September 2018
Diving Helmet
In 2020, Swire will celebrate its 150th anniversary of doing business in Hong Kong. Over the next few issues of Swire News, in the run up to the sesquicentenary, we will be looking a range of historic artefacts preserved in the group's archives that provide a tangible reminder of just how closely Swire's development has been linked to that of its home city through the years.

Taikoo Dockyard diver, Silas George Goard, prepares to dive, using a similar helmet in the 1910s.
Taikoo Dockyard diver, Silas George Goard, prepares to dive, using a similar helmet in the 1910s.

The copper and brass diving helmet pictured was once owned by the Taikoo Dockyard. It was part of a suit used by divers when inspecting below the waterline damage to ships alongside the dockyard's seawalls or during remote salvage operations, in the days long before remotely-operated submarine equipment or even scuba gear was in widespread use.

Taikoo Dockyard, which operated between the mid-1900s and early 1970s, played a prominent role in Hong Kong's industrial heritage. It was the most sophisticated shipbuilding yard in Asia in its heyday, and was also one of Hong Kong's leading employers. When it opened in 1907, the yard was capable of accommodating the largest ships afloat and Taikoo went on to build around 500 vessels of different sizes over the next 65 years. It was also one of Hong Kong's most enlightened employers, providing staff housing, a hospital and school. The advent of large container shipping, requiring a much greater depth of water than was available in Hong Kong's eastern harbour, triggered the development of a new container port at Kwai Chung in the early 1970s and spelled an end to the viability of Taikoo Dockyard's Quarry Bay facilities. But soon after the yard's closure, a newly-formed company, Swire Properties, began to redevelop the original site into the thriving business and residential neighbourhood that is today known as Taikoo Place and Cityplaza.

Taikoo Dockyard is not just one of Hong Kong's most important historic companies, it is also one of its bestdocumented. In addition to fascinating artefacts such as this helmet, photographs exist tracing every stage of its development from the very first breaking of ground to its closure, with all of the stages of its development in between.

Swire News 2018 September Issue
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