Photo (21): Kowloon City Pier | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Photo (21): Kowloon City Pier

We re-join the new Gwulo book at the next-to-last photo ...

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One of these happy chaps kindly wrote this note on the back of the photo: ‘Taken at Kowloon Pier (old city). A Company’s swimming test, July 1907.’

The pier, also known as the Lung Tsun Stone Bridge, extended far out into the shallow waters off Kowloon City. The first section, finished in 1875, was 210 metres long and built from granite. These men are sitting on the 80-metre-long timber extension that was added in 1892. The pier was thought to have been lost when the bay was reclaimed to create Kai Tak. But during Kai Tak’s recent re-development, the granite section of the pier has been found. It is mostly intact, and will be preserved.

The note doesn’t say which organisation ‘A Company’ belonged to, but fortunately one of the men has his cap on. We’ve seen his style of cap badge before, back in Volume 1. It identifies him as a soldier in the Middlesex Regiment. The men were likely competing for a place on the team that would take part in the Water Polo Shield Competition later that month. They’d face teams from many of the groups we’ve met earlier, including the Royal Engineers, the 87th Company of the RGA, and both the Corinthian and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Clubs.

If the soldiers didn’t need a car, launch, or seaplane to enjoy their swim, the boys below didn’t even need a swimming costume. They’ve stripped off for a dip in the harbour at Yau Ma Tei.

All good fun, unless you’re the boy at the top of the picture. He drew the short straw, and got left holding his friends’ clothes!

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The new book is making good progress. The next two photos were taken at the end of last week, and show the printer working on the cover and interior pages, getting the colours and contrast just right.

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In just over an hour's time I'm going to see the running sheets - these are the final, printed pages from the printer, but before they've been bound. It's an exciting moment as it's the first time I can see how the photos will look in the finished book.

The pre-orders have been coming in steadily too, with 187 copies pre-ordered so far. I'm crossing my fingers we can hit 200 by Saturday, when the pre-order offers end. (If you'd like to to take advantage of those offers - special price, free shipping, and signed copies - here are the details and how to order.)