European Settlements in the Far East – Part Five Trade and Shipping Lines in Hong Kong around 1900

Vaudine England has kindly sent a link to what she describes as a typically 1900-era directory of the European empires in the east. There is much in the directory of interest to us which has been linked in articles below. The author was D Warren Smith.(1)

I thought I would divide these summaries into several parts. Fifth up – Trade in Hong Kong. And an extensive list of shipping lines calling in at Hong Kong. To aid reader’s searches I have partially retyped the relevant pages.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped version of the original printed article.

European Settlements In The Far East D Warren Smith 1900 Cover Page Vaudine England

Hong Kong Harbour 1890s Source SCMP

Hong Kong harbour 1890s Source: SCMP


Hongkong is a free port, and there is no complete official return of the imports and exports compiled, but the value of its trade is estimated at £50,000,000 per annum. During the year 1898 the following tonnage entered and cleared:-

European Settlements Trade Stats

A total of 19,069 vessels of 7,292,911 tons entered, and 18,216 vessels of 7,268,337 tons cleared with cargoes. There also entered in ballast 15,936 vessels of 1,161,072 tons, and cleared 16,773 vessels of 1,157,167 tons.

The trade chiefly consists in opium, cotton, sugar, salt, flour, oil, cotton and woollen goods, cotton yarn, matches, metals, earthenware, granite, etc. etc. There is an extensive Chinese passenger trade, now chiefly restricted to the Straits Settlements, Netherlands India, Borneo, the Philippines, Siam, and Indo-China.

Hongkong possesses unrivalled steam communication. The P. & O. S.N. Co. and the M.M. Co. convey the European mail weekly, the Norddeutscher Lloyd Co. maintain a regular fortnightly mail service between Bremen and Hongkong, the P.M.S.S Co., O. & O. S.S. Co, and the Toyo Kisen Kaisha maintain a mail service with San Francisco, the Canadian Pacific Railway Co., a regular mail service with Vancouver, B.C., a regular line has been established by the Northern Pacific S.S. Co to Tacoma, and Oregon, Portland; the Eastern and Australian S.S. Co. and the China Navigation Co. keep up a frequent but rather irregular service with the Australian Colonies, and the Nippon Yusen Kaisha maintains services to Europe, India, Australia and the United States (Seattle). In addition to all these, several great lines of merchant steamers run between ports in Great Britain and Hongkong, of which the China Mutual S.S. Co., Ocean S.S. Co. and the Glen, Warrack, Mogul, Ben, Union, and Shell lines are the most conspicuous.

Warrach Line Shipping Company Flag

Warrack Line

The Austrian Lloyd’s steamers also ply from Trieste to Hongkong, those of the Hamburg-Amerika line from Hamburg, and the Navigazione Generale Italiana Company’s steamers run monthly from Genoa. There is frequent but irregular steam communication between Java and Hongkong. Between the ports on the east coast of China, Formosa, and Hongkong the steamers of the Douglas S.S. Co. ply regularly twice a week, and those of the Osaka Shosen Kaisha weekly, and there is constant steam communication with Hoihow, Manila, Saigon, Haiphong, Tourane, Bangkok, Borneo etc. With Shanghai, Tientsin, and the ports of Japan there is frequent communication by steamers of the Indo-China, China Navigation, and other lines, in addition to the English and French and German mail steamers, which leave weekly. Between Hongkong, Macao and Canton there is a daily steam service, and tri-weekly steamers as far as Wuchow on the West River.

Navigazione Generale Italiana Shipping Line

Source: Wikipedia


  1. European settlements in the Far East; China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands, India, Borneo, the Philippines, etc., D. Warres Smith, Sampson Low, Marston & Company, London, 1900


  1. Navigazione Generale Italiana Shipping Line

This article was first posted on 3rd February 2022.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. European Settlements in the Far East – Part One, Industries in HK around 1900
  2. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Two, Shipyards in HK around 1900
  3. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Three, The Peak District and the Peak Tram in HK around 1900
  4. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Four Macau in around 1900

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