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Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Prince of Wales in Hong Kong - April 1922

The Prince of Wales visited Hong Kong as part of his world tour. He stopped off for two days and the whole of Hong Kong came to a halt. Sir Paul Chater played no small part.......

 The Prince of Wales was taken in his chair along the specially constructed triumphal way past the Hongkong Hotel and so by Queen’s Road to Garden Road and Government House. H.E. the Governor headed the procession, in a black chair with scarlet satin cushion, borne by eight coolies in white trousers and red coats with white crowns on their sleeves and mandarin hats. There was an escort of eight Indian Police on either side of the chair, Captain Neville, R.M.L.I., the Governor’s A.D.C. and two additional Indian A.D.C., walked behind the chair. The Prince followed in his chair also escorted by Indian Police, with Inspector Garrod and two Indian Inspectors in rear. After the Prince’s chair came three more chairs with four bearers, travelling abreast and containing members of the Prince’s staff. Other members of the Prince’s staff followed in motor cards.

The Prince of Wales in his chair


Sir Paul Chater gave the Welcome Speech on behalf of the British community.

How the British address, read by Sir Paul Chater was reported.

City en Fete

The Day Decorations

A thousand flags flaunting their colours in the breeze, thousands of paper lanterns, swinging gaily to each puff as if desirous of calling attention of their presence, was the city’s gala dress donned in honour of her Royal visitor. The buildings which ordinarily are teeming with men bent on business affairs today are closed, or filled with eager spectators whose only care and desire is to show by the warmth and affection of their welcome to His Royal Highness their loyalty and respect to the throne. Today and tomorrow will be historic in the annals of Hongkong. Her citizens have seen to it that the city’s beauty is worthy of the occasion and shall also remain historic.

The work of decorating has been long in hand.  Its growth to completion has been watched with interest.  It is completed. Hongkong may be satisfied.  To wander through the streets is but to add pleasure on pleasure.  Every thoroughfare in the centre of the city is a picture, each with some distinctive note to hold attention until it is claimed by new beauties which unfold themselves. The feelings of the people here are probably best expressed by the legend above Marble Hall [Sir Paul Chater's residence] which reads “God bless our Prince”. Composed of huge white letters and surmounted by the Prince’s feathers which will be illuminated at night, the decorating stands out in bold relief from the dark background provided by the hillside.  Viewed from the harbour or town it is a very striking piece of work.
 Queen’s Road has been well looked after, especially in the bank district. Here there is a profuse display of flags and lanterns. The International Bank Building seems one red mass, while further on comes Victoria Building almost unrecognisable beneath its coat of greenery and flags. 

A personal note on the back of this photograph by Lilian Bagram wife of Sir Paul's nephew
Theo Bagram, is perfect confirmation that this was the office and centre of
Sir Paul's business empire, decorated for the impending visit of the Prince of Wales . Lilian often referred to Sir Paul and Lady Chater as"the aunt and uncle".

One passes on to the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank with its coloured electric lights, its pillars wreathed in bunting of the national colours, its flags and, over-looking Statue Square its big electric sign representing the hong flag. So by the red-outlined City Hall to the Indian arch.

Naturally a centre of attraction is the corner formed by the junction of Pedder Street, Chater and Des Voeux Roads.  Here stands the fine building of Messrs. Jardine Matheson and Co. The pillars have been covered with blue and white bunting, the house colours the effect being heightened by lavish use of the house flag and the Red Ensign. From the tower to the roof are long strings of flags. Just opposite the Post office stands resplendent in its bunting-wreathed verandahs and flags. Facing over the harbour is a big crown flanked by the letters “G.R.”.  The decoration of the Hongkong Hotel has been carried out in electric light of various colours. The effect should be arresting at night. Alexandra Building has its dressing of flags and also some electric sign of the Prince’s feathers.  From the corner Des Voeux Road looks simply a red and beflagged avenue.  There is not a building but has contributed well to the general scheme.

