Copyright © 2024 Swire Pacific Limited. All rights reserved.
03 Nov 2020
A life with Swire - Vincent Ko

The “Swire Story” plays an important part in many Hongkongers’ lives. Sixty-two-year-old Swire veteran Vincent Ko grew up in Tai Lok House in Sai Wan Ho in the 1960s. Vincent shared a 450 square-foot apartment on the 9th floor of the Swire-owned block with three generations of his family. When he was a teenager, he followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps by joining Taikoo Dockyard. He recalls fondly: “Three generations worked there: my grandfather and my father were engineers, while my three brothers and I joined as apprentices… Swire has supported our whole family. In fact, it has raised me so well I have fattened up quite a bit over the years!”

Earning HK$300 a month at Taikoo Dockyard might not have seemed like big money, but Taikoo provided more than monetary support to its employees. During those times, workplace colleagues were also neighbours and that created a very close and tight-knit community.

Decades later, Vincent still recalls many precious memories from his childhood. In particular, he remembers waiting to greet his father when he returned home from work and being given the club sandwich that he brought home every day. “It was a perk enjoyed only by senior staff who worked overtime, a teatime treat which my father would save and bring home to share with us. I remember being so pleased when I managed to beat my brothers and get the sandwich first,” Vincent recounts fondly.

He remembers many happy times: playing hide-and-seek in the corridors of Tai Lok House with his siblings and friends, enjoying a dish of fried wonton at the tea house at the welfare centre, and sharing one movie ticket amongst three friends to watch The Golden Buddha. Says Vincent: “My favourite spot at the time was the welfare centre swimming pool, where I learned how to swim. I remember one time when I went with my brothers and sister; I was such a rascal and decided to dive into the water from the poolside. I almost drowned!”

The swimming pool at the welfare centre.

Having spent so many decades with Swire, from the time when he first joined, to his retirement in 2018 as General Manager of HUD’s Engineering Division, Vincent has witnessed many changes in the Group. The original Taikoo Dockyard staff living quarters have become today’s Kornhill Gardens. The old movie theatre and football fields have also made way for other uses. Long-time neighbours have relocated elsewhere to Kowloon and Tuen Mun, the New Territories. The standard of living generally has improved over the years, but what he misses most is the feeling of warmth, hospitality and community from the old days. Vincent now looks forward to his tea gatherings with friends and former co-workers to relive the good old times of his boyhood.