Marine Lot 111 [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Marine Lot 111 [????- ]

Several times in the John Olson story there have been mentions of the family living at 98 Wanchai Road. It's not clear exactly where that number is today, but it should be somewhere near the junction with Johnston Road - point A on the map:

Was that where Olson lived? We've seen before that the road numbers may have changed over the last 100 years. Fortunately Sean found a lot reference, which is much more reliable: Marine Lot 111, site of 96 and 98 Wanchai Road.

On an 1889 map [1], this lot is the area bounded by today's Johnston Rd / Mallory St / Wanchai Rd / Heard St - the blue rectangle on the map. Today that's numbers 166-190 Wanchai Road.

It looked very different then of course. Heard Street was there (the original lease for this lot was to a Mr Heard, who apparently got to name the road in return), as was Wanchai Road. But Mallory Street came later, and Johnston Road was then known as the Praya. The Praya was the name for a road along the water's edge - not surprising, given that a 'Marine' Lot was one that had access to the sea.

A map from the 1940s [2] shows that the lot had been subdivided into four. The northern lot was still known as M.L. 111, though reclamation meant the sea was some distance away at Gloucester Rd. Mallory Road is also shown, necessary to give access to the inner lots.

It will be interesting to see a photo of the area in the late 1800's/ early 1900's, when the old buildings were still standing.


Both maps come from the trusty 'Mapping Hong Kong' book
 - [1] Plate 3-2
 - [2] Plate 3-5b


Photos that show this place



Thanks David.

One query. On the 1889 map you refer to and which you posted before is lot 111 the last on the right adjoining the sea? Sorry but have difficulty in making out the placing probably due to my failing eyesight and old fashioned computer. Or both.

Of I am wrong maybe you would be good enough to guide me.


How did you draw that blue rectangle around the site ?  It is the way we can document every single original lot in Hong Kong.


Hi Sean,

Yes, on this map (click on it for a larger view)...

Wanchai 1889

... it's the last on the right. Just to the right of it is a road, Heard Street. On the left of it is a dotted line separating it from ML110. Mallory Street would later run along that line.

You can get more of a feel for the area from some comments in Carl T Smith's 'Wanchai: In Search of an Identity':

The lots [were] designated as Marine Lots, which used to carry with them the right of access to the sea. The Marine Lots had to pay a higher Crown Rent than Inland Lots for that privilege. This was a carry over from the early days when merchant firms wished to load and unload cargo directly at their premises.


As one proceeds east from the junction of Wanchai Road with what is now Johnston Road, the first street is Bullock Lane. At the end of the lane on what is now Cross Lane the Eastern Slaughter House was opened in 1858. Later the Gas Works had a storage tank on the site.

The next street is Burrows Street, named after the American firm of Messrs Burrows & Sons. Here it had a timber yard, which eventually came into the possession of Lawrence Mallory, who gave his name to the next street. Mallory was a long time resident who died in Hong Kong in 1904. Adjoining the timber yard Messrs Hunt & Co had their boat-building yard (ML 110).

Heard Street ran beside the property of the firm of Messrs Heard & Co (ML111), another American firm, and it used the land for warehouses. To the east of Heard Street was yet another timber and boatyard of Hunt & Co (ML 121) and adjoining it the Whampoa Dock Co sparyard.

As we near Tin Lok Lane (originally named Observation Point), the lot owners were Chinese who built godowns which were used by the large Chinese commercial firms. The lot west of Tin Lok Lane (ML 196) was occupied by Parsee firms, again for warehouses.

Regards, David

It uses an admin feature.

I'm currently working on adding a shopping cart to the site. Once you see the cart, remind me about maps again, and I'll see how to make the map tool more widely available. It's not very sophisticated, but is handy for adding a few markers or outlines to a map like I've done above.

Regards, David

Thanks David, Fascinating stuff. Originally, the family, would have lived almost at the water's edge and looked across at Kowloon side I think.

I can remember my grandmother saying my granffather had a home that looked across the harbour and in my childhood mind had thougts of stepping from gardens into boats!

I assume from the map that this lot must have been large and have had many buildings on it - both residential and business. My great grandmother died  there in 98a in 1915 and old John ! died at 98b in 1918. Also somewhere I have a note of my infamous great uncle Charles living also at 98b in the 1920s. Maybe they were blocks of flats or apartments.

Am I correct in thinking that this site was of a considerable size and would have had multi use buildings and even go downs in the very early days?