Queen’s Buildings and Prince’s Buildings are in themselves quite a feature. Decoration on both of them has proceeded along the same lines. The verandahs have been transformed by the use of tri-coloured bunting, the spaces between the verandah pillars are hung with lanterns. On the east side of Prince’s Building facing on Statue Square, is a coloured electric sign depicting the Persian flag -  a lion holding a sword with a rising sun as background. 
A rare image from the 1922 visit of HRH the Prince of Wales.
Prince's Building showing signage that until now, had only
been described in newspapers and not seen. Here it can be
seen the flag as described above, the lion holding a sword.

Special attention has been paid to the adornment of Chater Road. Flanking it on both sides are white pillars connected by strings of greenery from which are suspended coloured lights. Above them rise the red glowing masses of lanterns and the fluttering flags.  It is a wonderful scene on which the eye lingers until it loses itself in the magnificence of Statue Square.

The buildings fronting on the Praya have not been overlooked by any means. On both King’s Building and that in which the Telegraph Companies are housed greenery has been tastefully combined with bunting and lanterns.  Butterfield’s has also a lot of attention paid to it.  Running vertically down the walls are streamers of white and blue, the red being supplied by lanterns. Amidst a profusion of flags the Prince’s crest is displays, the house flag also being prominent. The main feature of the decoration of the neighbouring V.R.C., building is the illuminated flag. The Naval Yard wall is outlined with lanterns and over the main gate is erected an illuminated anchor. The officers’ mess at the foot of Garden Road looks bright with its profuse display of flags.

At the Taikon Dockyard, which provided the Prince’s first glimpse of Hongkong, are two huge frames bearing the word “Welcome” whilst on the China Sugar Refinery, in letters 10 feet high is the legend “Our Prince”. The Tramway Company has its sign of “Welcome to our Prince” raised some 130 feet from the grounds. Messrs Ruttonjee and Son strike a somewhat original note with the sign “Tell father we are all happy”.

In Statue Square

 Lanterns, Lanterns Everywhere

Those who have spoken slightingly of the temporary beauties adorning Statue Square must surely have wished their words unsaid when the full glory of the finished product burst upon them this morning.  Statue Square was really the heart of the whole decorative scheme and, like red corpuscles bobbling about in the arteries that radiated from it, were lanterns, thousand and thousands of them.

Red lanterns were everywhere. They bordered the cornices of the Pavilion; they hung in rows from the garlands of ever-greens festooned between the pillars; one danced merrily in the breeze on the very summit of the Supreme Court dome. The Supreme Court indeed looked very unlike a staid hall of justice – it had the rakish air of an exhibition building in full carnival rig. Strings of bunting fluttered around the symbolical figures on the top of broad bands of red white and blue swathed in colonnade and balconies.

Wisely the decorators had refrained from over-dressing the Pavilion. Save for its effective boarding of lanterns and an odd cluster of flags to relieve the monotony of the walls here and there its chaste lines were left unembellished.  It looked a noble pile and one meet to be the scene of today’s historic function. Back of it the Hongkong Club was hung about, at every available point it seemed, with lanterns and the tall buildings that smiled down upon the square from the Western side too, had decked themselves fittingly to greet the Prince.

The strings of evergreens hung with lanterns, which linked up the pillars were an effective feature which harmonised finely with the contribution to the scheme which had been made by old mother Nature. Her handiwork, the green grass and the flowers and most of all the soft pink bloom of the trees, made a charming setting for the other parts of the charming picture that had been artificially evolved.

 The Pavilion - A Temporary Structure

The build up to the impending visit in April 1922 to Hong Kong by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had been going on for months. Committees were formed, duties allocated, buildings were painted, and streets were swept, regimental bands practised, and the military rehearsed their marches and positioning, Chinese coolies were carefully selected as the chosen ones to carry the Prince, uniforms measured for, and several sedan chairs were spruced up. Decorations were planned, purchase and put up all over the city, and a Pavilion specially erected for the occasion of the royal visit was placed in the same location as the current Cenotaph in Statue Square.

