Gloucester Building / Gloucester Hotel [1932-1977] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Gloucester Building / Gloucester Hotel [1932-1977]

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

I had the feeling that the Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel were two separate places (or possibly different buildings on the same plot). But the first mention of the hotel in the newspapers was the 4 Aug 1935 issue of the Sunday Herald, noting a wedding reception held there. That means the Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel were in existence at the same time.

So was the Gloucester Hotel the business name for the 'apartment house' described in the Feb 1932 clipping below?

Does anyone know when the building was demolished? And were the names Gloucester Building and Gloucester Hotel still both in use at that time?

Here are the early mentions I found of Gloucester Building in the newspapers:

Feb, 1930: "The pile-driving, I am glad to say, as I expect also are the occupants of all adjacent buildings; is now almost completed and the erection of the steel frame work will commence very shortly. It is hoped that a portion of the building will be revenue-producing in about a year's time." From Chairman's speech at AGM of the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, quoted in 11 Feb 1930 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Nov, 1930: The nuisance caused by the smoke emitted from the [coal-powered] hoisting gear on the Gloucester Building site was the subject of a series of questions by a member of the sanitary board at the fortnightly meeting held yesterday afternoon. 26 Nov 1930 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Feb 1931: The construction of Gloucester Building is proceeding satisfactorily. In spite of loss of time owing to bad weather, it is anticipated that the greater part of the ground and mezzanine floors will be ready for occupation in May. The whole building, granted no unforseen delays, is estimated to be completed before the end of this year, some two months ahead of contract time. Chairman's speech at AGM of the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, 11 Feb 1931 Hong Kong Daily Press.

June 1931: Gloucester Building [...] is rapidly nearing completion, work having just commenced on the tower [...]. Several shops opened for business on the ground floor for the first time today. 29 Jun 1931 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

Dec 1931: The four top floors [...] when ready are to be utilised as a residential furnished apartment house, to be operated by the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Co., Ltd. itself. [...] A feature will be that each room will be equipped with a bathroom, with hot and cold water. Provision is also being made for a restaurant, a bar and a tea lounge, while there will also be a private dining room. [... The eighth floor restaurant] will be fitted with a special spring dance floor. 11 Dec 1931 The Hong Kong Telegraph

Feb 1932: "Gloucester Building is now nearing completion. The installment of the internal fittings in such a large building inevitably takes time and is liable to be attended by unforseen delays. However it is hoped that the finishing touch will be completed by April.
There have been various rumours I understand of our intentions with regard to the upper floors. In case there are still any doubts I must say that it is proposed to run them on the lines of an apartment house. There are numerous fully furnished single rooms, double-bedded rooms, and a number of two-roomed suites. There will be a restaurant and lounge on the top floor."
From Chairman's speech at AGM of the HK Land Investment and Agency Co. Ltd, quoted in 16 Feb 1932 The Hong Kong Telegraph.

May 1932: Gloucester Building "Flats" Opened. 2 May 1932 Hong Kong Daily Press.

May 1933: I think it's fair to assume that 31st May was a quiet day for news in 1933. The headline in The Hong Kong Daily Telegraph that day was "Gloucester Building Band Slander Action", with sub-headlines "Manager sued by leader", and "Alleged criticism of trumpet-playing"!

Oct 1938: CNAC placed an advertisement noting they are the general traffic agents for Pan Am, and that their offices are moving to Gloucester Building.


Photos that show this place


Note the Gloucester Hotel sign has been removed.

1950s Gloucester Building

A couple of messages via e-mail. First from Andrew Tse:

Gloucester Hotel is the same as Gloucester Building. Situated north of Central Building where Landmark is today. Corner of Pedder St and Des Vouex Rd. West of Gloucester Building was Windsor House and Lane Crawford. Lane Crawford was later exchanged for Jardine House and became The site of today's Wheelock House.

I remember there was a large arcade on the ground floor of Gloucester Building. Offices and hotel rooms on the upper floor. A coffee shop was situated within the arcade. I recalled the hotel was closed when Mandarin opened. The area occupied by the hotel rooms became the Gloucester Chinese Restaurant.

