New year … new platform: introducing www.hpcbristol.net

hpcbristolToday marks the launch of a new platform for ‘Historical Photographs of China’, complete with a new address, www.hpcbristol.net, an additional 1,400 images from 9 new collections, and another 4 starting to be brought online. After ten years of the current platform we felt that it was time for a change. We could not remain more grateful to our colleagues Professor Christian Henriot, and Dr Gérald Foliot, who have provided support and server space since the project launched in 2006. We concluded, however, a couple of years ago, that long-term sustainability of the archive (currently three times as large as the collections available online), meant that we should develop a repository hosted at Bristol. The new platform also allows us to streamline the process in a way that cuts out one stage in the technical processing of images and metadata. This will, we hope, allow us to release more of our backlog of digitised collections through the site.

Keeping it simple remains the motto. Our only obvious new additional function is a ‘Lucky Dip’ page, providing a random sampling from the collections. You really will never know quite what you might chance on there. Certainly, regular visitors may notice our new collections, including a large and diverse selection of photographs from Shanghai-based news photographer Malcolm Rosholt, the family photographs of Sikh life and work in Shanghai in the Ranjit Singh Sangha collection, and some of Felice Beato’s photographs of the bloody 1860 North China Campaign. Mao Zedong, Rabindranath Tagore, the Tenth Panchen Lama, General Sir Robert Napier, Father Jacquinot, Kong Lingyi (a 76th generation lineal descendant of Confucius), and sometime North China Daily News editor R.W. Little join the cast of personalities. The new images range from 1860 (with some earlier ones on their way soon), to 1949 (with some later ones on their way in the not too distant future). A less obvious new feature is a ‘Related Photographs’ link that provides thumbnails of photographs obviously linked to the one displayed. We cannot say that coverage through this is comprehensive, but we are linking photographs where we can (where, for example, they might be split across albums, media (negatives and prints for example), or even collections.

So please update your bookmarks, and do please tell us what you think — you can email us at hums-chinaphotos@bristol.ac.uk — we are always interested to hear how you use the site.

Developing the platform has been supported by awards from the British Academy, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, and Swire Trust, and with vital support from the University of Bristol’s IT Services. We are grateful to its Director Darrell Sturley, Deputy-Director Rachel Bence, and to our colleagues who have co-ordinated or who have built the new platform: Dr Simon Price, Pete Boere, Mike Jones, Paul Smith, Virginia Knight, Tessa Alexander, Damian Steer. As well as their technical expertise, our colleagues have also brought a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment to the initiative. And of course we remain grateful to the scores of families who have contacted us and offered collections.

Next up: an overhaul for http://visualisingchina.net/. This platform, unveiled five years ago now, with funding from JISC, searches across different repositories, but the underlying technology is creaking. This will be rebuilt using the same system that has powered the new Historical Photographs of China.

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Introducing the Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection

Sangha family group, with amah, 29 November 1936. Photograph by Cardon, Shanghai, 29 November 1939, Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s20.

Sangha family group, with amah, 29 November 1936. Photograph by Cardon, Shanghai, 29 November 1939, Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s20.

This small but evocative new collection was sent to us by Jaskaran Sangha, whose grandfather, Kartar Singh lived in Shanghai from 1920 to 1960, where he worked for the Chinese Maritime Custom Service. The set of 47 photographs includes portraits of the Singha family, and servants, Singh and his colleagues in the Customs, friends in the Shanghai Municipal Police, and community events, such as a gathering to mark the visit to the city of Rabindranath Tagore in 1924.

Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali polymath and poet on a visit to Shanghai, 1920s.  Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s42.

Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali polymath and poet on a visit to Shanghai, 1920s. Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s42.

Unusually, Kartar Singh did not leave China in the immediate aftermath of the Communist takeover. He continued working for the Customs until 1 November 1952, and then stayed on until 1960. Singh owned property in the city, but the new authorities made it difficult for him to collect rent or sell it. The new courts did not support his efforts to secure redress. He had lived in Shanghai for four decades since he was 21 years old, but finally he decided to leave in 1960, with one of the last groups of Indian residents who left the city. The collection is named for Kartar Singh’s son, Ranjit Singh Sangha, who was born in Shanghai’s French Concession in 1932.

Nachhattar Kaur Sangha, with two other women - a rare photograph of Sikh women in Shanghai.  Photograph by Cardon, Shanghai, 1930s. Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s36.

Nachhattar Kaur Sangha, with two other women – a rare photograph of Sikh women in Shanghai. Photograph by Cardon, Shanghai, 1930s. Ranjit Singh Sangha Collection, Jn-s36.

