Old Bank of China Building [1951- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Old Bank of China Building [1951- ]

Current condition: 
In use
Date Place completed: 

Photos that show this place


A view of the Bank of China building in the 1950s, with the old HSBC building on its left.

1950s Fred Evans' photos

Wikipedia says it was "built by Wimpey Construction in 1952", but Dan Waters references a 1952 quote, stating that it was "completed in 1950".

A search through the newspapers for any mentions of bank of china in the years 1950-53 only gives one useful answer:

15 Mar 1950 : The foundation stone is laid. (Reported in 16 Mar 1950 issue of The China Mail)

So maybe construction started in 1950, and the building was completed in 1952? Does anyone have any better information?

The construction of the  Bank of China Building was completed in November 1951.

Hi Raymond, thanks for filling in the details. Please can I ask which source you used for this date?

Regards, MrB

From the news article published by the Chinese language Ta-Kung-Pao[大公報].

Thanks Raymond.

One of the other newspaper articles from that time highlights the confusion that followed the establishment of the PRC. The Bank of China split, with most directors moving to Taipei, but some remaining in Beijing. The article reported the Taipei group's efforts to stop the Beijing group from getting the bank's overseas assets.

Wikipedia tells how different overseas branches had to choose between  the two new headqaurters:

  • 1950 Some of the branches of Bank of China joined the bank headquartered in Beijing — i.e., Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Calcutta, Bombay, Chittagong, Karachi, and Jakarta — while others — New York, Tokyo, Havana, Bangkok, and one other, possibly Panama — opted to remain with the Bank of China headquartered in Taipei.

I wonder how the project to build the BOC building in Hong Kong was affected by this. Some mentions of the building talk about it reflecting well on the new PRC. But was it a Beijing-run project from the start, or was it begun before the bank split?

The China Mail of 20 October, 1949 reported that 'construction work on the Bank of China Building which is still in the excavation and piledriving stage will continue. A high-banking official said that financing of construction has already been completed and that it would serve no purpose to halt construction in spite of the change of government in Beijing."

The foundation stone currently facing the former Supreme Court on Des Voeux Road Central was laid on 15 March 1950.

From the timeline, it would appear that Bank's construction was not affected by political upheaval and turmoil taking place on the Mainland at the time. The need for a new banking headquarters in Hong Kong after WWII was a Nationalist government led initiative. The creation of the PRC on 1 October 1949 had no adverse impact on its subsequent construction.

1950 Bank of China

Thanks Moddsey, that rounds it out nicely.

At the time of its completion in 1951, it was the tallest building in Hong Kong, some 24 ft higher than the HSBC (3rd Generation).

Inland Lot No. 6301

I.L. 6301 Marker Stone of Old Bank of China Building


Conspicuously missing in the photos is the BoC Building during the 1967 leftest riots. The building was used as a billboard to display giant anti -British/pro communist  banners in defiance of the HK government . It also had loud speakers mounted on the building to pipe out pro-communist rhetoric propagandas and revolutionary music during that dark chapter of post war HK history.

When digitizing my old slides (1994) from Singapore I found on one the old Bank of China Building. It looks pretty much like the one in Hong Kong. No wonder, it's by the same architects (Palmer and Turner), and it was built in 1954.

Bank of China Building Singapore
Bank of China Building Singapore, by Klaus

It still exists today, only with an (much higher) additional block.

Results of searches for "Bank of China" in MMIS around the time the building was under construction:

1947 - The bank bought the land at auction (p.2, The China Mail, 1947-04-15).

1949, March - Construction begins, building expected to be 5 storeys high (p.1, Hong Kong Sunday Herald, 1949-03-20)

1949, July - The full, 17 storeys will be built after all, following the original design of the architects Palmer & Turner (p.1, The China Mail, 1949-07-23)

1950, March - Foundation stone laid. Building to be 13 storeys! (p.2, The China Mail, 1950-03-16)