Second from Chris King:

I have just checked in Tom Briggs "The Vanishing City" published 1977 and there is a sketch of the Old Gloucester Building with the comment ".....the site...... has considerable interest....."   The cars and buses appear to be about that period or a little earlier.

The comment refers to the text by Colin Criswell:-
        "Today there is little in Pedder street to evoke the past.  Gloucester and Pedder Buildings, the last with colonial style arcades are scheduled for early demolition.  The site of Gloucester Building has considerable historic interest.  It was first occupied by Dent and Co Jardine's principal rival and one of the promoters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. The Chinese commissioner, Ki Ying, stayed in these offfces in 1843 when he came to exchange ratifications to the treaty of Nanking and they were subsequently known as Keyling House.  In 1866 Dent and Co suddenly collapsed and the premises were taken over by the Hong Kong Hotel which became the colony's leading hostelry.  The Hotel was burnt down in a fire on New Year's Day 1926."

Thanks to Andrew and Chris for the extra information. I also noticed that on this map from the 1960's it is marked as 'Gloucester Hotel'.

1960s Map of Central

There is a small snippet about this place on Paul French's "China Rhyming" blog.

and I remember T making a comment about it here:

1950s Pan Am Advertisement

Phil & Moddsey, thanks for the extra information. (And that China Rhyming blog looks interesting - I've subscribed.)

A confirmation for Andrew's memory comes from a Hong Kong guidebook I guess dates to 1964. In the introduction to hotels on Hong Kong island it says:

Replacing the Gloucester is the Mandarin, a true luxury Hotel constructed on the water-frontage (opened 1 Sept-1963).

Then in the map section (basically an updated copy of the earlier map shown above), it describes it as Gloucester Building instead of Gloucester Hotel.

According to Philip Snow's "The Fall of Hong Kong", the Gloucester was renamed the Matsubara Hotel during the war, but then returned to being called the Gloucester Hotel after the British regained the territory.

I took a look through Cheng Po-Hung's 'Hong Kong during the Japanese Occupation' to see if he can add anything. He mentions it was 'renamed the Matsuhara Building during the occupation, was the location of a broadcasting station'.

Snow's book looks interesting, thanks for the introduction.

Regards, David

I've been looking all over the place for photos of the interior of the Gloucester Chinese Restaurant.  Any ideas?  Anything that vaguely resembles it would do.

Thanks.  This is a great site BTW.

After the end of WWII, Radio Hong Kong operated from Gloucester Building before moving over to Electra House in 1949, later renamed as Mercury House.

Added demolition date from appendix of "The HK Land Co., Ltd.  A brief history" by Nigel Cameron:

  • 1977 Gloucester Building was demolished to make way for Gloucester Tower, part of the redevelopment of Central District.

1941 Liquor License

Paul Chessex
Gloucester Hotel

5-15 Pedder Street 1st-8th Floors
16-18B Des Voeux Road Central 1st-8th floors,
9-11 Pedder Street

There are some interesting glimpses of the Gloucester Hotel during the 1941 fighting in Phyllis Harrop's Hong Kong Incident.

The Hotel was turned into a police HQ - 'the first and second floors, shops and tea lounge are being got ready to house the whole of the police force'. In order to avoid casualties from flying glass, 'every pane of glass in the arcades has been smashed out (with) bamboo poles'.

Tap water disappeared on the 18th December and the lights went out on the 19th - the hotel used kerosene lamps instead.  Because of the absence of lighting (and of lifts), the dining rooms were transferred from the eighth floor 'to the fourth and fifth corridors'.

During the evening of December 25th, in the hours after the surrender, it was decided 'that all liquor in the hotel must be destroyed' and 'over $50,000 worth' was broken up and poured down the bath room drain' two doors from Harrop's quarters. This was obviously to avoid the alcohol further inflaming the Japanese invaders, although Harrop mentions the subsidiary problem of some of the Indian police already being drunk 'and giving trouble'

My father, Thomas Edgar, told me he took part in such a disposal operation, and, as he'd been ordered to report with the rest of the bakery staff to Lane Crawford HQ next door to the Gloucester, this was probably the one.  From his account, not all of the alcohol ended up down the drain, but under the circumstances it would have been surprising if it had.

