We have just gone live with a collection of 82 photographs taken or acquired by Francis Alexander (Frank) Davidson, who arrived in Hong Kong in the autumn of 1921, fresh from vet school in Edinburgh, and who worked as veterinary surgeon at the Dairy Farm in Pok Fu Lam (薄扶林). Davidson stayed in the British colony until late 1923, when he headed home to take up a place at the Royal Veterinary College in Edinburgh before embarking on a career in Scotland.
The collection came to us from its family home in Canada, and includes photographs he took of Kowloon, the Dairy Farm and some of its 930 cows — Hong Kong’s fresh milk supply — Canton (Guangzhou), including Canton Christian College, now the site of Zhongshan University, and a series documenting the powerful typhoon which hit the colony on 8 August 1923.
My favourite is one of a number labelled as being taken at ‘Dead City Canton’ (as was common amongst foreign visitors, photographs of Chinese funerals and burial practices were of interest to Davidson). This is the Yongsheng si, 永胜寺, a temporary resting site for the coffins of sojourners in Canton, awaiting dispatch on to their places of origin for proper formal burial. It was a site much-recommended in foreign guidebooks.