Eu Tong Sen was a well-known tycoon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with business interests across Southeast Asia. He was also vice-president of the Anti-Opium Society and a somewhat eccentric property owner. Heir to his family’s retail and mining businesses, he took control of his father’s estate in 1898. Over the decades that followed, he multiplied his fortune several times over. By age 30, he was one of the region’s richest men, specialising in the tin mining and rubber industries.
Eu built three castles in Hong Kong – Eucliffe was the most well-known. It was famous for being a social hot spot in the 1930s and was located next door to the Kadoorie’s Repulse Bay Hotel. The folly featured a large collection of ancient western armour as well as stained glass windows.
There was a lush garden, a greenhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts and easy access to the city’s most popular beach.
During the 18-day Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, the Japanese took over Eucliffe where they slaughtered 54 prisoners of war. It became “the most ill-omened house in Hong Kong” and – for many years – was used as a TV and movie set.
Named after an ancient Italian village, Sirmio was Eu’s schloss-like country home near Tai Po.
Each of his homes were under permanent renovation as a fortune teller once told him that he would have a long life if he continued to build. Sirmio also ended up being used as a horror film set for movies such as ‘The Ghost Informer’ before its demolition.
Built after Eu settled in Hong Kong, Euston Castle on Bonham Road was home to his five wives and an unknown number of concubines. Eu also had at least 34 children, hence the need for so many residences across the city.
Having survived multiple heart attacks, he finally suffered a fatal one in 1941, aged 63. His many wives and children diluted his fortune and his properties were sold off in the 70s and eventually demolished.
His traditional Chinese medicine manufacturing company, Eu Yan Sang, remains well known today in Hong Kong. It is run by his great-grandson Richard Eu Yee Ming.
Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…
- 1000+ ‘Before and After’ Photos of Old & New Hong Kong.
- An Elephant in Kowloon: Photos from Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park.
- Bustling Hong Kong of 1947: Historical Photos from Mark Kauffman.
- Colourised & Restored Photos of Hong Kong 150 Years Ago.
- Cool Vintage Hong Kong Tourism Posters.
- Execution of Namoa Pirates in Kowloon, 1891.
- Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong: Photos from 1942, Beautifully Restored.
- HK’s Boom Years: The Best of Fan Ho.
- Hong Kong’s Most Offensive Place Names.
- How Hong Kong Was Made: Iconic Buildings Under Construction.
- Mainland Refugees Fleeing Famine Rejected by HK.
- Margaret Thatcher in Hong Kong.
- More Vintage Photos of Old Hong Kong.
- Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 1, Refugees.
- Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 2.
- Newly Unearthed Photos of 1950s Hong Kong.
- Pictures of Hong Kong in 1972.
- Rare Shots from Inside the Old Kowloon Walled City.
- Shing Mun Redoubt, HK’s Secret WWII Tunnels.
- Street Scenes in Dreamy Colour 1954-2004.
- The ‘Great Chinese Takeaway’ – the 1997 Handover.
- The 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship Winner (Bruce Lee).
- The 1967 Hong Kong Riots.
- The Bombing of Hong Kong by the U.S. 14th Air Force.
- The Day a Cargo Ship Washed up on Cheung Chau Beach.
- The Hakka Walled Village of Tsang Tai Uk, Sha Tin.
- The Iconic ‘Two Girls’ Kwong Sang Hong Cosmetics Brand.
- The Luxury British Liner at the Bottom of Victoria Harbour.
- Unseen Royal Geographic Photos.
- When the MTR Was New.
Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…
- A Brief Visual History: HK Police Vehicles & Uniforms.
- A Brief Visual History: HK’s Old Airport, Kai Tak.
- A Brief Visual History: Kowloon Walled City.
- A Brief Visual History: The Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline.
- A Brief Visual History: The Peak Tram.
- A Brief Visual History: The Peninsula Hotel.
- A Brief Visual History: Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower.
- A Brief Visual History: Yau Ma Tei Theatre.