European Settlements in the Far East – Part One, Industries in HK 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. Of great interest to us is a rather neat summary of the industry and shipyards in Hong Kong at that time. The author was D Warren Smith.(1)

I thought I would divide these summaries into two parts. First up – Hong Kong industry. To aid reader’s searches I have retyped the relevant pages.

We have articles about several of the companies and industries mentioned which I have linked under Related Indhhk articles below. I’ve also included images, from around 1900, of a couple of companies mentioned.

I do not believe we have anything posted on the following subjects and would naturally be grateful if anyone could provide information about or images of:

a large rum distillery connected to China Sugar Refining Company

an Ice Factory, Bowrington. Bowrington, was an area, named after John Bowring, 4th Governor of Hong Kong from 1854-1859, developed in Eastern Wanchai at a river mouth between the harbour and Happy Valley, enlarging the river into a canal. The canal was formerly called Bowrington Canal but is now covered over and runs underneath Canal Road East and Canal Road West. (2)

a Rope Factory at Belcher’s Bay

Steam Saw Mills also at Bowrington

a Glass Manufactury at Kowloon

a Feather Cleaning and Packing Establishment at Kennedy Town

plus two or three unnamed Engineering Works.

and finally, a Green Island Cement Company works at Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong Island. We have several articles about the company at Kowloon Bay.

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

European Settlements In The Far East Detail P198 Industries D Warren Smith 1900 Vaudine England

“Manufactures are yearly increasing in importance. There are three large sugar refineries: the China Sugar Refining Company’s establishments at East Point and at Bowrington, and the Taikoo Sugar Refinery at Quarry Bay. In connection with the first-named Company there is also a large Distillery, where a considerable quantity of rum is manufactured. There is an ice factory at Bowrington, a large Rope Factory in Belcher’s Bay, Steam Saw Mills at Bowrington, a Glass Manufactury at Kowloon, A Feather Cleaning and Packing Establishment at Kennedy Town, A Soap Factory at Shau Ki Wan, and two or three Engineering Works.

The Green Island Cement Company has works at Deep Water Bay, on the south side of the island, and at Kowloon Bay, beyond Hongkong.

Green Island Cement Works c1900 Courtesy: IDJ

A Paper Mill on a considerable scale, fitted with the best English machinery, was erected at Aberdeen in 1891. The works of the Hongkong and China Gas Company are situated at West Point, and those of the Hongkong Electric Company at Wanchai.

c1890 Courtesy: IDJ

The city is illuminated partly by gas and partly by the electric light, the latter having been introduced at the end of 1890. Among the industries pursued by the Chinese are glass-blowing, opium-boiling, soap-making, vermilion and soy manufacture, tanning, dyeing; beancurd, toothpowder, and cigar-making, boat-building etc etc. The Hongkong Cotton Spinning, Weaving and Dyeing Company, Limited, has a mill of 50,000 spindles at So Kunpo, which commenced running with 12,000 spindles in June, 1899.” (1)



  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
  2. Signs of a Colonial Era, Yanny and Heller, HK University Press, 2009


  1. Why Wan Chai is not called Bowrington

This article was first posted on 18th October 2018.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Two, Shipyards in HK around 1900
  2. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Three, The Peak District and the Peak Tram in HK around 1900
  3. The China Sugar Refinery Company (previously Wahee, Smith & Co)
  4. The Taikoo Sugar Refinery
  5. Taikoo Sugar Refinery – Bullivant’s Ropeway for transporting coal from ship to shore
  6. Tai Shing Paper Mill – builders of the Aberdeen Lower reservoir, 1890
  7. The Hongkong and China Gas Company Ltd – early history from 1860s
  8. Bullivant & Co, Millwall London, supplier of Taikoo Sugar Refinery’s aerial ropeway cables – additional information
  9. Dr Ferdinand Korn, Tai Koo Sugar and a case of the ‘British disease’?
  10. F. Blackhead & Co.’s Soap and Soda Factory – Shau Kei Wan 1896
  11. Green Island Cement Company – stunning photos
  12. Green Island Cement Company – aerial ropeway
  13. Noel Croucher – philanthropist and director of Green Island Cement and Hong Kong and China Gas
  14. Robert Taylor – Manager of Green Island Cement – interned and badly injured in Stanley Camp during the Japanese occupation
  15. Ling Hang Quarry – supplier to Green Island Cement Company
  16. John Laird Wright – MacDonald & Co Shipyard, HK and Green Island Cement, Macau
  17. Green Island Cement Company during World War Two
  18. The Green Island Cement Company – Conflagration – March 1906
  19. Green Island Cement Company – photographs c1900

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