1920s Repulse Bay | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1920s Repulse Bay

1920s Repulse Bay

Where: The title on the front of the postcard says it all:

Bathing Beach, Repulse Bay, Hongkong

When: Later than this 1919 photo on Flickr:

1919 Repulse Bay

It shows the Repulse Bay Hotel under construction, and less beach huts and buildings than we see in our photo.

But earlier than 1935, as there's no sign yet of the Lido, which opened that year:

1940s Lido at Repulse Bay

So I'll guess the halfway point, 1927, as the date for the main photo. If you can narrow it down further please let us know in the comments.

Who: Despite the postcard's title, there's not a lot of bathing going on. In fact not a lot of anything, with just one man in sight. Maybe the photo was taken out of season, or just early in the day before the crowds arrived?

For comparison, here's a short film showing a much busier day at Repulse Bay in the mid-1930s:

What: Just above the tiled roof in the foreground, is a small stone structure with steps leading up to it.

Small structure on Repulse Bay beach

I've seen old photos that show a wooden pier running from the beach out to sea. Could this have been the head of the pier?

The chinese name for the bay translates to 'shallow water bay', so a pier would have made getting to and from the beach a lot easier if you arrived by boat. There's no pier in this photo though. It probably fell out of use as visitors switched from boats to cars.

Also note the concrete channel in the very bottom-right corner of the photo. In Marsman's book about his experiences in the 'siege' of the Repulse Bay Hotel in 1941 [1], he wrote of the need for an air raid shelter, and where they eventually found one:

A ready-made shelter was under our feet - an ideal one. A concrete drain eight feet in diameter descended from a culvert in the rear of the hotel, passed beneath the structure, and ran along down under the road to empty on the beach near the water's edge.

I wonder if the concrete channel in the photo is part of that same stream?

If you can see anything else of interest in the photo, please let us know in the comments below. I'd certainly like to know if anyone recognises the building under construction in the top centre of the photo, to help date the photo more accurately.

Regards, David


  1. "I escaped from Hong Kong", book by Jan Henrik Marsman

Reference: A127

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Saturday, January 1, 1927


Thanks to IDJ for uploading this photo, taken at Repulse Bay on 3rd June 1920. The pier is clear to see, but no sign of the little concrete structure I mentioned above. Perhaps that wasn't related to the pier after all.

1920s Repulse Bay

I recently added a photograph of Repulse Bay in Ivan Croucher’s 367 Association gallery. I wondered whether a concrete structure at the far end of the beach might be pill box 17. Just to the left of that structure is another, possibly smaller concrete structure that looks as though it might be the one on the above photograph. Andrew