Thomas WALLER [1900-1990] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Thomas WALLER [1900-1990]

c.1990-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)

Tommy Waller was an engineer with Hong Kong Tramways before the war.

Friend of Thomas and Evelina Edgar.

Interned at Stanley - Camp Number 2116. Lived in Block 9, Room 10. Nationality listed as British.

Returned to the United Kingdom at some time after the war and retired to Northumberland with his wife Eileen.



Photos that show this person


I've added tag: Interned at Stanley

Regards, David

In August 1947 a  Plymouth Class flying boat on the way from Hong Kong to Poole (Dorset) crashed at Bahrain. There were a number of fatalities and among those injured was a Mr. Waller of Hong Kong.

Western Daily Press, August 27, 1947, 1

Thomas WALLER was my grandfather.  He died aged 89 in Rugby, I think in 1990.

Thanks for the extra detail, I've updated the information above. Please do you remember any stories of his time in Hong Kong?

Regards, David

Hello! I am Tom Waller's son Frank (father of Andrew who commented earlier). My dad retired as Chief Engineer of HK Tramways (not Peak Trams) in 1959. My mother was called Lillian Maude, not Eileen, and they died in Rugby in 1989 and 1990 respectively. My brother Ken still lives in Rugby whereas my wife and I live in Worthing, West Sussex.

I worked in Hong Kong for Jardine Matheson for 25 years, also in Taiwan, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

I was three when the house warming party was photographed. A short time later my mother, brother and I were evacuated to Australia and were reunited with Dad after the war.

Best Regards and thanks for the memories!


Hi Frank, good to hear from you.

Here's your father's entry in the 1941 Jurors List, showing he was living on Broadwood Road at the time:

c   Waller, Thomas Assistant Engineer, H. K. Tramways, Ld. 21 Broadwood Road.

Regards, David

Thanks, Frank - correction made.

I'm not sure if we ever met, but my parents were good friends with your parents when I was young. They often exchanged visits when we lived in Windsor. The last time I remember seeing them was when we went up to visit during their retirement on the Northumberland coast - must have been about 1965.

My father lived with yours in Broadwood Road for about a year before the Japanese attack. After he arrived in Stanley Camp in May 1943 they resumed their friendship and my mother told me that 'visiting Tommy Waller' was one of their most important activities. I thought of that in 2014 when I went round the block of St Stephen's School where your father was billetted.


Hello Brian

Very nice of you to write to me and a shame we didn't meet years ago as we clearly have so much in common. Yes I remember your dad very well and I recognised him right away in that photo of the 'house warming party'. I recall visiting a house in Windsor with my parents about 63 years ago and perhaps that belonged to your parents (or grand parents?).

After the war we all returned to HK (in 1947) and lived in No. 21 Broadwood Rd before moving down to No. 4 and later up the Peak when Dad was promoted.

I completed my school education at KGV (previously Central British School) where I was Head Boy in 1953/54. My brother Ken returned to England in 1950 to study and later work in the electrical engineering industry in Rugby where he married and has lived there ever since! Sadly he never went back to HK.

My first job in Hong Kong was personal assistant to Colonel Harry Owen-Hughes, owner of Harry Wicking & Co.,Ltd. He features quite extensively in Gwulo and he really was quite an amazing man. Apart from his wartime and later business and cricketing exploits, he was also head of the Freemasons in HK, Trustee of St. John's Cathedral (where I sang in the Choir), Colonel of the Hong Kong Regiment, President of the HK Cricket Club and Lawn Tennis Association, and quite a lot more!

He sold his company to Jardine Matheson in 1962 and retired to Somerset where his daughter was married to the Chairman of Clarks Shoes.

I thought you would find all this quite interesting.

When you visited my parents in 1965 they living in Stocksfield, Northumberland and later moved back to their home town of South Shields, then down to Rugby to be close to Ken. I would have been working for Jardines in Taiwan at the time - mainly flogging booze to the American miltary clubs. Best posting I ever had!

Well, enough about me - I would be interested to hear a bit more about yourself if you have a moment. Are you living in the Windsor area and, if you don't mind my asking, did you acquire the name Brian 'Windsor' on account of the town connection? Our late fathers would have been fascinated if they knew we would be having this written conversation in later years!

I'll end here by wishing you a very happy Kung Hei Fat Choi in the year of the Rooster! Or "Gung Si Fat San" as they now say in Mandarin.

