Zetland Hall (2nd generation) - Masonic Hall [1865-1944]

Submitted by annelisec on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 21:30
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
Date closed / demolished

In 1865 the original hall was replaced by a second larger and more impressive building in Zetland Street in the Central business district just off Ice House Street. This second Zetland Hall lasted until 1944 when it was destroyed by American bombing, Hong Kong then being under Japanese occupation.

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Looking uphill toward Ice House Street

4 Zetland St - 1901 map

The next and current Zetland Hall is on Kennedy Road.

Photos that show this Place


Sir Catchick Paul Chater was installed as District Grand Master of Hongkong and South China when he was only 36 years old (1882). He had been Deputy District Grand Master for a number of years.  By the time he retired, he hac held the position for approximately 27 consecutive years retiring in 1911.  He was frequently called out of retirement when major events had to be chaired such as in 1921 for the installation of Bro. the Hon. P.H. Holyoak as successor to RW Bro Hough.  Chater had already installed Hough as his successor in 1911.  In 1924/5 Chater was awarded the Masonic thirty third degree.  He was the only resident Far Eastern mason ever to be honoured with the thirty third degree in the English consitition.

On occasions he allowed his bungalow in Kowloon to be used as a masonic meeting place and one room had been converted into a temple.

During his visit to HK in 1890, the Duke of Connaught, who was Masonic Grand Master, visited Zetland Hall.  Chater, who was part of the official party looking after the Duke had to slip out of city duties at LegCo and into Masonic duties at Freemasons' Hall.  To celebrate the Duke's visit Bro. Paul Chater, Bro Hormusjee Mody and Bro. Gillies jointly subscribed to a fund to erect a new wing to the masonic hall, and it was to be called Connaught Hall.  This was done at the instigation of Chater.

Hope this is interesting to some of you.


Hi David,

Thanks for your message.  He was (in his time) genuinely considered to be the founding father of Hong Kong.  One of the many obits written about him when he died said that: "to write the life story of Sir Paul Chater would be to write the history of Hong Kong......." And it is so true. 

Hong Kong is what it is today because he was a man way ahead of his time.  He really KNEW that HK had the potential to be a major financial market, to lead the world  in every aspect. Some contemporaries (sceptics ) of his didn't believe he could do everything he said he wanted to do but he carried on regardless and had few failures.  He was the brains behind HK Electric.  To make it cheaper to run, he funded at his own expense an exploration trip to North Borneo.  Having brought back to HK samples with him, he had then analysed for quality and after postive feedback he started a coal mining company in Tonkin specifically to serve the needs of HK. 

He's well known for the development of the Praya Reclamation which was completely his idea.  To ensure he got all the calculations right, he would spend days in a sampan in the middle of the harbour with a rod and line, testing and recording the depths.  People thought he was fishing but actually it was part of a complex amount of research he was doing to ensure the reclamation was successful and the harbour could take much later boats, which in turn would increase the revenue for the island.  There was an enormous amount of preparation done before he went public with his idea, and the attention to detail he gave everything meant that there were very few errors ever made in his projects.

There wasn't a major company in HK that he didn't have some sort of connection with and everyone wanted to run their business ideas by him before going forward with them.  He was the voice of vision and reason.

As I explore your site further I shall add bits and pieces to it - there really isn't much that he wasn't part of.  I believe he is greatly under-rated in terms of how much he did for the benefit of HK, which is why I blindly carry on researching him and his achievements. And I do it without any support or funding and with none of the major companies he started or was part of helping in any way.

Did you see the picture of the trowel I posted? He presented that to Sir William Robinson and the Victoria Hospital wouldn't have been completed without his major financial contribution.  The trowel is still around and in the hands of the family of Sir William Robinson and I was very fortunate to make contact with them and they let me see it and take pictures.  I have something else on Sir William Robinson too which I shall post separately.

best wishes