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.

possession street

via 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.

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Within five months, British officials began selling land in Hong Kong and the territory formally became a British possession a year later.

Map of Hong Kong, 1841 - surveyed by Captain Edward Belcher

Map of Hong Kong, 1841 – surveyed by Captain Edward Belcher. Belcher began surveying the islands a year earlier.

Possession Point was originally named Tai Hang Hau, or ‘Big Puddle’. The area was redeveloped into a Chinese-style garden which is today known as Hollywood Road park.

Possession Point in the early 20th century

Possession Point in the early 20th century

More on the History of Hong Kong.

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  • Daniel-john Housley

    I suppose you can call it a birthday, or a day of note… I would say the 29th of August, as in the ceding in perpetuity at the treaty of Nanking as the ‘official’, birthday, but hey, that’s 7 months away, let’s have a toast now.

  • Lauren

    Hey Tom,

    Your article inspired my team & me to go on a mini adventure yesterday to find another spot that was key to HK becoming such a successful trading outpost – Waterfall Bay. It’s mostly unknown to expats in HK, but actually relates to how HK got it’s ‘Fragrant Harbour’ name. We went to visit it & wrote about it afterwards (link below) Thanks for inspiring our day out of the office 😉



  • Sean Nagoh

    Hey Lauren, Yes I visit the area of Waterfalls Bay every year when I go to Wah Fu.Its a beautiful area and there are a group of oldies that go for a morning swim in all weather