The photographs give a rare flavour of family and community life amongst Sikhs in Shanghai. The usual image of the masculine world of Sikh work in China is tempered here by photographs of Sikh women. There are also shots of a visitor from Kartar Singh’s home district, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala; of Indian nationalist leader, Subhas Chandra Bose; and of a family friend, Bishan Singh, who joined Bose’s Indian National Army and who fought the British Army in Burma during WW II. Singh was caught and imprisoned in Singapore till India attained independence in 1947.

We are pleased to be able to add to our collection these windows on to a different history of Shanghai. To learn more about the story you can explore Meena Vathyam’s Sikhs in Shanghai blog and Facebook page.

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Introducing the Malcolm Rosholt Collection

Malcolm Rosholt working at The China Press, summer 1940

Malcolm Rosholt working at The China Press, summer 1940, Rosholt Collection, Ro-s001.

Today we are able to unveil a significant new addition to our collections that is now available for viewing: the photographs of Malcolm Rosholt. Born in Wisconsin in 1907, Malcolm Rosholt arrived in China in 1931 with the intention of undertaking graduate work at Yenching University in Beijing. Instead he parlayed some journalistic experience into what became a seven-year stint as a staff writer on the American-run China Press newspaper in Shanghai. He returned for a few months in late 1940, and in October 1944 arrived in Kunming assigned to work with the US Fourteenth Air Force. The majority of the 1,086 photographs date from his earlier stint, and in particular from the August-November 1937 conflict where, as Rosholt later put it, ‘I covered the battlefronts and press conferences and took a stack of pictures with the Leica, some of which were used in the China Press and others I sold to the Associated Press and New York Times.’

The original prints and negatives were given by Rosholt’s daughter Mei-fei Elrick to Tess Johnston, and then shared with us. As well as their interest as a historic record, the collection is also interesting as the archive of a working press photographer. Many of the negatives are marked up, with croppings indicated to strengthen the image. And we have variant shots, showing the journalist at work behind the camera. For example, how might this shot be made more powerful?

Woman and children in temporary shelter, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0384.

Woman and children in temporary shelter, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0384.

Answer: in the next frame, remove the smiling child.

Women and children in temporary shelter, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0385.

Women and children in temporary shelter, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0385.

And how might a Sikh watching the fires of Pudong be best framed? Horizontally? (There are three versions of this photograph).

Sikh man looking over Huangpu towards fires in Pudong, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0382.

Sikh man looking over Huangpu towards fires in Pudong, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0382.

Or vertically? I think vertically (and this might better have suited some print layouts).

Sikh man looking over Whangpoo towards fires in Pudong, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0344.

Sikh man looking over Huangpu towards fires in Pudong, Shanghai, Rosholt Collection, Ro-n0344.

Rosholt’s stint in US air force intelligence provides a few photographs here, but most cover the bloody months in 1937 when Chiang Kai-shek took a gamble, and threw his best-trained forces into a confrontation with the Japanese in full view of the world’s press. China won the moral victory, helped not a little by the work of photographers like Rosholt, but Chiang’s forces were shattered on the city’s battlefields.

Rosholt wrote about his life in a memoir, Rainbow Around the Moon (lgpress, 2004). Amongst other books, he returned to China with Days of the ching pao: A photographic record of the Flying Tigers-14th Air Force in China in World War II (1986), and The Press Corps of Old Shanghai (1994).

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Found object

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 13.49.34Some of the photographs and negatives we are presented with are beyond salvage, but it can be worth persevering. The following episode has no China connection, but perhaps indicates what might be done with any seemingly hopeless case. It is also an example of what might be done with a found object. A favourite shop of mine sits on West Allington on the western edge of Bridport town centre in Dorset. D. Palmer, trading online as ‘Film Is Fine’, is stuffed with old film and photographs, cameras and projectors, postcards and associated ephemera. It’s a wonderful shop.

On a bright summer’s day earlier this year I noted a glass 3 x 4 glass negative in the window. For £1 ‘(as found)’ it provided a tempting technical challenge.

IMG_4871

When taken from the plastic wallet the emulsion film on the surface of the glass mount immediately rolled itself up.

Here it is side on:

IMG_4870

We nudged it back open and flat, and placed a glass plate over it. Then using a lightbox we photographed the negative, and then reversed it to positive. And this below is what we found (without any further photoshopping). It’s an atmospheric topographical composition, taken on a sunny late morning on Westminister Bridge. The shop had provided a ‘probable’ attribution to John Stabb, as it came with a bundle of other work by him. Stabb was apparently very active in the 1880s and 1890s working for the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, although he is best known for his record of old Devon churches.

Atr. John Stabb, Westminster Bridge and Palace of Westminster

Atr. John Stabb, Westminster Bridge and Palace of Westminster

The view seems just about contemporary with this one below, but I think Stabb’s is rather more striking.

westminsterbridge

From George Birch, The Descriptive Album of London, c.1896, via VictorianLondon.org

A similar shot today, taken from just a little further along the bridge, and later in the day:

The moral of the story: don’t give up hope. And always take a gamble on ‘as found’.