The decorations were a spectacle

The Pavilion was built of lathe and plaster and was only a temporary structure. Measuring 180 feet by 150 feet and able to accommodate 3,000 people. For speeches and presentations it had row upon row of centrally placed seating whilst there were also banks of side seating. The cost of the Pavilion was around HK$50,000 approximately £7,000, at today’s values that figure is in excess of around £330,000 or US$559,000. As can be seen from the announcement in the local newspaper, there was meticulous attention to detail with regard to arrangements for the various functions taking place in the Pavilion, starting with the welcome speeches, the addresses by the University, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College, the local Masons, the Ex-Service Men’s reception, and finally the grand ball, they all had their own instructions.

The notice in the newspaper regarding arrangements at the Pavilion

Attending the ball? These are the instructions for guests.

The cloakrooms for the ball were at the Law Courts.

The Pavilion was described in the local papers as follows:

The specially constructed Pavilion had been handsomely decorated for the occasion.  The striking silken lamp shades suspended from the roof lent a pleasant touch of colour. The whiteness of the interior was further relieved by festoons of evergreens and flags and ensigns used for curtains to the windows.  In the Prince’s reception room a delicate colour of greyish blue is the prevailing colour tone.

This unique image of the specially built Royal Pavilion (behind Queen Victoria's Statue) erected for the two day visit of HRH the Prince of Wales to Hong Kong in 1922is rarely seen, there are postcards in circulation [see below] but I haven't seen photographs. However, the wonderful provenance on the back written by Lilian Bagram (wife of Theo Bagram who was a nephew of Sir Paul Chater) gives the only known personal description including its costs.
The note says: "Statue Square and the Pavilion specially built for the
reception and ball. It is of lathe and plaster only and is now being pulled
down before the typhoon season, as it would be blown away if left.
Cost fifty thousand dollars about 7,000£. Fancy!!!"

Another view of the Pavilion

The illuminations at Night.

The great success of the illuminations was the appearance of the warships in port. Ships have been picked out with electric lights before but never in the history of the Colony, probably, has there been such a splendid array of illuminated war vessels in the harbour. Outlined as they were with white electric lights they looked like enormously magnified specimens of the jeweller’s art or, if jewellery so large is inconceivable, then like design sketched in phosphor paint by some superhuman artist, against the dark background of the night. The Renown could not be “picked out” with lights in the time available, but she exhibited a splendid design of the “Feathers”. The only object on land in any way similarly treated to the warships was Queen Victoria’s statue which, also was outlined in white electric lights and had the appearance of a glass model of St. Paul’s Cathedral dome, brilliantly lighted from without. Another departure from the prevailing scheme was at the Hongkong Hotel which was be-jewelled with vari-coloured electric lights.

All else was ruby red. The circular and vase-shaped lanterns used were admirable for effective decorating and the wisdom of deciding upon one type for the night illuminations was clearly apparent. In the streets last night, Hongkong glowed with a strange unearthly radiance and the west macadam reflected the soft light in a way that greatly added to the effect.  From the harbour the scene was one of extraordinary beauty. Solid masonry seems to have completely disappeared and to have been replaced by ethereal palaces.  Where all were so successful it was invidious to mention names but some were worthy of special note.  The severe Grecian lines at Messrs. Butterfield & Swire’s, the delicately outlined tower and fa├žade of Kowloon Railway Station, a kind of ruined Greek temple at Holt’s Wharf, the wealth of detail at the Hongkong Club, the bold design at the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank were amongst those that were generally admired.  Sir Paul Chater’s Prince of Wale’s Feathers design and the lighted inscription “God Bless our Prince” spoke by night, as Sir Paul had spoken by day in the Pavilion, for the whole British Community. The scenes by night it should be added, were greatly enhanced by the magnificent firework display given by the Japanese community.

