Where once the future of Shanghai was decided, it’s street grid laid out, it rules and regulations drawn up – the former British Consulate on the Bund – is now a watch shop selling Patek Philippe timepieces to the wealthy and chronologically challenged. The British Consulate has survived a lot – Red Guards wanted to raise it in the 1960s and it was plonked next to a ugly flyover obscuring views over the Huang Pu for many a year. The rather ugly and ill-suited to the aspect Peninsula Hotel was erected alongside and, to no one’s surprise, for a long time talk was of a luxury club being opened in the old Consulate which has also somehow retained its gardens (not well tended and inaccessible to the public it has to be admitted but at least a bit more than a glorified car park).
Of course the Brits decamped a long time ago, first to a rather nice and grandly fitting residence on Yongfu Lu (formerly Route du Pere Huc) and then to the dreary anonymity of a suite of offices in the Portman Centre resembling a Birmingham Dole Office that has always rather reflected the bland diplomatic presence in the city the UK now maintains.
So, if you have need of a very expensive watch, you can pop in have a look at the old place now I assume….