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Spotted: James Hudson Taylor

Ca01-007

Children and staff, Chefoo Girls’ School. Carrall Family Collection, Ca01-007 © 2008 Queen’s University Belfast

A correspondent recently wrote to us, correcting a date and identifying in a photograph  two of the China missionary enterprise’s most notable figures. This photograph, above, showing staff and pupils of the Chefoo Girls School includes, we now know, James Hudson Taylor (Director General of the China Inland Mission, CIM) and his wife Jennie Hudson Taylor, both in Chinese dress, sitting in the centre.

We had not noticed them, and we had also dated the photograph to 1893, following the date given in the original album. But our correspondent points out that ‘Taylor was out of China for nearly two years from May 1892 to April 1894 (he toured Canada, returned to Britain and then travelled back to China via the United States)’.  However, Taylor and his wife did visit Chefoo (properly Yantai: 烟台in September 1891, saw the Mission’s schools there, and Jenny Taylor wrote about the visit in a report published in the CIM’s magazine China’s Millions. Taylor visited Chefoo again in September 1894, but on that occasion he travelled on his own.  The older woman on the left of Jennie Taylor in the photograph, our correspondent tells us, is probably Louisa Hibberd who arrived in China in 1885, and who in 1891 was principal of the girls school.

So, as well as adding to our stock of knowledge about this group portrait, we are also reminded that those compiling albums were sometimes themselves unsure about dates, places, people and events. Most of the photographs in this album date from 1896 or later, so that fact suggests that the compiler was making a slightly incorrect guess when the photograph was taken. (And it may have been retained and then pasted in at a later date precisely because it marked the visit of the Taylors). And such informed guessing is at times what we have to do ourselves when we add metadata to images. A very large number of our photographs have little accompanying information, and many of them none at all. We might know that the original owner was in such and such a place in this period, for example, and of course we can now recognise many familiar places or buildings, or people, although not, it turns out, James Hudson Taylor.

(My thanks to our correspondent, whose message I have, with permission, freely adapted here).

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David Bellis on Warren Swire’s third visit to Hong Kong, 1919-1920

David Bellis runs Gwulo.com, an online community for anyone interested in Hong Kong’s history. It hosts over 20,000 pages of information, including over 10,000 photographs. This is his third exploration of Warren Swire’s photographs of his periodic visits to Hong Kong. You can follow these links to catch up with the first and the second.

Warren Swire’s third visit was delayed by the First World War. He had joined a territorial army unit in 1907 (the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars), and so was mobilized with them in 1914. He served in Egypt until 1916, then returned to the UK to work in control of shipping, a fitting use for his skills. By 1919 Swire returned to the commercial world, and was back in Hong Kong to check on the company’s operations. It is worth taking a step back to see the company’s place in Hong Kong, and the 1920 Juror’s list gives us an idea of its significance. Of the 1,546 jurors listed, 132 or roughly 1 in 12 worked for either Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering (TD&E) or the Taikoo Sugar Refinery (TSR).

Taikoo Sugar Refinery

We have seen the Dockyard in photographs from his earlier visits, but this time he also includes photos of the Sugar Refinery. The first image is titled “H.K. TSR Village”, and shows some of the workers’ housing.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Village, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-028.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Village, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-028. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

You should be able to see the tram tracks running along King’s Road at the left. If you look closely, you’ll see that Quarry Bay only had a single track service at this time. Just where the tram lines disappear from view there’s a junction and road running off to the left. That is Mount Parker Road.

Swire also took photos of the Sugar Refinery’s recreation club, and the houses for its European staff:

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Recreation Club, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-029.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Recreation Club, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-029. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Foreign Houses, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-023.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery Foreign Houses, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-023. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

A look down the list of Taikoo Sugar Refinery men on the jurors’ list gives an idea of who lived there. It includes 10 assistants, 3 chemists, a chief engineer, 2 clerks, a draughtsman, 5 engineers, 4 foremen, a manager, 3 pansmen, a storekeeper, 7 sugar boilers, 3 timekeepers and a wharfinger. Most of the titles are self-explanatory, but the “pansman” was a new one to me. It is a skilled job, specific to the sugar refining industry. The pansman operates the vacuum pans that form the sugar crystals from the sugar liquor.

The list also shows three timekeepers from the Sugar Refinery. The Dockyard had seven! In this photo, titled “TD& E. Co Watchmen & Gatehouse”, I think we get a glimpse of the timekeeper’s domain. The row of gates on the right look like the passages where the workers entered and exited the site, clocking in and out each time.

Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company Gatehouse, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-041.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company Gatehouse, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-041. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

North Point Store

Another building we see for the first time is the company’s North Point Store:

North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-017.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-017. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Inside everything looks very clean and tidy:

North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-019.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-019. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Not so clean and tidy outside though, as it was where they kept the company’s coal:

Coal heap, North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-015.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Coal heap, North Point Store, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-015. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

At least some of that coal would end up here at the “TD& E. Co Gas Plant & Power House”:

Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company Gas Plant and Power House, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-043.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company Gas Plant and Power House, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-043. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

We take the supply of electricity for granted now, but in 1920 you would find major operations like Taikoo, the Tramways, or the Naval Dockyard each ran their own power station. The Taikoo companies also had to maintain their own water supplies, and built several dams around the area. Most were in the valley behind Quarry Bay but there was also Braemar Reservoir, further west on the hillside above North Point. Here’s Warren looking out across Braemar Reservoir towards Kowloon.

Braemar Reservoir and Kowloon, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw18-108.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Braemar Reservoir and Kowloon, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw18-108. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Holts Wharf

The southern tip of Kowloon, just out of sight on the left of the previous photo, was a regular destination for Swire. He was heading to Holt’s Wharf:

Holts Wharf back, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-067.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Holts Wharf back, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-067. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

In the view above Swire is looking south towards the Holt’s Wharf buildings. The steep hill on the right is still there today, with Chatham Road running round its base. On the left, behind the fence, is the Kowloon-Canton Railway, heading towards its terminus at Tsim Sha Tsui. The railway is clearer to see in the view below, facing the opposite direction, and taken from a rooftop at the Wharf.

Holts Wharf No. 6, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-068.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Holts Wharf No. 6, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-068. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Swire also took a photo that he titled “Holts Wharf Foreign Quarters”.

Foreigners' houses and rickshaws, Holts Wharf, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw04-073.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Foreigners’ houses and rickshaws, Holts Wharf, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw04-073. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

I do not recognize this building, but the Juror’s List gives one possibility. It notes the Wharf Manager was a Mr Charles Butler Riggs, living at Glenthoral on Kimberley Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The University of Hong Kong

Returning to the island, Warren checked how the finished University of Hong Kong  looked. Swires were one of the donors that helped fund the construction, but when he had taken photographs on his previous visit the Main Building was still under construction. By 1920 it was all finished. Well, almost – it would be another ten years before a clock was finally installed in that clocktower!

University of Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw18-107.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

University of Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw18-107. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Halls of Residence, University of Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw18-106.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Halls of Residence, University of Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw18-106. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

All those students need somewhere to live. This photo shows the three halls of residence, Lugard, Eliot, and May Halls, on the eastern slopes of the campus. Only May and Eliot are still standing today.

Leisure

Finally, it wasn’t all work. Swire’s last photograph shows a visit to the race track in Happy Valley. His visits were timed to catch the winter months, and from the way people were wrapped up this must have been the coldest day of the year!

Hong Kong Race-course, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 1919-1920.  Photograph by G. Warren Swire.  HPC ref: Sw26-077.  © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Hong Kong Race-course, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 1919-1920. Photograph by G. Warren Swire. HPC ref: Sw26-077. © 2007 John Swire & Sons Ltd.

 

Photographs from Warren Swire’s earlier visits to Hong Kong can be seen at: http://gwulo.com/node/31140 and http://gwulo.com/node/32554

The full Warren Swire Collection covers the first four decades of the twentieth century, and can be viewed online at: http://hpc.vcea.net/Collection/Warren_Swire_Images

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Andrew Hillier reflects on Three Brothers in China: Visualising Family in Empire

Having just completed his PhD at Bristol, ‘Three Brothers in China: A Study of Family in Empire’, Andrew Hillier is now working on developing it  into a book.

On 12 May 1846, Eliza Medhurst set off by boat from her family home in Shanghai. The daughter of missionaries, Walter and Betty Medhurst, she was on her way to Hong Kong to meet her fiancé, Charles Batten Hillier, the fledgling colony’s Assistant Chief Magistrate. They were married two weeks later. Over the next nine years, she gave birth to four surviving children. When Charles was appointed as Britain’s first Consul to Siam in 1856, he and Eliza moved to Bangkok. Within four months of their arrival, he had succumbed to fever and died. Eliza, pregnant once again, made her way back to England where she gave birth to Guy. Educated in England, three of the Hillier boys – Walter, Harry and Guy – returned to China in their early twenties, pursuing careers in three key institutions of Britain’s informal empire: the Consular Service, the Chinese Maritime Customs (CMC) and the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, as it was then called.

