918-1941 (although officially 1918-1956).

C.E. Warren & Co.’s headed writing paper gives 1899 as the date of inception. I’ve recently been sent one of the last letters written by my uncle Leslie Warren to his wife and children before leaving Hong Kong in July 1941. It was probably the last letter to be written on the C.E. Warren & Co.’s headed paper using the St George’s Building address. Leslie had taken over the management of the company on the death of his father Charles E. Warren in June, 1923.

C.E. Warren & Co. existed under that name until 1918 when it was registered as a limited company with Companies House and became C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd.. Although the company was wound up in July 1941, just before Leslie Warren left Hong Kong, for some reason, Companies House failed to register its closure until 1956.

Here are some extracts from Leslie Warren’s letter of 2 May 1941. He mentions his assistant William Russell. P.M. Xavier and especially Jose Goularte d’Aquino had been with the company since before his father died in 1923. (I don’t know who Santos is.) David Scott Robb was an accountant with Lowe, Bingham & Matthews. The Maycock family had been long term friends of the Warrens.

You people must be awfully fed up with the conditions, but it looks as though you’ll have to stay in England now. I’m so sorry you are not in Australia with the Evacuées. Well, you’ll  be wondering what is going to happen to me with the firm closing down. Well we gave up our Town Office two days ago & moved down to Wanchai, and, as soon as all the Stocks and Property have been sold, everything will be finished. Russell is an Overseer for A.R.P. Construction Work, and Xavier has just got a job as Accountant in the Govt. Food Controller’s Office – a wartime job. Robb, our Liquidator, got him the job. Aquino & Santos are still with us. Now, what about Leslie then – I haven’t been sleeping, but have made contact with several possibilities. I have applied for the position of Lieutenant Quartermaster of the H.K. Volunteers, as the post is going to be vacant soon, but of course, I may not be selected, as there are several applicants. There is a house provided as well as the necessities, on top of the salary. I’ll be lucky if I get it. Secondly, and this is my best bet, a big concern with Branches in Shanghai, H.K., Manila, Singapore and Bangkok, are thinking of opening up a Plumbing Dept. in Singapore or Bangkok. If they do, I shall be appointed Manager with a decent salary, agreement, &c. The Head is arriving down from S’hai in 2 weeks’ time, & he wants to meet me to discuss terms. I hear business is very lively at Bangkok. If anything comes off, I shall cable you. It’s no use trying to start anything here, as conditions are very bad. I’d like to get in the P.W.D. here if all else fails. (…) I’m still with the Maycocks, Eva & Willie, & they look after me like a brother. I’ve put on 10 lbs since I came here! It is just getting warm, and I’m sure you’re more comfortable where you are. I hope you are managing alright with your money; it’s awful having to cut your allowance. (…) I’m sure you are all very busy, - especially as Diana is doing war work. I do hope you will all be safe. The war news is very bad, but of course we will win in the end, as always. Still, you are in a bad place for possible bombings. Well, cheerio for the present . I hope to send you some good news soon. Tons of the best.     Dad



The company moved to the ground floor of the China Building (facing Queen's Theatre) on 1st February 1925 

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press page 2 14th February 1925

C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd Hong Kong Daily Press Page 2 14th February 1925.png
C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd Hong Kong Daily Press Page 2 14th February 1925.png, by eurasian_david

Many thanks for spotting this announcement. We don’t have it and I’m always so grateful for the sharp eyes and expertise of my Gwulo colleagues. My Warren cousin who researched the family company only found the following announcement from the China Directory of 1926, and it’s great to have the exact date of the move.

“War Lun, Warren & Company Ltd., C.E., Sanitary and Heating Engineer, Tile, Granite and Marble Merchants, Monumentalists. China Building (Facing Queens Theatre), L.B. Warren Director, A.C. Warren, J.G. d’Aquino, P.M. Xavier.”

Leslie Warren, only 25, was gradually getting the company back on its feet with the help of the accountant, John Fleming. He had been joined by his brother, Arthur, now 19. Jose Goularte d'Aquino had been a long term stalwart of the company. He and Philip Xavier would stay with it till the end.

So I’m amending the 1926 date in my Hong Kong family chronology, which currently runs to 23 pages, single spaced and may shortly qualify as a book. All other snippets from the newspapers, (which hardly ever give up their secrets to my searches), very gratefully received.

Don't know if this advert is any use to you Jill, but always thinking of you when I see the  C.E. Warren name!

I know you already have the old address at Des Voeux Road but wondered if you had details of what servcies the company offered in the early days

C.E. Warren & Co. Hong Kong Daily Press page 1 24th September 1902.png
C.E. Warren & Co. Hong Kong Daily Press page 1 24th September 1902.png, by eurasian_david

Totally of use, david! This ad earns itself another entry in the “Warren Chronology”. As I said when you found the1925 ad, my late cousin wasn’t able to find everything. He only had access to the SCMP, which kicked off in 1903, so we don’t have 1902 as the date when C.E. Warren & Co. first had premises in 30 Des Voeux Road. The company must have moved after the Jurors List was published. C.E. Warren’s entry for1902 still gives his address as Wyndham Street. As it happens, I’ve just had a blitz of C.E. Warren ads in the SCMP and was surprised at the variety of products offered over the years. At this very early stage, C.E. Warren was concentrating on sanitary ware. This is what his experience as a Sanitary Inspector had qualified him for and what Hong Kong certainly needed at the time. A 1903 article mentions that he also equips and supervises the building of whole houses together with drainage and sanitation. An ad the same year mentions “coated cast iron drainage pipes and traps”. I’m interested in the mention of the company’s agency for “Mosaic Tiles”. Was this a Hong Kong company, I wonder? C.E. Warren & Co. soon went into the manufacture of tiles on its own account. This was its main product by 1910 when the company moved its factory to Bowrington. I’m not sure how soon the company went into monumental masonry. St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery doesn’t have a searchable data base similar to Patricia Lim’s. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the 1905 grave of Kathleen Kew is the first CEW & Co. grave in the Protestant Cemetery. As Charles Warren converted to the Catholic faith, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were earlier CEW & Co. graves in St. Michael’s. Thank you so much for your interest, david. I’m about to put in order all the C.E. Warren products from the ads that I’ve salvaged (I had to give up as there were over 10,000 recorded and I certainly haven’t got them all.)

Hi Jill, 

I'm glad that has been useful. As an extra, the same advert was placed in The China Mail, page 5, 24th September 1902. The extra crucial clue is that the advertisement was dated 1st June 1902. So we can say the move to 30 Des Voeux Road happend by that date.  

best wishes






That's a very astute spot, david - and now another amendment is needed to the Warren Chronology! - Many thanks. I'm wondering what the firm "Mosaic Tiles" was. Was it a Hong Kong company or based elsewhere? Coincidentally, Charles Warren later called his most successful racehorse "Mosaic Tile". By 6 November 1903 on p. 1 of the first number of the SCMP, C.E. Warren & Co. was advertising itself as the agents for the Taiwan Stone and Lime Company instead.

Here is another ad I have come across. It said est. 1900 although you had mentioned stationary had its inception year as 1899. 

C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd The Hong Kong Telegraph Page 2 5th April 1920.png
C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd The Hong Kong Telegraph Page 2 5th April 1920.png, by eurasian_david

You're right that the 1940s letter head gives 1899 as the founding date of the company. In 1920 Charles Warren was still alive and chose to give 1900 as the date when he officially went into business under his own name.