Asiatic Petroleum Company – contemporary photographs of its Shanghai building

Nicholas Kitto has a family connection to the Asiatic Petroleum Company. His grandfather, John ‘Jack’ Kitto, was recruited directly from school by Royal Dutch Shell in 1910. After training in their London office he travelled to Shanghai on the Trans-Siberian Railway and commenced work with The Asiatic Petroleum Company (North China) Limited on 16 September 1912. He remained with APC in various locations in China until his retirement in 1939.

Nicholas and Robert Nield have spent the last seven years visiting the old Treaty Ports of substance in China. Robert as writer and Nicholas as photographer. This has resulted in the book, The China Coast: Trade And The First Treaty Ports.

During his visits Nicholas has tracked down several buildings with a connection to Asiatic Petroleum motivated in part by  his grandfather’s involvement in the company.

He was aided in this effort by his father’s memory, the HKU’s collection of Directory & Chronicles and time spent on various genealogy websites. He has managed to identify the locations and timing of most of his family’s activities in China, and certainly of Jack Kitto’s with APC.

Nicholas has kindly sent three of his photographs of APC…
Asiatic Petroleum Building, Shanghai Club, Union Building.

Asiatic Petroleum Building, Shanghai Club, and the Union Building on The Shanghai Bund.

Asiatic Petroleum Co - Shanghai HQ Nick Kitto 2

The Asiatic Petroleum Building, No.1 The Bund, Shanghai.

Asiatic Petroleum Co - Shanghai HQ Nick Kitto 3

The Impressive Main Entrance Of The Company’s Office Building On The Shanghai Bund.


  1. Nicholas Kitto’ Asiatic Petroleum Company photographs 45 images from a variety of locations in China.
  2. Nicholas Kitto’s website  devoted to two projects, both involving historical buildings in China. The first is to photograph the many surviving foreign-inspired buildings in China’s former treaty ports and leased territories. This project is approaching completion. The second is to record Hong Kong’s 108 Declared Monuments.
  3. The China Coast: Trade And The First Treaty Ports, Robert Nield, Joint Publishing Co., 2010

This article was first posted on 9th December 2014.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Arnhold, Karberg & Company – founded in Hong Kong, 1866
  2. Asiatic Petroleum Company Ltd – links to Arnhold & Company
  3. Asiatic Petroleum Company employees, a compilation – information needed
  4. Asiatic Petroleum Company staff photo, Shanghai 1930s
  5. Walter George Babb, Employee of the Asiatic Petroleum Co, UK, 1911 – information wanted
  6. BAAG records of shipping in HK during 1944-45 – the Fukuan Maru, ex-Shu Kwang operated by Asiatic Petroleum Company
  7. Yung Hao tanker – requisitioned by HK Government 1951 leading to China’s requisitioning of Asiatic Petroleum Co
  8. Asiatic Petroleum Company, China – requisitioned by Chou En Lai 1951
  9. Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company in China

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