News > Far East Armenians > In memory of Sir Catchick Paul Chater in Hong Kong
L-R: Anthony Nightingale, Managing Director, Hongkong Land; Mr. Chu Tat Shing, sculptor; Liz Chater and Adam Keswick Director at Jardine Matheson Hong Kong.
Liz Chater helps to unveil new bust and wall plaque of Sir Catchick Paul Chater in Hong Kong
Liz Chater, an enthusiastic and dedicated researcher of Armenians in India and the Far East attended the unveiling of a bust and wall plaque of Sir Catchick Paul Chater in Hong Kong on the 1st September 2009. Liz was invited by the directors of Hongkong Land to unveil these unique tributes as part of their 120 years celebration. The bust and plaque were commissioned by Hongkong Land because they felt that such a tribute and acknowledgement to Sir Paul who co-founded the company in 1899 was something that until now had been overlooked. Created by the renowned famous sculptor, Mr Chu Tat Shing, Mr Chu has completed many sculptural works including Dr. Sun Yat-sen statue at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum and the Anti-SARS Heroes statues. His works are well recognised by the public and the Hong Kong Government and he was awarded the "Medal of Honour" in 2008.
The sculptures will be permanently displayed in Chater House, on Chater Road to enable visitors to learn about this remarkable man.
The ceremony was followed by the opening of the Time and Evolution exhibition of Central at the Rotunda, Exchange Square, where Liz was again asked to help open this retrospective view of Hong Kong.
Liz’s family ties and her commitment to researching Sir Paul have made her a leading authority on his life and achievements and she was delighted to attend and lend her support to Hongkong Land. She said: “It is truly a wonderful day today, I feel privileged to be included to share this occasion. For as long as I have been researching Sir Paul Chater, I have wondered why there was no real tribute or memorial in Hong Kong to him. Hongkong Land has achieved a first because this is the first time Sir Paul has been cast in any kind of statue. I am delighted to have been part of this unique ceremony where, at last Hong Kong can gaze at someone who made a difference here.”
It is widely considered that Sir Paul Chater was the man that firmly placed the footprint of Hong Kong down allowing it to become one of the leading economies of the world today. He was a great man of industry with an amiable disposition. His vision for Hong Kong in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s was breathtaking, exciting and vibrant. He built with flare and architectural elegance; formed and developed companies with longevity in mind. It is no shy fact that his hard work and devotion to the colony’s commerce earned him wealth beyond his imagination but that wealth also brought responsibility. He erected St. Andrew’s Church in Kowloon entirely out of his own personal income, a few years later he erected the Chaplain’s house and later on the Church hall. He gave generously to the Union Church in Hong Kong, even though he did not attend, and there were an extraordinary amount of charitable donations made by him during his lifetime that were never made public.
He was an Armenian from Calcutta with an impressive family pedigree of extremely outstanding pious and dutiful Armenians in India. Paul Chater upon his passing, left generous bequests to some family members and nephews and the remainder of his considerable personal wealth was left entirely to the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, Kolkata, whose own strong and substantial financial buoyancy today is because of Sir Paul Chater’s exemplary generous legacy to them.
Whilst in Hong Kong Liz brought with her from the UK her private family album full of unseen family and historical photographs from Sir Paul Chater’s life. It is a companion pictorial record to her manuscript biography of Sir Paul Chater. She said: “I hope one day that I can generate enough interest for this research that I have carried out on Sir Paul to be published into a book, as remarkably there is no biography on him.”
Vaudine England author of The Quest of Noel Croucher, Hong Kong’s Quiet Philanthropist said: “when I was writing my book on Noel Croucher I learned of Sir Paul Chater, as he was the 'big man' who gave Noel his first leg-up in business. I thought I would just check the details in the Chater biography - and was amazed to find that there wasn't one! Liz has done a remarkable job, researching the life of Sir Paul Chater. It's a real shame that none of the major Hong Kong companies he started, or indeed the Armenian Church in Kolkata who received his estate after he died, have yet chosen to help Liz get this untold story published. It's a great rags-to-riches story - he’s the most famous Armenian from India who became a pivotal figure in early Hong Kong - and it would be fascinating to bring it all together.”
Liz pointed out that she had extended discussions with the Armenian Church committee and wardens in Kolkata a couple of years ago and although they admired her efforts they did not feel they could help her conclude her research and publish a book on him. Liz continues to look for a serious sponsor.
The exhibition on CENTRAL runs until 30th September 2009. The bust and plaque are permanently displayed in Chater House, Chater Road, Hong Kong.
Adam Keswick and Liz Chater at the CENTRAL Exhibition. 120 years since the formation of Hongkong Land between Sir Paul Chater and James Johnstone Keswick, family representatives Adam and Liz are happy to once again stand side by side to celebrate their ancestors’ unique partnership.
L-R: Vaudine England BBC News correspondent; Helen Swinnerton Archivist HSBC Hong Kong; Paul Harrison Archivist and Conservator; Liz and Campbell Maclean from Macao.
2nd September 2009
Liz Chater: Researching Armenian family history in India and the Far East from 1700 to present day
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