Their lives, and those of their forbears are recorded, in a collection of photographs, which will soon be accessible on the Visualising China web-site. A rich mixture of official pictures, studio portraits and informal snaps of family, friends and local scenery, they tell us much about the lives of Britons in China during the treaty port period, the importance of family as part of that presence and the connections it forged and cemented both with those in England and further afield. In the following selection, we can see how they illustrate the relationships between British and Chinese officials, formal and informal, the character of young men careering in China, the intimacy of their family life and, finally, their memorialisation.

1. ‘Student Interpreters, Peking, 1869’. Walter, aged 18, is at the front on the LHS, beardless.

Walter Hillier arrived in Peking as a student interpreter in 1868 and quickly proved himself a competent linguist on the Legation staff. In Plate 1, we see him with his colleagues shortly after his arrival. The photograph conveys a relaxed mood; it could have been taken in an English garden, with languid poses and dogs nestling on the rugs.

The next brother to arrive was Harry Hillier. Having passed the exams for the Customs Service, he arrived in China in 1871, aged 20. He spent the next forty years there, rising to the post of Commissioner, which he held in a range of treaty ports. Also fluent in Chinese, he established good relations with his Chinese counterparts on both a formal and informal level. The photograph at plate 2, taken when he was Commissioner in Nanking, shows a formal lunch-party held to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday in 1903. Harry is eighth from the right, with wing collar and beard, and is flanked by three Chinese officials on his right – the Superintendent of Customs, the Provincial Treasurer and the Viceroy. Unlike them, the Japanese officials to his left are in Western suits.

2. Lunch-party given by the Viceroy of the Two Kiangs, Wei Guangdao, on the birthday of the Emperor of China, 18 August 1903.

2. Lunch-party given by the Viceroy of the Two Kiangs, Wei Guangdao, on the birthday of the Emperor of China, 18 August 1903.

The picture was widely circulated (one copy is in the Sir Robert Hart Collection at Queen’s University, Belfast). With the Chinese officials in the foreground, the image is one of comity and there is no sense of subservience or condescension. A more informal photograph (Plate 3), taken when Harry was Commissioner in Kiukiang (Jiujiang) in 1904, shows him with three Chinese officials sitting outside in their winter coats; the mood seems relaxed, as if they were in casual conversation.

3. Harry with Chinese officials: the Daotai, Yung Ling on his left, the Magistrate, Tsung, on his far left and the Foreign Affairs Deputy, Li on Harry’s right. Kiukiang, 18 December 1904.

3. Harry with Chinese officials: the Daotai, Yung Ling on his left, the Magistrate, Tsung, on his far left and the Foreign Affairs Deputy, Li on Harry’s right. Kiukiang, 18 December 1904.

Ceremony, however, was an important element of official life and Harry would send home to the family in England photographs with captions describing the elaborate rituals, as we see in Plate 4.

4. Kiukiang, 1904. ‘My official chair and bearers with official servants waiting in the garden for me to go on a round of official calls. The building at the back is the Chinese Post Office of which I am Postmaster’.

4. Kiukiang, 1904. ‘My official chair and bearers with official servants waiting in the garden for me to go on a round of official calls. The building at the back is the Chinese Post Office of which I am Postmaster’.

A keen photographer, Harry may well have taken this picture himself and, if so, his ‘official servants’ will have been asked to pose for the Commissioner.

Guy Hillier followed his two brothers to China and, after various false starts, was taken on by the Hongkong Bank in 1883, largely because of his ability to speak Chinese. Eight years later, he was appointed the Bank’s first Agent of its Peking branch. The picture at plate 5 must have been taken at this time. With his floppy cap, one hand holding a cigarette and the other in his pocket, he exudes a certain nonchalance tinged with an impatience to get going.

5. Guy Hillier with Bank staff, c. 1891.

5. Guy Hillier with Bank staff, c. 1891.

A few years later (Plate 6), with the success of the Peking agency, the setting is more formal.

6. Guy Hillier, centre, with Bank staff, c. 1896.

6. Guy Hillier, centre, with Bank staff, c. 1896.

The three Hillier brothers were extremely close but only once worked in the same city when all three were in Peking in 1908, when Walter was a Political Adviser to China (plate 7).

7. Pali-chuang Temple, c. 1908, where Guy had his own ‘suite’ of rooms provided by the Buddhist monks for his week-end retreat. From left, Harry, Guy, Walter.

7. Pali-chuang Temple, c. 1908, where Guy had his own ‘suite’ of rooms provided by the Buddhist monks for his week-end retreat. From left, Harry, Guy, Walter.

The three brothers experienced very different marriages. Having lost his first wife, Lydie, Walter re-married. In Plate 8, we see his second wife, Clare, and Harry’s first wife, Annie. The picture was taken in England when Harry was assigned to the London office and Walter was on long leave. In due course, Hart would take a shine to Clare, and, as his diary shows, enjoy a modestly flirtatious relationship with her. Her marriage to Walter ended in divorce and Harry’s wife died from typhoid, her health badly affected following the birth of their only child, Eddie.

