A ladies’ market with the best from Suzhou & Hangzhou
Right by the original shoreline, Jervois Street was a trading hub and the place ladies went for fabrics: embroidered silk, printed linens and lots of threads and buttons, thus the nickname Ladies’ Street. There were more than 80 stores in this bustling street, most of them came from Suzhou and Hangzhou, so the locals called the street Suhang Street.
What’s in a name?
In 1851 a huge fire burnt down Sheung Wan Market, and with it over 200 houses, killing over 30 people in this dense neighbourhood. The Government used the debris for reclamation to supply more land for building Victoria City, killing two birds with one stone. British General William Jervois was the man in charge and one of the newly reclaimed streets was thus named after him. They also matched his Chinese name乍畏街but it didn’t quite have the required lucky sound, so Suhang Street (蘇杭街) stayed, officially renamed in 1978.
Hint of history
The only place where you can still see the street’s old Chinese name is at Yuen Kut Lam, a century-old Chinese herbal tea store, managed by the sixth generation Yuens. They came to Jervois Street in 1906 and bought the shop house in 1923, but the history of the house goes all the way back to 1889, when Jervois Street still had the governor’s matching Chinese name, check out the door plate.
Jervois Street has always remained a place with speciality shops. For many years since 1860s here was the city’s main market for colourful Chinese Lunar New Year decorations, great annual bustle until late 20th century. There’re still some old school shops selling chemicals, old films, speciality tea and spices.