C.T. Chiu (招曙東) and Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works (香港鋼鐵廠)

York Lo: C.T. Chiu (招曙東) and Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works (香港鋼鐵廠)

C. T. Chiu, Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works Image 1 York Lo

Left: Ad for HK Iron &Steel Works in 1950 (HKBCA yearbook, 1950); Right: ad for steel windows by HK Iron & Steel Works in 1954 (WKYP, 1954-7-5)

Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works was one of the leading producers of iron and steel bars and steel windows in Hong Kong in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The owner and founder of HK Iron & Steel Works was Chiu Chu-tung (c.1900-1995), who came from Canton andwas a founding director ofKam Sing Electrical Supply (金星電器, incorporated in 1927, dissolved in 1973), which was co-founded by Tam Lai-tung (譚麗東) and his brother in law Yu Kan-hing (余近卿), both directors of Sunbeam Manufacturing (see article). Tam was chairman of the Tam Clansmen Association who led the construction of the Tams Wan Yeung Building in Sheung Wan in 1959 and served on the board of Lok Sin Tong, Sze Yup Commercial & Industrial Society and Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce. At HK Iron & Steel Works, Chiu was supported by director Tam Suk-ming (譚叔明, who might be related to Tam Lai-tung), secretary Lau Yu-lai (劉汝禮) and sales manager Lee Wai-yu (李偉如).

HK Iron & Steel Works was founded in 1947 (although as a firm it was incorporated in 1948) at 76 Kowloon City Road inTo Kwa Wan to meet the demand for construction materials after the War. The steel products produced by the firm at the time include mild steel plain round bars and corrugated round bars, mild steel plain square bars and corrugated square bars, mild steel flat bars, mild steel angle bars, mild steel channels, mild steel window section bars. The raw materials were mainly imported from Europe and Southeast Asia with several hundred tons stored in inventory every month with some of it  sourced from scrap of broken ships. (WKYP, 1952-1-5)

In 1951, the firm was receiving lots of orders for steel and steel windows from Borneo which was going through a construction boom (partly thanks to investments from HK and Chinese investors) and had bought 1000 tons of steel from HK. The firm also began production of copper plates that year. (WKYP, 1951-12-30)

C. T. Chiu, Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works Image 2 York Lo

C.T. Chiu (third from the left, seated) and Tam Suk-ming (third from the right) welcoming the Madras Chamber of Commerce delegation from India at HK Iron & Steel Worksin 1955 (KSDN, 1955-5-20)

In 1954, HK Iron & Steel Works expanded to manufacturing small metal parts such as washers which sold for $55 per 100 pounds and nuts for 45 to 85 cents per picul. (WKYP, 1954-3-28)

C. T. Chiu, Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works Image 3 York Lo

Two scenes from the production at HK Iron & Steel Works in 1956 (KSEN, 1956-12-11; TKP, 1956-12-4)

By the mid-1950s, its factory had relocated to1969 Kwun Tong Road in Ngau Chi Wan on a 60000 sq ft site while its office was located at Room 349 in Alexandra Building in Central.In addition to steel bars, the firm also produced steel doors and windows based on client’s specifications and supervised by engineers to ensure quality and accuracy. The factory was divided into four departments – mold making, steel cutting, steel bending and steel window and parts. The monthly production based on 8 hours of operations per day was 600 tons. The firm had 120 workers with the benders who had to work next to furnace which reached 1000 degrees in temperature being paid the most. Aside from supplying the local construction industry (some of its steel went into the construction of the Ritz Garden Apartments in North Point in 1956), its products were exported to markets such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Borneo, East Africa and New Zealand. (KSEN, 1956-12-11)

By the late 1960s, HK Iron & Steel Works’ office was out of 932 Union House in Central (AA Far East Businessman’s Directory, 1969) By the early 1990s, it was operating out of the Tai Sang Bank Building in Central and listed as a manufacturer of mild steel bars with Chiu Chu-tung who was in his early 90s still listed as its managing director.  (Business Directory of Hong Kong, 1991).

C. T. Chiu, Hong Kong Iron & Steel Works Image 4 York Lo

Chiu Chu-tung (fourth from the right) with other early members of Min Chiu Society. Left to right: Y.C. Tao (陶蔭承), James Watt (屈志仁), Jerry H.T. Liu(劉漢棟, see article on Unitex), J.S. Lee (利榮森), N.P. Wang (王南屏), J. M. Hu (胡惠春), Dr. Philip W.C. Mao (毛文奇), Chiu, P.T. Huo (霍寶材), Q.W. Lee (利國偉), P.C. Hsu (徐伯郊). (HKEJ)

Outside of business, Chiu Chu-tungwas a noted collector of antiques and paintings and an active founding member of the Min Chiu Society (敏求精舍,founded in 1960 by Shanghainese bankers J.M. Hu and K.P. Chen with J.S. Lee and others) in HK. He was a mentor to Dr. S.Y. Yip, who went on to build one of the leading collections of Ming furniture in the world.

As a firm, HK Iron & Steel Works was dissolved in 1992 and Chiu Chu-tung died in 1995.

Sources (other than those cited above):

http://www.yangmingauction.com/goodsdetail.html?auctionid=S16123&code=2152&page=4

This article was first posted on 12th March 2021.

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  2. The Story of the South China Iron Works as told by Chang Don Chien 張敦潛
  3. South China Iron Works – company staff in the 1950/60s
  4. Po Yuen Iron Works (寶源鐵工廠)
  5. Ting Fung Iron Works (鼎豐鐵工廠)
  6. Q+A34 The Novelty Iron Works, c1870s Hong Kong company
  7. HK Iron and Steel companies in 1963, information wanted…
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  10. Chow Mud-wai (周沕桅, 1905-1978) – Maker of Steel Windows, Owner of Theaters and Philanthropist
  11. Lee Wo Steelyard – Shanghai Street – probably last of its kind in Hong Kong

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