PS Tony Banham records that the Gloucester was shelled on December 16th and on the 17th its clock stopped!

I remember when I was young, I visited the building, there was a Gloucester Cake Shop inside. A good memory as I was too poor to buy any cake there. Anyone knows the history of this cake shop? Some Chinese adopted its Chinese name 告羅士打餅店when they emigrated & opened cake shops in Canada or other countries. Another famous cake shop in those days was 紅棉"Hung4 Min4" (Red Cotton literally meaning the red flower of the cotton tree), perhaps a metaphor to mean the softness of the bread. with one shop perhaps located in Wanchai & another in Kowloon. Near my home at Sai Wan Ho, there was a more "kai-fong" style bakery in the old red-brick Taikoo buildings near the present Tai On Building. One sort of bread selling there was in pistol shape, very attractive to us as little kids (plastic bean pistols were our favourite toys at that time). So big, so soft & delicious at only 10 cents or so. Very creative too. But nowadays breads are small, expensive, sophisticated but not really creative.

i certainly remember the aroma in the gloucester arcade and occasionally eating a warm spicy currant bun with a dollop of butter in there - divine :)  living on kowloon side our bread generally came from the russian bakeries of chantecler and cherikoff with the occasional sliced loaf of garden raisin bread for toasting.  i was never a fan of that white spongy stuff that you could get in most bakeries and sold at the school tuck shop made into sandwiches but toasted club sandwiches in hong kong  are amongst my best gourmet memories as are those of hk style french toast, rustled up at any hour, probably from that spongiform bread but miraculously tranformed into nectar from the gods

This cake shop brings back old memories. Their fruit cake, plum cake, tri color cake with a marzipan covering, lady fingers to this day are second to none.

I spent considerable time in my childhood days wondering aroung this shopping arcade which was basically the one and only one in Central. I still remember some of the shops.. Towngas Showroom, The Francis Wu Studio, Clover Flower Shop, the original Watson (with the distinct dispensary smell), Gilman, Frigidaire, HK Sports Shop with a distinct array of golf clubs, the Coffee Shop with its distinct coffee and smoke smell, The Argosy fur shop, The CNAC office with their huge display of propaganda material and Pak Hop Toy Shop where I spent endless time looking at its show window......

My parents lived in a company flat in the Gloucester Hotel when he was employed by the HK Hotel Co as orchestra leader for all their hotels, including the Pen and the Repulse Bay, back in 1937. They had to evict that flat when the Japanese invaded and ended up finding a place in Cameron Road, TST.

I remember Gloucester Bldg very clearly as my mother had an office there and also my dentist, Dr Staple, also had his office there. I used to go to my mother's office to wait for her after finishing school (KGV) so that we could go home together. She was manageress of Paquerette, a boutique which was also in Gloucester Bldg, next to the alleyway with Lane Crawford on the other side.

There are some photos of the inside of Gloucester Hotel in this clip which I put together, which might be of interest to some ....

Hi Nona,

Thanks for sharing the photos, there are some interesting views among them.

Did your parents stay in Hong Kong throughout the Japanese occupation? I'd be very interested to hear any stories you have from that time, as I'm interested to learn more about conditions in Hong Kong at that time.

Regards, David

Enjoyed viewing your 1950s snapshots as shown here

Hi David

Yes, my parents and sister were in HK during the Japanese occupation and, being classed as Third Nationals, they were left to fend for themselves.

Brian Edgar and I got chatting a couple of months ago and he very kindly added two 'nodes' about my folks (Pio-Ulski) on your site :)

I've also started a genealogy site, trying to leave as much information about my past so that our grandkids can learn more if they wanted to.

I did a page on HK at War, which you might find interesting ...

