— Hongkong Tramways ~ 1948-1974

In 1947 he saw an ad in the SCMP (South China Morning Post) for European inspectors for HK Tramways so applied and got the job. He started work on January 15, 1948.

This photo would have been taken two months after he started work and I must say he looked very dashing in it 🙂

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When my father joined Tramways in 1948, the General Manager was W F Simmons, who had been interred at Stanley by the Japanese during the Occupation.

When the Colony was liberated, only 15 of the 109 trams were operating and only 30 cars could move, the others needing maintenance to get on the road; plus the tracks needed fixing as did the overhead wires.

The Royal Navy offered its services to help fix the electric supply and Tramways accepted gratefully. Artificers from HMS Montclare were despatched to get the electric supply up and running and also to help to overhaul the equipment on some of the trams.  One of the men – Mr A E Jones – stayed with Tramways and became Chief Engineer before he retired in 1966.

Mr C S Johnston came to Hong Kong in 1948 to take up position as Chief Engineer and Assistant Manager.  He took over as Manager in 1950 and guided the company for 11 years. I know my father was sorry to see him leave as he had a lot of admiration for Mr Johnston; John Salmon took the reins in 1961 and he was still there when dad retired in 1974.

A funny little story involving John Salmon – when we were on leave in the States in 1961, we were at the Grand Canyon and there were other tourists there from South Africa.  When they heard we were from Hong Kong, one of the guys asked if we knew someone called John Salmon!  Small world, eh?  😀

Photos of my parents at the Tramways Christmas Party in 1949 …

Since he was working from the head office in Happy Valley, my parents decided it was time to move to Hong Kong in 1950.

Balia stayed at 23 Cameron Road and we moved to a 3 bedroom flat in Happy Valley at 45 Morrison Hill Road.


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The red pins show where 45 Morrison Hill Road was and the blue pin, on the right hand photo, shows the Police Club, across the road 🙂

The map below – although older than the photos – shows all the relevant spots to give you a better idea of the area we lived in, and where my father’s office was. Red pin is our house, blue for the PRC and green shows where dad’s office was. Pretty close to home, eh wot?


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When he was an inspector, dad told me a story about how he was standing at a tram stop one day and a Chinese guy sitting in the first class (top) section of the tram hoiked a big oyster of phlegm from deep within his throat and it landed on dad’s head! Eeeuuuwwwwww!!! 😛

He almost had a heart attack when he felt it splatter on his head so rushed immediately to a barber’s shop to get his hair washed 😀

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In 1951 Tramways had an opening for an Assistant Traffic Superintendent, a job for which he applied and got. That meant that now he was on staff and not only did he get allowances for the house, car and other benefits, he and his family also got paid leave every four years.






I don’t know where his first office was – probably in the main depot building, but when he was Welfare Manager, I remember his office was in the building on Canal Street East. Not the most elegant of buildings in a not-so-salubrious street but, hey, close to home 😀


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The arrow shows the building and you can see the market stalls along the street. The company doctor, Dr Peter Lee, was in the same building so if we were ill, we’d visit him there too.

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In 1954 there were a couple of strikes which hit Tramways. On August 30 the workers staged a 4 hour strike then on October 10 (Double Ten – the National Chinese holiday) the workers went on a 24-hour strike 😮

October 10, 1954 – strikers outside the Sharp Street Depot (Click to enlarge)


However when dad became Traffic Manager, he moved to the offices which were in the Tramways Depot.




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1949-1974 Hong Kong Tramways

Photos of dad in HK Tramways - social parties, photos of the depot and Canal Road East office, trams, and whatever else I could find :)










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