The Hongkong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company Ltd ., building residential quarters for over 1,000 coolies and foremen, 1939

HF: IDJ has sent the following newspaper report. I have been unable to find any photographs of the ”coolie settlement” scheme buildings and if anyone finds any would be grateful to be sent them.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped copy of the newspaper article below.

Hongkong And Kowloon Wharf And Godown HK Daily Press

Special To The ”Hongkong Daily Press” 


Building on their property at Canton and Haiphong Roads, Kowloon, is now under way where modern residential quarters for over one thousand coolies and foremen employed by the company will be accommodated.

The ”Coolie Settlement” scheme is based on the types of development adopted recently in Europe in so far as they can be applied to local conditions, and, although the proposed lay-outs departs from the letter of the Hongkong Building Ordinance governing this type of housing, it is apparent that the living conditions are a considerable improvement over those offered by the standard type of Chinese houses.

”Vibrated Concrete”

The plans drawn by the local architects, Palmer and Turner, take the form of a five storey, ”vibrated concrete” building, with an inside open court; this produces excellent light and ventilation from all sides.

Commanding the entrances to the courtyard on one side at ground floor level are a doctor’s consulting room and first aid room to deal with any casualties, while on the other side are placed the watchman’s quarters and building services control room.

The south wing, ground floor comprises separate kitchens for the various gangs, accessible only from a lane off Canton Road through which all raw food will be delivered and refuse removed, thus avoiding the possibility of uncleanliness in the central court. Adjacent to the kitchens are eating rooms, accessible from the court, to which the food is served through hatches. Each  kitchen serves a separate eating room so that segregation of various gangs can be easily effected.

Water Supply

The east wing comprises the showers and bathrooms to deal with the entire population of the building. Hot water is supplied to these from a boiler room, which also supplies steam for cooking purposes.

The north wing, ground floor, contains a dormitory similar to those accommodated in the north, south and west wings in the upper floors of the building. Two dormitories of 84 beds and two of 20 beds are located on each of the four floors.

All dormitories contain bunks in two tiers of special iron construction and spaced at intervals round the external walls with windows between each pair and also space in a single row down the centre. Each coolie will have a steel locker with key.

The dormitory accommodation is based on the cubic space requirements per person of the Sanitation Ordinance, while the window to floor area ratio is considerably in excess of the Building Authority minimum requirements.

Improved Ventilation

Improved ventilation is obtained by air ducts running vertically through the dormitories to the roof where patent ventilators and extract fans are situated.

On each floor adjacent to the dormitories are two self-contained flats for the foremen and their families in charge of each gang. These flats are so laid out that there are no internal cubicles as normally found in Chinese houses, each room having its own window.

Sanitary accommodation is provided on each floor by a group of native closets which being all grouped in one place  are more easily inspected and kept clean. Also numerous drinking fountains are on each floor.

The roof of the building is set aside as a recreation space, half covered and half open.

The engineering and construction work is being carried out by the Hongkong Engineering and Construction Co., who are making use of the new ”vibrated concrete”, which is stronger as it becomes more dense through compacting. The ground floors walls are of reinforced concrete, eleven inches thick and splinter proof.

This is a protection for the inmates during air raids. This construction is designed to carry the weight of the superstructure should it collapse. There is also special air raid lighting equipment throughout the premises.

At the present time the construction plans are two weeks ahead of plan and it is expected that the first section of this building on Canton Road will be completed in October.

Source: The Hongkong Daily Press 28th June 1939.

This article was first posted on 8th June 2024.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. ”Ah Kai”, Hongkong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Co., Ltd’s number one foreman


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *