Star Ferry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 May, 2009, 12:00am

Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala

Everybody knows the Star Ferry. It is old and slow, but it is one of Hong Kong's most famous tourist attractions. If you want to slow down and remember why Hong Kong is such an amazing city, it's the perfect way to cross from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon.

But, did you know it was started by an Indian businessman? His name was Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala and he launched the first Star boat in 1888. Not much is known about him. He probably had some hotels in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. He might have started out as a cook. He might have sold opium to make his money.

In the morning

The first ferry running between Hong Kong and Kowloon was called the Morning Star. In 1888 it took an hour to cross the harbour. The boat was powered with coal. The company then was called the Kowloon Ferry Company.

The company became the Star Ferry Co probably around 12 years later. More ferries were added to the fleet. They were all called Star. In 1906, a big typhoon hit Hong Kong. Two of the ferries were destroyed. They were replaced with faster ones.

Keeping up with the times

In 1933, the Star Ferry Co bought its first electric diesel ferry. The company put the price up - to 5 HK cents. In 1966, the price was still very cheap - 20 HK cents. The colonial government at the time decided to put it up by 25 per cent, to 25 HK cents.

At that time there was no tunnel from Hong Kong to Kowloon. The Star Ferry was the only way to cross the harbour. In April 1966, a 27-year-old man called So Au-chung started a hunger strike to protest the price rise. Two days later, he was arrested and this caused the Hong Kong riots during which about 1,800 people were arrested.

A fleet of stars

Today, every boat in the Star Ferry fleet is named after a star. The biggest ones, the Golden Star and the World Star, can hold up to 750 people. They were put into service in 1989.

now do this

1 The first star ferry went into service in ...

a. 1888

b. 1978

c. 1898

2 The Kowloon Ferry Co was founded by ...

a. the British colonial government

b. Stanley Ho

c. an Indian businessman

3 The biggest Star ferries can hold ... passengers

a. 1,000

b. 750

c. 480


May 15

1. b, 2. a, 3. b