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Kadoorie Family: A Short History 嘉道理家族簡史
The Kadoorie Family has been intimately associated with the development of Hong Kong for over 140 years. In 1880, Elly Kadoorie emigrated from Baghdad, Iraq to the Far East via Bombay, India. Over the following decades, he built up a business empire centred in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Together with his brother Ellis Kadoorie, Elly dedicated much of his time on philanthropy – building schools, hospitals and other institutions in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Europe, India, and the Middle East.
After the war, the Kadoorie Family, now under the leadership of Elly's sons, Lawrence and Horace, focused attention on their Hong Kong interests, notably China Light and Power and The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, owner of the world famous Peninsula Hotel group, as well as new enterprises such as Tai Ping Carpets. During this period, the brothers worked closely with the then Military Administration to rebuild a devastated Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the Kadoorie Family's philanthropic efforts continued to grow, bringing benefits – most prominently through the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association (KAAA) – locally, and through their charitable projects across the region. The Kadoorie brothers also served on numerous government committees and received accolades in recognition of their dedication to public service.
Today the Family's interests continue to grow under the direction of Lawrence's son, Michael, with the support from other members of the Family.
今天，在羅蘭士嘉道理的兒子 — 米高的帶領及其他家族成員的支持下，嘉道理家族的業務和慈善事業繼續茁壯發展。
Voyage to the East
In the early 1880s, a young Elly Kadoorie began to work for the Sassoon Family first in Bombay, India, and later in Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports of China. Elly later returned to Hong Kong to establish a brokerage partnership under the name ‘Kelly’. In 1906 Elly went solo, and in 1927 his firm was renamed “Sir Elly Kadoorie & Sons” to mark the ascension of his sons to the family business. The Kadoories went on to develop commercial interests in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, including in electricity and gas; wharves, docks, and shipyards; hospitality; property development; engineering; and later, textile manufacturing and aviation.
The Kadoorie Family, pictured in the mid-1920s. From left to right: Horace, Elly and Lawrence
Two Families Unite: Kadoories and Mocattas
Laura Kadoorie (née Mocatta) hailed from a prestigious London Sephardi-Jewish family. She was a keen diarist, painter, and adventurous traveller. Laura met Elly in London in the early 1890s and they were married at the West London Synagogue in 1897. Soon after, Laura bore three sons; Lawrence (1899), Victor (1900) - who died in infancy - and Horace (1902). The family relocated to Hong Kong (c. 1897), and following a brief stint in England, left for Shanghai (1911), where Elly opened his new Head Office. In 1919, Laura tragically died in a fire in the family home at 161 Bubbling Well Road.
Education for Girls in the Middle East
Known in his time as a ‘Prince of Philanthropists’, Elly Kadoorie did much to promote education for girls in the Middle East. In 1895, the French-Jewish organisation ‘Alliance Israélite Universelle’ (AIU) opened the first school for girls in Baghdad, then under Ottoman rule. Elly sponsored the school which became the ‘Lady Laura Kadoorie School and Atelier for Girls’ in 1912. For a time, it played an important role in the emancipation of women in Baghdad by providing non-denominational education and promoting a culture of independence. Elly and his sons went on to support several AIU schools across Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
Students and teachers gather for a photograph in the main hall of the Lady Laura Kadoorie School in Baghdad, Iraq, 1920s
Education for Chinese and Ethnic Minorities
In 1901, Ellis Kadoorie and Lau Zyu-baak founded the ‘Ellis Kadoorie Chinese Schools Society’ to provide training for Chinese students in the English and Chinese languages for Chinese students in Mainland China and Hong Kong so that they could obtain work with foreign firms more easily. Schools opened in Hong Kong include Ellis Kadoorie Girls’ School, and Ellis Kadoorie School for Chinese Boys. Ellis Kadoorie School for Indians was also opened in Hong Kong to cater to the education needs of ethnic minorities.
Opening of the extension to the Ellis Kadoorie School for Indians attended by the Ruttonjee Family and Lawrence Kadoorie (seated third left) and Horace Kadoorie (seated far right)
Building a Hotel Empire
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH) was one of the Kadoorie Family’s earliest and most successful long-term commercial investments. Created out of a merger between two hotel companies in 1923, HSH took control of a vast portfolio of hotels in China and Hong Kong. Elly Kadoorie first purchased 25 shares in The Hongkong Hotel Company in 1890. Sixteen years later, his brother Ellis became a major shareholder and in 1914 he was appointed director. After Elly’s death, Horace Kadoorie took on the family mantle – becoming a director of HSH in 1945 and chairing the company to the heights of success from 1950 to 1985.
