Gin Drinkers’ Bay in 1936, mention of a mining concern and Texas Company (China) Ltd
IDJ has sent the following newspaper article.
HF I have retyped the original article to aid clarity and searches of the website.
Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped copy of the original article.
HF: I would be grateful for any further information about, or images of the ”mining concern” or the Texas Company (China) mentioned in the article. The image of Gin Drinkers’ Bay on this article’s Home Page does not come from the following article.
GIN DRINKERS’ BAY
MANY WILD PARTIES IN DAYS OF YORE
NOW DESOLATE PICNIC SPOT
(By a Special Correspondent)
The image below does not from the original newspaper article.
Gin Drinkers’ Bay, in itself a very intriguing name, is now a neglected and seldom visited picnic spot though it was, in the early days, one of the most popular bathing beaches, and junk parties, every weekend, made a beeline for that place. I use the term ”junk party” because in those far off days, steam launches were things that were classed amongst the luxuries for the very well to do people only, and poor office workers had to be satisfied with hiring one of the fairly large sized junks for their bathing parties.
It was from these parties, I am informed that the bay got its name, for visitors to the place used to throw empty bottles into the sea, and it was only when one of these discarded bottles was picked up that the label on it told the world in general what it had contained!
Be that as it may, however, the fact remains that the very name of Gin Drinkers’ Bay used to hold out promises of very good times for those who visited the place, and it would be pertinent to ask here if the reason why it has lost so much popularity is because the place had been found out?
Quite apart from being a picnic spot, Gin Drinkers’ Bay was at one time quite a busy little industrial centre. As far as I can gather from information given me, some mining concern had their concentration plant there as far back as 1898, as the Crown Lease of the property, for 75 years, was dated July 1, 1898. This mining concern used to bring their crude ore down from Kwangsi and, after having been concentrated in the Gin Drinkers’ Bay plant, the ore was exported. This went on till 1924, when the Texas Company (China) Ltd., bought the property, and from then until 1930, Gin Drinkers’ Bay was the official godown for the Texas Company who were then still importing fuel oil in cases, and as a result did not require any tanks for storage purposes.
CHANGE in 1930
In 1930, however, a change was made in the storage system, as oil was then imported in bulk and the Company moved its godowns from Gin Drinkers’ Bay to Tsu Wan, where they have the most modern and up to date installation plant.
For the six years that Gin Drinkers’ Bay had the official godown, however, a foreign godown superintendent had always been stationed there, and this necessitated the building of suitable quarters and offices, and though there was no means of communication between Hong Kong and the Bay, except by sea, a number of people people paid visits to the godowns and on such occasions were received most hospitably by the Company’s representative there.
I remember the one occasion on which I had the good fortune of spending a long weekend in Gin Drinkers’ Bay, and though it was dreadfully hot in the city, we noticed a distinct change when we reached our destination. Fishing and swimming were the chief forms of pastime, but a tour of the village in Gin Drinkers’ Bay proved most interesting, especially when we got into an old temple where lottery tickets were sold by the hundreds with the assurance that, sold as they were in a temple, the tickets could not but bring good luck to the buyers. The fact that I am still in an office, toiling day after day represents my share of the good fortune that was to be had for the asking!
One particular form of pastime that was exciting as well as strenuous was ”spear fishing.” A party of four or five would set out shortly before dawn and wade ankle deep in the water, carrying a spear (a long bamboo pole with a knife fastened on to one end) in one hand, and if any unsuspecting fish should come near, an attempt would be made to stick it with the spear. It was good fun while it lasted, but the total catch, as a rule, was not worth the loss of sleep or energy expended. I mention this because, in my experience, this particular form of fishing is not practiced anywhere else in Hong Kong, except perhaps, by the native fishermen.
About a month ago, I paid a visit to Gin Drinkers’ Bay, and while it had not changed very much, the very fact that the godowns are no longer there gives the place an air of desolation. When the tide is out, it is possible to wade about 100 yards out from the shore and I have seen a Chinese farmer take a flock of ducks out for a swim, and a very pretty picture these birds make too, about a hundred of them gliding in close formation over the water.
Its period of usefulness being over, insofar as the Texas Company is concerned, the Gin Drinkers’ Bay property, comprising some 116,867 sq. feet of land and a few buildings, is now for sale.
Source: The Hong Kong Sunday Herald 4th October 1936.
This article was first posted on 5th February 2023.