HISTORY
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Old Hong Kong

Five great Facebook pages for fans of Hong Kong history

Anyone with an interest in old Hong Kong, and a Facebook account, can travel back in time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 6:09pm

Official history is all too often coloured by politics. Thanks to the internet and contributions from people who have affection for Hong Kong, however, numerous aspects of the city’s colourful past live on and are constantly enriched.

Anyone with an interest in old Hong Kong, and a Facebook account, can travel back in time through a number of online communities. On these regularly updated pages, members share memories and accounts of everyday life, people and places, with photos, videos and other links illustrating the city’s unique history.

Here are five Facebook pages that between them offer a diverse picture of the Hong Kong of yesteryear. 

Hong Kong in the ’60s is steeped in nostalgia and personal memories of people who called the city home during that golden era. Members often use the page as a meeting place for old friends, to chat and share anecdotes of events, people and places – the Hilton hotel’s popular buffet gets a few mentions. There is a genuine community feel to the page, with members sharing personal photos from their family albums. Copyright-expired images from the era are also posted. See Hong Kong as it was when high-rises started appearing on the skyline, long-lost architectural gems, women in elegant cheongsams with beehive hair-dos, policemen directing cars before the appearance of traffic lights, and a whole lot more.

Gwulo: Old Hong Kong is perhaps the most intriguing page for the keen history buff. Most of its posts take us back long before the ’60s and provide some fascinating insights into the city’s past that would be difficult to find elsewhere. Century-old galleries are mesmerising, and a regular feature of the site invites members to guess the location of a building that has since vanished without a trace. Better still are articles about ordinary people with a connection to the city whose stories may otherwise never be told. One recent post told the tale of a man who ventured to Hong Kong from Australia in 1942 to rescue his wife and children during the Japanese occupation. Other posts include a speech given in 1900 to Manchester’s geographical society, and the tragic story of a Chinese nurse who trained in Britain.

Old Hong Kong Photograph focuses on some of the earliest images of the territory, dating from 1860 to 1911, during the Qing dynasty. Among the evocative images are a series of Cheung Chau as a sleepy fisherman’s village with a pristine beach, where pigs roamed freely in quiet streets. Other photos show the long-lost castellations of Kowloon Walled City, the verdant rice fields of Sha Tin, and sweeping hilltop vistas now blighted by new towns. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking life was simpler in the old days, but scroll on. You’ll also find pictures of pirates beheaded in Kowloon City after being captured for attacking the steamer Namao and killing its captain.

The Good Old Days of Hong Kong resembles a catalogue for a museum of Hong Kong daily life. This bilingual page is for people of any age to share their recollections. Random images of vintage products include old stationery sets, concert posters, ads for bubble gum, and wicker baskets that were de rigueur for schoolchildren before the advent of the backpack. Household items depicted range from Coca-Cola cups, clocks, electric fans and wind-up tin toys, to supermarket carrier bags. Members also share photos of surviving buildings and recall their previous use, such as a Sheung Wan clinic that was formerly a cinema. 

Hong Kong History: 1941 – 1945 is a page for a website of the same name. Its focus is life in the city during the second world war, and the page is a useful resource for specialist local information on the subject. The page has links to a variety of sources such as a regularly updated “war diary”, documentary films, scrapbooks, galleries and book reviews. As an archive of resources from that time, it is also a good place to read up about specific people and events, such as the Battle of Hong Kong.