Racing – The Prince of Wales Stakes

There were five starters but the start of the race was delayed pending the arrival of His Royal highness.  Big crowds were lined up through the enclosure and at 4.25pm the Prince, accompanied by H.E. the Governor motored right into the enclosure to the accompaniment of loud cheering. He was met by Sir Paul Chater and Sir William Rees Davies and other stewards of the Jockey Club and as he appeared at the railing of his special stand he was again given an ovation. The Prince watched the race from the Governors stand but afterwards the Prince honoured Sir Paul Chater by a visit to his stand [private box].

The Prince of Wales at Happy Valley races.

 The Prince also played a game of polo at Happy Valley

The Prince of Wales playing polo at Happy Valley

The Royal Pavilion was demolished at the end of April 1922.
Reported in the Hong Kong Telegraph Friday 21 April 1922

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hong Kong Jockey Club Races - 1926 - Glorious Dahlia Wins for Sir Paul Chater

The local Hong Kong newspapers were all reporting
on the magnificent win by Sir Paul Chater. For the
first time EVER in public here is also a photograph
of Sir Paul and Lady Chater proudly leading in their
Glorious winner.

3 March 1926. Derby Day at the Hong Kong Races.

Sir Paul Chater may have looked a little old but he certainly wasn't looking frail yet two months after these images were taken Sir Paul passed away in Marble Hall. This was the last race meeting he attended. He and his family, along with his royal house guest had one of the best races they could remember for a long time.

"It will long be remembered by the racing fraternity as having furnished one of the most exciting finishes that one could well wish to see which resulted in the victory of 'Glorious Dahlia' by half a length from 'Pretty Polly'.  

The winner is owned by Sir Paul Chater, the President of the Hongkong Jockey Club who this year attended his sixty-first consecutive annual race meeting. Horse, owner, jockey and trainer received a tremendous reception on returning to scale.........."

Later in the same day, Lady Chater's own pony 'Sandpiper' was the winner of the Nil Desperandum Stakes. 

As she walked to the winner's enclosure who would have thought that Two Armenians from Calcutta, a Prince, a Governor and a girl from Sweden would all capture the hearts and imaginations of the people of Hong Kong.

The Eyes Have It.
Looking for her Prince her gaze passes through the crowd, around royalty until she finds and
fixes on her husband.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Unlocking The Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1934

The Golden Key that Unlocked The New
Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1934 Is Still In Existence Today
It is incredible how a piece of memorabilia can turn up with no documentation or background information but with a little time, a perfect attribution can be made to it.   

The golden key seen here is part of a private family archive related to Sir Paul Chater. The family have owned it since it passed to them in the 1980s. This is the original golden key that was used in the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1934 and reported in the local Hong Kong newspapers. The premises were in Ice House Street, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, George Hutton-Potts used it in the grand opening.

The inscription reads 

Hong Kong
Stock Exchange
23 May 1934
G. Hutton Potts Esq.
Sang Lee and Co
The Inscription on the reverse side reads

H.K.S.E. Architects
Little, Adams and Wood.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Name Unknown: Remembering The Lost and Forgotten

Just ink on paper now but
once they were part of a family

Two anonymous Armenian burials and an Armenian Bishop in Bombay in 1810. No other record exists today for these long forgotten individuals. This is a sanitised return with no further detail as to where and what circumstances they were buried. An unknown Armenian man buried on the 9th October the next day an Armenian Bishop named Mackertich and later in the month on the 28th another Armenian name unknown. 

