Man Loong Ginger Factory

Man Loong Ginger Factory c1905

Hugh Farmer writes. Many thanks to IDJ for supplying both the image and text.

One of the first manufacturing industries in colonial Hong Kong was preserved ginger, as well as various fruits, grown mainly in Guangzhou. And one of the first such companies was Man Loong Ginger Factory. The description of the company below, written in about 1908, mentions that at this time it had  already been established  for forty years. Thus Man Loong must have started operations in the late 1860s.

The photograph is of Temple Street in the early 1900s, now one of the busiest places in Hong Kong, at least in the evening. How quiet and empty it looked then with just two or three figures standing at the factory entrance. Was the picture taken very early in the morning?  I wonder what the parallel lines are in the foreground. Not tram lines, not railways lines….?

The text accompanying this photo is worth quoting in full. “A considerable amount of ginger is exported from the Colony, and subsequently competition is so strong that a firm  wishing to hold a high place in the market finds it necessary to exercise extreme care that its productions are of the highest quality. For this reason the Man Loong Ginger Factory has only to refer to the volume of it trade to prove the excellence of its manufactures.

The firm has been established for forty years and exports to England, America, Germany and Australia, preserved ginger and all kinds of Chinese fruits, such as pears, plums, cumquats and chow chow 1 The ginger comes from Canton, is peeled and boiled there, and preserved at the factory, No. 60, Temple Street, Yaumati.

Three grades only are dealt with – with the finest choice selected stem ginger, young stem ginger, and cargo ginger 2 – and these are packed in pure syrup and in first grade Java cane sugar. During the season, from August to the end of the year, upwards of three hundred men and women are employed.

The Company also manufactures sugar-candy, which is sent largely to Bombay  and to the northern ports of China. The firm sends a great deal of its products to India under the name of Sam Shing, and dispatches best thick soy to London.

The managing partner of the firm is Mr. Leung Hiu Cho, who has been engaged in business in the Colony for a number of years. The offices of the company are situated at No.`13 Des Voeux Road, West.”(1)

Man Loong Ginger Advert China Mail 12.12.1928

China Mail 12.12.1928

60 Temple Street

location of 60 Temple Street

Sources:

  1. Arnold Wright (ed.) 1908. Twentieth Century Impressions of Hong Kong, p.248.

2 Comments

  • Hugh Farmer

    On 14 Dec 2013 I happened to be in Yau Ma Tei and did a little field work to see what now stands on the site of the Man Loong Ginger Factory. If it did indeed stand on 60 Temple Street as the article suggests then what I discovered is of some interest.

    I walked along Temple Street both north and south of Yung Shue Tau (Chinese: 榕樹頭), the public square in front of the Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei. I realized that the last property numbers either side of the square ended on one side at 58 and at the other 62. Therefore 60 must have been in/on the square itself.

    I was a little confused but as if by magic a postman appeared, and not just any postman, but the very one responsible for delivering mail to Temple Street. He confirmed, and adamantly so, that the address 60 Temple Street no longer existed.

    Therefore, I concluded that the Man Loong Ginger Factory must have stood in the square.
    If the factory still existed in the early 1900’s and as the photo shows was of some considerable length, ie about the width of Yung Shue Tau, did the temple itself, also large, co-exist, at least for a period?

    The temple’s history appears to be this. It was “developed” in 1864, and was enlarged at a later point and in 1876 rebuilt in what may have been a new square around which “public facilities” were placed. It was extended in the 1890s. Thus it may have moved location and certainly changed in size several times in the 19th century. The factory years.

    Maps of the area, showing the square, at relevant years might just clear up the little mystery of the temple and the factory. And what happened to number 61!

  • Lawrence Tsui

    I have been keen to find out more about Man Loong Ginger Factory which our extended family said belonged to Wong Oi-chau of HK & Canton / Punyu – the father of my Maternal Grandmother, Mary Wong. I noticed the article said Mr. Leung was a Managing Partner. Is there any way it could be confirmed?

    The very rich Wong Family lost Man Loong and all other businesses when Wong Oi-chau died and there were no sons old enough to continue the business. Wong lived in a huge mansion in what is today Lin Fa Shan Golf Club in Punyu. His Canton shops were at the Sap Pat Po. He had two streets – Fu Sien East & West streets in that location. In HK, he had a photo taken with the Governor (probably Sir Cecil Clementi with kids sitting on their labs).

    Lawrence

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