Best Regards  -  Frank

Frank - I think I identified you correctly in my photo of the choir from 1956 posted on gwulo. You were finishing at KGV when I started. Regards - Geoff Wellstead

with more photos & memories:

Hi Geoff - thanks for yours!

I was actually 2nd from left in the 5th row with John Marshall behind me. Along to my left in same row was Rae Jones and far right, same row was Roy Spencer.

Very top row 2nd from left was Alan Sainsbury and the very beautiful girl in the 4th row standing behind, and between the Dean and Cecilia Kwok was Eugenie Itenson.

I don't seem to have this same choir picture but I have others tucked away in my computer files. Unfortunately, at the moment, I don't seem to be able to attach a photo but will keep trying to figure out how to do this.

Best Regards  -  Frank Waller


Here are instructions for how to add a photo:

Frank: many thanks for the interesting information about your life and for further details about your father.

Yes, my middle name was Windsor because that was where my father grew up. I lived in or close to the town until the mid-1980s when we moved westwards. In 2003 we went to China to teach (English language and literature) and had a fine time in various cities before returning. We're now retired.

If you visited Windsor in1954 that would have been to my grandparents' house as we were in Portsmouth then. But two years later it would have been our own house and we probably did meet. My memories of the late fifties and early sixties are rather faint, and I'm confused as to which ones are of visiting your parents and which ones of visiting Harry and Eileen Randall. Were you ever in Amersham? West London? Did your mother ever take part in the high-rollin' Catford Mah-jong games that my mother  used to attend?

I have before me the print up of an article from the SCMP which describes the 75-60 victory of Lane Crawford bowls team over the Northumberland and Durham Society at Kowloon Cricket Club on November 16, 1941. Your father was part of a team of four who beat a team including mine 23-21. Amazingly I've been in touch through the internet with descendants of two out of three of the other players in my father's team. As you say, our parents would be astonished if they knew about all these contacts.

I was aware of Harry Owen-Hughes but never realised the range of his activities. I'll take a closer look at his wartime 'career'.

Happy new year to you too, and many thanks for writing.



21 Broadwood Road, where Tommy Waller and the Edgars lived, was the last of seven European houses built by my grandfather Charles Warren in the so-called “Ridge Development” of 1915-16. It was set slightly lower than The Towers, - a sort of smaller version and looks as if it had a lovely view. I think it may have been known as "The Cottage" originally. Charles Warren didn’t sell it within his lifetime, perhaps intending it for his son and family to live in. It was sold in 1924 to a Chinese consortium after his death. It changed hands frequently after that, often mortgaged, and seems to have been used as a source of rental income by its successive owners. The final two transactions were from Charles Leroy Shank, a civil engineer, to Irene Stephanie Goeke, on 1st September 1938. Irene Goeke then sold the house to Hong Kong Tramways on 25th June 1940.


Thanks for that information, Jill. I tried to find it last time I was in Hong Kong but I don't think it's there - is that correct?


Yes, the history of all the changes of ownership and the mortgagees is held by the PRO but it took me several trips to Hong Kong to find out what to search for in their catalogue, i.e. I.L. numbers. The records for Nos. 20 and 21 Broadwood Road are confusingly recorded in the same long series of files. The Rate Books at the PRO are also a reliable parallel source of information for ownership, at least up to about 1934. (Thanks, Patricia, for this tip). 


Hi Jill

We lived at 21 Broadwood Road in 1947/48, and then at No. 4 until 1950. They were demolished many years ago to make way for tower blocks! I have a photo somewhere and will try to dig it out.

When we lived at No. 21 my brother and I used to go up to The Towers to play football inside as it had not been restored at the time. We moved away from No. 21 following a tragic experience which completely unnerved my mother. When we all returned home one evening we found our young amah hanging in a bathroom! We think she had had an unhappy breakup with her boyfriend! Very sad!

My parents used to keep chickens and ducks at No. 21 and to me they were pets. I gave them all a name but my father wanted them for the dinner table which is why I do not eat "bird" to this day!

