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About the Collection

Service industries rather than manufacturing activities remain the core of Hong Kong’s 21st Century economy, with most of us working in offices from 9:00am to 6:00pm Mondays through Fridays. As a result, terms like ‘spinning mills’, ‘fell seaming’ and ‘plastic flower assembly’ are all quaintly outdated phrases to modern youngsters’ ears. As unlikely as it now seems, between the end of the Second World War in 1945 and the mid-1980s, most Hongkongers worked in factories. Through this collection, we hope you will be able to learn more about Hong Kong’s industries, companies, products, brands and factory life back then. We also hope you will gain a fuller understanding of the deeds and philosophies of the past industrialists and entrepreneurs.

Viewing the slide stories on this collection will give you a fascinating overview of Hong Kong’s key post-war industrial developments and macro trends, industries, markets, factory types and operational modes across different eras. In the “Memories of Industries” section, you will also be able to access insightful interviews with industrialists of five categories who will share their career experiences and values. As light industries dominated Hong Kong’s economy of the mid-1940s to -80s, this collection details 20 companies in eight sectors. We have selected materials from the Government, the industries and individuals who worked in each. Following a brief introduction of each industry and company, we will provide multiple perspectives that will give you a clearer picture of each sector’s key characteristics.

The types of information we have compiled here are diverse, with the official documents mainly coming from the Government Records Service plus specially selected articles originally published in the Commerce and Industry Department’s Hong Kong Trade Bulletin. Industry-specific materials we have called upon have been mainly sourced from publications of trade associations while corporation-originated materials include plant photos, product catalogues and advertising leaflets. This collection also includes in-depth interviews with some 30 industry figures; also showcasing several interview audio records and publishing many old photos and other collectibles provided by the industrialists themselves. To begin exploring the full interviews, please visit the “Hong Kong Voices” area of this website and choose the “Oral History Archives” option.

All materials can be browsed according to period, industry and document type. In addition, we have also listed out a useful bibliography of further reading and a glossary of some commonly used terms. Our aim is to make it easier for you to understand special content and inspire you to further explore the history of Hong Kong’s post-war industrial development. Please feel free to use the materials in this collection for research, private study and other non-commercial purposes at no cost.