This daily salute is the longstanding legacy of Jardine Matheson’s
A daily salute to the city
The now-iconic daily gun salute started in the 1860s.
When the British first settled in Hong Kong in 1841, the first piece of land they auctioned off was East Point, a peninsula on the site of present-day Causeway Bay. A trading house called Jardine Matheson bought the land and developed it into an industrial area and warehouses. The company also owned a hill at nearby Tai Hang area, which they named Jardine’s Lookout. At the time, it was common for companies like Jardines to have private militias. Whenever the company's boss, known as the 'taipan', arrived by boat, the militia would fire a gun salute. This annoyed a senior British naval officer, who believed that gun salutes should be reserved only for high government and military officials, and so he decided to punish Jardines by forcing them to fire a gun at noon every day - forever.
The gun disappeared when Hong Kong was occupied by Japan during World War II. When the British returned in 1945, they provided Jardines with a new six-pound gun so the company could continue to honour its obligation. The gun was replaced in 1961 with a quieter three-found gun that had been used in World War II. Apart from its daily salute at noon, the Noon Day Gun is also fired a minute before midnight every New Year’s Eve to usher in the new year.
The unyielding commitment
Jardines has taken its commitment seriously, so the gun continues to be fired every day at noon. Land reclamation has pushed the shoreline further and further into the harbor, so the gun is now located next to the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter.
Island no more
The land next to the noonday gun is known as Kellet Island, which is home to the Royal Yacht Club. It was an island until 1969, when land reclamation for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel connected it to Hong Kong Island.
Fire away for charity!
Jardines also offers the firing of Noonday Gun as a fundraising activity. Any individual or company donating more than HK$33,000 to the Community Chest can fire the gun, they’ll even have the bagpipers from the Hong Kong Police Band to come and play.