Wong Kwong – appointed chief draughtsman at W.S.Bailey & Company shipyard 1901

HF: This 1934 obituary of Wong Kwong (1875-1934) was first published in the 1934 Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK.

I have been unable to find an image of Wong Kwong and would be grateful if someone could point me in the direction of one and/or further general information about his time as an employee of Bailey’s shipyard.

WONG KWONG carried out pioneer work in China in the establishment of shipbuilding and bridge-building works.

He was born at Hong Kong in 1875, and received his general education at Queen’s College, Hong Kong, and his technical education privately.

In 1889 he commenced a five years’ apprenticeship at the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company, Hong Kong. He was attached to Lloyd’s Register in Hong Kong as a clerk and draughtsman from 1895 to 1899, when he joined the Shanghai Engineering, Shipbuilding and Docks Company, as a draughtsman.

In 1901 he was appointed chief draughtsman at Messrs. W. S. Bailey and Company’s shipyard at Hong Kong and was responsible for the design and construction both of the hulls and machinery of various vessels, including passenger steamships for the Canton—Hong Kong services, of which the Kwong Chow was the largest passenger steamship constructed in China at that period.

He became general manager of the Yangtse Engineering Works at Hankow on their opening in 1907, and was responsible for the erection of the entire plant for shipbuilding and the production of machinery and structural steel- work; the works included what was then the only bridge-building shop in China. He installed a 100-ton blast furnace in 1916.

Mr. Wong Kwong was in 1930 appointed managing director of the Sui Fung Press Packing Company and was responsible for the installation of their machinery and plant.

His death occurred on 21st September 1931.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1909 and was also a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects. (1)

Stephen Davies sent the following information in May 2019:

Not much on Wong Kwong and no photo. He did indeed work for Bailey’s, and it was one of his designs, the Hanping, built at WSB in 1907-08 for the Hanyang Iron & Steel Works Co. and Hankow (see North China Herald, Jul 25, 1908), that caused his shift of berth, though the company he went to work for was the Hanyang Iron & Steel Works Co. based in Shanghai. When he moved to Hankow I’m not sure, though I can find a return trip by him up and down the Yangzi in early 1907, apparently explained (according to a July 1907 NCH story) by problems with the design and build of the Hanping that required him to make the trip. By Feb 1908 he was certainly in Hankow since he’s noted as travelling there with his wife (the daughter of Mrs F.T. Kong of Canton & HK) and children.

The Yangtse Engineering Works (YEW), which evidently Wong Kwong had a hand in building and starting up, was a part-subsidiary of the Hanyang Iron & Steel Works Co (HISWC). The latter was founded in 1890 and taken over by China Merchants SN Co in 1896. In 1908 the whole works was upgraded with a brand new Siemens-Martin open hearth plant brought from Britain, Germany and the USA and HISWC became part of a conglomerate known as the China Coal and Iron  Trust (or Corporation). Around the same time the plans were in hand for building the YEW.

The HISWC put up half the money for YEW, with local Hankow merchants putting up the other half, the plant being on the opposite bank of the Yangtse to the HISWC and dedicated to the construction of bridges, railway points, crossing and wagons, etc., and intended to be the main consumer of the output of HISWC. It was to become fully operational (according to a story in the NCH of 25.7.1908) by the winter of 1908.

A point of interest is that the NCH reported in June 1908 that the HISWC was getting the order for all the iron rails for at least the Canton to HK section of the KCR. The new YEW was already producing all the rails and other iron work for the Szechuan-Hankow and Hankow-Canton lines.

From what I can work out the HISWC and I think probably the YEW were closed down in the mid-1920s as a result of Sino-Japanese tensions, inter alia, and don’t seem to have been re-opened by 1933. Wong Kwong was still manager in 1919 when there were some riots at the works.

There is also an indication that he had a brother called Wang Chung-yu, also an engineer but in mining (trained at Columbia) – so clearly there are two ways of spelling his name.

SCMP Advert 24th June 1933

SCMP advert
29th June 1933

Source:

  1. Wong Kong, Grace’sGuides

See:

  1. Grace’s Guide – website, Grace’s Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in the UK. The scope is gradually being extended to include non-UK businesses and biographies. Additions are being made to the information daily by a team of volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise

This article was first posted on 24th July 2019.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Bailey’s Shipyard – 1908 Account
  2. W S Bailey of Bailey’s Shipyard, obituary 1936
  3. E O Murphy, co-founder of Bailey’s Shipyard
  4. Bailey’s Shipyard – adverts
  5. Bailey’s Shipyard during the Occupation 1942-1945
  6. Chinese Airline buys Bailey’s Shipyard – a hotbed of political strife 1949-1955

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