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    The book you are holding contains secrets and stories about Hong Kong that have never before been published. Prepare to have your preconceived notions of this bustling Asian financial hub butchered as you journey through crevices, enter hidden portals, clamber over barbed-wire fences, evade security guards and infiltrate derelict structures to travel back in time. Your hosts are an anonymous grassroots squad of explorers who will show you a side of Hong Kong only a specialist minority know about.

    Although the city has some of the most expensive property on the planet, an unknown world awaits beyond the shimmering skyscrapers and under the glitzy malls. This is the hidden kingdom of non-spaces: environments and structures that lie fallow, usually abandoned and left to rot, or suspended in limbo awaiting evictions and demolition. The HK Urbex crew – a covert collective of urban explorers whose exploits merge archaeology, ethnography, historiography and anthropology – unearth dead zones on the periphery of the city. They invite you to explore haunted schools, rummage through old crime scenes, reconnoitre condemned buildings and uncover the scraps of modernisation which won’t be recorded in history books.

    So come inside, confront the aesthetic of loss, discover the value of dead architecture and see Hong Kong as you’ve never seen it before.

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    The story of Hong Kong is one of almost constant change. From a sleepy fishing community, Hong Kong – now a Special Administrative Region following its return from Britain to China in July 1997 – has grown into one of the most significant financial and trading centres of the world.

    Hong Kong Island itself has witnessed massive rebuilding over the years, with the result that much of the colonial-era architecture has been swept away and replaced by skyscrapers. Moreover the first high-rise buildings constructed from the late 1950s onwards are now themselves under threat as the constant requirement for more accommodation – both for people and for businesses – continues.

    The Kowloon peninsula and the New Territories have also experienced development, whilst the construction of the new airport saw the destruction of an entire island to create the foundations of the new facility. The pressure for land has seen reclamation schemes extend the coastline of Hong Kong Island far to the north.

    Over the years photographers have recorded the changing face of Hong Kong: its street scenes, buildings and people. This new book – drawing upon images from a wide range of sources, many of which are previously unpublished – is a pictorial tribute to this lost Hong Kong. Once familiar but now long-gone scenes are recorded, offering a tantalising glimpse back at an era which in chronological terms may be relatively recent, but given the rapidity of change, seems like a distant age.

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    In war, you can pretend to be someone you’re not. Yet, in war, people find out who you really are.

    Hong Kong, 1941. Anglo-Australian civil servant Dominic Sotherly’s colonial sojourn in Hong Kong becomes complicated by his double life in both war and love. Enigmatic Englishwoman Gwen Harmison possesses secrets of her own – plus an unrelenting desire for liberty. Inscrutable Eurasian Chester Drake is but one of Gwen’s secrets.

    From gaiety at the Peninsula Hotel to persecution both inside and outside of internment, the story journeys from war-ravaged Hong Kong to war-weary China.

    From real history, meet the one-legged Chinese admiral who led Hong Kong’s daring ‘Great Escape’ and the Japanese Christian soldier who risked his life for the enemy. And, uniquely during the occupation of Hong Kong, discover how one Englishwoman made history in her defiance of Imperial Japan.

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    18 true stories of those who went...

    For the privileged a cosmopolitan pleasure ground; for the desperate a port of last resort.

    A pot of gold at the end of an Oriental rainbow; a thick slice of hell denounced from the pulpit.

    The start of a journey for many; the end of the road for some.

    A place to find fame, or to seek anonymity; rogues, chancers, showgirls, criminals…

    For so many people from so many lands, there was one phrase that sent a tingle of hope or a shiver of anticipation down every spine:

    “DESTINATION SHANGHAI”

    Look inside this book
    Click on the following links to read pages from Destination Shanghai. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Contents and Introduction 

    Shanghai’s Most Charming Gangster: Elly ‘The Swiss’ Widler (1940)