Kowloon Road Names – post ceding to the UK

With the ceding of Kowloon to the British in 1860, under the Convention of Peaking, development of the barren headland begin. What had been an area for boat building and small villages became a city with roads and services. Naming of the roads was a problem.

The initial development on Kowloon was a military camp and by 1864 this became Whitfield Barracks, now the site of Kowloon Park.

Kowloon 1860

Commercial and residential development followed, particularly around the water front areas.  Following the commencement of the Kowloon Canton Railway service on the 1st October, 1910 and the opening of Kowloon Station in 1914 (ref a), Kowloon was the new gate way to China and a key part of Hong Kong.

Canton Road 1890

As can be seen from old maps of the time, the road names were based on roads on Hong Kong Island, this caused some confusion.

Kowloon 1892

As recorded in the 1908 in the Report of the Director of Public Works (ref b);

“The names of various roads and streets have been altered by the Governor in Council in order to avoid the confusion caused by having two roads in the Colony (one on the Island and one in Kowloon) with identical names.”

The Director advised that;

“For the most part names of the Chinese towns have been chosen for the new names in order that they may readily lend themselves to translation into Chinese characters (a source of much difficulty with many of the existing names) and that persons who do not speak Chinese may have less difficulty in describing the road or street to which they may wish to be conveyed.”

Thus, Des Voeux Road became Chatham Road, Robinson Road changed to Nathan Road and Macdonnell Road was Canton Road.

The full list of names is:

Road Names 1908


This article was first posted on 12th April 2015.


  1. Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) A History, Robert J Phillips
  2. 1908 Report of the Director of Public Works, http://sunzi.lib.hku.hk/hkgro/view/a1908/54.pdf

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