Man Loong Ginger Factory
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 chow chow is also known as chayote squash, tayota and choku 2 cargo ginger is apparently lower grade, the older, tougher roots,stringy in quality, hot in flavour
Reference: Arnold Wright (ed.) 1908. Twentieth Century Impressions of Hong Kong, p.248. Singapore: Graham Brash.