Pedder Street in 2015
Pedder Street in the 1870s
Pedder Street is a major thoroughfare in the core of Hong Kong's Central District. It runs south-north from Queen's Road Central, continues through Des Voeux Road Central, and ends at its intersection with Connaught Road Central.
The street was named after Lieutenant William Pedder, first lieutenant of the Nemesis, Britain's first ocean-going iron warship, and the first harbour master of Hong Kong. Pedder Street was established as the centre of Victoria City's commerce in the early colonial days.
The premises of Hong Kong's two most powerful trading hongs at the time, Dent & Co. and Jardine, Matheson & Co., were located on The Praya Central, Victoria City's original waterfront, on the opposite sides of Pedder Street. Dent & Co., one of the key founding members of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, had a huge sprawling complex which stretched along the Praya, and a west wing which abutted Pedder street. Dent's suffered financial collapse in 1866 and its demise shook the commercial world throughout the Far East.
Originally, Pedder Street ran from Pedder's Hill, where the Harbour Master's Office was established, south to north ending at Pedder's Wharf on the Praya. The street was extended north by 1904 when the Praya Reclamation Scheme finished transforming the old Praya into the modern day Des Voeux Road, along with a stretch of land north to it up to Connaught Road on which the General Post Office and Union Building were built.
Pedder Wharf (1841–1890)
Served as the official wharf of the colonial establishment from 1841 to 1890s.
In February 1886, the first pile of the new Pedder's Wharf was driven in 38 feet (12 m) from the praya wall. "Three similar piles have been towed over from Tsim Sha Tsui and are ready to be put in place". The new wharf, located at the junction of Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road, extended 195 feet (59 m) out from the praya wall, and was 40 feet (12 m) wide. Six sets of steps lead down to the water.
Pedder Wharf became land locked after the big reclamation scheme of 1890–1904, and was replaced by Blake Pier.
Dent & Co offices
Dent & Co. went into financial distress in 1866 and sold half of its land on Pedder Street to the newly established Hongkong Hotel Company. The hotel was duly built, and became Hong Kong's first deluxe hotel. The remaining part of the west wing was let out to other trading firms.
Hong Kong Hotel (1866–1926)
The Hong Kong Hotel was Hong Kong's first deluxe hotel when it opened in 1866. In 1951, the hotel was closed down, and the building was bought up by a local Chinese investment group for office use. In 1957, the building was redeveloped into the present Central Building,. Previous to the Hotel, the west wing of Dent & Co.'s "princely" headquarters was located. This section of the former Hotel was redeveloped into The Landmark in 1979.
Clock Tower (1862–1913)
In 1862, at the southern end of the street where it meets Queen's Road, the Pedder Street Clock Tower was completed and was the landmark of Central until it was demolished. It chimed for the first time at midnight on 31 December 1862.
The 80 feet (24 m) tall clock tower with a lighted dial, designed by a Mr. Rawlings, was to be funded by subscriptions, but the lack of public response meant that many of the more elaborate decorative features were jettisoned. In the end, a donation was secured from Scotsman Douglas Lapraik, one of the most successful Tai-pans who founded the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company, precursor of Hutchison Whampoa.
GPO II (1846–1911), GPO III (1911–1976), Supreme Court (1846–1912)
In its heyday, Dent also occupied the south-western corner of Pedder Street (and Queen's Road), where it had established a "Tea Exchange". In 1846, it was transformed into the Treasury (庫務署), Supreme Court and General Post Office. This land was auctioned in 1921, when it achieved a price of HK$50 per square foot. The resulting China Building (華人行) was completed in 1924.
Further reclamations had taken place in the meantime (ca.1900). The General Post Office was relocated in 1911 to new premises on the newly reclaimed (northern) section of Pedder Street where the wharf once was. It was a typical Edwardian municipal construction of granite and red brick, was situated there until 1976; the Supreme Court was relocated in January 1912 to a new building constructed on reclaimed land, where it remained until 1985. As at 2009, that building is still standing, being used as the Legislative Council Building.
Pedder Building (since 1924)
Pedder Building occupied the site next to the China Building since 1924. The basement suite of the building was occupied for most of the post-war period by the auctioneering firm Lammert Bros. which had been operating in Hong Kong since 1855. The basement was occupied by Shanghai Tang's flagship store until October 2011. The basement and the first 3 stories are now operated as the Hong Kong flagship store of Abercrombie & Fitch, an American clothing retailer, since August 2012.
Jardine House (1841 – 1976)
The Wheelock House stands today on the site which once stood three previous generations of Jardine House, the headquarters for Jardine, Matheson & Co. The first Jardine House was probably built around 1841 after Jardine's successful bid for its lots on The Praya Central. In 1908, the second Jardine House was built. It was rebuilt in around 1956, and reborn in the early 1970s as Wheelock House.
- Welsh, Frank (1997). A History of Hong Kong. Great Britain: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 133.
- Dent & Co. and Jardine, Matheson & Co. were portrayed arch rivals at the time. Welsh, Frank (1997). A History of Hong Kong. Great Britain: Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 55–56.
- Collis, Maurice (1965). Wayfoong. Great Britain: Faber and Faber Limited. pp. 21–25.
- Welsh, Frank (1997). A History of Hong Kong. Great Britain: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 235.
- Reclamation work was initiated by Sir C.P. Chater in 1890.Ting, Joseph S.P.; Wong Nai-kwan (September 1994). City of Victoria. Hong Kong: Urban Council of Hong Kong. p. 31. ISBN 962-7039-31-4.
- Eric Cavaliero, Pedder Street was where it all happened, The Standard, 13 August 1998
- Feature: Buildings for Pedder Street since colonialisation，Sing Pao，29 October 2005 (Chinese)
- Trevor Bedford, Hong Kong Land, reported in "Meeting heritage challenge", South China Morning Post, 30 November 1978
- The Hongkong Hotel Company later became The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, owner of The Peninsula Hotels chain.
- Moss, Peter (2002). Hong Kong – Another City Another Age. Hong Kong: FormAsia Books Limited. p. 63. ISBN 962-7283-46-0.
- Picturesque Hong Kong: a handbook for travellers. Hong Kong: Tillotson & Sons. 1911.
- The Clock Tower, Hong Kong Illustrations of China and Its People, John Thomson 1837–1921, (London,1873–1874)
- The current headquarters of Wheelock and Company Limited, controlling shareholder of The Wharf (Holdings) Limited, a major conglomerate in Hong Kong.
- Ting, Joseph S.P.; Wong Nai-kwan (September 1994). City of Victoria. Hong Kong: Urban Council of Hong Kong. pp. 13, 29. ISBN 962-7039-31-4.
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