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Hong Kong - Fragrant Harbour

Discover a Hong Kong before the tide of modernity swept all before it, a land of striking contrasts where old and new, European and Chinese shared a crowded island.

Hong Kong before the skyscraper: it's barely possible to imagine today. But this collection of films shows island life before the steel-and-glass towers and the elevated expressways, when Hong Kong and the neighbouring New Territories were still parts of a rugged but rapidly developing outpost of the British Empire.

Visit the genteel colonial centre, including the long-gone Hong Kong Club; explore the waterfront streets around Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, before the major land reclamations of the 60s and 70s pushed them inland. A few select landmarks in the footage can still be seen today, notably Aberdeen Bay, the Peak Tram and Victoria Harbour. But what these films preserve is a largely lost Hong Kong, a city whose recent past is vanishing and whose ever-shifting landscape is fading from recognition.

The films are rich in contrasts. Traditional Duanwu Festival dragon-boat racing share the waters with Royal Navy warships enjoying the interwar calm. While peasant farmers bend their backs in the New Territories paddy fields, expat Brits tour the colony in motorcars. As today's Hong Kong faces yet more uncertainty and change, these films highlight a very different time on the crowded island where East met West.

"Glimpses of Chinese life, wherein ancient and modern mingle."

intertitle from Hong Kong - East Meets West

triangle triangle
Hong Kong - Fragrant Harbour

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Hong Kong East Meets West 1940

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View Dragon Boat Racing Hong Kong c.1937
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Coronation Hong Kong 1937 1937

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View Rice Cultivation New Territories 1938/9
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Rice Cultivation New Territories 1938/9 1938

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View Typhoon Hong Kong September 1937
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View Hong Kong Happenings
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View A Drive Round the Island of Hong Kong
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A Drive Round the Island of Hong Kong 1935

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View Coronation Day - Hong Kong 12 May 1937
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Coronation Day - Hong Kong 12 May 1937 1938

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View The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936
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The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936 1938

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View Around the New Territories - Hong Kong
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Around the New Territories - Hong Kong 1938

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View Scenes in 1920s Hong Kong
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Scenes in 1920s Hong Kong 1929

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View Trip to Guandong aboard the Lion steamer with friends
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View Cine Snapshots - 1938
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View Outward Bound through the Suez Canal and on to Shanghai
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Outward Bound through the Suez Canal and on to Shanghai 1938

Travel in luxury on the 'slow boat to China' in this remarkable film from 1938, passing through the Suez Canal to Hong Kong, Shanghai and beyond.

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