Hong Kong 1946 – Statue Square

Back in Central District with this one – Statue Square looking north-east (I think). Any ideas what the building in the background to the left is?

HK 1946 - Statue Square

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13 thoughts on “Hong Kong 1946 – Statue Square

  1. Hi,
    We used to live in Hong Kong and have really enjoyed these photos – where did you get them? Did you once live there too?
    cheers,
    Ian in Hamburg

  2. Ian in Hamburg:

    Yes, my family and I were in HK for many years from 1961 to the late 1980’s. “Mo” (one of the regular contributors) is my father.

    The photos were received via a friend of a friend of a friend. Nobody knows the providence of them. Subsequently other readers of the blog have forwarded other photos – so if I get enough encouragement, we could keep this up for some time!

  3. tressillian,
    that would be great.
    hong kong changed my life forever, though I was there for only three and a half years. met my wife in hk, and our only child was born there. it will be 10 years ago next month that we left. exciting, multi-faceted, ever-changing, magnetic – it’s all that. these photos are a stark reminder of what once was

  4. This picture brings back mixed memories for Henry Ku and me.
    One Friday afternoon about 3pm, the Chief Secretary told me that the Supreme Court Building was settling towards the sea and the strain was making it break up inside. He wanted evacuation plans devised so that the Court could be emptied and repaired. He said I had to devise 3 plans, one for evacuation in 24 hours , one for a week’s notice and one with a month’s notice. The 24 hour plan had to be ready by noon next day.
    Henry got plans of the building and numbered all the rooms, we then went down there and while I explained things to all the Judges etc, he and his men numbered all the furniture etc in each room. I had secured from the Army a supply of large tents to erect if necessary all over the Square and we worked out where the contents of every room would be placed. An army of porters was organised and squads of armed guards. We did not get the wholehearted support from all the Judges!
    By noon, next day we presented our plan to the CS.
    And then got on with planning the one week evacuation which was more or less subsequently used.

  5. I remember in the late 70’s, the Supreme Court Building was severely affected by the construction of the Mass Transit Railway and had to undergo some restoration afterwards. Was the evacuation connected with this incident?

  6. Yes. The settling of the Supreme Court was due to the Mass Transit tunnel cutting off the sea-water which seeped into the ground under building so the the foundations shrank. Inside the building, bits of the wall, copings,ceilings etc had started falling down and the building was really dangerous. Pumping in water on the sea-side of the Court stablised the building and gave us time to organise a measured evacuation!
    At that time, the offices at Central Fire Brigade Building were occupied by Western Magistate’s Court but as it had court rooms already , I moved them down into Western District proper somewhere and fitted them out quickly Then moved the District Court which was in the old French Mission Building on Battery Path (ED had gone to Lee Gardens some time earlier) into Fire Brigade Building having to only build some cells and holding areas. Then the Supreme Court moved into Mission Building. It would have been easier to have moved the Supreme Court straight to the Fire Brigade Building but the Puisne Judges refused to go that far away from Central (and the Hong Kong Club).The worst problem was what to do with the very large Supreme Court Library. I wanted to wall in the car park under the Central Offices East Wing but the Chief Justice did not like this. I got fed up with them so I let them get on with it. Eventually, the books got split up amongst the Justices’ rooms and they used Legal Department’s Library too. By then , however, I had moved on to another crisis!

  7. As an update:
    The Supreme Court Building is now the Legislative Council Building.
    The old French Mission Building now houses the Court of Final Appeal, which was established with the handing over in 1997 to take on the work of the Privy Council.
    The Central Fire Brigade Building site was sold and is now the Head Office of Hang Seng Bank.
    Western Magistrate Court is now located at the junction of Queen’s Road West and Western Street behind the Sai Ying Poon Police Station.

  8. Mo was right, the picture does bring back memories. I could fill many pages with this story.

    Mo was not so right when he said “he and his men”, I did not have any man. Mo put me and a Scotsman named Jim on the job. And that was all. Jim had a young assistant came in from time to time to help. The two of us just muddled through. Good that we retained a sense of humor and never quarreled.

    My version of the story has a slight bent. I was told that the Supreme Court Building was slowly sinking because in building the subway, the engineers found that the water kept seeping into the tunnel. They had to pump the water out, and in doing so, the water table was lowered. (I wasn’t sure what it meant), but the building was sinking slowly. It would have been all right like a big wedding cake being set down on the table, except underneath the site there was an old seawall. Imagine putting the wedding cake on a rolling pin. It started to crack. After Mo first took me there, I went back and saw cracks were marked on the walls. I saw crack No. 67 (or some such number).

    In moving the courts around I had to go to departments and convince them to vacate their accommodation. With very gentle persuasion. It helped when I knew some places were not fully utilized. Eventually a big part of the library (reputed to be the biggest common law library in that part of the world) went to the old Fire Services Building. Mo would remember the question whether an exit was big enough for fire trucks to come in and out.

    It was an interesting project. Luck was on our side.

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