Category Archives : History


HKFP History: Happy Birthday Hong Kong – 175 years old today

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.

possession street

Photo: Chris Needos.

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.

First Opium War, via Wikicommons

First Opium War, via Wikicommons

The Convention of Chuenpee ceded Hong Kong to the British after the First Opium War in which 600 Chinese soldiers died.


HKFP History: A brief visual history of the Peak Tram

It has been over 126 years since the Peak Tram opened in Hong Kong though, technically, it is not even a tram but a cable-hauled funicular railway. Below is a brief, visual history of one of the city’s most iconic treasures.

peak tram

Photo: richardwonghk6 on Flickr

The son of Queen Victoria, Alfred, became the first royal visitor to make a ritual trip to The Peak in 1869. It was noted how His Highness expressed “surprise that the wealthy merchant princes of the colony had not yet availed themselves of the opportunity of the presence in the vicinity of their city of a position offering so bracing a climate, in the hottest time of the year.” 


HKFP History: Mainland refugees fleeing famine are rejected by British Hong Kong

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

refugees hong kong

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

refugees hong kong

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

refugees hong kong

A quick cigarette before being returned to the mainland…

Many refugees, however, were sent straight back to the mainland.

Sympathetic Hong Kongers lined the streets throwing food parcels into departing trucks destined for the border.


In Pictures: Aerial WWII shots reveal the bombing of Hong Kong by the U.S. 14th Air Force

The three photos below are from the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. They show scenes from an aerial reconnaissance flight after a raid on Hong Kong during WWII.

surprise bombing hong kong

Photo: FDR Presidential Library & Museum.

Often, after a bombing mission, one lucky pilot would remain in the vicinity in an attempt to survey the damage to targets. The pilot would then report back to command.

surprise bombing hong kong

Photo: FDR Presidential Library & Museum.

The initial Japanese attack on Hong Kong took place just eight hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in the US.

war battle hong kong


HISTORY – The Day a Cargo Ship Washed up on Cheung Chau Beach 13

In September, 1983, a Cypriot freighter called ‘City of Lobito’ beached on Cheung Chau island after being washed ashore by Typhoon Ellen. The 6000-tonne cargo ship narrowly avoided smashing into newly built beachside apartments (by just 30 metres).

IaVSyDQl.jpg (640×461)

via uwants.com

Islanders took care of the 21 Filipino crew members until they were repatriated. The shipping company went bankrupt.

via uwants.com


PHOTOGRAPHY – Glitch the Matrix: Old & New Hong Kong Blended Together 13

Photoshop whizz willieraipan has produced a series of pictures which unite old and new Hong Kong. Previously the blog showcased ‘HK Man’s’ efforts to contrast yesterday’s city with modern scenes captured from the same spot.

Willieraipan takes this one step further by cleverly blending HK Man’s vintage and contemporary photos, making it seem as if there is a ‘glitch in the matrix’…


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 35

‘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.