Again many thanks.


hi, I don't know if you've seen these photos. They're dated 1930 but must be late 30s because the new Wanchai market is there. I'm not sure if they show the lot or the house on Broadwood Road but they give a good overview of the area:$A8M7NN%23A&pid=1&mime=image/jpeg

Sean, I'm not sure they'd have lived there.

It was a large lot, but if you think about the area, with a gasworks, timber yards boatyards and warehouses in the area, it would have been a noisy, smelly place to live. The government correspondence you found from 1912 regarding this plot gives a similar impression of the area - one suitable for 'offensive trades':

96 and 98 Wanchai Road M. L. 111

An application has been received for a licence to carry on an offensive trade, namely the cleaning of human hair, at the above address. [...] work of the above nature has been carried on here for some months. [...] the locality is not unsuitable for such a trade.

It seems the family was relatively well-off by this time, so I can't imagine they'd choose to live in this part of town.

But at several times this address is quoted on official documents for the family. Possibly that was a business address? eg in the Jurors' lists, sometimes you'll see addresses given that are obviously residential, and other times they are clearly commercial.

For the house with the seaview possibly Broadwood Road, and definitely Caine Road would fit.

Regards, David

Your point is well made David.

I suspect that, like so many other things the Wanchai Road address was one of convenience. Maybe that is where John 1 lived when he first arrived in HK in the early 1860s. There was a godown there because when C.W.Warren and Co got into financial diffs they moved there.

I am afraid this is another mystery which will not be unravelled. The fact that John and his Chinese wife also lived openly at 53 Caine Road and 33 Caine Road  and also had the house on Broadwood Road certainly seems to make a nonsense of their living in this area.

I wonder if it is  possible that the site was owned by Ching Ah Fung's family and thus John 1 and his wife used it as an address of convenience.

I read somewhere that Chinese women were not allowed to live on the mid levels in those early days yet Ching Ah Fung did so for many years. Would Marine Lot 111 been a good cover or would John1 have married into a rich Chinese family and thus fell under their control?

I feel a novel coming on!   Sean

P.W.D Annual Report

In 1917, 14 Chinese houses were completed on Marine Lot 111 Praya East, Mallory Street and Wanchai Road.

The first recorded entry on the Jury List for 98A Wanchai Road is referenced to John Olson in 1915.

Moddsey, that's a good find and shows that the nature of the area was changing in the 1910s. So I may well be wrong and they did live here after all. The government response to the 1912 application for a licence to perform 'cleaning of human hair' also mentions that only a short-term licence should be granted, since:

"dwellings of European design are being built in the vicinity and I understand that schemes are under consideration for the erection of additional houses on neighbouring lots."

Sean, what is the earliest date you have for a connection between the Olson family and this lot? If 1915 is the earliest, then maybe John bought some of the newly developed buildings? The address '98A' suggests that the earlier '96 and 98 Wanchai Road' mentioned in 1912 had been re-developed into new, smaller buildings.

A couple of other thoughts.

Although the government was concerned that they should only issue a short licence for the 'cleaning of human hair', I wonder if they needed to worry. This was around the time when Chinese men were cutting off their queues, so was the hair-cleaning a long-term ongoing business, or a short-term opportunist way to make some money from all that hair?

Sean, you mentioned "I read somewhere that Chinese women were not allowed to live on the mid levels in those early days". Has anyone else heard of that? Certainly the Peak was out of bounds at that time, but I hadn't heard of any restrictions on living in Caine Road,

Regards, David

There were attempts, but they all failed.  So many of the very wealthy were Eurasian compradores, pillars of the community, that the restriction never materialized. 

All this is fascinating. The first we as a family knew of the address was in 1915 on my great grandmother's death certificate. That is 98A. 98B  crops up again in 1918 on John 1's death cert. Later. and I can't remember where the documentation is, Charles W was listed as living at 98B.  Maybe a Jury List. It is then in the early to mid 20s became the headquarters of C.E Warren and Co according to other family research.

With regard to the mid levels ban on Chinese it is something I read some years ago and for the life of me cannot remember where. I spent a lot of time years ago reading as much of the Legislature meetings as possible and it maybe came from there which would probably back up annelisec.

Sorry not to be of much help. This was a very very strange family when it came to giving out information. The human hair licence by the way is only attached to the address but may have been yet another way of making money though by that stage I would have thought old John had enough!

Thanks for all the hard work.


