Leung Man Kwong (梁文廣) – clearance of HK harbour post WW2 and founder of Universal Dockyards

Stephen Davies: The founder of Universal Dockyards (now within the UDL Group) was Mr Leung Man Kwong (梁文廣, b. unknown-d.1966), who I’ve been trying to track down for ages and have at last managed to via this website.

Mr Leung was the boss of 80 divers, shipwrights, blacksmiths and other salvage workers, who were on hand in late 1945/early 1946 (they’d been working in Guangzhou on a destroyed bridge as I recall) and ready to roll when Capt W.A. Doust RN arrived in HK charged with beginning the clearance of HK waters of the c.230 wrecks, etc.

The result of the cooperation between Capt Doust and Mr Leung, especially once Capt Doust had retired from the RN in early 1946 and become the salvage adviser to the HK Government, was that HK harbour was cleared and back in full commercial operation quicker than any harbour of comparable size and complexity that had to be restored during and after WW2.

A Chinese Merchantman sunk in Hong Kong Harbour (art) Made by: Rosoman, Leonard Henry (RA) 1945-09-17 image: The funnel and two masts of a sunken vessel rise up out of the water.

A Chinese Merchantman sunk in Hong Kong Harbour
Artist: Leonard Henry Roseman

After the initial RN clearance, military administration ended in spring 1946, the Royal Navy and the newly christened Marine Department split responsibilities, with the 40% of the harbour covered by the naval anchorages being the responsibility of the RN and the 60% of the commercial harbour that of Mardep.

From information on a bilingual website (https://www.flickr.com/photos/91722684@N05/8441854814) Mr Leung got his company going on the back of the clearance contracts in 1947, though whether that is when he acquired the Yau Tong site is unclear. The Companies Registry notes that Universal Dockyard Co. Ltd. was registered in 1959.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. HK Industry during World War Two see Ship Breaking
  2. Ship Breaking, immediate post-WW2
  3. Universal Dockyard Ltd, Yau Tong

2 Comments

  • Kwong Chi Man

    Hello Stephen,

    Thanks for the most interesting post!

    I bumped into a series of very interesting Japanese forum comments about a “crane ship” Seishu Maru (belonged to the Army as it was designed to carry and install coastal guns; http://www.combinedfleet.com/Seishu_t.htm) that worked twice to clear Victoria Harbour in 1942 and 1945/6. She was wrecked during a typhoon in 1946.

    This link is Seishu Maru transporting locomotives with her crane (UN photos): https://www.flickr.com/photos/70217867@N07/8551930589/

    Cheers,
    Chi Man

  • Steve Bailey

    Wrecked ships sunk elsewhere during the war were apparently raised and towed to Hong Kong for scrapping as late as 1954. See our discussion on Gwulo about the Itsukushima Maru (http://gwulo.com/node/5849). Did Mr. Leung’s business ventures include ship-breaking? It would be interesting to know who scrapped the ship once it arrived in Hong Kong.

    –Steve

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