9. Walter and Clare, Harry and Annie, c. September 1882, London.

9. Walter and Clare, Harry and Annie, c. September 1882, London.

Harry’s second wife, Maggie, was the daughter of the well-known Shanghai barrister, William Venn Drummond. As we see in Plate 10, the family was presided over by his wife, Christian Forbes Drummond (née Macpherson). Guy also features in the picture as he was often a guest, both at this time, 1890, and later, when Drummond built one of Shanghai’s most sumptuous mansions, Dennartt (Plate 11). Drummond’s practice was based on a substantial Chinese clientele, official and mercantile, many of whom he entertained in his home. Shorn of its sumptuous grounds, it can still be found down an alley-way leading off the Huashuan Road (formerly the Siccawei Road). Since it is now a government building, I had to evade the vigilant security guards to take the photograph at plate 12.

10. Drummond Family Portrait, 1 January 1890.

10. Drummond Family Portrait, 1 January 1890.

11. Tea on the Lawn, Dennartt, Shanghai, c.1906.

11. Tea on the Lawn, Dennartt, Shanghai, c.1906.

12. Dennartt, 2014. Author’s photograph.

12. Dennartt, 2014. Author’s photograph.

Guy Hillier married Ada Everett in 1894 but, shortly after the birth of their fourth child, Tristram, in 1905, she and the children returned to England and seldom saw Guy again, a typical example of a distant empire marriage. Only one faded photograph remains of Guy and Ada together (Plate 13).

13. Guy and Ada Hillier, c. 1894.

13. Guy and Ada Hillier, c. 1894.

By contrast, Harry’s family always remained closely-knit, despite lengthy painful separations. During his appointment as Commissioner of Kowloon (1895-1899), they lived on the Peak in Hong Kong. The studio portrait, taken shortly before their departure, conveys a sense of family unity and an intimacy which they knew was soon to end (plate 14).

14. Harry and family: children from left: Geoff, Eddie, Harry and Dorothy. Hong Kong, c. 1898.

14. Harry and family: children from left: Geoff, Eddie, Harry and Dorothy.
Hong Kong, c. 1898.

After Harry’s retirement in 1910, the children would visit their home in the Sussex countryside. The picture at plate 15 was taken shortly before the outbreak of the First World War in which both Harold and Geoff fought.

15. Burnt Oak, Waldron, Sussex, c. 1913. Harold, Geoff, Dorothy, Maggie, Harry and Bertie, Dorothy’s son, in pram.

15. Burnt Oak, Waldron, Sussex, c. 1913. Harold, Geoff, Dorothy, Maggie, Harry and Bertie, Dorothy’s son, in pram.

On 30 March 1918, Geoff was posted as missing in action. Harry died six years later and the simple gravestone in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Wimbledon, bears both his name and that of Geoff, but there is no reference to his service in the CMC. By contrast, two memorial plaques, one in Holy Trinity, Bracknell and one in the grounds of the Peking Legation, record Walter’s service in China (plate 16).

16. Walter Hillier, memorial plaque, British Legation, Peking.

16. Walter Hillier, memorial plaque, British Legation, Peking.

Unlike Walter and Harry, Guy continued working until his death in 1924. And, unlike them, his funeral was a lavish affair attended by the entire officialdom of Peking, Chinese and European, along with his many friends. Initially buried in the French Jesuit cemetery at Peitang, his and all the other graves were later exhumed and the remains reinterred in Waiquiao Cemetery on the outskirts of Beijing. Whilst almost all the gravestones were then destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, including the cross surmounting Guy’s grave, the substantial granite slab survived, together with its inscription, Sans Peur et Sans Reproche (plate 17). Subject to permission, it can still be visited, surrounded by rows of uniform Chinese tombstones. His is one of a number of family graves, in both China and England, whose inscriptions memorialised and consolidated the British presence in China.

17. Gravestone of Guy Hillier, Waiqiao Cemetery, Beijing, 2014. Author’s photograph.

17. Gravestone of Guy Hillier, Waiqiao Cemetery, Beijing, 2014. Author’s photograph.

This collection shows how family formed an important mechanism for forging and consolidating the links that helped bind together the British world in east and south-east Asia across four generations, from the time of Walter and Betty Medhurst’s arrival in Malacca in 1817 to the departure of the last members of the family in the 1930s.

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Liu Yuanyuan on Fu Bingchang and Beibei Northern Springs

In the second of our blogs from participants in the ‘Snapshots in Time’ summer school we hear from Liu Yuanyuan, a second-year PhD student in Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh (Email: s1366067@sms.ed.ac.uk). Her research interests lie in the fields of landscape history and theory, visual art and urban studies.

