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‘Hitch a Ride on Water’: Artwork Image Captions

As if in an endless game of musical chairs, successive buildings ringing Statue Square have one by one succumbed to the vicissitudes of time, changing fortunes and altered expectations. In this view of the early 60s only the Supreme Court (1912) and the Bank of China (1953) survive. The Hongkong Bank was replaced in 1986. The Queen’s Building was dethroned in the late 60s, to be succeeded by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 1963. The low-rise arched and colonnaded St George’s Building was ousted in favour of an austere high-rise bearing the same name, and next to it, King’s Building would be trumped in 2000 and replaced by a reflective glass and steel tower of thirty-three floors in 2003.
A mid 1950s view of the Peak tramline as it emerges from under the Kennedy Road bridge. As the tram made its halting progress up the side of the mountain, the views back to the city and harbour were superb. Homesteads in the Mid-Levels had increased dramatically and the city centre was dominated by the two Art-deco buildings of the Hongkong Bank and the Bank of China.
The photo marks the great segas of Hong Kong’s glorious maritime age. The wide variety of shipping using the large graving Taikoo Dockyard (1907-1978) is represented here by river ferries and traders, ocean-going cargo steamers and liners (passenger/cargo ship). The slipways also served to repair HMS Tamar (bottom right) while traditional junks hovering in the background, sought their maintenance.
With full-blown sails, seemingly as translucent as silk, crews of a glorious seagoing heritage, would gaze in wonder at the vision of ‘tomorrow’ as they tacked the harbour’s waterfront then dominated by the towering edifices of Jardine House and Exchange Square.
The Britannia whisked away Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten (1944-) and the officials in 1997, who were in the city to mark the end of its British colonial rule. They bid farewell to Hong Kong citizens, boarding the Britannia at Tamar just after midnight on July 1. While the Britannia silently steamed out the Victoria Harbour, Patten transmitted his final communique to London: ‘I have relinquished the administration of this government. God Save The Queen.’
The Clock Tower is situated at the southern shore of Tsim Sha Tsui right next to Victoria Harbour and is one the few reminders of the colonical times of Hong Kong in this area. One had only to take a few paces from the Star Ferry terminus to board a train or an ocean liner during the 1940s.
Hong Kong’s floating population, some of whose boats were literally permanently anchored, ‘locked-in’ and tethered into steadfast neighbourhoods evolved into a world of camaraderie and good neighbourliness. In those times traversing their communities entailed stepping the deck from one boat to another.
Nautical Contrasts: In October 1961, the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious made a delayed entrance into Victoria Harbour, forming a contrast in time and size with a Chinese junk and a commuter ferry. The carrier had left Singapore three months earlier bound for Hong Kong but was diverted to the Persian Gulf as a result of the Kuwait crisis.
The phenomenal progress of the territory in the 1970s caused the demise of numerous historic buildings, both public and private. Prominent among them was the Kowloon-Canton railway terminus adjacent to the Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. The landmark was demolished in 1976.

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Some of the original right-holders in the Frank Fischbeck Collection cannot be identified or their whereabouts remain unknown. If you are a right-holder of specific photographs presented in this exhibition and have concern about permissions, please email [email protected].

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