Amoy  (Xiamen)

A seaport at the mouth of the Pei-chi or Dragon River, about 300 miles north-east of Hong Kong, designated by the Treaty of Nanjing 1842. A consulate was established in 1843, with the consul and family occupying a house on the island of Kulangso with his office in Amoy town.

In 1852, Parkes, then the interpreter in the consulate, extracted Chinese agreement to a defined waterfront area being exclusively set aside for British godowns, residences and other uses, including consulate. Amoy was thus the first British Concession, as they later came to be termed, (and the first of the six that Parkes himself was to extract over the next ten years). The status of the concession area, later disputed, rested on no more than an exchange of notes in 1852 between the consul and the Taotai. An 1855 plan of reclaimed frontage at Beach Ground shows only six lots, with four already sold and developed and two, including one earmarked (but never developed) for the British consulate, still unreclaimed. Amoy was initially slow to grow as a treaty port, and fell to the Taiping rebels in 185?, but began to flourish in the mid-1850s, and became the main centre for trade with Formosa.

A 6½ acre compound containing consul’s and assistant’s houses was bought from Tait and Co in 1862: a boundary anomaly was regularised by a title deed of 1882. It was at the junction of Mah Koon and Chang Chow roads, by 1967 called 5 Changchen Road and 6 Tienwai Road. Boyce in 1899 described the site, sometimes referred to as Site A, as “on the south-west of the [Kulangso] island in the midst of a beautiful and well-timbered compound stretching down to the sea beach”. The consul’s house was originally of two storeys but, after typhoon damage in 1873, Boyce removed the upper floor and added a couple of bedrooms to what became the bungalow. In 1874, he also replaced in solid construction the old veranda that he described as ‘perhaps the largest in China and the worst constructed’.

A site for offices, called Site B and of 1¾ acres, adjacent to the Lin Tao jetty was bought in 1869, and an additional piece in 1872: its address in 1967 was 9-11 Lungtou Road, on the south-east side of Kulangso [correct?]. Single storey offices, a two storey courthouse , constable’s quarters and gaol of six cells, in all totalling 2,525 sq.m., were completed on this site in ? 1872. Part of the site was sold in 1906.

The whole of Kulangso became an international settlement in 1902. Concession was rendited in 1930, when titles were exchanged for perpetual leases. The consulate was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War, and the Post was closed in 1951. Site A was then occupied by Chinese troops and Site B left in the hands of a caretaker until requisitioned by the Chinese government in 1959 and occupied by military authorities. Compensation issues were still unresolved in 1974.

The consulate building remains standing and was opened as a coin museum in 2001: its address is now 5 Zhongshan, Gulangyu.

Reclaimed concession area, Beach Ground, 1855. Lot 4 was reserved for the consulate.

Disposition of consular sites, 1867.

Plan of Site A, with consul’s
and assistant’s houses, 1916.

Consul’s residence at Site A, reduced in 1884 to one-storey, 1911.

Plan of assistant’s residence on Site A, 1881.

Proposal for offices buildings on Site B, 1870.

Courtroom and offices at left, Constable’s quarters, with gaol behind, at right, 1911.

Assistant’s house on Site A, 1911.

Plan of Site B, 1911.

Postcard of Site B offices, 1925.

Proposal to reduce Consul’s residence to a bungalow, 1874.,

Plan of Site B, with offices, assistant’s and constable’s houses, and gaol, 1916.

Offices, 1911.

Foochow  (Fuzhou)

A river port on the north side of the Min river, about 35 miles from the coast. Designated a treaty port under the Treaty of Nanking 1842, Foochow was slow to grow and in the early 1850s was reduced in status to a vice-consulate, but then prospered with the tea trade. A consulate was built in 1857, but so badly as to be condemned as unsafe just a few years later. About two acres of unoccupied hill garden on Nantai island, which became the foreign settlement, were leased in 1860 from the village elders, and some additional land later. Parts of the land were sublet in 1861, 1863 and 1877 to the Chinese Maritime Customs and the American Mission. A residence, assistant’s house, offices and courtroom were completed here by 1869. Foochow being the provincial viceroy’s place of residence, the consul had hitherto been living in a house inside the city: by 1881, it was still leased, but seldom occupied. The address [which?] at one time was Chung-Chieh, or Main street. According to Coates, [p.122], a house in the city, presumably this one, was retained for thirty years after its vacation to maintain the principle that foreigners were entitled to live in the city itself.

The Post closed in 1951: all the properties were taken over by the Central People’s Government, and sold to them [?] in 1964.

Siteplan, 1911.

Major William Crossman’s sketchplan for residence, 1867.

Offices, on ground floor, and assistant’s quarter, on first floor, 1911.

Consul’s residence, completed 1869, in 1911.

Pagoda Island (Luoxing)

A vice-consulate was established ten miles downstream of Foochow in 1867 to deal with shipping that required a deeper anchorage than was available at Foochow. The anchorage lay in a bend of the river, beneath a high bluff and close to an island capped with a seven storey stone pagoda. The consulate’s first accommodation was a bungalow, bought from a Mrs Dobie in 1868 for $4,000, on the island between the pagoda and a small fort. Two years later, a site, Lot 268 [?], was bought on the crest of the nearby bluff, known as Yentai or Mawei, and here a vice-consular bungalow, office and constable’s quarter were completed in 1872.

After its vacation by the vice-consul, the first bungalow was let to the Imperial Maritime Customs until 1878, and sold in 1889. After the vice-consul post was abolished [when? c. 1905], the compound on the bluff was let to the consular agent, Dr Myers, until his death in 1920, after which the Salt Administration leased it for a while. Both houses in the compound were damaged by Japanese bombs in 1938. The compound was handed over to the Chinese government in 1942.

The Pagoda still stands.

Sketch of the anchorage at Pagoda Island, with site of first vice-consulate between Pagoda and Fort, 1870.

Robert Boyce’s site survey notes for new vice-consulate, 1870.

Consulate, on bluff opposite Pagods Island, built 1872.

Consulate, ?1911.