Prince Edward Road flats | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Prince Edward Road flats

Prince Edward Road flats
Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Wednesday, January 1, 1941


Can anyone locate this building?

The sign on the end of the balcony reads:

Credit Foncier D'Extreme Orient
Rent Office
220, Prince Edward Road

But I'm not sure if that's the address of this building, or it's just an advert saying to go there if you want to rent this.

The current 220, Prince Edward Road is Kingly House on a corner, which doedn't seem to match this layout, see 

I believe the row of shophouses that are still situated along Prince Edward Road (starting at #190) and which form part of the flower market were also built by the same company - however looking at the few flourishes on the front of the current buildings, although the style is similar I don't think they are the same. I wonder if this block was on the other side of Yuen Ngai St?

Hi Phil,

I had an email from Henry Ching, putting these flats at the same location you've suggested:

From the photo, I think the flats were those facing what is now Queen Elizabeth School, and they were taken over after the war by the army or possibly RAF and used as quarters for servicemen. I recall this as I went to DBS and used to get off the bus further up the road towards the railway bridge, and walk up the steps to the school.

Regards, David

Google Maps suggests that the current #220 is in the block closest to the railway bridge, on Prince Edward Road. This is now a modern block which must have(?) replaced the one in my grandfather's photo. The block in the photo does not have the decorative details on the surviving old style block to the west of this new building.

From how they described it, I get the impression from my family that it faced Prince Edward Road, ie South, rather than North. I will ask my relatives for further info.

btw I have photos of the family members sitting in the verandah of the flat. It had a rather nice tiled flooring, and clearly plenty of space for the chicks described in my grandfather's diary, and his pots of vegetables.



I have had a closer look at the photo, and there is a photographer’s shop in the bottom left corner, presumably at the Western end of the block. I can’t make out the name, but I have an old envelope of negatives from Snap Studio, 166 Prince Edward Road. Assuming the street numbering has not changed, the current number 166 is still at the Western end of its block. This is now a high rise, opposite Queen Elizabeth School. A couple of leaps of faith, but this puts the block where Henry Ching remembers it to have been. Thanks everyone!

Thanks Barbara, that sounds very likely. The shadows in the photo show it couldn't be facing north (and also means they lived very near the flower market, but not quite "above what is now the Flower Market" as you've described it in the diary introduction). I've made a Place for the buildings and added it in:

Please do you know roughly when the photo was taken, so we can add a date to the photo too?

Regards, David

I'm not sure when the picture was taken, maybe it was 1941? Actually the flower market extends all the way from Yuen Po St to Sai Yee St, and there were possibly more flower shops fronting onto Prince Edward Road a few years ago. They are mostly clustered at the back now on Flower Market Road.


Thanks for the date, and the correction about the flower market.

I found your grandfather's address mentioned in the 1940 Jurors list, confirming he lived in this terrace, and on the ground floor at this point:

Hutchison ((sic.)), Thomas HenryAssistant, Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, Ld.180 Prince Edward Road, Ground Floor, Kowloon.

Regards, David

That's excellent, thank you! I have also heard from my uncle James Hutchinson that the building became an unsafe place to live: it was almost empty after a lot of the inhabitants were interned, or left HK, and there was a lot of looting. This would explain the thefts of water/electricity meters as decribed in the diary. I can see from the 1940 Jurors List that there were many Western and Portuguese names at this address and in the buildings on either side.

This could also explain why it was possible for the building to be taken over for use by servicemen after the war, as described by Henry Ching above.

....was the substantial cut face of a hillside which looks concreted over. Presumably they cut through the hill when constructing Prince Edward Road in the early 1920s. Apparantly it remained looking like this until the 1950s when Queen Elizabeth School and other developments were built.

This photo is one of several which I think were taken on the verandahs of different flats in this building. They all show the characteristic bamboo shaped "bars" in the verandah walls which are visible on the main photo of this building, and the sheer hillside opposite.

Prince Edward Road flats, #166-188

Other photos taken facing west show the hillside sloping down towards Sai Yee Street, and buildings on the corner of Sai Yee Street and Prince Edward Road:

On verandah of #166-188 Prince Edward Road

I lived at 220 Prince Edward Road from 1946 to 1952 on the first floor, facing the railway bridge. The bulding was owned by Credit Foncier d'Extreme Orient who employed my godmother, Olga Robinson, and we lived there together. DBS is up the hill up a flight of steps on the other side of the RR tracks. The RAF also had quarters here for their officers, and there was a squardron leader living around the corner. I used to cycle to Nathan Road, and then head south through Mong Kok to Tsim Sha Tsui. Great memories. I have some photos of the interior of the flat which I will post later on.


I have found out why the Hutchinsons were living on the ground floor of 180 Prince Edward Road in 1940: it seems that the ground floor shop units in these blocks were empty in 1937, and were used to house the Scandinavian women and children evacuated from Shanghai in 1937. The Hutchinsons were sent from Shanghai to HK soon after, arriving in early October 1937, and initially moved in with their Norwegian relatives (the Kulstads) who were housed there. It appears from the 1940 Jurors list that the Hutchinsons were still occupying one of the ground floor shop units, but later accounts show they had moved into one of the flats upstairs.

We have found a letter from Lilian Thoresen to Helen Kulstad, reminiscing in 1981 from San Francisco: "We were indeed lucky to have got those empty stores to live in Prince Edward Rd. I also got the Hutchinsons & Florrie Boyle (Knox) to apply & we all became neighbours."


Barbara, that's a good find. It seems odd the stores were empty. Could the building have been freshly completed in 1937, so the stores hadn't been let out yet?

Regards, David

David - It would be interesting to find out. There's info about Credit Foncier d'Extreme-Orient online that I haven't looked through. It seems like number 190-220 was built between 1930 and 1932, so I'm guessing that 180 was built even earlier ( I don't know why the shops were empty if the flats above were not.

Incidentally, I am hoping that perhaps someone could corroborate our family account that the Scandinavian women and children were evacuated from Shanghai in 1937, and housed in these buildings.


This building and balcony decors look quite similar to what I saw while riding the bus to school (1957-59).  I walked under their balconies last year but didn't give it much thought until I now see this photo.

Its left corner balcony is partially supported by cantilever.  Google's street view shows, at Yuen Ngai Street, there is one column for this unit placed about 2 feet (added later?) from the curb whereas other columns are by the curb.  I assume the left corner in this photo is Yuen Ngai Street. 

The shop-house blocks currently undergoing renovation are numbered 190 to 220, the left corner of which is Yuen Ngai Street, and there is a column at the corner. From the earlier discussion the photo is most likely to be the block numbered 166-188, which was on the other side of Yuen Ngai Street, going towards Nathan Road. This block has been replaced by modern high-rises. There is still a lane at its left corner.

Other differences between the block in the photo and the one which is still there now, is that the 190 block has curved balconies overlooking Yuen Ngai Street, which are not on the photo above (the windows onto YN St would be within the balconies), and its columns are more evenly spaced apart whereas the columns in the photo above are in pairs, and have a decoration uniting each pair at the top.

I'm guessing that while you were riding the school bus in 1957-59, the old block in the photo above was probably still there. It's likely that it was pulled down when the current high-rises, eg. Ming Yuen (166/168) and Tak Hing Building (170/172) were built in 1967. I found these in Names of Buildings.


Many thanks Barbara, for clearing up my confusion.  I left HK in 1964 so missed the redevelopment of one and the changing condtions at the other.  Several clues like different spacings of their twin-columns, facade finishing should have lighted up this bulb.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to look closer at the photo!