Dr Ferdinand Korn, Tai Koo Sugar and a case of the ‘British disease’?

Dr Ferdinand Korn Tai Koo Sugar(1)

“When Taikoo Sugar Refinery [began] operations… a number of expatriates  had been Germans as indeed had the general manager and former chief chemist, Dr Ferdinand Korn. The refinery’s owners, however were ‘inclined not to go in for too many Germans if we can secure really reliable Britishers’. Not that such ‘Britishers’ were without fault: ‘I am satisfied’, remarked one senior partner in 1889.'[that] Brown…owes his inefficiency to self-indulgence in overeating and still more, I fear from overdrinking’, while commenting that another British expatriate was  ‘a gambler without much principle, and with still less head, but may be a smart clerk.”


  1. Knight, Roger C, Commodities and Colonialism: The Story Of Big Sugar in Indonesia, 1880-1942, Brill Academic Publishers, 2013

This article was first posted on 4th January 2014.

For further information see:

  1. The Taikoo Sugar Refinery  A 19th Century Company Town in North Point, Hong Kong , Jennifer Field Lang first published in Newsletter 5, Mar 10, 2013
  2. Taikoo Sugar Refinery – Bullivant’s Ropeway for transporting coal from ship to shore
  3. Bullivant & Co, Millwall London, supplier of Taikoo Sugar Refinery’s aerial ropeway cables – additional information
  4. Taikoo Sugar Refinery during WW2 (HK Sugar Refinery)
  5. The origins of Wahee, Smith & Co. (later China Sugar Refinery.)
  6. The China Sugar Refinery Company (previously Wahee, Smith & Co)
  7. Sugar Street 糖街, Causeway Bay – origins of the name – silver into sugar or vice versa!


  • James Chan

    Dr Korn lived in the company residence located on a small hill near the foot of Mount Parker. The hill became Korn Hill but by the early 1980s had been almost levelled.

    However, the name lives on in Kornhill and Kornhill Apartments.

  • Abel

    Never knew Kornhill got its name thus, let alone that the name is German.
    Old HK is way too unlike PRC’s SAR, really.
    By attempting to change this tiny dot of a place to a mono-cultural and mono-ethnical city, the doom of HK’s unique cultural and demographical identity is destined.

  • wingcli

    I read the Juror’s List by the government in 1920s . The residence of the Manager reads Cornhill, instead of Kornhill and it continued for several years. Typo?

    • It wasn’t a typo. Ferdinand Korn’s name was anglicized to Cornhill during World War One due to anti-German sentiment. I don’t know when Kornhill Road/Plaza etc reverted back to the original name.

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