A tinted postcard of Wanchai Bay before the Praya East Reclamation.  I think Marine Lot 111 may be two buildings to the left of the yellowish building in the middle (near No. 2 Police Station). Corrections are always welcome.

1910s Wanchai Bay

1910s Wanchai Bay


1910s Wanchai Road

1910s Praya East (Wanchai Road)


1915 Overhead Wanchai 

1910s Praya East (Wanchai Waterfront)

What a pleasure to see these views of old Wanchai. Thank you for delving into your amazing collection to post them. I can understand why my father didn't want to revisit Hong Kong in adulthood with childhood memories of the waterfront in the state we see it here.

I'm a little confused about the numbering of the Marine Lot, as a land registry document recording the 1919 sale of 98A Wanchai Road to CE Warren & Co. Ltd. which was kindly mailed to me by Sean in 2007 gives 98A as Section A Marine Lot no. 122. 98B would be Section B Marine Lot no. 122. I must have done some further research on this as my notes give the following:

 Property reference no. (PRN) C5478301 Held under government lease. Lease term 999 years. Commencement of lease 26/12/1860. Rent per annum: $38. Might this mean that our great-grandfather, John Olson, took out a lease on this lot as early as 1860? Over to you Sean.

(In the later record of this property there is reference to a ground floor and a basement).


Another mystery to keep us going!

Patricia O'Sullivan is visiting, and showed me some copies she'd taken from the Rate Books (viewable at the PRO). For every property it lists the street number, type (eg dwelling, godown, etc), and owner. It would be good to look at the rate books for this stretch of street over successive years.

Regards, David

As I have mentioned earlier I have death certificates which say that my great grandfather and his wife died at 98a and 98b Wanchai Road. I also saw/read some documentation that my great uncle Charles lived there - I think when he first worked for Thoresens.

I do recall my grandmother - Annie Louisa Olson (nee Moore-Burke) saying the first HK house which I assume was 98 Wanchai Road - although it might have been 33 Caine Road - had an  view straight across the harbour.

I too am now confused about the number of the lot. I have the paperwork obtained many moons ago but at present am not sure where it is filed. I am pretty certain that I  made a typing mistake and used both numbers. However I am convinced that 111 is the correct number because of official licencing for using part of the site for the cleaning of human hair exists. I first came across a complaint about this in the Carl Smith Archive some years ago and obtained the licence papers which, if memory serves, was issued to John Olson.

Most if not all of this ground has been covered by David in the conversations on this node and it is worth going back and reading the complete dialogue.  David has done a huge amount of work on this over the years as has Edmond more recently.

With regard to Jons Jakobsson taking out a lease on the site as early as 1860 this seems unlikely. I know he left Sweden in 1858 - presumably in the summer of that year as he went to Lisbon to load salt which was needed for preserving fish for winter use. The latest version of shows that some Swedish ships sailed to Hong Kong but I do not think that is how he got there for reasons explained on the site and too long to go into here.

There is also the fact that it is unlikely he would have had the money even if he had got to HK by 1860. A new version of the website, which I am preparing at the moment following more documentary information from Sweden, shows the extreme poverty he left behind him.

Finally to revert to 98 Wanchai Road. It is my understanding that it formed part of the agreement between my grandfather John Olson 2 and Charles Warren when the Olson family took their stake in C.E.Warren and Co and the company had to retrench.

I hope this helps.


I'm going to send the image of the document you sent me to David to see if he can enhance it all. It does indeed deal with the purchase and sale of 98A Wanchai Road in 1919 when C. E. Warren became a limited company and your grandfather took his stake. It's very poor quality, but the number 122 is legible. You also sent me a better quality version, but I didn't have broadband at the time and wasn't able to open it. It would certainly be good if you could find that one. Maybe Patricia will have time to post a copy of the relevant page in the rate book. It seems that ML 122 was pretty big and divided into Sections A, B, C and D. I agree that the timing would have been tight for our great-grandfather to amass the cash to make this purchase. The Chinese name given for 98B in the rate book could be an important clue to John Olson snr's connections if Charlie Olson continued to be linked to 98B. Patricia's rate book researches also have a bearing on my earlier query about the accuracy of death certificates, as 98A is uniquely registered as a dwelling and its ratable value is much higher than its neighbours! Thank you for your help Patricia! Much to chew on! I hope I can return the favour.