香港上海大酒店集團是嘉道理家族最早、最成功的長線投資之一。集團源於1923年港滬兩家酒店公司的合併，此後坐擁兩地多家酒店。早在1890年，艾利嘉道理首次購入25股香港酒店公司股份。十六年後，其胞弟艾理士成為公司主要股東，更在1914年獲任命為董事。艾利逝世後，其子賀理士嘉道理接手酒店事業 — 他於1945年成為香港上海大酒店集團董事，帶領公司在1950年至1985年間走向頂尖酒店集團的行列。
‘E.S. Kelly’ (Elly Kadoorie) is listed as a shareholder of The Hongkong Hotel Company on 3 March 1890
Reaching the Peak
Pioneered by enterprising Scotsman Alexander Findlay Smith, the Peak Tram, Asia’s first cable funicular railway, was inaugurated in 1888. The Kadoorie Family has a long-standing association with the Peak Tram which dates back to 1905, when Elly Kadoorie played an active role in transforming the former private company into a public limited company, along with fellow entrepreneurs Sir Paul Chater and H.N. Mody. Lawrence Kadoorie served as a director of the company for many years, and in 1948 Horace Kadoorie took up his seat on the Board. In 1971, HSH acquired the Peak Tramways Company.
山頂纜車是亞洲最早的纜車索道系統，由富有創見的蘇格蘭人亞歷山大•芬梨•史密夫 (Alexander Findlay Smith) 於1888年創辦。1905年艾利嘉道理與企業家遮打爵士 (Sir Paul Chater) 及麼地爵士 (H.N. Mody) 促成與山頂纜車由私人公司轉型為公眾有限公司的計劃，開展家族與山頂纜車的不解緣。羅蘭士嘉道理出任纜車公司的董事多年後，1948年由其胞弟賀理士嘉道理接任。山頂纜車公司1971年被香港上海大酒店集團收購。
Horace Kadoorie cuts a cake in celebration of the Peak Tram’s 90th birthday, 1978
A Powerful Connection
Another company that was to play a formative role in the history of the Kadoorie Family – and vice versa – was China Light and Power (CLP), incorporated in 1901 to provide electricity for Kowloon. Elly Kadoorie was one of the original seven shareholders of CLP, whilst his brother Ellis invested in CLP as early as 1918. In 1930, Lawrence Kadoorie became CLP’s director, and four years later he was appointed chairman, a position he held for 39 years. He would play a pivotal role in the company’s post-war success.
Lawrence Kadoorie’s memorandum, written in 1938, outlines his vision for CLP’s future
Marble Hall: Family Home in Shanghai
Originally conceived as a Jewish Country Club, Marble Hall became the Kadoorie Family’s home in 1924 and a centre of social and charitable activities in Shanghai. Early guests included the famous Indian poet Sir Rabindranath Tagore and the first American aviators to circumnavigate the globe. After the Second World War, Marble Hall briefly became the unofficial Allied Headquarters in Shanghai. In 1953, soon after the Communists came to power in China, the Kadoories handed Marble Hall to Dr Sun Yat-sen’s widow, Soong Ching-ling, for her ‘Children’s Welfare Institute’. The building still functions today as the Children’s Palace.
原設計用作猶太鄉村俱樂部的大理石宮，1924年成為嘉道理家族的上海宅邸，經常舉行社交和慈善活動。早期接待的賓客包括印度著名詩人泰戈爾爵士（Sir Rabindranath Tagore）和首批環繞地球的美國飛行員。二戰後，大理石宮短暫成為同盟國在上海的非正式總部。中國共產黨上台後，嘉道理家族於1953年將大理石宮贈予孫中山遺孀宋慶齡所領導的中國福利會，成為少年宮並營運至今。
Marble Hall pictured soon after it was built in the 1920s
A Garden City in Kowloon
In the early 1930s, Lawrence Kadoorie returned from Shanghai to Hong Kong to re-open a branch of the family business. One of the family’s first investments during this period was in The Hongkong Engineering and Construction Company Limited (HKECC), a struggling civil contractor founded in 1922. The company saw a turn of fortune in 1930, when Jose Pedro Braga was appointed chairman, and Elly Kadoorie, based in Shanghai, also joined the Board. The following year, HKECC purchased 30 acres of barren hills near Kowloon Tong to build a Garden City in Kowloon – today’s ‘Kadoorie Estate’ – a luxury residential enclave. In 1945, Lawrence Kadoorie became HKECC’s chairman.