Fig. 1 View of Northern Hot Springs Park from Jinyun Hill. Sources: Historical Photographs of China project, Fu Bingchang Collection, Fu-n186 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

Fig. 1 View of Northern Hot Springs Park from Jinyun Hill. Fu Bingchang Collection, Fu-n186 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

It was a great experience to participate in the workshop ‘Snapshots in Time: Photography and History in Modern China’ at the University of Bristol. The design of gardens and parks in China from 1840s to 1949 is a topic I have been interested in since my Master’s degree. I have previously used photographs and maps on the websites of ‘Virtual Shanghai/Tianjin’ to support the exploration of foreigners’ park design in the concessions. During my Ph.D. program, my interest shifted into the origin and transformation of parks operated by Chinese communities over the first half of the twentieth century. A considerable number of my resources are photographs published in newspapers, periodicals, local gazetteers etc. Therefore, it was beneficial for me to learn from different scholars’ research on photographs at the workshop. Meanwhile, after having a close look of the Historical Photographs of China project, I also found some useful resources for my research from the Fu Bingchang Collection.

As an official of the Nationalist party and an amateur photographer, Fu Bingchang has taken a number of photographs of political figures and events. His collection, however, also contains a series of photographs dated in 1940, which related to his travelling activities with colleagues and female friends to several scenic spots surrounding Chongqing. Northern Hot Springs Park in Beibei, a new town located over 30km northwest of Chongqing, was one of those destinations. Visiting the park from Chongqing usually would take more than one day. Hence, it could count as an excursion instead of a daily activity (Fig. 1).

Northern Hot Springs was a typical example of park design in Republican China. Transformed from an ancient temple, the park was a part of modernisation experiments in Beibei launched by Lu Zuofu since 1927. With attached guesthouses and public educational facilities such as library and mass education museum, it was mostly well-known for hot springs swimming pools and becoming a popular recreational place with splendid natural resources along Jialing River particularly during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Fig. 2 View of Northern Hot Springs Park from Jialing River. Source: Lang Jingshan.,Chuan zhongming sheng xuanji: Beiwenquan [Selections of Scenic spots in the middle of Sichuan Province]. Xingguang (Singapore), no.1 (1939): 36

Fig. 2 View of Northern Hot Springs Park from Jialing River. Source: Lang Jingshan, Chuanzhong mingsheng xuanji: Beiwenquan [Selections of Scenic spots in the middle of Sichuan Province]. Xingguang (Singapore), no.1 (1939): 36

Along with the purchase of more and more imported cameras by individuals in the Republican Era, taking photographs in/of the parks was not only a business opportunity for studios but also a practise exercise and a recreational activity for professional photographers and amateurs. As for Northern Hot Springs Park, while a photograph of Lang Jingshan’s landscape series represented the pictorial atmosphere of its riverside environment (Fig. 2), Fu Bingchang, mostly, took spontaneous and candid portrait photographs during his multiple travels together with colleagues and friends. One of those visits was dated Monday, 12 February, 1940, during which Fu Bingchang took many photographs of his female companions playing and posing in and around the park, including ‘Min Chin with a camera’ (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Min Chin with a camera. Source: Fu Bingchang Collection, fu01-025 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

Fig. 3 Min Chin with a camera. Source: Fu Bingchang Collection, fu01-025 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

On another trip, probably in the summer of 1940, he shot the photograph of ‘Jiang Fangling and Zhang Yukun at the swimming pool’ (Fig.4).

Fig. 4 Jiang Fangling and Zhang Yukun at the swimming pool. Source: Fu Bingchang Collection Fu02-063 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

Fig. 4 Jiang Fangling and Zhang Yukun at the swimming pool. Source: Fu Bingchang Collection, Fu02-063 © 2007 C. H. Foo and Y. W. Foo

A little more information always generates new research questions upon these photographs with rich personal stories and memories behind. Representing the landscape and people’s daily life in the parks on one aspect, the activity of taking photographs itself also formed a significant part of park culture in modern China. I sincerely look forward to further interaction with the Historical Photographs of China project, scholars, and colleagues, to support my future work.

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Josepha Richard on Documenting gardens of China through early photographs

Josepha Richard is a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, specialised in Modern China and the gardens of 19th century Guangzhou. She holds an MA in Chinese studies  (Leeds University) and Art History (Sorbonne Paris IV) and was recently a Summer fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C.. She regularly tweets about historical pictorial sources of China at @GardensOfChina.

Photo 1 caption: Photograph 486, Joseph Rock Collection, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Photo: J. Richard

Photograph 1: Photograph 486, Joseph Rock Collection, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Photo: J. Richard

As any person who ever had a garden knows, it takes constant care and careful know-how to prevent greenery from returning to a state best described as ‘Sleeping Beauty’s castle thorns’. By essence, gardens are ephemeral, thus difficult to document consistently and systematically. The gardens of China are no exception to this rule: as a result, it can be difficult to study any specimen built earlier than the late Qing dynasty. To research the gardens of China, the specialist needs to collect a combination of sources such as written descriptions, paintings and photographs.

