Gillingham, Paul (1983) At the
Hong Kong, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, pp. 17-28.
Before she arose to the Peak
Matilda was timid and meek,
But now she offends
Her Bowen Road friends
With a smile that is cutting and bleak.
There was no doubt about it: elevation to the Peak above
May Road meant a rise in social status in a world in which
precedence and degree had not yet suffered the onslaughts
of egalitarianism. It seemed natural that the well-bred
English should live on a level which placed them above
other human beings.
Many compared the Peak to Simla, India's hill station
north of Delhi, where the viceroy and the English social
set escaped the rigors of the hot season below. As in
Simla, those living on the Peak were cut off from the
rest of the population by height, distance and social
barriers. Like Matilda in the 1930 poem quoted above,
Peak sites lived in a world of their own. As Peggy Beard
remembers from her life there in the twenties, "if
you lived at the Peak you lived at the Peak. Everybody
seemed to know everybody. You didn't know anybody else.
Height didn't really matter, but if you lived at May Road
it wasn't quite so good. I'd never even heard of Conduit
Road." Her father, a partner in the architectural
firm of Palmer and Turner, designed and built the family
home, 28 The Peak. Perched on Lugard Road, it was close
to the pinnacle of the mountain, on the very top of which
stood the governor's summer residence.