羅蘭士嘉道理於1930年代初返港主持在香港重開的家族公司辦事處。當時家族的其中一項業務為香港建新營造有限公司。建新營造成立於1922年，這家工程承建商一直艱苦經營，直至1930年布力架（Jose Pedro Braga）出任主席及以上海為基地的艾利嘉道理加入董事局，公司才扭轉頹勢，重上軌道。次年，建新營造購入鄰近九龍塘一幅面積30英畝的荒山土地，建造一座綠意盎然的「花園城市」，亦即今天的「加多利山」住宅區。1945年，羅蘭士嘉道理出任建新營造的主席。
HKECC’s shareholders’ attendance book. Lawrence Kadoorie, based in Hong Kong, was listed as his father’s alternate in 1930
Aid to European Jewish Refugees in Shanghai
At the beginning of the Second World War, Horace Kadoorie was based in Shanghai, overseeing the family’s investments in companies such as Shanghai Gas. On seeing the plight of Jewish refugees who had recently escaped Nazism, Horace founded the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association (SJYA) in 1937 with the aim to ‘relieve suffering and to bring happiness’ to refugee children in the city. As more and more Jewish refugees entered Shanghai, Horace opened the SJYA school in 1939. After the war, as Jewish communities began to leave Shanghai, enrolment dwindled, and the school was closed in 1949.
A young European Jewish refugee drinks soda pop at the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association Summer Club ‘Fun Fair’ held in the grounds of the Shanghai Jewish School in 1938
The Clouds of War
Shortly after Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong in December 1941, Lawrence was interned in Stanley Camp with his father, wife Muriel and their two children, Rita (18 months), and Michael (6 months), along with other Allied nationals. Later, the family were transferred to Shanghai, and in 1943 interned at Chapei Camp. They were released in 1944 to see Elly on his deathbed at Marble Hall, which was under Japanese occupation. Now living under house arrest but reunited with Horace, Lawrence learned about the atomic bombing of Japanese cities and the Japanese surrender from a friend who owned a clandestine radio.
Lawrence Kadoorie pictured in G.I. uniform in Kunming, China, after liberation. He is awaiting his return to Hong Kong by RAF flight in early September 1945
Rebuilding Hong Kong
After liberation, Hong Kong was ruled for eight months by a Military Administration led by Brigadier David MacDougall, who enlisted Lawrence Kadoorie, one of the first British civilians to return to Hong Kong after the war, to help expediate rebuilding efforts. Kadoorie served as the Chairman of the Building Reconstruction Committee and on the Labour Advisory Board. Together with Horace, Lawrence helped procure surplus supplies from the U.S. military for Hong Kong. In 1946, Sir Cecil Harcourt, the Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, invited Lawrence to join his Consultative Council. During this time, Lawrence also worked to revive the family businesses which had fallen into Japanese hands.
Horace Kadoorie (seated middle) signs a contract for the purchase of food for the Hong Kong Government from the American Field Liquidation Commission, c. 1945. Kadoorie is flanked by Alwyne George Neville Ogden, the British Consul General (left), and General Johnson to his right
賀理士嘉道理（中）簽訂合同，代表香港政府向American Field Liquidation Commission採購糧食，1945年。坐者：英國總領事Ogden先生（左）、Johnson將軍（右）
Help for Farmers
Soon after the end of the Second World War, political instability in China triggered an influx of immigrants into Hong Kong, many of whom survived on subsistence farming in the New Territories. On seeing their plight, Horace and Lawrence established the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association (KAAA) in 1951. Known as ‘Mr. New Territories’ for his dedication to Hong Kong’s rural people and with a keen interest in horticulture and agriculture, Horace could often be found working hand-in-hand with rural farmers. He also served on the government’s Rural Development Committee in the 1950s and 1960s.
Distribution of KAAA cement in Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Lord Kadoorie granted Peerage
Lawrence Kadoorie served on a number of committees during his long career. These included the Executive and Legislative Councils of Hong Kong; the Council of the University of Hong Kong; the Board of Education ; and advisory bodies concerned with such matters as labour, taxation, town planning, and public transport. Nominated by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Lawrence was made a life peer in the 1981 Queen's Birthday Honours List as Baron of Kowloon in Hong Kong and of the City of Westminster (UK). He was the first Hong Kong-born member of the House of Lords in Britain.
Lord Kadoorie pictured in the House of Lords (UK), 1982