Category Archives : History


HISTORY – Fascinating, Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 2

The news and film archive British Pathé have uploaded a number of short, revealing old newsreels related to Hong Kong (click here for Part 1). Many of the 1-minute vignettes give an insight into how Britain saw its role in the world, whilst some of the clips are steeped in Orientalist mystification.

Here is an early clip from 1932 celebrating the discipline and loyalty of the colony’s Indian troops, as they “impressed” the “natives” of Hong Kong…


HISTORY – 1000+ ‘Before and After’ Photos of Old & New Hong Kong 31

‘HK Man’ has copiled an impressive Flickr collection of over 1000 ‘before & after’ photos of old and new Hong Kong. Each photo of bygone HK is contrasted with a more recent one…

UxUjcl.jpg (640×305)

…Reassuringly, some scenes – like the trams – never change…


HISTORY – Happy Birthday Hong Kong: 174 Years Old Today 3

It is an event that neither Hong Kong, China nor Britain are likely to be celebrating. Nevertheless, on this day (January 26th) in 1841, the British flag was first unfurled at Possession Point by Royal Navy sailors.

At the time, Hong Kong was a sleepy backwater, though it would prove to be a handy trading outpost. “Albert is so amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong”, wrote Queen Victoria in 1841.


HISTORY – A Brief Visual History of Hong Kong’s Old Airport, Kai Tak 51

Heralded as the sixth most dangerous in the world, Kai Tak served as Hong Kong’s airport from 1925 till 1998.

b7U7vrdl.jpg (640×427)

Courtesy Daryl Chapman, flickr.com/photos/darylchapman

Landings over densely populated Kowloon were spectacular and involved a complicated last-minute manoeuvre known in the piloting community as a ‘Hong Kong turn’ or ‘checkerboard turn’, after the checkerboard reference point above Kowloon Tsai Park (still visible now – click for some eerie close-up shots).

l3Exg8Ql.png (640×418)

In 1925, Kai Tai was a simple grass-strip airfield which served the British RAF and enthusiasts from the Hong Kong Aviation Club (which still exists today).


HISTORY – A Brief Visual History of the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower 7

Built with red bricks and granite, the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower peaks at 44 metres and once dominated Victoria Harbour. It is now all that remains of the old Kowloon station on the waterfront. Below is Victoria Terminus exactly 100 years ago, a few years after the line itself opened in 1910…

TST Clock Tower

Rickshaws await new arrivals – 1914. Click to enlarge – via Flickr

The plan for the terminus was finalised in 1904, but World War I delayed construction…


PHOTOGRAPHY – Fan Ho, Part II: Street Scenes in Dreamy Colour 1954-2004 13

Legendary photographer Fan Ho has been capturing Hong Kong on film for many years and is arguably one of China’s most highly acclaimed photographers. Below are some rarer colour shots.

Click here for Hong Wrong’s previous entry documenting the city’s boom years.

Since 1956, he has won over 280 awards from various exhibitions and competitions around the world.


HISTORY – Photos from 1962 of Mainland Refugees Fleeing Famine Rejected by HK 12

As war and famine ravaged the mainland, hundreds of thousands fled to British Hong Kong during the 40s, 50s and 60s.

abUPfl.jpg (640×437)

LIFE Magazine captured the experiences of some of these migrants in an issue from May, 1962.

Efl5Pl.jpg (640×460)

Some had travelled thousands of miles to begin a new life in the British colony. Meanwhile, the US welcomed only skilled workers.


HISTORY – Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline – a Visual History 18

Below is a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong skyline developed over the decades.

Pre-1869 painting of Hong Kong harbour

Pre-1869 painting via RGS-IBG image / E. L. Watling

1880s - Beginning with a rare shot of the harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.

 Hong Kong harbour

via New York Times

 Hong Kong harbour

1890, click to enlarge

1900s - Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (via gwulo.com)…

 Hong Kong harbour

via gwulo.com

1910s – The CBD, gradually creeping up The Peak, was then named Victoria City. There was no light show back then (but click here for a photo of the harbour at night, some 106 years ago!)…