Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Geography lesson

When I was scanning some old family photos round about Christmas-time last year, I did quite a few which dated back to our time out in Hong Kong. My memories of it all are really quite hazy and more than somewhat disjointed, partly because I was only seven when we went out there, and partly because everything was changing so rapidly the whole time we were there. The pace of reconstruction, land reclamation and redevelopment seemed absolutely frantic and were I to go back there now, I doubt if I'd recognize anything much at all as it would have all changed, probably way beyond recognition.

My old junior school - Minden Row - I have a very indistinct mental picture of. I think it was quite small: the main part of the building I recollect was old, with a verandah and rooms with high ceilings. We were taken there every day in the "school bus" - a three-ton army truck - picking up pupils along the way, but I can't any longer even place exactly where it was. There's still a street in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon called Minden Row, after which the school was presumably named but nothing on a modern map to indicate where it once stood. I'd always assumed that in any case British service schools wouldn't have survived the demise of Hong Kong as a British colony in 1997: there would've been no obvious need for them after that?

But last night I came across some old maps scanned and posted on Flickr - and there was one of
Tsim Sha Tsui in the 1960s! Looking intently at the full-size image, I could just about make out the words 'Minden Row School' on one of the buildings there - at the far end of the street where we once used to go every morning! A bit further down towards the bottom of the map (within walking distance) was a green space marked "playground": I bet that would've been where we had our games periods, and where instead of playing, I used to surreptitiously watch the trains going by along the tracks of the Kowloon-Canton railway on the far side!

I was pleased with my little unexpected discovery. There's next to nothing anywhere about the school: it perhaps wasn't used as a school for very long, I don't know. But I still remember my time there with a certain amount of affection, if not - sadly - any degree of clarity.

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