My father had kept a copy of the HK News issued a year after the Japanese took control and I copied the articles describing the Fall of HK from the Japanese perspective, and also an article about Third Nationals which is basically just about statistics. You might find these of interest from a historical viewpoint :D

My parents really didn't talk much about their experiences of those days and as I said on that page, I didn't even know my mother had letters from the authorities after HK was liberated, thanking her for her help re supplying food, etc, to the PoW camps.

I find your site wonderful for checking things - it's been 39 years since I left HK and I'm finding it harder and harder to be sure of my facts when writing about my life there!

Cheers :)

So glad you enjoyed the clip, moddsey :D

Picture taken late 60's or early 70's, if my ageing memory serves me correct. The Hong Kong Camera Club held meetings there and starlets from the various studios were invited to model in return for a portfolio. Perhaps someone may recall the somewhat disapproving 'Goddess' and rising starlet "Yu Sinn" ?

Gloucester Building - Chinese Restaurant

The Francis Wu Studio can be seen here and here

Thanks Nona (and Brian!), I thought your story sounded familiar, now I know why. (Here are links to the pages for Nona's mother and father.)

I'm glad you're setting up your website. I was interested to read the extracts from the HK News.

Some time back we had a visitor looking for information about their relative Nicholas Belanovsky, Any chance your families' paths crossed?

Regards, David

Hi David

I'm afraid that Belanovsky's name does ring any bells with either me or with my sister.

It was interesting to read that he was a member of the RO Church which was in Kowloon Tong. I was scratching my head wondering why I never knew there was another RO church and then I remembered something my parents told me.

They were both excommunicated by Upensky because they - and some other parishioners - argued that money from the church should not be sent back to the Soviet Union.

It never dawned on me that the church was in Kowloon Tong as it must have happened before I was born. The only church I remember was a room which was attached to St Andrew's Church on Nathan Road and our priest was a wonderfully sweet and kind Chinese gentleman whose name I cannot remember as I always called him/knew him as "Batushka", which means "Father" in Russian.

Hi Nona,

Thanks very much for the reply, and the extra memories of the local community.

Another name has just popped up that I guess also has a Russian background: Koodiaroff.

Regards, David 

Sorry David, I'm afraid neither my sister nor I knew anyone called Koodiaroff :(

I've just been going through things in my baby book which my father kept for me and I see I was wrong about not knowing there was a Russian Orthodox church in Kowloon Tong and not knowing Upensky!

I was christened by Father Upensky in 1947 and then again in 1950 he presided over the wedding of the Cherikoff's son, at which my sister and I were the flowergirls!

Sorry for supplying mis-information :(

No problem at all - thanks for keeping us updated,

Regards, David

My grandfather, Au Lum, worked in the Saddle and Sirloin Restaurant in the Gloucester Building, and I remember eating there in the early 60s when we moved there. It was a steak house, if I recall correctly. Several years later, he built the Gloucester Restaurant, a large banquet style Cantonese restaurant with some small meeting rooms, and Dim Sum during lunch hour. It occupied the entire top floor, I think, the 8th, if I remember right, leased from Hong Kong Land. Mr. Roberts was in charge of HK Land at the time. I can remember the old elevator, with a manual control operated by the elevator attendant, and the crisscrossed safety gate, even the smell of the elevator.  

 We had Dim Sum lunch there on the weekends in a smaller area towards the rear corner of the restaurant which had nice Chinese trim along the ceiling. I can still hear the workers pushing food carts around the tables, calling out "Ha Gow, Siu mi" (shrimp or pork and shrimp dumplings), "Gui fan" (steamed chicken rice in a ceramic pot), "Cha Siu Bow" (roast pork bun), and "E tai lei fun" (a spaghetti casserole rendition with cream sauce, chicken, and ham... yummmm).

He also opened up a cake shop on the ground floor, and over the years he had several others at various locations, in Central, and Wanchai. My grandmother frequently sat there near the cash register in the Gloucester location, and made change for purchases by customers. I remember eating the "Monkey Ears", sponge cake, curry pies and chicken pies, or almond cookies. They took me through the restaurant kitchen area once, which also served as the place where the cake shop foods were prepared.

