Waterfall Bay on Hong Kong Island in an 1816 watercolour by William Havell. That year, a British naval surgeon who explored the area around the bay wrote of seeing “barren rocks”. Hong Kong was later to be descrbed derisively as “a barren rock”.
Waterfall Bay on Hong Kong Island in an 1816 watercolour by William Havell. That year, a British naval surgeon who explored the area around the bay wrote of seeing “barren rocks”. Hong Kong was later to be descrbed derisively as “a barren rock”.
Jason Wordie
Opinion

Opinion

Then & Now by Jason Wordie

Hong Kong ‘a barren rock’? Who coined the phrase that contrasted the new colony’s beginnings with the extraordinary city it became?

  • The phrase ‘a barren rock with nary a house upon it’, used to describe Hong Kong Island, was attributed to a British prime minister, Lord Palmerston
  • In fact it was a British naval surgeon and botanist who came ashore around Waterfall Bay in 1816 who wrote of seeing ‘barren rocks’ and ‘miserable mud-huts’

Waterfall Bay on Hong Kong Island in an 1816 watercolour by William Havell. That year, a British naval surgeon who explored the area around the bay wrote of seeing “barren rocks”. Hong Kong was later to be descrbed derisively as “a barren rock”.
Waterfall Bay on Hong Kong Island in an 1816 watercolour by William Havell. That year, a British naval surgeon who explored the area around the bay wrote of seeing “barren rocks”. Hong Kong was later to be descrbed derisively as “a barren rock”.
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