I have always been fascinated with tales of the old colonial days and the epic stories from famous 19th Century explorers. Hong Kong was of course once part of the old British Empire and itself under colonial rule for some time. Today you can still see traces from this bygone era around and about old Hong Kong, from the street names, to the architecture, even to the financial and business systems still in place to this very day.
One of the most famous hangovers from colonial rule is the Noon Day Gun. Now I have always had a fascination about the gun and its history and with only a few hours left in Hong Kong I decided to cram in one more trip and search out and find this legendary gun.
Causeway Typhon Shelter is where the gun is at, sitting opposite the Jardine Matheson building. The gun was of course made famous by the British satirist and all round good egg that was the late, great Noël Coward. In 1924 he composed and wrote the now famous song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”. The song is a tale about the foolhardiness of colonists venturing out in the heat of the day, (a tradition I upheld with aplomb during my stay in Hong Kong).
The gun is fired everyday at noon and we were just in time to see and hear it in action. Back in the 19th Century, Jardine’s incurred the wrath of the British navy by firing the gun without authorisation as a gun salute. A punishment was required for such insubordination and disrespect being shown towards the ruling power, so the company was ordered to provide a daily signal for shipping as the punishment.
The tradition is upheld with the ringing of a bell and firing of the gun at noon each day, hence the noon day gun was born.
HOW TO GET THERE
MTR Causeway Bay Station Exit D1, walk along Lockhart Road to Cannon Street. Walk along Jaffe Road to World Trade Centre. Access through a tunnel next to the hotel, in front of World Trade Centre.
For your enjoyment whilst reading or maybe after reading this blog – Noël Coward – ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ – 45rpm (please remember its satirical and not very PC by todays standards, you have been warned!)