There were also quarters in or near the clock tower which housed some employees. One evening during a banquet in the mid 60s, I was taken on a tour through the area by an employee (a distant relative), and there were a number of beds set up there. I'm not sure they actually lived there or if the beds were for employees to rest during their shifts. Since I didn't tell my parents where I was, I remember some consternation about my absence.

My father, a physician, had an office on the 6th floor from 1963 till the building was demolished in 1977.

Unfortunately, large restaurants like the Gloucester Restaurant became passé, and business dropped off. I'm not sure when the restaurant closed, but when the building was torn down in 1977, the restaurant never re-opened. Large restaurants seem to have made a comeback recently.

These photos taken in November2014 show the wooden statue you see in this thread, which is on my Mother's enclosed veranda now.

I hope this gives some insight into a bygone era.

IMG_2907.JPG, by Victor Au
IMG_2908.JPG, by Victor Au


Hi Victor,

Thanks for the stories - it's always good to hear memories of the old buildings when they were in use. And a nice surprise to see that the Goddess from the 40+ year-old photo is still with us!

Regards, David

Along with David - thanks, Victor, for awakening memories of the old Gloucester Restaurant and moreso for revealing the resting place of the 'Goddess' statue. Doesn't seem like 40-odd years since I was pointing my Leica at both her - and err... the budding starlet wink.





Harry, you're welcome. That's a great photo.  I had forgotten the "Goddess" sat in the restaurant till I saw your photo...

It was a shame they had to close, but between changing dining trends, and management problems, high rents, the Gloucester Restaurant was doomed. Still, we remember, fondly.


Gloucester Hotel certainly evokes great memories for many people, and mine pales alongside those. What stands out in my memory was the custom that Jardines employees from the ships in the harbour always congregated in the Gloucester Lounge, either going to the office and returning to their ship in the harbour. It was a favourite watering hole, and you see fellow officers and enjoy a bit of bantering. These sessions were heightened just before a ship is due to leave port when one has to hurriedly get to Blake Pier and grab a walla walla. Happy days, and I enjoyed all the contents in these posts. It would be nice to see some comments from ex-Jardine ICSN blokes.

Goldfinch: Thanks for your memories: they help me recall those days, long ago. I now can see more of the shops in my mind. Pak Hop had those silly plastic trolls, and Superballs, those dense rubber balls that seemed to bounce up high forever. I remember bouncing the ball right outside the shop after buying one. I also bought a toy on a short piece of rope there which you had to make knots in just using one hand. 

That Watson's is where we bought medicines and various supplies. We made our own version of gunpowder... Lol!

There was an electronics store somewhere in the complex, if I remember right, and right there at one of the entrances or near there was a watch/jewelry store, which had an older Indian Sikh guard with an old shotgun with a worn, somewhat rusty barrel, sitting just outside on the sidewalk.

There's a nice photo of the Gloucester building on Landmark's website:


My family and I moved from Seattle to Hong Kong in 1962 and stayed at the Gloucester Hotel for several months. We ate regularly at the Saddle and Sirloin. I have such strong memories of the old Gloucester and though it at first seemed cold and gloomy, my memories are very happy ones. My sister and brother and I were just children and we had to figure out a way to get used to our new surroundings and a very different culture. I still remember making friends with the elevator operator and joking around with him every day. His friendliness made it a easier to overcome the loneliness and isolation we felt. I wish I could remember his name. But we were blessed to be exposed to a culture so different from what we were used to and I'll always be grateful for the four years we spent in Hong Kong. And who knows, we may have occasionally been at the Saddle and Sirloin the same nights as you and your grandfather. Incidentally, I remember regularly ordering the Scottish smoked trout and crab-meat cocktail. I guarantee you my 12 year-old friends in Seattle were not getting to do that.

The Netherlands India Commercial Bank Building:

No comment about this location would be complete without reference being made to Blood Alley, which was situated here. This is the place where HK Police officers took looters, triads, 5th columnists and others for summary execution during the Dec 1941 battle.