Lest we forget.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

David Aviet David, Founder of the Davidian Girls' School Calcutta: His Family, His Legacy

The first page of the Probate of David Aviet David

David Aviet David founder of the Davidian Girls' School in Calcutta had no immediate family of his own to leave his estate to when he died in 1936. However, he had a brother Elias who had 4 daughters and a cousin Tigranes who had 2 daughters and a son. David wrote his will on the 3 May 1913 in which he gave his Lime business known as “Dyers Lime” to his brother Elias and his wife Nanajan and also to his cousin Tigranes and his wife Diana. He also gave to them all his “landed properties at Calcutta Bombay and Allahabad”. In 1913 David Aviet David wishes the “rents profits and income” to be split into 2 halves. One half for the benefit of La Martiniere School Calcutta “and as to the other half thereof as follows:

A one half of such half part thereof for such deserving boys and girls who may be nominated by the wardens for the time being of the Armenian Church in Calcutta and the managers for the time being of the Armenian College in Calcutta any boys and girls who may be so nominated and who may be of kin to me being preferred to others and such bequest being intended by me to be devoted towards the board and education of such boys and girls so that they may if possible receive free board and education and the other half of such half part thereof in equal shares for the following churches institutions schools and hospital (that is to say):-

Church of Sourp Astwatzatzin in Maidan – Julfa Ispahan Persia or St. Marys’ Church.

Church of Gregor Lousavoritch in Shirak Kani Thagh Julfa Ispahan Persia or church of St. Gregory the Illuminiator.

Ghedronakan Dubrotzh or the Armenian Central School Julfa Ispahan Persia

Church Missionary Society School Julfa Ispahan Persia

Church of St. Nazareth Calcutta

Armenian College in Calcutta

St. Peter’s Church in Bombay

Church Missionary Society’s hospital Ispahan Persia”

However in his first codicil dated the 31 October 1917 he then said

“And lastly as regards the trust created for the La Martiniere School Calcutta I hereby wish and declare that the trust be instead in favour of the Armenian College Calcutta and any Armenian girls school which maybe established in Calcutta hereafter on the following terms and conditions, such trust funds being styled “The David A David Fund”. Subject to the payment of Rupees one hundred and fifty per mensem to each of my brothers and cousins children provided for in the said will I direct that one third of such rents profits and income as is referred to in the said will be paid to the Armenian College Calcutta out of the said fun for the benefit of poor Armenian boys who have finished their school education to enable them to train for a profession trade or business and for that purpose a sum not exceeding fifty rupees per mensem be paid to each such Armenian boy. I direct that of the balance one third of such income rents and profits be paid to the Armenian College Calcutta for the board and education of poor and deserving Armenian boys at a rate not exceeding Rupees twenty five per mensem for each such boy and the balance one third of such income rents and profits be paid to the manager for any Armenian girls school which may be established in Calcutta for the education and board of poor Armenian girls and until such girls school be established this one third of the  rents income and profits be paid to the Armenian College Calcutta for the education and board of poor Armenian boys as provided above.

As I have already disposed of the whole of such income rents and profits I hereby revoke the bequests to the churches institutions schools and hospitals named below except the Armenian College Calcutta which will benefit as provided above only.  The bequests to the following are therefore revoked altogether namely: to the 1. Church of Sourp Astwatzatzin in maidan Julfa and Ispahan 2. Church of Gregor Lansavoritch in Shinakam Thagh Julfa Ispahan or church of St. Gregory the Illuminator 3. Ghedronakhan Deebrotzh or the Armenian central School Julfa Ispahan Persia 4. Church Missionary Society School Julfa Ispahan Persia 5. Church of St. Nazareth in Calcutta 6. St. Peters Church in Bombay 7. Church missionary and Societys’ Hospital Ispahan Persia.”.

In his second codicil to his will dated 2 October 1924 he revokes his bequest of the Lime Business and also “the charitable and educational trust for Armenian boys and girls”……..he goes on to explain

“I now provide that out of the rents profits and income of the said properties money and securities and the investments thereof my executor and trustee shall pay a monthly sum of Rupees five hundred to my brother Eghia Aviet David during his life as well as the monthly sums provided in my will for his children and the children of my cousin Tigranes Ratheus David and subject to the payment of such monthly sums I give all such properties money and securities and the investments thereof both capital and income to the Davidian Girls School which has now been founded and established by me in Calcutta and endowed by an indenture of settlement dated the twenty sixth day of September one thousand nine hundred and twenty four of which the official trustee the trustee so as to form part of the endowment fund to be held on the trusts thereof.”

