Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Men of the Dragon - Jared Martin (1974) - HK Cricket Club, Central

Not many modern visitors, or even residents for that matter, realise that Chater Garden in Central (and the term 'garden' is applied in the liberal HK sense of the word here i.e. no grass, just concrete) was once actually a nice wide open cricket ground (with real grass!!) used by the HK Cricket Club. It's quite ironic that a large piece of grassy land should be need to be concreted over in order to get the name 'garden' bestowed on it, but I guess care of all things natural and green weren't (and still aren't) of great concern to those in Govt. 

The club moved up to its current location at Wong Nai Chung Gap Road ('The Gap') above Wanchai when its lease on the ground was not renewed by the Govt and the 'Gap' site was offered as an alternative. It moved pretty much around the time this film was made (circa 1974/75) so it is quite possible that the producers of MOTD caught one of the last games of cricket being played on this pitch.

Anyway, once again the grabs are not the greatest of quality but if you would like to see some better pictures of the ground, Gwulo.com has a decent selection here.

In the first picture below you can see Garden Road in the background where it hooks up with Queens Road Central. The building on the corner right there was the old Hilton Hotel - demolished around 1994 to make way for the Li Ka-shing monolith that is the Cheung Kong Centre. When I first visited HK back in 1995, I had just missed the hotel by a few months and the workers had started to do the pile driving for the new building.

As the camera pans from left to right across the pitch, the last two screen garbs show the side of the old Bank of China, and look carefully you can see a little bit of the decoration that adorned the front of the Hilton. Chater Garden was officially opened in 1978 and these days seems to be a focal point for protest march gatherings. It's named for the road it sits next to, Chater Road, which is itself named after Sir Paul Chater who was a central figure in HK development. Some of the businesses he founded or helped found are still around including Hongkong Land (now controlled by Jardines) and Hongkong Electric (now one of the Mekon's main cash cows).


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