We were able to obtain permission from Form Asia the publisher and rights holder to some rare photos of the Cathedral and Hong Kong and are please to present them for your viewing. The commentary is from Stephen Vines, the author of The Story of St John’s Cathedral. Both the photos and commentaries are used with permission.
“This early 1870s photograph of the Cathedral shows the original structure with the barren treeless Peak clearly visible beyond. In the foreground lies Murray parade ground attached to the barracks of the same name. To the right stand the offices of Heard & Co., an American trading firm which failed in the 1870s. The building later housed both the French and Russian diplomatic posts. In 1915 it was sold to the French Mission Etrangères and now houses the Court of Final Appeal.” [Stephen Vines, The Story of St John’s Cathedral, Form Asia, Hong Kong 2001, pp 38-39.]
“St John’s distinctive bell tower once rose against the treeless backdrop of the Peak. Today the city surrounds it. This 1880s picture captures a view of the Cathedral with the French Mission building, whose shutters and arches provide a distinctly colonial atmosphere. Battery Path runs along the north side of the Cathedral grounds.” [Stephen Vines, The Story of St John’s Cathedral, Form Asia, Hong Kong 2001, pp 42 – 43.]
“The Cathedral in 1906, with the Supreme Court under construction beyond the Tower, as seen from further up Government Hill after completion of the Church’s East Wing in 1873. Murray Building (unfinished) is visible on the right, and the harbour filled with shipping, reflecting the rapid growth of a colony then enjoying trading links stretching around the world.” [Stephen Vines, The Story of St John’s Cathedral, Form Asia, Hong Kong 2001, pp 40 – 41.]
“By the mid-1950s the Cathedral was already surrounded by the growing density of construction in the Central area. The Bank of China, centre, completed in 1950, is seen shortly after the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949. Adjacent to it, left, stands the 1935 building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC), the third of four buildings erected on the same site.” [Stephen Vines, The Story of St John’s Cathedral, Form Asia, Hong Kong 2001, pp 46 – 47.]