♦  From Hall to Coed College: in Brief  ♦

St. John’s Hall, established by the Anglican Church in 1912, was the first residential hall of the University. The original site of the Hall is the current St. Paul’s College, Hing Hon Road, at East Gate of the University of Hong Kong.

In 1955, St. John’s Hall was moved to the current site at 82 Pokfulam Road. At the same time, St. John’s hall was combined with the first women’s hall of residence, St. Stephen’s Hall. The resultant is HKU’s first Co-ed Hall of Residencenamed St. John’s College.The College’s new mission is to train and nurture new leadership for the new China.

In 1979, the second phase of St. John’s College was completed with the building of a new wing, “Aw Boon Haw Wing” and the Liang Chi Hao Building. The third phase development, the building of the postgraduate wing, Wong Chik Ting Hall, was accomplished 20 years later, in 1997, providing more than 130 en-suite accommodations for postgraduates and visiting scholars.

♦ The Road to “Excellence”: in Detail ♦

Excellence Since 1912

In 1911, while the University of Hong Kong was still under construction, The Governor Lord Lugard made it compulsory for all students of the University to live in residential halls in order to ensure” discipline and moral education”. He and the Vice-chancellor invited Anglican Church in Hong Kong and the Church Missionary Society to fund the building of the first hall of residence.

Besides the provision of education and nurture of character in the best of the Oxbridge tradition, St John’s Hall had the stated purpose of the propagation of the Gospel and evangelism as well. Warden, Tutors and chaplain were appointed to realise this task.The first being the Reverend Hewitt and the Reverend Shann.

The Fairlea Girls’ School, which was opposite the University’s Main Building, was transformed into St. John’s Hall. In 1912, the first batch of students moved in.There were a total of 33 students of which 23 were graduates from St. Stephen’s College, Stanley. In the following years, the hall was renovated for several times to hold 70 students in all.

When Rachel Irving, daughter of E.A. Irving, then Head of the Education Department, was admitted to the University on September 1921, the need to build a female residential hall became eminent. Thus, the Anglican Church established a female residential hall at No. 13 Babington Road (which was later moved to No. 15 on the same road). This was St. Stephen’s Hall and was staffed and managed by St. Stephen’s Girls’ College.

The Second World War

The number of students began to grow through the years, and the residential halls were unable to meet the demand by 1939. The Anglican Church decided to establish a new hall opposite the Cricket Ground (St. John’s College current address) to replace St. John’s Hall and St. Stephen’s Hall.But the proposal had to be abandoned due to Japanese invasion of China.

St. John’s Hall had to close down when Japan invaded Hong Kong on 8 December 1941.The Auxiliary Fire Brigade took over the use of the Hall’s building. On 25 December, Hong Kong was in a destitute state and St. John’s Hall was extensively looted by refugees. During the Japanese occupation, St. John’s Hall was occupied by a Japanese infantry company, and as a shelter for Anglo-Indian and Eurasian refugees. By 1945, when Britain regained sovereignty over Hong Kong, St. John’s Hall had been completely demolished – all that was left were four blank walls.

During this period, many St Johnians participated in the defence of Hong Kong, the Mainland and their home countries. Many distinguished themselves, and many lost their lives, including Major General Lim Bo Seng, Sergeant Yoong Yew Moy (George Yoong), Mr. Tam Cheung, Mr. Lim Ban Sing (Luke Lim), Mrs. Kathleen Martin, Private Clifford Matthews.

Relocation to the Present Address and a New Mission

On September 1946, the University of Hong Kong resumed classes. The Education Department agreed to help rebuild St. John’s on the condition that it could use St. John’s West Wing. St. John’s was thus reopened in September 1947. The West Wing was used as the Northcote Training College Primary School and St. Paul’s Boys’ College. This Hig Hon Road site was later given to St. Paul’s College for Boys.An air of urgency and new sense of purpose was in the air.In 1954, the Anglican Church  began implementing its plans made before the War.Combining both St. John’s Hall and St. Stephen’s Hall  a new Co-educational hall of residence was established at the present address, St. John’s College. The first phase of the construction, the Marden Wing (Old Wing), commenced in 1954 and was completed in 1955. This building was named after the founder George Marden and provided about 100 rooms.

Bishop R. O. Hall chose to name the new Co-ed hall “The College of St John’s the Evangelist”.The stated purpose of College was now the training of future leaders and intellectuals for the new China. Beside the appointment of the Master of College, the first female warden, Ms. Ada Leung, was appointed to College.

While civil war broke out in the Mainland, College member, along with HKU students, sensed the need to reflect on their role and responsibilities. This resulted in discussions on what should be the foundation of the ‘new’ China, and the meaning of ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’.  Resultant shifts included use of ‘Cantonese’ as the lingua fraca among students; and earnest mutually respecting,formal and informal discussions among students of diverse political persuasions learning from each other.The outcome of this enrichment was the sense of mission to serve the nation and Hong Kong,to work together, each in their own profession and service to the community, for the improvement of the lives and dignity of those who are still struggling to access jobs, housing, medical services, education, and opportunities in life.

The first S.A. Chairman and floor association

In 1956, the College’s first Student Association was established. Mr. Wong Kee Fung was elected as the Chairperson. The Chain of Aquila, the Symbol of the Chairperson’s position and rile, was first created and had been passed to the newly elected chairperson. At the same year, the first Floor Association, the House of Lords, was formed. This set the momentum for the foundation of floor cultures in St. John’s College.



Establishment of the New Wing

The Aw Boon Haw Wing (New Wing) and the Liang Chi Hao Centre, extension building to meet the increasing number of university students, admitted their first students on 16 March 1979.



Foundation of the Third Wing

The Wong Chik Ting Hall (Third Wing) was completed in 1997 and serviced students on 1 September. This extension is mainly for postgraduate, doctorate and international students. From then on, there are 125 places for male students and 98 for female students in the Old Wing and New Wing, a total of 223 places; the Third Wing holds 111 places.