Actually, David, its only in later books that all properties get their street number. For a lot of roads in the early books, they are just listed by Rate Index number ... so on smaller roads, its not always clear which side of the road the property is on. Hours of fun!  Oh, and sometimes but not always the older ones have a lot number too ...

Patricia's research discovered the handover of 98A and she has very kindly posted the page.

I have no memory of sending a document regarding this exchange, indeed no memory of such a document. A copy would be useful to jog my memory. My email address is available at

Charles Olson did not retain a connection as far as I know. He certainly lived in Kowloon and Broadwood Road (I have pictures to indicate this) before leaving HK. His occupation of 98b would probably have been around 1908.

Jons Jakobsson could not in my opinion have reached HK by 1860. I mention in an earlier post more Swedish documentation I have recently obtained shows the poverty his family was in. I don't see a ship's cook stepping off a boat his pockets jingling with coins he wanted to invest in land.



I may be adding to the confusion, but I'm at the PRO again, and since Wanchai Rd is on my radar, had a look at 96/98 in the 1882 rate books. But the numbers don't exist. However, Marine Lot 111a is there ... Godowns at numbers 72 and 74 Wanchai Rd. The former belongs to K Hughes, the other to Macao Steam Boat Co, Both valued at $600 - godowns seem to attract higher rates, but this implies a reasonable, not huge, size.

Confusion reigns for me at least Patricia.

From what you say and others have said I understand the following:

1: Marine Lot 111 does not contain 98a and 98b Wanchai Road

2: In your previous posting with picture of the record book 98a and 98b are there and the name Olson is crossed out.

3: 98a and 98b are in Marine Lot 122

This is deep, deep research which does not change my overall picture - see the note I posted to you last night on the node headed 98 Wanchai Road - but confusion is never a good thing.

Finally it is quite possible that I am at fault and muddled up Lot numbers. It was years ago that I was on that track and memory is not what it was and files not too hand. I also suffered a disc crash before changing to an Apple setup and lost a lot of stuff.

David's research on 111 was as I remember a direct result of me quoting the number. I hope I did not cause him extra work but I don't recall him querying the existance of no 98. 

Look forward to hearing from you.


I think that it would really take a proper look through the different years making comparisons.  From what I can see comparing what I've taken of various years between 1882 and 1922, the most likely explanation is that there was infilling on the even number side of the road, and rather than using lots of abcd etc, there was at some point a renumbering.  It might be worth checking in the Government Gazette to see if there was mention of this.  Certainly in the earliest book, there's the implication that godowns at 74/76 were the end of the road, and seaboard.  But in later years there are no godowns at those numbers ... the first on that side are 96/98.  The valuation of the sets of godowns seems to be consistent, too - implying that they are one and the same.  

Part of the problem, though, is this isn't an easy job.  The rate books are huge, and VERY heavy.  Its not possible to be working on more than one at a time, really, even with the staff helping.   Photographing them is a bit of a nightmare.  Then they don't exist for every year by any means.  There's a complete gap between 1897 and 1905 for Victoria, for example.  

Sorry, not very helpful, I'm afraid, and I'm back to the UK this weekend.  When the dust has settled I'll try to look at what I've got photographed again.


Thanks Patricia.

Please do not go to any trouble for me. I have documentary evidence that my great grandfather died at 98a and that my grandmother at 161 Wanchai Road. This information comes from their death certificates. The lot numbers are really not important to me now as I know that all trace of these houses has gone long ago.

If you have a minute to look at you will see I have no need of more detailed information and I would certainly not wish to give you more work than you already have.

I understand about missing documents - over the last 10 to 15 years it sometimes seems they have been the story of my life! 

As I said before if I can be of help to you in any way let me. Travel safely.


The PWD Annual report for 1917 says:

A portion of Marine Lot 111, containing an area of 2,114 square feet, was resumed at a cost of $4,228.00 for the purpose of providing scavenging lanes. A portion of Marine Lot 110, containing an area of 6,564 square feet, was resumed for the provision of a public street at a cost of $13,128.

I think the "portion of ML110" is the land used to create Mallory Street.

Regards, David

A lot of this thread worked on the assumption that the Olson & Warren families lived here in the early twentieth century. Later information shows that their houses were a short distance to the east on Marine Lot 122 instead.

I set us off down the wrong path when we learned that in 1912, government correspondence showed that ML 111 contained buildings numbered 96 & 98 Wanchai Road. We knew the Olson family used 98A Wanchai Road as an address in 1915. I assumed the building numbered 98A in 1915 was part of the building numbered 98 in 1912, but it turns out that wasn't the case. 98A was further along the road on ML 122.

