1930s Hurrying to TST | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1930s Hurrying to TST

1930s Hurrying to TST

Who: People heading in to Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon.

What: They had several travel options...

TST transport

This area has been a bus terminus for many years, so they had several bus routes to choose from. The closest bus we can see in the main photo is a number 12, heading to Sham Shui Po. The route is written on the side of the bus - it's not very clear to read, but it looks as though the first section ran along Canton Road.

If you preferred door-to-door service you could take a rickshaw. The passenger in the front rickshaw has the roof up for shade. He's noticed the photographer, and is looking straight at us. Next comes a man engrossed in his newspaper, and beyond that a couple of ladies, one shaded by a wide-brimmed hat, and the other sheltering beneath a parasol.

Or if you fancied the exercise, and didn't mind working up a sweat, you could always walk.

Where: The tip of Tsim Sha Tsui was an important transport interchange when this photo was taken. We've already noted the buses and rickshaws, but you could also catch the train. The KCR terminus building [1] is just out of sight to the left.

If you preferred to travel by boat, you also had a couple of choices. The light-coloured roof in the background marks the budget option, the Star Ferry's pier. Or if you had (considerably) more to spend, how about a journey on a passenger liner? They'd berth at the Kowloon Wharves [2], away to the right.

When: The shadows tell us it's about midday, time for tiffin!

Then how about the year? It was printed for use as a postcard but never mailed, so there isn't any postmark to help us.

Back of photo

The stamp box gives us a range of years. It's a type of "EKC" brand photographic paper that was used between 1930 and 1950 [3]. I think it was likely a photo from the 1930s. Can any hat (or bus) experts make a better guess from the styles on display?

1930s fashions

Regards, David


  1. Photos of KCR terminus building
  2. Photos of Kowloon wharves
  3. Playle's Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes

Reference: HKG-EC027

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Tuesday, January 1, 1935


If the logo is the old KMB logo, then it will date the photo at 1933 at the earliest.  But curiously, I somehow think the logo on the side of the bus looks like the China Motor Bus logo, with the flagpole.  Did they operate bus lines in Kowloon back then?

Hi there,

The old KMB logo was in fact, also a round shield like the CMB one.

Best Regards,


China Motor Bus did provide service in Kowloon between its founding in 1924 and 1933.  I agree with breskvar that the logo on the postcard looks more like a CMB logo with a flag in the middle.

I hadn't thought of using this, thanks for pointing it out.

IDJ has kindly uploaded the CMB & KMB logos for comparison:

CMB logo
KMB logo

And here's the best I can make of the logo from the original photo:

Bus Logo

CMB it is.

I believe that KMB were awarded the monopoly on bus services in Kowloon in 1933, so this photo must have been taken before then.

I only knew CMB on Hong Kong side, but interestingly it started out in Kowloon:

In 1924, Ngan established the China Motor Kai Fong Bus Company. The company mainly offered bus services for the Nathan Road routes. Buses of the brand Boadicea were used.

In the same year, the company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and shares of the company were available for sale and purchase. In 1929, the company was renamed China Motor Bus Co. Ltd.

Page 143, Early Hong Kong Transport, by CHENG Po Hung

Regards, David

From what you provided David, it then means the date of the photo is not narrowed to between 1929 and 1933, unless the logo of Kai Fong and its later incarnation CMB were the same.

Good point. If we have any bus experts reading, do you know what the Kai Fong logo looked like please?

Regards, David

Before awarding of the franchise in 1933 to run bus services, CMB, KMB and Kai Tak Motor Bus were operating services to and  from Kowloon Star Ferry. The following bus schedules were efffective 1 April 1928:

1928 KMB Schedule










1928 CMB Schedule










1928 Kai Tak Motor Bus Schedule









The photo of the No. 12 bus service would have been operated by the CMB.

Routes as shown in IDJ's photo

Star Ferry bus terminus-1930?

Moddsey & IDJ, thanks for the timetable copies. Please can you let us know the source document? If it's online, I'd like to see if there are timetables available for other years to show when the #12 route ran.

A couple of other points from them:

  • I quoted Cheng Po-Hung: "In 1929, the company was renamed China Motor Bus Co. Ltd." But the timetable already shows that name, and is dated 28th March 1928.
  • I thought KMB had a monopoly of bus services in Kowloon from 1933, but IDJ's timetable from 1934 shows the Kai Tack Motor Bus Co. were still running bus services in Kowloon.

Barbara Anslow wrote in about the hat styles:

That the European is wearing a topee suggests the date of this photo is pre-1938 at least. When my family and I returned to HKong early that year, we were astonished to find that most Europeans no longer wore topees, as during our earlier sojourn there 1927-29 we all wore them.

And Martin asks why we haven't used the presence of Groucho Marx on the right to date the photo!!

regards, David

The source of the 1928 bus timetables: Hong Kong Telegraph 30 March 1928.

Time permitting, will try search for other years but I do note that the Kai Tack Motor Bus Co was struck off the Register on 3 November 1933 (HKGRO).


The source was the Hong Kong and Canton Business Guide 1934 page 14. Presumably this would have been compiled in 1933 and events overtook the timetable's publication as Carl notes the company's demise in November 1933

Moddsey & IDJ, Thanks for the extra info.

I just tried a search in the HK newspapers for kowloon bus time over years 1920-34. 17 results, but no timetables. One interesting report on pg4, China Mail, 12 Jun 1933, which started "With the local bus services under new management as from yesterday...", giving the start date for the monopolies.

It also mentions that in Kowloon "Thirty-five buses were taken from the China Motor Bus Company and 26 from the Kai Tack Company".

regards, David

The captioned bus routes can be viewed here