Everything tagged "Book" | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Everything tagged "Book"

Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong

Way back in January 2013, I sent out a newsletter titled: Please help - looking for old photos of the Central Police Station compound. The photos were for a new book, and I smile now to see I wrote, "The finished books won't start appearing until next year". The project took much longer than that, and at times I wondered if we'd ever see the book in print. Over seven years later I'm happy to see that the book has just been published:

Front cover


The book documents the history of the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy, and Victoria Gaol. My job was to track down the pictures to illustrate it.



May Holdsworth, leader of the project, was clear from the start that the book would have pictures throughout, not just a few pages of photos in the middle as an afterthought. May also encouraged me to find as much colour as possible, as old photos and engravings tend to be in black and white, which can get a bit monotonous.

We ended up with a collection of over 1,000 candidates, but even after narrowing them down the book still has over 200 pictures. That's a lot of pictures - open the book at random, and you'll almost always see at least one - and many of them are published for the first time. Here are some examples, grouped by their source.


Public Archives and Collections

Archives are the obvious place to look for old pictures, and the UK's National Archives (UKNA) are always a rich source of material about Hong Kong's history. The UKNA is also a joy to visit, as despite the enormous size of their collection, whatever you order is soon delivered for viewing.

This document was the first surprise from the UKNA. It shows

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A Small Band Of Men - An Englishman's Adventures in Hong Kong's Marine Police

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Fri, 1976-09-03 to Mon, 1997-06-30

Les Bird joined the Hong Kong Marine Police in 1976 during a period of rapid change in one of the British Empire’s few remaining colonies, and witnessed the last years of the hard-working, hard-drinking colonial policemen handing out rough justice in the World of Suzie Wong.

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Battle for Hong Kong December 1941

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Mon, 1941-12-08 to Thu, 1941-12-25

Battle for Hong Kong December 1941 is a new book by Philip Cracknell which was published by Amberley Publishing in July 2019. It is a research-driven narrative describing exactly what happened, and where it happened, during the short but brutal Battle for Hong Kong. The author uses source material some of which has not been published before. The book is currently available in hardback form. It contains 33 sketch maps and 37 photographs. It is available in bookshops in Hong Kong including Bookazine and Kelly & Walsh.

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The Hong Kong Letters

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Sun, 1968-09-01 to Thu, 1970-12-31

The Hong Kong Letters by Gill Shaddick is published by Australian Scholarly Press under their Arcadia imprint. (ISBN 978-1-925801-63-7) and is available through booksellers or at online book stores. Gill lived in Hong Kong for two years in the late sixties.


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Bold Venture: The American Bombing of Japanese-Occupied Hong Kong, 1942-1945

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Mon, 1941-12-08 to Wed, 1945-08-15
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The Accidental Prawn: "Interesting Times" - Policing 20th Century Hong Kong and other stories

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Fri, 1967-01-06 to Mon, 1997-06-30

A collection of serious, interesting and amusing stories of an Englishman's life with Voluntary Service Overseas in Sarawak from 1965 to 1966 and in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force from 1967 to 1997. These "Interesting Times" included the Cultural Revolution inspired 1967 Disturbances, floods, typhoons, disasters, riots, refugees and rescues with catching a few crooks thrown in for good measure.

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In the web

UPDATE: I've asked David to remove the PDF copy of the book from the Gwulo website, so it is no longer available for download. Copies of the printed book can still be found at Abe Books, Amazon, and the Hong Kong Public Library.

Peter A Hall
Heswall, March 2019


My book, “In the Web”, was first published in 1992 in England, after the Hong Kong University Press declined its publication after I refused to delete certain paragraphs from my book

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History Notes, issue 2

Issue 2 of History Notes was compiled by the late Phillip Bruce, and published as a printed booklet in 1989. My favourite article is Dan Waters's recollections of his experiences as a 'Desert Rat' in WW2, but there are all sorts of other interesting Hong Kong history topics covered including cauliflower ears, knobbly knees, and hogs' heads:

Many thanks to Mr Bruce's family for letting me re-publish the booklet here on Gwulo, to give it a second lease of life and introduce it to a new audience.

Does anyone know if any later issues of History Notes were published? I know of the separate Military History Notes, but have only seen issues 1 & 2 of History Notes

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History Notes, issue 1

Issue 1 of History Notes was compiled by the late Phillip Bruce, and published as a printed booklet in the late 1980s. It covers topics ranging from prostitutes to poems, pirates to policemen:

Many thanks to Mr Bruce's family for letting me re-publish the booklet here on Gwulo, to give it a second lease of life and introduce it to a new audience.

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Views of Hongkong

Dates of events covered by this document: 
Wed, 1902-01-01 to Wed, 1902-12-31

This small book was published by R C Hurley in late 1902. It seems there weren't many copies printed, as I can't find mentions of other copies on the internet.

There's an introduction, then twenty-five photos, one per page, and finally a list of the photos (see below for text). The photos weren't printed as part of the book's printing process, instead each photo is a separate photographic print, stuck onto the page.

The copy I have must have originally been given as a gift, as it has a handwritten note in the front:

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