Hong Kong Telephone Building, Nathan Road

IDJ has sent the following newspaper article about the construction of the Hong Kong Telephone Company’s new building on Nathan Road in Kowloon in 1948. It was completed by the end of that year and subsequently demolished in 1976.

HF: I have retyped the article for the sake of clarity and to aid searches.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped article.

Hong Kong Telephone Building, Nathan Road, China Mail 26th March 1948 From IDJ

The early vacation of Whitfield Barracks in Kowloon by the Military Authorities in a scheme of exchange of military land was mentioned by the Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, at the laying of the foundation stone of the Hong Kong Telephone Company’s new 12-storey building at the corner of Nathan and Cameron Roads, Kowloon, yesterday.

Sir Alexander said, amidst laughter, that they had got the mules out so far, and it was hoped the rest of the military establishment would leave soon. The present GOC Major General Erskine said His Excellency, was most sympathetic with the views of the Colony in regard to its desire for removal of the military land from the path of its expansion.

His Excellency, accompanied by  his ADC Captain Wilson, arrived at 12 noon, and he was welcomed by Mr. N.O.C. Marsh, Chairman of the Board of the Hong Kong Telephone Co. Ltd and other officials of the Company.

Mr. Marsh, in a speech before the laying of the foundation stone, traced the development of the Telephone Company since 1881. He said the new building would furnish office accommodation and the upper floors 23 desirable flats which, in addition to relieving the Company’s own problem in the matter of staff quarters, would supply a surplus for lease to the general public.

Arrangements were in train, he said, to rent the ground floor to a well-established firm of caterers who, he believed, intended to provide cafe and restaurant facilities on the most modern lines.

The new building should be ready for occupation in about twelve months.

After the foundation stone had been placed in position His Excellency the Governor said:-

Far-Sighted

“This is the first occasion on which I have laid a foundation stone, and I am very happy that it should be for the Hong Kong Telephone Company who i have always regarded as a very progressive, enterprising and far-sighted institution. I am glad to learn from your address that the Company still remains far-sighted. You believe in the future of Hong Kong and how right you are in that belief. With you I look forward to a big expansion in this Colony of ours on both sides of the harbour, Hong Kong and Kowloon (Applause).

With you also I hope that we shall be able to arrange with the Military Authorities for an exchange of their military lands, so that Whitfield Barracks can be vacated; and in this connection I should like to remark that the present GOC, Major-General Erskine is most sympathetic towards our view. We have at any rate got the mules out, and now let us hope that we will get the rest of the Military establishment out.

“Nathan Road is, I think one of the finest avenues in this Colony, and it is extremely important therefore, that any building that fronts Nathan Road should be of a dignified and worthy design. I am sure that everyone will agree with me that the design that we see exemplified in the model over there will be a great credit to the whole Colony. It will be an example for other builders, and I hope that example will be followed.

“I wish the Hong Kong Telephone Company every success in the future, and as more equipment becomes available there will be more telephones – more and more telephones and we shall have lower and lower rates. (loud laughter)

Silver Trowel

The Governor then thanked Mr. Marsh for the gift of the silver trowel which he said was a lovely memento.

The Director of Public Works, Mr. V. Kenniff, expressed his faith in the future of the Colony. This faith he said, was shared by a good many people, but not every one put it into practical application. He congratulated the Hong Kong Telephone Company on the practical way in which they had demonstrated their faith in the future of Hong Kong by putting up this new building.

A silver trowel was presented to Mr. Kenniff as a memento of the occasion.

Sir Robert Kotewall, a Director of the Telephone Company then presented to the Chairman of the Board, Mr. N.O.C. Marsh, a silver trowel, as a mark of appreciation from his colleagues of the Board for the efforts he said had put in over the Company’s Kowloon extension. ” I hope the new building will be a pride to the whole Colony,” said Sir Robert Kotewall.

Admiration

A silver trowel was also presented to Mr. W.H. Kwan, the architect, whose design of the 12-storey building on a 6,000-ft site, aroused much admiration among the gathering of distinguished guests.

The new building will accommodate the Dairy Farm Company’s catering establishment on the ground floor and basement, and the Telephone Company’s exchange for a maximum of 10,000 lines on the first and second floors. The remaining floors will be for office and residencies.

Among the distinguished guests present were the Hon Mr. R.D. Gillespie, the Hon Mr V. Kenniff, Sir Shouson Chow, Sir Robert Kotewall, and Messrs. F.C. Barry, D.H. Blake, F.C. Clemb, J.H.B. Lee, J. Grenham and many others.(1)

Telephone Exchange Building On Gwulo

Source: Gwulo.com(2)

Hong Kong Telephone Building, Nathan Road, Unknown Source

Hong Kong Telephone Building, with the clock on top Source: Unknown

Sources:

  1. The China Mail 26th March 1948.
  2. Telephone Building – Construction Begins on Gwulo

This article was first posted on 4th July 2021.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Cable & Wireless telephone, cross-harbour cable cut, newspaper article 1949
  2. The Hongkong Telephone Company, 1925 to 1933, Far Eastern Review article
  3. The demise of payphones in the MTR (and elsewhere) – the writing is literally on the wall
  4. Q+A31 Telephone Companies in Hong Kong – information wanted pre ww2
  5. Dairy Farm Company – A timeline
  6. Dairy Farm Company

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