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People 1890s - 1950s

Butterfield & Swire Ltd. was responsible for the overall management of Taikoo Sugar Refinery and, as General Agents, for the purchase of raw materials and the selling and distribution of the finished products. From the beginning, the Refinery had a large Chinese staff. It relied heavily on its compradores, who through their knowledge of the Chinese language and Chinese business culture, facilitated the company’s operation in Hong Kong and China.

Taikoo Sugar Refinery had always been one of Hong Kong’s largest employers. It provided housing for its staff, and welfare facilities included a large elementary school for employees’ children. In 1939, the wages of sugar refinery employees (according to a government report on labour) are as below:

Senior Chinese staff $75-100 a month  
Permanent male workers, fitters, etc $1.20 daily average  
Permanent male workers, fitters coolies $.69 daily average  
Skilled males $18.00 average per month 6 hours shifts. No work on Sunday
Unskilled males $16.50 average per month
All females flat rate of $10.40 a month No work on Sundays; Hospital expenses due to accidents on duty paid.

At all levels, the company encouraged employees’ children and family members, even co-villagers, to work at the refinery. The compradore’s office, in particular, was occupied by the same family for several generations.

In 1964, the Refinery employed 400 workers.


  • Worker weighs raw sugar on the weighbridge

  • Stacking raw sugar bags in godown

  • G. Stark supervising weighing of XA Sugar 3/1/52

  • Weighing raw sugar in Melt House