I can think of a couple of explanations, but it isn't clear which, if any, is true:

  • Wanchai Road was re-numbered in between 1912 and 1915. This was my original guess, but now it doesn't seem likely. When roads were re-numbered, it was usually because buildings had been added and new numbers were needed. The effect is that a building is given a new, higher number. But if that happened here we'd expect ML122 to have higher numbers than 98, as it was already in use back at ML111.
  • The alternative is that in 1915, the buildings at ML111 were still numbered 96 & 98. New buildings on ML122 needed numbers, and instead of re-numbering the whole street the government simply created the new numbers 98A, 98B, 98C, 98D for the new buildings.
Regards, David

A summary of what we know so far:

  • 1850s & 60s: "The area below Morrison and Hospital Hills was opened up in 1855 with wharehouses, boat-building yards, timber and coal storage and several small industries. When hostilities between Britain and China broke out in Canton in 1857, several American merchants moved to Hong Kong." "Heard Street ran beside the property of the firm of Messrs Heard & Co. (ML 111), another American firm, and it used the land for warehouses." Wanchai: In search of an Identity, by Carl T Smith.
  • 1882 Rate Book: Patricia writes, " However, Marine Lot 111a is there ... Godowns at numbers 72 and 74 Wanchai Rd. The former belongs to K Hughes, the other to Macao Steam Boat Co, Both valued at $600 - godowns seem to attract higher rates, but this implies a reasonable, not huge, size.".
  • 1889 Map: ML 111 is shown in the top-right corner of this map. It runs from the Praya along the seafront back to Wanchai Road. Just to the right of it is a road, Heard Street. On the left of it is a dotted line separating it from ML110. Mallory Street would later run along that line.
    Wanchai 1889
  • 1897 Map: Shows ML 111 has buildings numbered 74 & 76 Wanchai Road. (UKNA ref MPHH 1/412)
  • 1912 Government correspondence: mentions the buildings on ML 111 are numbers 96 & 98 Wanchai Road.
    Marine Lot 111
  • 1917 PWD Annual report: "A portion of Marine Lot 111, containing an area of 2,114 square feet, was resumed at a cost of $4,228.00 for the purpose of providing scavenging lanes. A portion of Marine Lot 110, containing an area of 6,564 square feet, was resumed for the provision of a public street at a cost of $13,128." I think the "portion of ML110" is the land used to create Mallory Street.
  • 2013: The current Street Index notes the land between Mallory Street and Heard Street is now known as I.L. 8746, and does not have any street numbers on Wanchai Road. However the numbers of the buildings either side of it are 164 and 188 Wanchai Road, so previously it would likely have used some of the street numbers in the range 166-186.
Regards, David

First let me apologise.

David and Patricia have put huge amounts of work into finding our where these Wanchai Road numbers /were/are.  Most of it seems to be my fault. Because I had nohing to go on but two death certs and a Jury Record which I cannot find, as well as the contradictory evidence supplied in the licence which says 98 was in Lot 111, I just muddied the waters.

The only other recorded addresses I have for John Olson and his wife and family are 33 Caine Road and 53 Caine Road. My only other evidence was oral and came from my grandmother Annie Louisa who told me you could see the harbour from the Olson house. To make matter's worse I also know she lived for a time with my grandfather at Morrisson Hill Road. Could she have meant that house? Or could it have been the Cannosian Convent on Caine Road where some sources say she spent time?

I am sure there are more important subjects to explore so it seems to me that this chapter should close. For whatever reason I have documents stating that both 96A and B were occupied by members of the Olson family. Perhaps we should leave it at that.

Again mea culpa for so much time wasted on a trifle.

I hope I’m not too late to add my thanks to David for his determined sleuthing on the geographical history of Wanchai Road, to Patricia for scanning the relevant page of the Victoria Rate Book which significantly classified 98A Wanchai Road as a “Dwelling” and to Sean for raising this by no means trifling issue in the first place. 

As far as the Warren family records are concerned, 98A and 100-108 are the only Wanchai Road addresses with which we are associated – not 98B nor 96. 

My enquiries with the Land Registry about other family addresses seem to confirm David’s opinion that large lots were “carved out” into Sections A,B,C,D and onwards as development and infilling took place, so avoiding the potential confusion of new lots with new numbers being created within the original one.