Hong Kong in the 1860s

An enquiry from a student at the Ecole de Louvre, Paris, meant that I needed to locate a photograph album in our collections. Fortunately much of our photographic collection is listed and available on our online Library catalogue. I brought up the album from the strong room to aid my reply and discovered…

Government House

This is of Government House, Hong Kong, just one of 46 photographs in this collection of Hong Kong and Macau pictures. They are attributed to William Pryor Floyd. He was a British photographer who worked first as an assistant in China, before setting up his own studios in Macau and then Hong Kong. Here is his studio on Queen’s Road, Hong Kong:

 The collection dates from around the 1860s and they are albumen prints – the first commercially exploited technique in which albumen from egg-whites was used to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper. Invented in 1850, it was used extensively until the turn of the twentieth century.
Though some of the photographs show signs of deterioration, they give a fantastic insight into Hong Kong at the period. I therefore thought that others, beyond my initial enquirer, might be interested to see some of them. Therefore the rest of this blog is given to these amazing images:

Canton River

Flower Show, Singapore

Queen Street, Hong Kong

Aberdeen Docks, Hong Kong

St John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong

Public Gardens – Hong Kong

Castle Douglas, Hong Kong

Cemetery, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

I haven’t been able to find out how the RAS acquired these pictures – at present they are of ‘unknown provenance’. Here’s hoping that as more of the archive is sorted, some of their story comes to light.