Bungalow by the sea? | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Bungalow by the sea?

Bungalow by the sea?

This is a picture of my great aunt Ellen Olson wife of Charles W. Olson. The note on the reverse says: "Back view of our bungalow. You can see they have just started to build the kitchen on each side of the steps". Must say you could have fooled me!

Would love to know where it was and if anybody hs an idea. I assume it was on HK Island.


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Thursday, January 1, 1920


Hard to say where this was taken as there is no background nor coastline. Do you have other pictures of the same area?

This just popped up as the 'Random Photo'. Given the recent photo about the 'Europeans Only' beach on Cheung Chau, I wonder if this is related?

Sean, any other photos in your collection with a beach theme that might give us more clues?

Regards, David

Looks like another trip to my box files. If memory serves me correctly there are several other beach/swimming type pictures in the family stuff. Will have a go through asap.

Interestingly all my uncles were exceptional swimmers so maybe they learnt their skills in HK.

Will post as soon as I can.

Regards,  Sean

The lady standing at the intersection, facing the house of the London Mission on Cheung Chau. There were two pathways between Tung Wan and Kwun Yum Wan, one along the coast and the other uphill-then-downhill with intersection to other paths connecting to Fa Ping, Nam Tam, the Peak Road, and  the School Road...etc. The London Mission house stood at the junction's north-west quarter, a second highest point in this hilly area, overseeing both Tung Wan and the Kwun Yum Wan.

On her right, there is a house, seemed to be unfinished. Further back there appeared a part of a bigger house. Her back is facing east, then Kwun Yum Wan is below her left side background. Please pay very careful attention to the photo area below her left elbow. There seemed to have two shadows of land subjects on the background hill. In addition, the difference  of hue suggested there would be sea in the further background, then the  fuzzy sky or a distant land beyond the water too.

THere is a possible match from a photo of old Kwun Yum Wan. At the web for

 'Beach for Europeans'.

This photo is surely taken from the top of the hill with house across the the London Mission. The picture shows the pathway on the foreground  which might be the one going left in the lady's picture. More interestingly, on the slope of the hill by Kwun Yum Wan, there is a similar 'two shadows of  land subject and background'

In the late 50s and 60s, the site at the back of the lady's right stood a much bigger house built out of granite blocks and concrete. In the mid-1960s, an american missionary or educator family from Cincinnati, Ohio was living there. Further right, outside the photo frame,  there would be the island's football field. And further south-east of it is the first cove of the Nam Tam Wan area.

does my guess make good sense at all ?

Warm regards


I have added some 1930s photos of old houses on Cheung Chau here and here

Hi Tung,

Thanks so much for your forensic answer to the question of where the picture and therefore the bungalow are.

The woman in question was my great aunt Ethel and she was married to my great uncle Charles Olson. On the back of the picture she notes that the building behind her is the bungalow they were building. I have other pictures of she and her husband sitting on the steps of the incompleted building in kimonos.

I assume what you say would indicate that this was a "holiday" bungalow overlooking the beach. I have pictures of them on the beach and a note on one is the subject of Beach for Europeans.

I think their permanent address at this time - around 1923-27 - was 13 Broadwood Road as I have several pictures of the same lady in that house which I think belonged to my family at the time. Therefore, I assume I am correct in thinking that the bungalow they were building was for weekend use.

Thanks for all your help. It is an example of how Gwulo can answer questions long after they have been asked.



At the web of photos from google search on:

'Islands District's Content',

it shows a long list of old time photos of the Hong Kong's islands district, including Cheung Chau. From  the top down,  there are three photos ( #8, #9, #10) all labelled as ------'aerial view of cheung chau'

Pick the #10 photo. This one provides fairly readable details about the south-east portion of the island. It has those European Houses of interest clearly visible.

The picture has the Tung Wan beach on the right and the Kwun Yam Wan on the far left. Focus on the headland area between the two beaches. And zoom on the hill top of the landscape. The London Mission house appeared as a cubic castle (almost), and further left is the higher location with house which might be the one behind the lady in that photo.

There are two houses or buildings actually but now no longer exist as new real estate projects replaced them all.

pls enjoy




1930s Cheung Chau House
1930s Cheung Chau House, by Moddsey