George Wright-Nooth in "Turnipheads" provides full details, as does fellow former Police officer Wally Scragg in his memoirs.

I post in both Chinese and English, as I'm quoting from my mum in case it's lost in translation...

I've been researching about the Gloucester Building as I find it not only fascinating and beautiful, my mum and my grandparents used to live in the staff accomodation at the 'back' of the building.

Quoting from my mum:

1- '告羅士打楼上是酒店,我都成日食酒店切出來西餅頭尾,(有得買)以前後座有置地員工宿舍,亞公係置地做工,所以我地就住係個到,我結婚都是係個到的。'

1- 'Gloucester upstairs is a hotel, I used to eat the cake off cuts from the hotel, (they sell it). At the back it used to be Hong Kong Land staff accomodation, granddad worked there, that's why we lived there, I was living there at the time when I married.

2- '住係高羅士打宿舍到只有三伙人,一伙是做木部門的亞頭,一伙是寫字楼部門的亞頭,令一伙就是你亞公做水部門亞頭。'

2- 'Only three families lived in the Gloucester Building staff accomodation, one is the head of carpentry, one is the head of office and the other one is your granddad, the head of plumbing.'

Because the staff accomodation was quite big, big enough to put two big round tables, my nan used to '包伙食' provide lunch catering for people who worked in the office there.

So in reply to Victor Au, they did live there. Not sure which one you've been to!

Thanks, this site is very interesting.


Hi Nikki,

It's a small world, I lived in Gloucester Building in the early 70's for a few years when we moved from Alexander House across the street. I remeber at least one other staff of HK land lived opposite to me. I did remeber "西餅頭尾" that my mom bought from time to time. I lived in the staff quarter next to the teantant washroom side. I did remeber the two old evelators very well. 



Hello Nona,

I was thrilled to see your "Old Pictures of Hong Kong" which I stumbled across on the Gwulo site. I have to say that they brought a lump to my throat! You even have a photo in your collage of the very beach that I used to go to with my parents in Castle Peak. Like you I grew up in HK and went to KGV which I left in 1966. I'm writing a book called The Farthest East about WWII as seen through the eyes of my father Ernest (Bob) Jones, who was interned in Stanley Camp where he met my mother Irene Stevens. I'm hoping to get more information about the Gloucester Hotel/Building where my father was breakfasting as the Japanese were attacking Hong Kong on 8th December 1941. He had just joined the HK Police 3 months before. By the way, when I was living in Beijing in 2007 where I was working on environmental/climate change issues with my wife Margret Kim, we had the good fortune of traveling to many parts of China, including Harbin, which we found to be fascinating. I'm hoping to include various photographs of HK from the period that I'm covering in my book. Any information that you may have would be gratefully received. Best Regards, Robert (Jones) 


Does anyone know where I can obtain a copy of Wally Scragg's memoirs. My late father Bob Jones used to mention his name years ago when I was growing up in Hong Kong? I think they served together after the War. Thanks, Robert (Jones)

Hi Robert,

I believe Wally Scragg was under training with your father, who was PC 207 when they were both at the Police Training School at the time of the Japanese invasion. Wally was well known for maintaining records during his service, but his memoirs were not a published article. If they still exist they could be housed in the Force Library, although the Force was not well known for its' treatment of historical documents.

Many thanks for your comment regarding Wally Scragg. I'll check-out the Force Library and the Police Association. Best, Robert

Hi there Robert. I might be able to put you in contact with the HK Police archivist. If you are interested, please drop me a line on

Hello and thanks for the offer regarding the Police Archivist. An intro would be most helpful! Best, Robert

Hello Robert

I have consulted with the HK Police Force Archivist, but I’m afraid that he holds no written records from Wally. He has mentioned that in the 1980’s Wally wrote a number of articles in the HK Police Magazine, “Off Beat,” and you may be successful in approaching the Curator of the Force Museum to access back copies of these publications. Alternatively the PRO might hold copies - but I really cannot comment on that possibility.