Best Wishes  -  Frank Waller

Hi Frank,

Thanks for getting in touch about your childhood memories of "The Towers". Some years ago I was in touch with another ex-Broadwood Road child who used to play there with her friends in the 1950s. They called it "our castle". They didn't play football but reenacted Japanese bombing raids by throwing stones down the chimney at their "friends" beneath. My contact eventually married her protector in these none too gentle games. I can't find my Gwulo post with her name - perhaps David can. I'll also have a burrow in my papers, as she sent my cousin, who used to live at no. 19, a photocopy of a tiny picture of The Towers taken with her Kodak Brownie. Unfortunately she couldn't find the original.

What an awful story about your amah! Another contributor to Gwulo, Douglas, has posted about his grandparents, the Walkers, who used to live at 4 Broadwood Road earlier than your family. I posted a photo of the birthday party of his grandmother, Veronica Walker there with a group of her friends including my cousin, mentioned above.

On a slightly different subject, do you have any cousins by the name of Jennifer and Jocelyn Waller? My Hong Kong-born father emigrated to Ceylon to become a tea planter. Jennifer and Jocelyn Waller were my schoolfriends there. I think their father was a planter too. I ask, because families who live in the Far East often stay there or recommend their relatives to go there, even if they don't stay in the same country. The jungle clad mountains behind The Towers look very similar to the ones behind our tea plantation in Ceylon and I'm sure my father felt very much at home in that landscape and climate.

I'll have another search for the name of the girl who used to play in The Towers and get back to you, in case you knew her.

Best wishes,



The names of the children who played in The Towers and who you might have known were Judith Evans and Roy Spencer. I posted their names in 2011 in the stream I should still have Judith's contact details.


Hi Jill

What a small world! This might well surprise you but I was actually best man at Roy Spencer and Judith Evans' wedding at St. John's Cathedral where all three of us sang in the choir! The bridesmaid was Peta Buckingham (now Carnell). Roy sadly passed away in 2002 in Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire. Judi has a home in nearby Spalding but she also spends a lot of time in their Spanish home in Almeira, when she is not travelling to some other exotic place!

At the time when I lived at 21 Broadwood Road Roy was down in Ventriss Road and Judi over in the Leighton Hill government flats above Link Road.

I had no idea they too visited The Towers..

Sorry, i can't remember the other questions you asked me in your earlier posting so I will revert later.

Best Regards  -  Frank

Sorry Jill  -  I can't help you with your school friends in Ceylon. I'm not related. However, to continue the theme of coincidences, in the late fiftees I visited Ceylon to study the tea production business of a company called A.F.Jones & Co. It was run by two brothers, one of whom was called Alan. My employers in Hong Kong Harry Wicking & Co had their agency. I remember staying at the Gall Face Hotel.

Another coincidence  -  my father succeeded Mr Walker as Chief Engineer of the Tramways and we then moved into the Walkers' house on the Peak. I would have preferred to remain at No. 4 Broadwood Road! Great location and ideal to watch the Happy Valley races - free!

Regards  - Frank


How extraordinary that you were so closely connected to Judith and Roy. I hadn't realised that they didn't actually live in Broadwood Road too. 

As to Ceylon, I don't remember the company A. F. Jones, but I was quite young. By the late 1950s my father was a director in Carson Cumberbatch & Co. in Colombo, the company that owned our previous plantation. My parents then lived in a flat very near the Galle Face Hotel, where I often used to swim when I  came out to Colombo for my school summer holidays.

Which country do you live in now?

Best wishes,


Hi Jill

I've posted some photos of Roy and Judi Spencer when they visited us at our home in West Sussex, England in the mid to late nineties (I don't have the actual date). I've also posted a couple of pictures of Broadwood Road in 1985 and again in the late nineties. What a difference!

I hope you manage to see them OK (first time I've done this!)

Regards  -  Frank

Lovely photos of Roy and Judi Spencer. Also fascinating photos of Broadwood Road in the eighties and nineties. I wish I had managed to get there while The Towers was still standing.

Best wishes,


Here is Nona Pio-Ulski's photo of 21 Broadwood Road. I think Peter Braudé has also uploaded one. I can't find it at the moment but will look.

21 Broadwood Road.jpg
21 Broadwood Road.jpg, by Nona

Peter Braudé said he had uploaded this to Gwulo, so I will try to locate it in the galleries. It also shows one of the turrets of the Warren family home, The Towers, 20 Broadwood Road.

21 Broadwood Road, Happy Valley HK.jpg
21 Broadwood Road, Happy Valley HK.jpg, by Peter