Hong Kong, city in mountain valley | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Hong Kong, city in mountain valley

Hong Kong, city in mountain valley

View the original, larger copy of this image at the UWM website: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/u?/agsphoto,4934

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Monday, January 1, 1940


great shot of happy valley with canal and sports road in fore and middle grounds. Also is that the old Jockey Club building up on Shan Kwong Road middle right or something else? looks very institutional

I wonder if any of the banyan trees pictured are one of the two that were moved at great expense in the 90s when the race track was enlarged and sports road shifted

The old maps show the area in front of the old racecourse marked as 'recreation ground', so I wonder if that's a bowling green we can see just across the canal.

As you say, it's an imposing building to the right of Shan Kwong Road. I'm not sure what that was. Sophia mentioned a 'Shan Kwong Hotel'. Could it have been that?

If you click on the image to go to the original site, it's interesting to see that the photographer's note was "Hong Kong: Air raid shelters". So I think we're meant to be looking at the workers and piles of sand in the foreground. One of the clippings about air raid shelters mentioned the possible use of nullahs. Perhaps that's what they are working on.

couple of government photos shed some light on the matter:

here's one of the football club in its original location north of sports road in 1925. Eventually that was formalized into a bigger stadium and separate cricket pitch (Craigengower cricket club), before the Jockey Club expanded the racecourse, absorbed the football club and cricket club became a bowling green:


Second photo shows the area in the 70s. Seems the imposing building mentioned earlier must be the precursor to the old Royal HK jocket club stables (since demolished and turned into the jockey club building)




if you search the government web site or google for "royal hong kong jocket club stables" they have a lot of the imposing stables building complete with prancing horses on rooftops etc

Hi there,

On the right hand side close to the edge of the second photo you have the Head Quarters of the former Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers).  Those lorrys were their troop lorrys.  They used to have a few of those light armered infantry support vehicles and a load of plain old Land Rovers equipped with [pain-in-the-ass] suspensions there.

Best Regards,


80sKid, from the photo you mentioned, we can see the buildings at the top of Shan Kwong Rd were stables in the 70s. But I'm not sure if they were also stables in the 40s when Forman took the photo above.

The 1930-45 map (#3-5a in Mapping Hong Kong) shows a large building marked 'stables' about half way down the western side of the course. In the 70s photo it looks as though a spectator stand is in its place, so maybe the stables moved up to the top of Shan Kwong Rd when that stand was built?

T, do you know when the RHKR HQ buildingwas first located there? It looks as though it stood roughly where the bowling green is in the Forman photo above.

Dear Mr B,

I could not recall for it was there already when I was in my primary school days back in the late 1960's.

Also back in the late 1960's and early 1970's before they have covered all the nullah/canal, there was a Happy Valley-Ngo Keng Kai Fong Society building right next to the RHKR HQ.  It had been relocated to Hennessy Road, right under the Canal Road flyover at a later time.

Best Regards,


The Grounds were known as the Wong Nei Chong Recreation Grounds.

By 1915, the Grounds were divided into allotments for use by the Army and Navy, schools and Hong Kong Univeristy, Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, Hong Kong Football Club and social and recreation clubs partaking in tennis, hockey and cricket on designated days of the week. This use of the Grounds by the aforementioned groups continued until the outbreak of WW11.

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment's website indicates the move to the 'new' HQ in Happy Valley took place in 1950: http://www.rhkr.org/history/index.htm

T & Moddsey, thanks for the extra info.

this aerial shot from 1982 shows the area of the stables pretty well - the buildings we talked about earlier are still here, though there's some construction going on. Still no clearer as to what they are yet, but looking at google map it seems the site is now used by the sports complex of the Jockey Club. Interesting to hear also about the Volunteers site; there's a plaque there now mentioning it


Plaque on site of former RHKR HQ

The original photo shows the Civil Service Club, to which the bowling green belonged.  Bowrington Canal is n the foreground.

Those were Bedford 3ton 4x4 troop lorrys in the picture. They were a common sight in HK streets throughout the 60's & 70's serving as standard troop transports for local British garrison and RHKR. The RHKR armoured cars referred to were Ferret Mk II scout cars and a few Saracen APCs, both armed with turreted .30 cal Browning 1919A4 MGs. A Ferret and Saracen of ex RHKR are now on display outside the HK Museum of Coastal Defence at the old Lei Yue Mun Fort.