One article I personally recall was quite amazing and it caused a great deal of consternation at the time. Some people were surprised that the Editorial Committee even published it! The article went into detail about the executions conducted by the HK Police, of collaborators and 5th Columnists during the 1941 battle, in the vicinity of the Gloucester Hotel in Central. Names were named by Wally. I have a copy of the HK Police War Diary 8 - 25 Dec 1941 and reference is made to these executions in the Diary as “drastic action” having been taken.

Following publication of the article a letter appeared in the following edition of Off Beat, in which a senior expat officer expressed his indignation, (to put it mildly), that the HK Police could behave in such a cavalier fashion with such disregard for the due process of law!

Wally was NOT impressed with that response and told the writer so. “This was War, sonny; I was there and you were not” was the gist of his reply.


Hi Gordon,

Only just saw your comment. Interesting, because my mum lived in Alexander House as well. She lived in several Hong Kong Land’s buildings in Central, which I thought ‘wow’! It’s a small world indeed.



I remember my father Bob Jones telling me (and also recording in his wartime diary that he kept in Stanley Camp) that there were indeed killings in the alleyway adjacent to the Gloucester Building. As the Japanese attack on Hong Kong in December 1941 was unfolding my father was actually breakfasting in the Gloucester Building, which subsequently became PHQ. During this chaotic time many of the Europeans believed that the Japanese through their triad collaborators and other 5th Columnists planned to murder them, hence the drastic action to dispose of them first. I believe that the Chinese Admiral Chan Chak was also involved in the operation before escaping to the mainland as the Japanese noose on HK tightened. Whilst my father was aware of these extra judicial killings, he said that he was never atcually involved in them. Thanks goodness. But as Wally Scragg said, "It was war, sonny".

Robert - many apologies for not replying sooner but I only just came across your comment!

I will post a few photos here of the Gloucester which I got from a book my parents had about various cities in the Orient. 

I hope they will be of interest laugh


Gloucester_Hotel_charges.jpg, by Nona

Gloucester Hotel.jpg

Gloucester Hotel.jpg, by Nona

The Gloucester was renamed the Matsubara Hotel during the Japanese Occupation ...

Matsubara.jpg, by Nona

Hi Nikki,

Just curious to find out when did your Mom live in Alexander House? Cause I was born there and moved to Gloucester Building in the late 60’s or early 70’s (can’t remember exactly the year). Then we moved to P&O building across the street and then to Star House in T.S.T. in the early 80’s. I am sure that we might have ran into each other back in Gloucester Building.




Hello Nona,

Thanks for your comment and photos of Gloucester Building. If you have any other photos from the time of the Japanese occupation during WWII please let me know. I remember Gloucester Building well from my childhood when I used to go to the arcade where my aunt worked at a travel agency and to have some refreshments! Thanks again. Robert


I'm trying to find suitable photographs of H.K taken just before and during the Japanese occupation from 1941-45 for my book The Farthest East which is basically a narrative about my family during the War Years. I think that the photo that you have on your Piu-Ulski site or one similar to it with more of the Peak would be perfect for the cover. Please let me know if you would consider that? Thanks. Robert Jones  

Hi Robert

Would be happy to help - please just let me know which photo you're referring to!  Probably best if you contact me via my blog ( and we can take it from there laugh


Thanks Nona. Will take a look at and will be in touch. Best, Robert

Hi Gordon,

Sorry about the slow reply. My mum said she was too young to remember when did she live in Alexander House... 


In January 1946, my grandfather Edgar de Chaffoy opened a small shop for the company Perla del Oriente in the Gloucester Building in Central, with an office above. The shop sold watches, crystal, and other luxury goods. He had worked for the company before the war, but as a manager of the cigar factory in Mong Kok.

The Hong Kong Land Investment and Agency Company, Ltd. published a booklet "In Far Eastern Waters" in 1933,  describing the Gloucester Building as originally envisioned as being businessmen's "bachelor flats" on the upper floors, with commercial offices and retail shops below.  However, the booklet states that when completed, the building's plan was altered to allow women, and function more as a hotel for wealthy tourists, as well.  This may have come about due to the deterioration of economic conditions at the time.

