Where: We're looking west along Des Voeux Road in Central, with HSBC on the left, Prince's Building and Statue Square on the right.
When: This is another photo from the serviceman's album that he'd dated 1945, but was actually taken several years earlier. Let's see if any of the buildings can help narrow down the date.
This facade shows a very new-looking "The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation":
The building opened in 1935 , so the photo was taken after that.
This view also confirms it can't be a 1945 photo, as the lions weren't here that year. They'd been taken to Japan during WW2 to be melted down for scrap. Fortunately they survived the war, were recognised as the HSBC lions, and returned to Hong Kong. But they weren't re-installed here until October 1946 .
Gwulo talk in London on 20th February
Next month I'll be giving a talk in London. It is organised by the Hong Kong Society, but everyone is welcome so I hope you can join us.
Details and booking: http://hkas.org.uk/hks-events/hks-annual-lecture
Just past HSBC, the pavement runs through this covered area:
I only know its address, "4, Des Voeux Road Central" , though other photos show it survived WW2 so it doesn't help us with a date.
Beyond number 4, we can just make out the front of the Bank of Canton building . Then after the road bends to the right, we get a much clearer view of the next few buildings:
The building beyond the cyclist is Kwok Man House . It's looking new as well. Does anyone know the year it opened?
Right from Kwok Man House is the Bank of East Asia Building . It was their second building on this site. It opened in 1935, the same year as the HSBC building, so no help there.
But the next building to the right, an older, three-storey building with a pitched roof, does help. We know this was the Powell Building  but that by 1940 a new building, Windsor House , had replaced it.
So 1935 or later, but earlier than 1940. I'll guess 1937 as the date this photo was taken, but corrections are very welcome.
What: The road is quiet, but we can see several different vehicles:
If we have any car or tram experts reading, do they help identify the date in any way? (And if you can date the photo from the bicycle, I'll be very impressed!!)
Who: Over on the left is what looks like a family group:
When I first saw the photo, I thought they were looking at the lion. But with this close-up, I'd say they're looking inside the bank. It was certainly an eye-catching interior, with its colourful murals:
Across the street and behind the tram are these two men:
It looks as though they're carrying baskets of something on shoulder poles, but I can't make out what it is.
The people in the bottom-right corner are easier to see:
The main in the white suit, far right, appears to be studying the signs in front of him. The upper sign says "Private Cars Only", referring to car parking in Statue Square. Left from him is a hawker carrying baskets of his wares, and left again is an Indian policeman, walking away from us. Above them all, Sir Thomas Jackson stands on his plinth, keeping an eye on his bank across the road.
Questions, comments and corrections welcome!
- HSBC Headquarters Building (3rd generation)
- "The HSBC Lions" factsheet from HSBC: http://www.hsbc.com/~/media/HSBC-com/about-hsbc/history/pdfs/110202-hsbc-lions-factsheet.pdf
- 4, Des Voeux Road Central
- Bank of Canton
- Kwok Man House
- Bank of East Asia Building
- Powell Building
- Windsor House