The Kadoorie Family and Hong Kong

The Kadoorie Family.jpg
The Kadoorie Family first arrived in Hong Kong in 1880, when Sir Elly Kadoorie emigrated from Baghdad in search of business opportunities in the Far East.  Over the following decades, Sir Elly gradually built up a business empire centred in Hong Kong and Shanghai, based on a successful and durable blend of enterprise, long-term vision and community service.

The dramatic events of World War Two and the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime in Mainland China led the Kadoorie Family, now under the leadership of Sir Elly's sons, Sir Lawrence Kadoorie (later Lord Kadoorie) and his brother Horace (later Sir Horace), to concentrate their attentions on their Hong Kong interests and activities, notably China Light and Power (CLP) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels; the owner of the world famous Peninsula Hotel. At the same time, the Kadoorie's philanthropic activities continued to grow, bringing benefits not only to Hong Kong, most prominently through the Kadoorie Farm, but also through their charitable projects across the region.

These business and charitable works grow and thrive today under the direction of Sir Michael Kadoorie, Lord Kadoorie's son, with the support and commitment of the other members of the family.

The history of the Kadoorie Family is part of the history of Hong Kong. The family, their businesses and their charitable works have been a common witness, alongside Hong Kong's people, to a dramatic century of colonialism, war, industrialisation and reunification with China.  The characteristics of the family businesses have meant that they have both mirrored and supported the growth of Hong Kong.  For example, CLP has met Hong Kong's increasing electricity demand while supporting the manufacturing and industrial boom of the mid twentieth century. The Peninsula Hotel and Peak Tram are not only icons of Hong Kong, but an enduring expression of Hong Kong's status as one of the hubs of Asia; a meeting point for travellers and businessmen alike.

Hong Kong has been home to the Kadoorie Family for over 135 years. The family has been welcomed in Hong Kong and given an opportunity to prosper. The family has always believed in making a contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of their fellow citizens in return for this great opportunity.

In recent years, Sir Michael, again with the backing of the family, has become increasingly aware of the need for active steps to preserve Hong Kong's heritage for the benefit of all members of the community. This need is heightened by two considerations – the passage of time, meaning that memories of the dramatic events of the 1930s, 40s and 50s were being lost, and the increasing velocity of history, whereby rapid changes in Hong Kong life, such as its transition from a manufacturing colony to a service-based economy within China are leading to a rapid loss of previous traditions and ways of life. At the same time, the increased interest in preserving local heritage icons has shown the growing attachment of Hong Kong's people to their collective heritage and that this is an emotion shared by young and old alike.

Against this background, Sir Michael initiated the Hong Kong History Project (HKHP) to acquire, collate and make available to the public, documents, photographs, film and testimony relating to the history of the Kadoorie Family, its businesses and charitable work in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

At first, we expected this project to be characterised by a narrow focus on the Kadoorie Family, CLP, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels group and other specific business and philanthropic interests. In practice, we rapidly discovered that the links between the Kadoorie Family and Hong Kong were so close and so intertwined that it was impossible to tell the story of the Kadoories without telling a great deal of the history of Hong Kong.

And so, HKHP grew to be not just the story of the Kadoorie Family, but a lens or window through which the history of Hong Kong can be told and part of its heritage preserved for future generations.


The Kadoorie Family.jpg嘉道理家族與香港的淵源始於1880年。當年艾利‧嘉道理爵士離鄉別井,從巴格達遠渡重洋前來遠東,希望開創一番事業。在往後的幾十年,艾利‧嘉道理爵士憑著創建精神、遠大目光,以及造褔社群的熱忱,逐步建立起一個以香港和上海為中心的商業王國。

其後艾利‧嘉道理兩子,即羅蘭士‧嘉道理(後獲封嘉道理勳爵)與其胞弟賀理士(後獲封爵士)接掌家族生意。歷經二次大戰、中國政權易手等歷史巨變後,家族專注發展香港業務,包括中電及上海大酒店集團旗下的世界知名的半島酒店。與此同時,嘉道理家族亦不斷拓展慈善工作,嘉道理農場為當中骨幹,扶腋農業發展,幫助新界農民,並透過各地的慈善項目惠及區內其他社群。

今天,在嘉道理勳爵的兒子米高嘉道理爵士領導下,嘉道理家族各成員繼續鼎力支持這些業務和慈善事業茁壯發展。

嘉道理家族的發展史與香港的歷史牢牢緊扣。嘉道理家族、其業務和公益事業跟其他香港人一起見證了本港百年的風雲變化,包括殖民統治、戰亂、工業發展、回歸祖國等。家族的業務可以説是與香港同步並進,相輔相成。舉例說,中電在滿足香港與日俱增的電力需求的同時,也促成了20世紀中葉本港工商百業的蓬勃發展。而半島酒店和山頂纜車不僅是香港地標,其悠久歷史更突顯香港長久以來作為區內旅遊和商貿重鎮的地位。

嘉道理家族扎根香港超過135年,一直受到香港人的敬重愛戴,並因善握機遇而成功創業致富。故此,家族一直致力在社會及經濟方面作出貢獻,以回饋社會及市民大衆。

近年來,米高嘉道理爵士日益意識到只有積極行動,方能為香港保存本土歷史文化,他的意願亦得到家族的支持。他認爲:一)隨著時間流逝,人們對上世紀三十至五十年代歷史大事的記憶正逐漸消失;二)歷史巨輪急轉,香港由以製造業為主轉型為中國一個服務業主導的經濟體,令市民原有的生活模式起了重大轉變,昔日的傳統日漸式微。與此同時,市民對歷史地標的去留關注,正好反映刻下的香港人,不分老幼,對本地文化傳統均懷有一份日益深厚的感情。

固此,米高嘉道理爵士推動「香港社會發展回顧」項目,以嘉道理家族及其在香港及其他地方的業務發展及慈善事業為著眼點,廣泛收集和整理有關的歷史文件、照片、錄像和口述記錄檔案,並公開予各界人士分享。

最初我們預計這檔案庫的藏品主要是跟嘉道理家族、中電、香港上海大酒店集團及其他業務和慈善事業有關。然而,我們很快便發現嘉道理家族與香港社會存在千絲萬縷的關係,在實行這項目時若不將兩者相提並論,便不能將香港的歷史拼圖完滿地湊合起來。

因此,「香港社會發展回顧」項目不只是嘉道理家族發展歷程的寫照,更是透視香港歷史的鏡頭或窗戶,讓我們可從中將部分寶貴的文化傳統錄載及保存下來。