Thursday, August 21, 2014

Location of Creggan in Hong Kong

When it isn’t a murder that helps me to focus on my next research path, as it did in my previous post, it is most often the kindness of strangers. Without them, I would be lost. It took me years of baby-steps to even begin to narrow down the likely date when Creggan in Hong Kong was built by Thomas Jackson. He named his Hong Kong home after the parish that he came from in South Armagh. The first reference to it being completed was in a letter written by his mother on May 5, 1880:

I was most thankful to learn that you & Minnie & the children are so well; may God keep you all so. And it is pleasant to reflect that you have your own nice cool “Creggan” to go back to; when the city becomes too hot.

Several months ago, I posted a chart on my website that shows what I know about where the Jacksons were in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. It also includes the names of some of the other occupants of Creggan on The Peak. There were stretches of time when the Jacksons leased it out. In response to that chart, I received an email from Richard Garrett on May 17, 2014:

One aspect in relation to Jackson and Creggan which may be of interest concerns the date of his building the house. Firstly Creggan was sited on the border of RBLs 6 and 8. The index to the streets etc. lists it as RBL 6s but a map of the Peak for 1907 lists it as RBL 8. Anyway the two lots abutted. The first RBLs on the Peak were nos. 1 to 4 which were all sold in September 1878. I don't have the date for when Nos 6 and 8 were sold but RBL 9 was sold in March 1879. Hence a date around the end of 1878 would seem to be about right. Given that the house had to be built it is reasonable to suppose that Jackson could not have moved in before about the end of 1879 or early 1880.

This is the kind of response to a post that makes me feel like those football players that go totally nuts after they have made it across the goal line, ball in hand. Thank you, Richard, and I hope that one day we will meet in Hong Kong. In the meantime, here are a few maps that might help to orient other readers who may have an interest in this topic.

This is the oldest map that I have seen which shows the location of Creggan on The Peak. It is dated 1888, and shows a rectangle straddling lots #6 & 8. The property is not named as Creggan, but it can be no other. I have highlighted it in red.

I drew this map for my own purposes - mostly so I could see who the Jackson's neighbours might have been in the early years. The well, which is indicated in red, is mid-way between Creggan and Jardines Corner. Creggan is roughly in the middle of the cluster of houses.

This map, which is dated sometime after 1923 (I will add the date, if someone has it), shows Creggan as Number 351. It is shaded in red and is just to the left of Strawberry Hill, the property owned for many years by Jardine Matheson.That was the property that I visited in 2012, as a guest of Martha Keswick. A 1924 map shows the same siting of Creggan at #351.

The above document came to my attention thanks to Annelise Connell, It shows the date that the renumbering of buildings on The Peak began.

This map was dated 1960. What is curious is that there is still a building there that matches the footprint of the original Creggan. I do know that Creggan no longer exists, but not when it was torn down, nor under what circumstances.

Creggan is in the middle of this photo and the old site is covered by a cluster of buildings. I visited Strawberry Hills, the second home to the right of it in 2012. The access to all these properties is off Plantation Road, along a private drive which has an attendant on guard.

 The people who were key to me being able to even get this far with this part of my research are Annelise Connell, and David Bellis of - along with Richard Garrett, Martha Keswick, and the archivists at both HSBC Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Public Records Office.

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