Temporary buildings in Statue Square [1941-1957] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Temporary buildings in Statue Square [1941-1957]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
Date Place demolished: 

Photos from around 1950 show a couple of small buildings in Statue Square, next to the Supreme Court. With accomodation at premium in the post-war years, these were temporary structures housing the Public Relations Office (later Government Information Service, GIS). Here's a description from the Government's history of the GIS:

Retitled the Public Relations Office, the fledgling apparatus was established on a formal footing as a new government department once a civilian administration took over from the military in 1946. Its first home was an arcade located where the Landmark now stands, on a site once occupied by the illustrious Hong Kong Hotel before its destruction by fire on New Year's Day, 1926. From there it moved to 'temporary' offices in Statue Square, alongside what is now the Legislative Council.

This temporary stay lasted three years, during which the staff dealt with an influx of journalists covering the civil war in China, and the consequences for Hong Kong arising from the Korean War. These were the years when Hong Kong became the destination of choice for foreign correspondents, who established here a comfortable base from which they could make their forays into less salubrious neighbouring countries that offered them news - even sensational news - but fewer modern conveniences and a great deal less security.

They were also the years that witnessed the birth of the so-called 'China watcher'; that alleged expert on Chinese affairs who could raise a damp finger in the air and tell which way the political winds were blowing.

Anxious to remain helpful but apolitical, the PRO arranged press briefings confined strictly to pertinent local topics, gingered up by occasional showings of relevant documentary films. These were staged in Statue Square's non air-conditioned, makeshift structures, often in temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.

I've guessed dates as 1948-1952, based on the description above. More accurate dates welcome!

Photos that show this place


I've changed the dates for these buildings from 1948-52 to 1946-53, based on the dates of the photos that show them.

The buildings are also shown on this Hedda Morrison photo dated to 1946-7:


I had originally thought the temporary buildings would have been erected soon after the British re-occupation of Hong Kong. See here

However, the HKGRO notes the offices of the Urban Council were to be relocated to the new building in Statue Square on 7 October 1941. The Hong Kong Telegraph dated 16 July 1941 confirms that a temporary building was to be erected on the green patch of turf immediately adjacent to the Supreme Court.

The erection of the temporary building was required in connection with wartime administration and increased duties of other government departments which had caused a shortage of office accommodation. 

China Mail 21 June 1957

It was announced that the hut erected on the southeast side of Statue Square after the war (?) to accommodate temporary government offices were to be removed.


Hi Moddsey, these buildings are getting less and less temporary!

I've updated the dates according to your findings. It'd be good to get additional confirmation that the 1941 buildings survived the fighting & occupation, and were the same buildings we see post-war. Maybe a wartime aerial photo of the area?

Mapping Hong Kong has a couple. Plate 6-4 is RAF photography from 1945 and shows what looks like this building. Plate 6-2 is USAF photography from 1944, but unfortunately isn't clear enough to see if the buildings were there or not.

Regards, David

China Mail 12 July 1957

The front page article of the China Mail confirms the temporary buildings (long hut war time structures) that had been erected 17 years previously had been demolished. The article also mentions the agreement between the Government and HSBC on the land ownership of Statue Square. The Square south of Chater Road would belong to the HSBC whilst the Square and area to the north of Chater Road would belong to the Government. But in any case, both parties agreed that the Square should be preserved as an open space.