Grand Court [1931-2012] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Grand Court [1931-2012]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
c.1931-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Date Place demolished: 
c.2012-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)

Replaced by development called Kadooria

Photos that show this place



I have related this story somewhere previously, but I cannot find it during a gwulo search.

In the early 1970s, my employer’s staff-housing department placed a recently arrived UK family in an apartment in Grand Court. After a period of complaining about cockroaches (a pest they would not have experienced in the UK) and visits by exterminators whose remedies were ineffectual. Our employer sent in company workers/coolies to move tightly-fitted wall to ceiling furniture that seemed to be the origin of the cockroaches.

As they levered the furniture units away from the walls, a brown mass behind them took off, as did the workers out of the front door. A massive swarm of cockroaches filled the apartment and made it inhabitable for a week or so, after which it had to be thoroughly deep-cleaned and redecorated. The family was moved into a hotel but had to return to the same apartment as no alternative permanent accommodation was available at that time.

Whether by coincidence or not the family shortly after decided Hong Kong was not for them and moved on to the cooler climate of New Zealand.

I lived in two separate flats at Grand Court with my sister and my parents during the 1960s - My father was in the Hong Kong Police. I remember it well. I watched the 1966 World Cup on a black and white TV in one flat, and the moonlanding in 1969 in another. As for the cockroaches, they were legendary. All rubbish had to go down a shute which was on the landing at the rear exit of the flat through the kitchen. When you wrenched opened the shute to throw your rubbish down it, I swear you could hear thousands of the little monsters scuttling around in the blackness beyond. That may have been my overactive imagination though. However, I do recall the wire mesh which covered the drain hole which allowed the rain water to run away, which was in the corner as you stepped out the back. The mesh was there to keep the roaches at bay. They were large brown monsters with very long antennae and wings, and were a regular sight.  I really disliked them. The thing that capped it all though, was that one of the Chinese janitors who worked at Grand Court loved to show us gweilo children how he could bite the head off the nasty beasts and suck out their innards. He became a legend too as a result of it.

Our first family home between 1964 and 1968 was 133/4 GC on the fourth floor corner overlooking the corner of Prince Edward Road and Kadoorie Ave. and well within smelling range of of early morning pig train as it crossed the nearby bridge headed for the abbatoirs in Yaumati. Apart from that, it made for a beautiful , spacious two bedroom flat for the four of us and we certainly don't remember the cockroaches being any worse than elsewhere. The company was paying our $1,000. pm rent and we only left because after the 1967 riots we found a brand new four storey, four bedroom terraced house, with a fair sized garden at the back on Wilson Road in Jardine Lookout at the give away rent of $1200., and convinced my employers to let us move. This was at a time when developers were giving away a brand new 1968 VW Beetle to anyone buying a new flat in the Kowloon Tong area so depressed was the market at that time. Nick Wilson

What a great memory you have! I could not tell you the flat numbers we were in, although standing in the car park with my back to the entrance I could possibly hazard which ones they were. On the left looking up I think we were on the 5th floor (1965-67), and on the right I think it was the 4th floor that we were on (1968-70). I remember the place itself well enough though, and the children's play area to the rear. There was a long winding path stretching along the back from left to right until it opened up at the far end. Ground floor flats had balconies which opened onto the path. They were very dark as I recall. Once in the playground, on the left over (or under) the fencing on the high wall, there were the grounds of the Dioscesan Boys School. Grand Court was built with the rear facing into a hillside which had been hollowed out and covered in shotcrete. As kids, we used to cimb up a sloping drain gulley against the wall in the play area and crawl under the fence there. Once on the other side, you made your way up through the thick vegetation and there was a short tunnel to crawl through at the top. Once through, you could look down on the school. It was all very dangerous. I also have memories of discovering old bullet casings in the earth of the playground. We fantasised that they were Japanese.