Chengtu (Chengdu)

Inland, in the centre of the province. A consulate was opened in 1902 as a political Post to counter French designs in Szechwan and to keep an eye on Chinese activities in Tibet. It was difficult to overcome Chinese objections to a consulate that was not at a treaty port. A site of 2½ acres for the consulate was bought in 1906 by the consul but it was still occupied by native owners and tenants, and the deeds were put in the name of a British missionary, who may have embezzled the purchase monies. All attempts to register the title failed, and pursuit of the site was abandoned in 1926. The consulate therefore remained in leased premises throughout its life. In 1952, a team from the Canadian mission could not find the site and in 1962 the Treasury agreed that this dubious asset should be written off.

Chungking (Chongqing)

A river port high up the Yangtze, fourteen hundred miles from its mouth. China accepted a British consular officer at Chungking in 1877 but the port was only opened to foreign trade in 1891. Even so, steam boats were not allowed so far up the river until 1896.

The old city lies along a huge limestone tongue between the Yangtze and Kia-Ling rivers. The early consular officers, who spent a great deal of their time travelling in the south and west of China, rented a native house in the middle of the city and were allowed by the Treasury to counterbalance its unhealthy milieu by building in 1898 a bungalow in the hills at Liang Fen Yu, about two miles south on the other side of the river.

For a permanent consular residence and offices, a perpetual lease was signed in 1896 on a site near the West Gate, at the root of the tongue, on which to build. A two-storey consul’s house with offices and adjacent constable’s quarters and gaol, designed by Cowan, were completed here in 1900, and outbuildings and boundary wall in 1907. The site was enlarged by the purchase in 1904 of two adjacent lots, to bring the compound up to about five acres in all.

The consulate was looted in June 1925, and upgraded to consulate-general status in 1929. A house for a vice-consul was added in 1935 and the constable’s house converted to offices. Air raids on the compound were frequent during the Sino-Japanese war 1939-41 [check]. The consul’s house was shattered, temporarily reconstructed, shattered again and reconstructed again, this time as offices, including for the embassy, which moved to Chungking with the Nationalist government, after a brief spell in Hankow, in late 1941 and remained until 1945, when it returned to Nanking. The new vice-consul’s house was totally destroyed and its site cleared for temporary structures for the military mission, for whose attaches a temporary house was built on the tennis court. The Ministry of Information funded a house for its press attaché on the lower kitchen garden. The original constable’s house, later offices, was extended [?] in 1944 to become a counsellor’s house. By the end of the war, about twenty temporary structures had sprung up around the compound. By then, too, the consul-general’s residence was a rented house three miles west, and elements of the Post had retreated to the Naval Canteen, built by the Admiralty in 1902 on land leased for 60 years from Mackenzie and Co. on the south side of the river (at 47 and 48 Wa Ch’ang Wan).

Various of the compound buildings were then let, including the former embassy junior staff mess. The post closed in 1951 and the compound was sold in 1964. Its address then was 8, 9 and 11 Ling Shih Lang.

Compound siteplan, 1897.

Consul’s house, south frontage, 1911.

East frontage of consul’s house, 1911.

Wreck of consul’s house immediately after bombing, 1941.

First floor plan, 1916.

Ground floor plan, 1916.

Location plan of embassy , 1941.

Tachienlu (Dajianlu)

A consulate was opened here in 1913, some twelve days’ journey west from Chengtu. Its purpose was to report on Chinese troop movements in the aftermath of the Chinese expulsion from Tibet in 1911. The Post lasted until the late 1920s.