Godown 7 / First Kowloon Post Office | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Godown 7 / First Kowloon Post Office

The first post office in Kowloon opened its doors in July 1898. It was located at Godown No. 7 of the Wharf and Godown's premises, on the harbourside of present day Canton Road.

Does anyone have details regarding the exact location of Godown No. 7 ?


The 1903 map (http://www.hkmaps.hk/map_1903.html) gives a good idea of the extent of the godowns at the time, but so far I haven't seen any map that shows the godowns' numbers.

I don't find any mention of the Kowloon Post Office in the Old Colonial articles either, so no help there.

Could you advise the reference that you have mentioned for Godown No. 7 as being the premises of the first Kowloon Post Office?

A Post Office Notice dated 2 July 1898 confirmed that the first Kowloon Post Office was located at the Wharf and Godown Co premises. The reference to a partitioned off portion of Godown 7 came from a series of articles about the Post Offices in Hong Kong published in the local newspapers in the 1930s (I think it was the SCMP in 1934 but I am not 100% sure)

I wonder if the 4-volume book "Hong Kong Post Offices and Postal Cancels" (ISBN 9789881315205) would provide some clue. https://stamps.hongkongpost.hk/eng/stamps/other_products/2014/20140612a.htm

A few observations.

The 1906 Government Archives does not say too much. But there is also some mismatch in information. The PWD Report mentions that the premises were rented from the Godown Co. The Post Office Report advises the temporary (post) office on the Star Ferry Pier was destroyed in the great typhoon of September 1906.

The Kowloon Wharf godowns can be seen on the refrerence map provided by David and in the photo below. Unfortunately, the  numbering of the godowns cannot be discerned. Going through my notes, I had suspected some time ago that the first pillar post box erected in Kowloon in 1892 was also located next to the godowns.

1900s Kowloon Wharf and Godowns
1900s Kowloon Wharf and Godowns, by moddsey



 The first post office in Kowloon opened its doors to the public on Tuesday 5 July 1898; it was located in the Wharf and Godown Co. premises, which were situated to the seaward side of the present-day Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.  The lease originally ran for one year from 1 June 1898 for a partitioned off part of Godown No. 7 at a monthly rent of $25. The office was open to the public from 7.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on ordinary days and from 8 to 9 a.m. on Sundays and holidays.  Only ordinary letters, papers, etc. were accepted at first, registered letters were accepted from 13 July 1898.


It is thought, but not yet proven, that expanding business prompted a move to larger accommodation in a temporary office on or adjacent to the Star Ferry Pier at some unknown date.  The office then moved to permanent premises on Salisbury Road in September 1906.  The Star Ferry Pier at that time was located at the Praya (West Bund) approximately half way between present-day Peking Road and present-day Haiphong Road. This temporary office was completely destroyed in the major typhoon of 18 September 1906 that caused so much damage to shipping and onshore facilities.


The postal facilities in Kowloon were not restricted to the post office itself. An expanding number of Pillar and Letter Boxes, with regular clearance by postmen of the Kowloon PO, allowed the public to post their letters at more convenient locations if they chose to do so. The first such facility was advised by the Acting PMG, Arthur Travis, on 21 September 1889 - it was a Letter Box that had been placed in the charge room at the Police Station compound at Tsimshatsui built in 1882/83 (this later became the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police until 1996) located at the junction of present-day Salisbury and Canton Roads. Collections were made at Noon and 4pm daily except Sunday.


It was not until 5 August 1892, some 14 years after they were first installed at Hong Kong Island, that the first Pillar Box started service in Tsimshatsui, near the Kowloon Wharf and Godowns – this would have been on the Praya (West Bund) on the harbour side of the present-day Canton Road. The provision of this Pillar Box was supplementary to the existent Letter Box in the Police Station compound and clearances continued at the same times as previously.


In the Post Office Guide for 1898 the first Pillar Box (referred to as Pillar Box No. 1) was still in operation near the Godown Company’s office and was used as a Night Box by the fledgling Kowloon PO that had opened on 5 July 1898  – the public were able to post their letters in the Pillar Box during hours when the Kowloon PO was closed knowing they would be collected and dealt with upon opening of the premises the following working day. The use as a Night Box seems to confirm that this first Pillar Box was located, since its erection in August 1892, on the waterfront praya, as described above, close by the Kowloon PO. The Post Office Guide for 1898 also confirmed the continuance of the Letter Box at Tsimshatsui Police Station.


Good read. Thank you for the comprehensive write-up. Will certainly look-out for information on the temporary post office and pillar box.

By chance I found a plan with the godowns numbered while looking through documents at the UK National Archive. It's from 1941, so there's a chance that the numbers had changed since 1898, but the location facing Canton Road, a little north of Haiphong Road, would make sense for a Post Office.

1941 Part of plan of Kowloon Wharves
1941 Part of plan of Kowloon Wharves, by UKNA

Thanks David; the big question is whether the numbering changed from the 1890s to the 1940s.

I wonder whether any old photos or postcards of MacDonnel Road (later changed to Canton Road) exist showing the external facade of Godown No 7.