In his third and last codicil dated 22 June 1928 he revoked the legacy to his cousin’s daughter and also the legacy to the Armenian Church at Bombay because “I am arranging to make a provision for it in a Deed of Trust.”

Turning now to the family generally. It would appear the families of Elias (David’s brother) and Tigranes (David’s cousin) went in completely different directions. I have found that two of Elias’s daughters married in India, Rose married J.M. Nadjarian in 1919, (curiously at St. Andrew’s Church Calcutta) and who sponsored the commissioning of the bust of David Aviet David as well as designing the pedestal. Hymanoosh married Martin A. Martin in Allahabad Holy Trinity Church in 1923, the other two daughters of Elias I am still working on.

The bust of David Aviet David was commissioned
and funded by his niece's husband J.M. Nadjarian.

Moving on to the family of David’s cousin Tigranes. His youngest daughter Muriel was the first of the two daughters to marry. She married in 1924 to an Englishman, Lieutenant Cecil Chadwick at Pachmarhi in India.

Tigranes Ratheus David became
Thomas Richard David on his
daughter's marriage record
It would appear that for the sake of integration Tigranes name was anglicised on the marriage record to Thomas Richard David. Lieut. Chadwick had been born in Dewsbury Yorkshire and his family had a deep affiliation to the British army. As I researched his career, it was therefore no surprise to find that he rose quickly and successfully through the ranks of the military. He Muriel and their daughter are recorded on passenger lists travelling to and from Egypt where he was based. He retired as a Brigadier and in the course of his career was awarded a C.B.E. and they became known as Brigadier Sir Cecil and Lady Muriel Chadwick. 

His career can be summarised as follows:

Local Lieutenant-Colonel
Acting Lieutenant-Colonel
Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel
Acting Colonel
Acting Brigadier
War Substantive Lieutenant-Colonel
Temporary Colonel
Temporary Brigadier
Reverted to War Substantive Lieutenant-Colonel
Temporary Colonel
Temporary Brigadier
Colonel (Dated back to 26.08.1945)

Chief Instructor at ?
General Staff Officer 1, 1st Anti-Aircraft Division
Brigadier General Staff (Staff Duties & Training), Anti-Aircraft Command
Commanding Officer ? Brigade
Commanding Officer 304th Infantry Brigade
Unemployed list

Commanding Officer Westphalia Region [Germany]

Assistant Adjutant-General, War Office

Chief Signal Officer, British Troops in Egypt

Chief Signal Officer, Eastern Command
Aide-de-Camp to the Queen


List courtesy of Generals of Great Britain.

It would seem that after the death of Tigranes in 1927 in Allahabad his widow Rose and eldest daughter Dorothy moved to the UK to be close to Muriel and Cecil. Rose died on the 28 January 1944 in London, administration of her estate was granted to Muriel. Dorothy had married in 1926 to Francis Manuel a bank manager with the Allahabad Bank they too settled in the UK seeing the rest of their days out in Littlehampton in Sussex where Francis died in 1952 and Dorothy in 1980. They had one son.

Having searched the passenger lists neither Muriel nor Dorothy can be traced as having gone back to Calcutta to visit their Armenian cousins and likewise I cannot find any record of the cousins visiting them in England. It is quite likely they simply lost touch because of the way their lives had completely diverted away from India.

Muriel and Dorothy were so very much part of David Aviet David’s Armenian world in their youth. Had he not sold the Lime Business to fund the Davidian Girls’ School, Muriel and Dorothy may well have stayed in India and managed it as per David’s original will. The Davidian Girl’s School has educated and enlightened many a child. India may have lost a branch of the David family in Muriel and Dorothy their roots from Julfa going back centuries but it gained a school that has educated numerous children to fine upstanding adults who are now dispersed all around the world.