Hong Kong's Colonial Post Boxes – Hong Kong - Atlas Obscura

Hong Kong's Colonial Post Boxes

These post boxes from a bygone era have been the source of controversy and debate. 

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There’s no shortage of British colonial history in Hong Kong, with a rule spanning over 150 years. These post boxes serve as a subtle reminder of the British postal services during its time. In 1892, 14 pillar boxes were installed across the city—12 during King George V’s reign and two more during King George VI’s reign. After the British handover, the once-red post boxes were painted green. (However, some have retained their original color due to being retired). 

Of the original 1,200 post boxes, just 56 remain in Hong Kong, with most still in service. In October 2015, the government planned to put plates on the post boxes to cover the royal insignia. However, the move became controversial, as many have deemed it a way to hide its colonial history.

Many have speculated that the Chinese government intends to minimize the traces of British rule in Hong Kong, due to political pressure. Roy Ng, an assistant campaign manager to the Conservancy Association, told the BBC that the post boxes should be preserved and a part of the city’s heritage; “Our colonial history is still part of our history. Even if we remove all our colonial-style heritage, we cannot make that part of history disappear forever in Hong Kong.”

For more than a century, the city has carried the impact of British rule, ceded to Britain after the First Opium War. The British Empire expanded its control to the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories in 1860 and 1898. The colonial administration left an enduring mark on the city’s infrastructure, governance systems, and educational institutions. Hong Kong became a major global trading hub and eventually one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Although there were complexities and challenges to the rule, the colonial period contributed to Hong Kong’s multicultural identity, blending Eastern and Western influences.

In the present day, the original 14 post boxes can be found in Victoria Peak, Magazine Gap, Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, and Sheung Wan.

Know Before You Go

The boxes are scattered across the island, you can find a map with their locations at Hidden Hong Kong

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