Interestingly, the management bemoans the fact that there is no air service to Hong Kong, and the colony may be reached only by ship.  

I seem to recall that in the late 60s and early 70s there ws a restaurant on the uipper floor of the building which was called the Cosmo Club. Richard Hughes and other writers and newspaper men dined here regulalry and at great length

SEE : Cosmo Club - The Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong

“One of the first meeting places was the old Gloucester Building lounge and later the ground-floor cafe" (1960s)

The October, 1932 edition of "The Far Eastern Review" extolled the benefits of Hong Kong's newly-completed Gloucester Building with its large four-faced clocked tower, at that time dominating the landscape of the central business district.

Gloucester Building - Prominent in Central Hong Kong -1932
Gloucester Building - Prominent in Central Hong Kong -1932, by Chinarail (Enhanced scan from The Far Eastern Review Oct.1936)

 Verbatim extract from  'The Far Eastern Review':

Hongkong Tells Time by Telechron

PROMINENT in the downtown section of Hongkong, near the busy docks of its spacious harbor, a new and attractive building has been erected in the recent past, containing apartments, business offices, and on the ground floor, shops and arcades. Rising from the front corner, 135 feet above the street, a clock tower gives the time of day to dwellers of the city. It is visible for a long distance out in the harbor that teems with ships and small craft, and can be seen from the residential section in the hills whose rise is so abrupt from the business streets that an inclined railway is utilized for transportation.

The Hongkong Land Investment Company, owners of this, the Gloucester Building, and its architects, Leigh & Orange of Hongkong, in taking upon themselves the rendering of a time service for so wide an area, took also an accompanying responsibility. It was of highest importance that the four great dials, on the four sides of their tower, should not only be always in accord as to the hour and minute but should point the correct time, so as to be depended on for accuracy and so that clocks and watches of all the city could be set to them as a standard.

Gloucester Building Clock Tower - 1932
Gloucester Building Clock Tower - 1932, by Chinarail (Enhanced scan from The Far Eastern Review Oct.1936)

The timepiece chosen was the Telechron, an electric clock that has made itself popular in homes and business places of many parts of the world because it never has to be wound, calls for no periodic attention, and tells the time of day with remarkable and consistent accuracy. Each of the four dials on the Gloucester Building is 10 feet in diameter, and each has a little motor to drive the hands. The reason that the four motors run at identical speed is that each revolves at the identical speed of a motor in a master clock at the central station, and the reason that this and all other Telechrons on the system make the same number of revolutions in a minute is that, being synchronous motors, their speed is a function of the frequency of the alternating current that supplies them. By the aid of the master clock, this current is held to a constant frequency of so many cycles per second and all the Telechrons respond by a definite number of turns per minute. It is very ingenious, very simple, and very reliable.

To meet the remote contingency of a stoppage in current supply, provision is made for resetting the hands of the Gloucester Building clocks when current is restored. This is accomplished by feeding the motors temporarily. at a considerably higher frequency from a special motor-generator set, thus speeding them up until the hands have caught up to their correct position in agreement with the master clock.

Gloucester Building is an ornament and business acquisition to Hongkong, and its towering clocks, with faces illuminated, give a very useful service by day and night.


Gloucester Restaurant was one of my early childhood memories. I was recently looking for some interior photos online, but I could not locate anything.

Last night, I was going through my childhood photos, and found this one photo of me holding a red balloon (see image below). I discovered the red balloon had "Gloucester Restaurant 告羅士打酒家" and the face of a clown clearly printed on it,

Balloons were given out to children, so that the parents could eat their lunch in peace.


042F3D22-F7B0-48FA-9022-83CF8B552C45.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮
CE52A761-C2B2-40BD-A802-757AE367868F.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮
B7AD2255-FCDF-44A9-8C8E-D99EA97E33ED.jpeg, by Tony Ng 伍東榮