One of the most revealing types of primary sources is that of early photographs of China. These are typically scattered across a number of private and public collections, as well as auction houses: obtaining good quality items with reliable captions, attributions and dates is an arduous task. One example I have come across during my research is that of Austrian-American explorer Joseph Rock, who travelled to the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang, Yunnan, and took at least two photographs of the garden there. Those two shots are kept in two different institutions across the globe: the Arnold Arboretum image provides us with the date of 1922, while the photograph kept in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Edinburgh (Photograph 1) is accompanied by matching diaries written by Rock during that year and kept in the same archive.

This ideal case of matching collections is rare, and individual, incompletely documented photographs are much more common. Indeed, the number of 19th century Chinese gardens ever visited by a photographer represent a small minority, and therefore, it is crucial that museums, archives and private collectors continue to make their collections available online. Furthermore, initiatives such as the ‘Historical Photographs of China’ project are much needed to uncover precious private collections that are the hardest for researchers, collectors and amateurs to reach.

To further complicate matters, coincidence played a primary role in the making of early photographs of gardens in China. The first cameras were taken to China at the end of the First Opium War (1838-42) at a time when Guangzhou was still the primary harbour for Western visitors, and therefore, many photographs of Cantonese gardens have survived while the original gardens have not. This precious evidence would not have existed if the camera had been invented a few decades later, when the consequences of the Second Opium War meant that Westerners progressively lost interest in Guangzhou (Canton) in favour of other Treaty Ports that had opened across the country.

Photo 3 caption : Howqua’s gardens, Canton. Albumen print, 1860, by Felice Beato (1832-1909). Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Photograph 2: Howqua’s gardens, Canton. Albumen print, 1860, by Felice Beato (1832-1909). Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

During the Canton Trade or System period (1757-1842), in which all trade was confined to Guangzhou, construction of gardens around the city intensified due to the flow of wealth originating from the China Trade. Throughout the Canton Trade period, merchants wanting to do business with China were obliged to use specific intermediaries during their transactions: the Co-Hong or Hong, who profited immensely as a result (although many eventually became bankrupt). Until the 1st Opium War, Hong residences were among the only locations that Western visitors could visit in China, and apparently remained attractive for sightseeing well after the end of the Canton System. The most notable examples are residences with gardens built by Pan 潘 and Wu 伍 families, both linked with Hong merchants.

As a consequence of the Western presence in Guangzhou during the Canton System period and beyond, sources documenting Hong gardens are exceptionally abundant, especially when it comes to the amount of pictorial evidence available. The comparison of traditional and export Chinese paintings as well as photographs allows for deeper analysis of those gardens than is usually possible for such an ephemeral subject. It is, for example, very fortunate that the Frenchman Jules Itier took the earliest extant photographs in China in 1844 while visiting Macau and Guangzhou. Three of his daguerreotypes depict a garden of the Pan family, the Haishan xianguan 海山仙官. In my doctoral thesis, I compare these images with other sources – for example, the Caleb Cushing papers kept in the Library of Congress.

Photo 4 caption: Canton, Part of Chinese garden. Postcard produced by M.Sternberg & Co. in Hong Kong, around 1909, from earlier photograph of unknown date. Scan: J. Richard.

Photograph 3: Canton, Part of Chinese garden. Postcard produced by M.Sternberg & Co. in Hong Kong, around 1909, from earlier photograph of unknown date. Scan: J. Richard.

The gardens of Howqua – of the Wu family – are similarly documented : different views are available in several formats, for example the stereoscopic card taken by the Swiss Pierre Joseph Rossier in 1855-62 and held at the Rijksmuseum. This view, focused on one feature of the garden – a water-based kiosk – can be contrasted with a 1870s albumen of the same pond available on the Bonhams website from past sale lot 173. Interestingly, the same kiosk is found on the painted background of a series of portraits such as the “Actors in Canton” shot taken by C. R. Hager around 1896-1905 and found on the Basel Mission website. Felice Beato took a wider view of Howqua’s garden in 1860, just before the photographer accompanied Franco-British troops to Beijing (Photograph 2). An undated postcard bought online represents the garden from yet another viewpoint and gives a better insight into the layout (Photograph 3).

By cumulating these different photographs, a vivid representation of the Hong gardens can be obtained, allowing us to catch a glimpse of the colourful background of some 19th century East-West encounters.

PS: I welcome any suggestions or tips about photographs of gardens that could have been taken in 19th and early 20th century Guangzhou and the surrounding areas.

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