Noonday Gun

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This article is about the time gun in Hong Kong. For the time gun in South Africa, see Noon Gun.
Firing of the Noonday Gun
The Noonday Gun (on platform), with the Police Officers' Club in the background

The Noonday Gun (Chinese: 午炮) is a former naval artillery piece mounted on a small enclosed site near the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. Owned and operated by Jardine Matheson, the gun is fired every day at noon and has become a tourist attraction. [1]

Origin[edit]

Now part of Causeway Bay, the location on which the Noonday Gun is located was known as East Point. East Point was the first plot of land in Hong Kong to be sold by the colonial government by public auction in 1841, and was purchased by Jardine Matheson.[2] Due to a change in geographical profile caused by later land reclamation, the name East Point is now disused.

The tradition originated over an incident in the 1860s. Jardines' main godowns and offices were located at East Point, and its private militia would fire a gun salute to welcome a Jardine tai-pan's arrival by sea. On one occasion, a senior British naval officer became annoyed by this practice because he was new to Hong Kong and did not know of such a tradition.[2] This was because such a salute was normally reserved for government officials and senior officers of the armed services. As a result, Jardines was ordered, as a penalty, to fire a gun every day at noon, in perpetuity.[3]

In 1941, during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the Japanese Imperial Army dismantled the gun and it was lost. After British forces regained Hong Kong in 1945, the Royal Navy provided Jardines with a new six-pound gun with which to continue the tradition of the noonday gun. On 1 July 1947, the Noonday gun was back in operation.[4] Following complaints that the gun was too loud, in 1961 the marine police replaced the six-pound gun with a Hotchkiss three-pounder that saw action in the Battle of Jutland during the First World War.[2]

Tourist attraction[edit]

References are made to Jardines on the gun's descriptory plaque

Although British rule ended in Hong Kong in 1997, the tradition of the noonday gun is continued by Jardines. A small crowd usually gathers for this daily event. Other than noon, the gun is also fired by a Jardines official at midnight every New Year's Day to celebrate the new year.[5] At the daily firing event, a Jardines' guard marches up to the site in uniform. The guard rings a bell to signal the end of the fore-noon watch, a practice which dates from the time when Jardines' main offices and warehouses were located at East Point. Then, the guard marches up to the Noonday Gun and fires it.,[2] after which he rings the bell again, locks the chain blocking access to the gun and goes off. It is accessed from a tunnel passing under Gloucester Road from the basement car park in The Excelsior hotel, which is operated by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, a Jardines subsidiary.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The firing of the gun was famously mentioned in Noël Coward's humorous song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen".[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Noon Day Gun". Discover Hong Kong. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e The Legend of the Jardines Noonday Gun. Hong Kong: Jardines. 2010. 
  3. ^ Michael Ingham; Mike Ingham (17 May 2007). Hong Kong: a cultural history. Oxford University Press US. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-0-19-531496-0. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Andrew Stone; Chung Wah Chow; Reggie Ho (15 January 2008). Hong Kong and Macau. Lonely Planet. pp. 73–. ISBN 978-1-74104-665-6. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Midnight Gun Heralds New Year", Thistle (Hong Kong: Jardine Matheson Ltd.) (2011 vol. 1) 

External links[edit]

Noonday gun at I Love CWB Coordinates: 22°16′57″N 114°11′02″E / 22.28258°N 114.18390°E / 22.28258; 114.18390