Pedder wharf | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Pedder wharf

Pedder wharf
Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Thursday, July 1, 1886


The buildings on Pedder Street are;

1. On the Praya on the left of the pic, Melcher's Building, built 1850, demolished 1889 ( ).

2. Behind 1 with only the side of two verandas showing, the Hong Kong Hotel. It was built in various stages starting in 1868, ( ) .

3. Pedder Street Clock Tower, built 1862, demolished 1913, ( ).

4. Mainly out of sight to the right of 3, the General Post Office, ( ).

5. On the Praya on the right of the photo, offices occupied at various times by companies including Messrs. Hunt & Co from around the early 1870's ( , Plate V and accompanying text - a very interesting link ) and later by Jardine Matheson from sometime in the 1880's until demolition in 1907 ( ). The flag flying above the building resembles that of Scotland, which was also used by Jardines, suggesting the photo was taken during their tenancy.

The presence of the two Pedder Street Wharves helps to narrow down the year in which the photo was taken. The older, smaller, wharf is on the left, opposite Melcher's Building, and was replaced by the newer one to its right. Funding for the new wharf was approved in May 1885 (China Mail, 29-5-1885) with the construction tender published in November 1885 ( Government Notification No.442, 14-11-1885 ). The entire $9,300HK construction cost appeared in the Public Works part of the 1886 Blue Book. 

Further evidence that the new wharf was built in early 1886 comes from the China Mail of 22-7-1886;

The new Pedder's Wharf will not be complete until there is a matshed erected on it. Persons making use of it feel the want of some protection from the sun badly. ( )

The publics need for shelter on the wharf is confirmed in Martyn's photo. There are no shadows, suggesting many of the pedestrians have raised their umbrellas against rain, rather than their parasols as shelter from the sun. Meanwhile the dilapidated matshed on the old wharf is packed despite the patches and holes in its roof. A shelter was later built on the new wharf, as seen in .

The new wharf made the old one redundant and a tender for its removal was published in July 1886 ( ). I guess demolition wouldn't have taken long, probably before the end of the year.

If construction of the new wharf, without a shelter, was completed in 1886, before July, and the old wharf was demolished between July and the end of 1886, the old and new wharves would only have stood next to each other, as seen in Martyn's photo, for a short time. I'd say the photo was taken in mid to late 1886.   


I hadn't spotted that both the old & new versions are visible - good catch!

Regards, David

The original photo is by Lai Fong (Afong Studio), see here.