In the mini series Noble House, Struan’s head office is located in one of the skyscrapers in central Hong Kong. The building that served as Struan’s headquarters is called Jardine House and is located in Hong Kong Island’s Central district. There are several establishing shots of the building throughout the series. It was formerly known as Connaught Centre and is located at No. 1 Connaught Place.
Upon its completion in 1972 the Jardine House was not only the tallest building in Hong Kong but in all Asia, something that is hard to believe today. The title sequence in each of the four episodes starts off with an in-zooming of the building that symbolises the Noble House. To the right in the picture above is the distinctive HSBC headquarters building, known as the coat hanger.
|Bartlett and Casey arrive with the Star Ferry from Kowloon.|
The building is in reality owned by Hong Kong Land Ltd. which is a subsidiary of Jardines. Interestingly, just like Struan’s, Jardines (Jardine Matheson Holdings) is one of the original Hong Kong trading houses or Hongs that dates back to Imperial China. The firm was founded in Canton by two University of Edinburgh graduates Willaim Jardine and James Matheson and with the cession of Hong Kong under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, the firm set up its headquarters on Hong Kong Island. Today, Jardines is among the top 200 publicly traded companies in the world.
|Hong Kong 25 years after Noble House|
Just like in Noble House, the Jardines is controlled by a family who are descendants to the Jardine family by marriage. It becomes obvious that James Clavell who wrote the book ‘Noble House’ had been inspired by real life events and modeled the fictitious Struan’s after one of the real East Asia Trading companies, like Jardines.
The antagonist, Quillan Gornt, has an office in the building directly behind Struan’s. The Noble House blocks his otherwise perfect sea view. Probably meant as a symbol of the rivalry between them. In the first episode Linc Bartlett goes to see Gornt in his office. ‘Rothwell-Gornt’ is located in World Wide House, behind Exchange Square and Struan’s in the series.
Part of the deal with the government when Jardines acquired the lot and constructed the new building in the 1970’s was that no building would ever be constructed to obstruct its view to the north.
|Visible to the far right is Rothwell-Gornt’s building.|
The Jardine House was still one of the taller buildings in Hong Kong as late as 1988 (left bottom picture), but it has almost completely disappeared when comparing the skyline from today (right bottom picture).