The South China Iron Works – post WW2 producer of covered motor tricycles, trucks and motorbikes

HF “South China Iron Works Ltd., founded in 1938 [incorporated 19th December 1938], lost much of its machinery during the Japanese occupation…but by 1949 had resumed production of diesel engines, including ‘specially designed’ three wheeled vehicles ‘especially designed for use in Southeast Asia’, and 2.5 ton trucks.” (1)

The works were in Tsuen Wan according to the report below and source 1. And substantial judging by a small undated photo in the latter. Several large buildings, chimneys etc. Our own image(s) would be useful.

…”by 1949 [the company] had resumed production of diesel engines, including …three wheeled vehicles ‘especially designed for use in Southeast Asia’, and 2.5 ton trucks.” (1)

“Diesel trucks, covered motor tricycles and motorbikes were heralded in 1950 as specially designed.” (1)

It would be of great interest to learn more about these vehicles.

The company was apparently dissolved on 27th February 1987.

Sources:

1. Made in Hong Kong: A History of Export design in Hong Kong 1900-1960, The Urban Council, May 1988
A undated photograph accompanying the quote shows the factory as being in Tsuen Wan, though in tiny font.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Hong Kong Iron Works Companies – information needed

One comment

  • Mike T.

    According to “The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese Occupation” by Philip Snow, South China Iron Works was owned by the Chinese Nationalist government (ie. Sun Yat-sen’s anti-communist Kuomintang) as of the 1940s.

    However, an Associated Press article from October 11, 1956 entitled “Hong Kong Mobs Clash With Troops” — you can see a copy from the Milwaukee Journal here (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19561011&id=wlcaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SiUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6565,8799&hl=en) — suggests the opposite, saying that “Discovery of the 100 bodies was made by British soldiers during cleanup operations in Tsun Wan [sic], whose biggest industry is the South China iron works. The majority of its employees are pro-Communist. It appeared that the victims were iron wworkers [sic] who fought with hundreds of pro-Nationalist rioters.”

    Another AP article from October 11, 1956 (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19561011&id=QoQRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aeIDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6108,1675676&hl=en) makes a similar claim about a pro-Communist workforce for South China Iron Works.

    The answer to this disparity can be found in a November 30,1960 article from the Salt Lake Tribune. Quoting it (with a few corrections to OCR failures by me):

    “HONG KONG, Nov. 29 — It was a sight to please the eyes of any good Communist — 200 workers demonstrating outside a city bank against foreclosure of a Hong Kong factory. There was only one flaw, the villain in the piece was the Communist Bank of China. They were employees of the South China Iron Works, Ltd. They gathered outside the bank Tuesday while a delegation delivered a petition to bank authorities. On the wall of the bank building demonstrators erected a sign reading petition group of all workers of South China Iron Works. The iron works is in debt to the bank for about one million dollars. [Unintelligible text] receivers — the factory is scheduled to be auctioned Wednesday, and the workers are seeking postponement of the auction for one month. The debt was inherited by the Communists when they acquired the bank from the Nationalist government.”

    And one more article, this time from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of December 1, 1960, and again with OCR corrections from me:

    “HONG KONG, Nov. 30 — The Bank of Communist China, besieged by protesting workers, today postponed foreclosure sale of a factory in this British crown colony. More than 200 workers and their wives and children sat silently on the floor of the room where the factory was to be auctioned. The South China Iron Works was to have been sold to raise $1,000,000 owed the bank.”

    From the Red Book 1969, Pacifica Publications Ltd., their mailing address was by then at 1205 Metropole Building, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon PO Box. 192, with phone number 45625.

    From the 1957 Directory of Commerce, Industry, Finance, the company is listed under headings for iron castings and hydraulic presses amongst others.

    The undated Business Directory of Hong Kong & Macao has their office in Oi Kwan Building, but Google’s preview doesn’t allow the rest of the address to be seen.

    The 1970 Hong Kong $ Directory lists their head office and factory address as “8 1/2 – 9 Milestone, Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, and you can just make out that their Sales Office was No. 1 Tak Hing, but the rest is cut off. (There are numerous Tak Hing Buildings in Hong Kong, as well as a Tak Hing Street in Jordan.)

    The book you’d most want to get your hands on for info, though, is the 1959 Trade Bulletin of the Hong Kong Dept. of Commerce and Industry (https://books.google.com/books?id=QoVaAAAAIAAJ&q=%22South+China+Iron+Works%22&dq=%22South+China+Iron+Works%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ycuNVdfVB8Ps-QH554HICA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwBQ).

    There is an article or perhaps an ad in there with a tantalizing excerpt from Google: “Mr. H. P. Wu, Managing Director of The South China Iron Works, Ltd. Born in the river port of Kiangyin, half way…” the snippet then cuts at this point, and later continues “present site in Castle Peak Road, Kowloon, where they cover an area of some 12,000 square feet. The firm’s present prosperity owes much to Mr. Tong’s preoccupation with the technical details of his trade. Most of his spare time is devoted to…”

    Sounds like if you could get the whole thing, it has a fairly detailed profile. There’s also a mention in the 1955 Far Eastern Economic Review Volume 18, under the heading Diesel Engines. “Marine diesel engines are being produced by the South China Iron Works Ltd., one of the few local firms, other than the shipyards, to specialize in the heavier forms of engineering. Fishing is the Colony’s main primary industry and many of the boats are engine powered. In spite of competition from overseas, the South China Iron Works is having considerable success with the supply of diesel engines to these craft and since the essentials of a marine engine are robustness and reliability, it is obvious from their continued popularity that the locally-built engines…”

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