Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


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Kind regards,


PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

Hong Kong ephemera

The recent UK trip ended on a Sunday with a visit to the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair in London. The fair is held on the last Sunday of the month, and if I finish a UK trip in London I usually try and arrange the dates so I can go along.

The postcard fair I'd attended the previous week is mostly postcards with a few photos, but an ephemera fair has a much wider selection of material. Letters, tickets, catalogues, and programmes are just some of the old paper items you'll expect to see. On previous visits there have been plenty of postcard sellers too, which is why I go. Here's my first postcard purchase of the day:


"Chinese life, boy carrying baby"

Chinese life, boy carrying baby


Does it look familiar? Compare it with this

New on Gwulo: 2021, week 40

A look at what's new on the Gwulo website...


  • Typhoon Wendy, 1957
  • Signal hill and the meridian marks - an update on the discoveries made: ... the entire history of the built structures needed to operate it has now been uncovered and, out of the nine elements created to operate the Hong Kong Time Service between c.1883 and 1928, what remains of eight of them have been identified ...
  • A short story about Ah Mooi and her baby carrier
  • Does anyone know what "CCDO" stood for in 1940, or recognise any of the people in this photo?
    CCDO Staff Hong Kong 1940 - IMG_20211006_0001.jpg
    CCDO Staff Hong Kong 1940, by Andrew Suddaby




The National Archives - Historic Hong Kong maps and plans

Apart from the documents we looked at in the last newsletter, The National Archives (TNA) also has a great collection of old maps and plans to explore.


Kowloon West Battery

A good example of what's available is the plan of the Kowloon West Battery I knew of it because Rob had previously uploaded this section:

Kowloon West Bty.jpeg
Kowloon West Bty., by The National Archives WO 78/2608


Rob also gave us its reference, WO 78/2608, so we can find it in TNA's catalogue. The catalogue description isn't very exciting, it just says 'Hong Kong'. But it does gives the date as 5 Nov 1903, and its two sub-entries give a better idea of what to expect:

Kowloon West battery, Record plan:
and site plans. Ref: WO 78/2608/1

Kowloon West battery: Plans and sections of stores,
magazines, etc. Ref: WO 78/2608/2

I placed an order to see them, and this is what I received

The National Archives - Historic Hong Kong documents

On my recent UK trip, I also made sure to visit The National Archives (TNA) at Kew. Covid's affects on travel meant it had been over two years since my previous visit, so I was looking forward to it.

Let's take a look at this visit's discoveries.


Monia Talan, saboteur & spy

Mr Monia Talan was a member of Z Force during the fighting in 1941, a group formed to conduct sabotage and intelligence work behind enemy lines in the case of a Japanese attack on Hong Kong. He seemed like an interesting man to learn more about, and TNA's catalogue lists two documents that mention him.

First we have:

Monia TALAN - born 28.05.1913, Ref: HS 9/1439/3

The catalogue record doesn't give any further information so it needed a visit to take a look at the original file. Here's what you get, a protective wrapper with a file inside that has all the original paperwork on this topic.

Monia Talan's file


Monia Talan's file opened


Much of this correspondence covers his difficulties in

New on Gwulo: 2021, week 39

A look at what's new on the Gwulo website...






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