Stephen Davies


Professor Stephen Davies comes from a British naval family that has been connected with Hong Kong for almost a century. He first arrived in Hong Kong in 1947, was schooled in Britain, served in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and returned to teach political theory at The University of Hong Kong in 1974. Between 1990 and 2004, he and his partner sailed 50,000 miles, visiting 27 countries in their 11.8m sailing sloop Fiddler’s Green II.

In 2005, Professor Davies opened Hong Kong’s young maritime museum as the founding Museum Director. He retired in January 2011 having found the museum its new home on the city’s Central waterfront, got government financial support, helped create a HK$80 million endowment fund from shipping industry donors, and finalised the gallery layout. Until July 2013, he was the museum’s first China State Shipbuilding Corporation Maritime Heritage Research Fellow completing gallery storylines, display panel texts, object selection and captions, and scripting 23 audio-visual interactive displays.

Professor Davies has been an Honorary Institute Fellow of The University of Hong Kong’s Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences since 2004. He was appointed a Chevalier de I’Ordre du Mérite Maritime by the Government of France in 2009 for his contributions to cross-cultural maritime scholarship and education in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong Books

In December 1846, the Keying, a Chinese junk purchased by British investors, set sail from Hong Kong for London. Named after the Chinese Imperial Commissioner who had signed away Hong Kong to the British, manned by a Chinese and European crew, and carrying a travelling exhibition of Chinese items, the Keying had a troubled voyage. After quarrels on the way and a diversion to New York, culminating in a legal dispute over arrears of wages for Chinese members of the crew, it finally reached London in 1848, where it went on exhibition on the River Thames until 1853. It was then auctioned off, towed to Liverpool, and finally broken up. In this account of the ship, the crew and the voyage, Stephen Davies tells a story of missed opportunities, with an erratic course, overambitious aims, and achievements born of lucky breaks―a microcosm, in fact, of early Hong Kong and of the relations between China and the West.

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Photographs by William Heering in the second half of the 20th century of the classic vessels of the ancient but vital element of China’s maritime world.

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This is a history of one of the most enduring institutions of Hong Kong, and the first of its kind. Using the Club’s own records as well as a wide range of sources both from within Hong Kong and from the seafaring world at large, this is a comprehensive account of the life of the Missions, the tenancy of the different chaplains, managers, and stewards, the changes in seafaring practices and shipping, and the transformation of Hong Kong itself.

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Mementoes of HMS Tamar abound in Hong Kong, but what is really known about this troopship and her role in the maintenance of British imperial rule? Using logbooks, newspapers, and numerous other sources, this book pieces together the multifaceted and largely unknown history of the Tamar . From her launch into service to her roles as a hospital, theatre stage, and transport for military personnel, the Tamar carried not just people, but also their mundane dreams and ambitions— for friends, families, and staying alive. Any ideas or concerns about sustaining the empire seldom featured in their minds at all, but it was this empire that the Tamar served for seventy-nine years, steaming the equivalent of thirty-two times around the Earth and transporting tens of thousands of people to what would seem to them another world.

In this engaging narrative, the Tamar’s exploits and the experiences of her crew and passengers parallel those of the British Empire and its subjects, bringing to life the realities of imperial life on land and at sea. As mud continues to settle over the Tamar’s forgotten remains in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Transport to Another World will appeal to historians and readers interested in maritime history and colonial Hong Kong in general, and makes a case for conserving the memory of a past some would prefer to forget.

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The theme of this volume is the American relationship with Macao and its region through trade, politics, and culture, and the focus is mainly on the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The essays address topics such as the role of the China trade in US pacific expansion and exploration, US consuls, smuggling networks, American women’s perceptions of China, and missionary and educational work. In all of the encounters, Macao emerges as a central player, adding a new dimension to our understanding of Sino-American relations.

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Meeting Place: Encounters across Cultures in Hong Kong, 1841–1984 presents detailed empirical studies of day-to-day interactions among people of different cultures in a variety of settings. The broad conclusion―that there was sustained and multilevel contact among men and women of different cultures―will challenge and complicate traditional historical understandings of Hong Kong as a city either of rigid segregation or of pervasive integration.

Given its geographical location, its status as a free port, and its role as a center of migration, Hong Kong was an extraordinarily porous place. People of diverse cultures met and mingled here, often with unexpected results. The case studies in this book draw both on previously unused sources and on a rigorous rereading of familiar materials. They explore relationships among and within the Japanese, Eurasian, German, Portuguese, British, Chinese, and other communities in areas of activity that have often been overlooked―from the schoolroom and the family home to the courtroom and international trading concern, from the gardens of Government House to boarding houses for destitute sailors. In their diverse experiences we see not just East meeting West but also East meeting East and South meeting North―in fact, a range of complex and dynamic processes that seem to render obsolete any simplistic conception of “East meets West.”

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