Year: First built in 1923
Location:56 Ma’an Shan, Nan’an District
A small house is hidden beneath the tree-lined hillside of Ma’an Shan in the Nan’an district. In a classic Western style, the gray-brick and black-tile building is wrapped in dappled tree shadows, with light green balustrades and windowpanes highlighting the architectural aesthetics of a century ago. The exquisite arched eaves, carvings on the staircase handrails, glazed wooden doors, and western fireplaces quietly unfold a period of history before you.
Once known as Chongqing's "Red Building", this building was used as a kerosene depot, a villa and office for the "Tai-pan" (literally "top class", meaning general manager) and deputy manager of Asiatic Petroleum Company, and the seat of the British Embassy during the War of Resistance Against Japan, respectively.
Kerosene entered Chongqing over 100 years ago, replacing tung oil and rapeseed oil that people had used for thousands of years. The first to enter the Chongqing market was Mobil Oil Corp. (USA). At almost the same time, the presence of Asiatic Petroleum Company (UK) and Texaco (USA) was also visible in Chongqing. These foreign companies had a monopoly on the sales market in Asia, especially in China, in the 19th century.
Asiatic Petroleum Company (UK) was the predecessor of Shell, a famous oil company now. The settling down of the company in Chongqing laid the foundation for the city's century-old industry and served as the fountainhead of the modern industry in China’s southwest. At that time, the company, headquartered in Shanghai, set up regional branches in Tianjin, Qingdao, Guangzhou, and other cities, mainly trading kerosene, gasoline, diesel, motor oil, and candles, among other products, with Shell gasoline the best in quality. The company owned four special oil tankers such as "Yuguang","Dianguang" "Qianguang" and "Anlan".
At the beginning of the Republic of China, a rich merchant, surnamed Zhong at Chongqing’s Wanxian, inked a contract with the Hankow branch of Asiatic Petroleum Company for agenting the latter's business in Sichuan province, Zuo Defan was dispatched to Chongqing to act as a sales agent. Subsequently, the company sent staff to Chongqing to set up the branch, put up outlets, and progressively expanded business, Zuo Defan remained as the agent in the branch.
In 1918, Asiatic Petroleum Company leased land in Tangjiatuo and built many large-sized oil storage tanks and senior staff quarters, employing over a thousand people. In the first half of 1950, Chongqing Municipal Government took over the oil depot at Tangjiatuo. In April 1951, the company's inventory and equipment were purchased by Chongqing Petroleum Company, marking an end of the company's operations in Chongqing.
At present, the former site of Asiatic Petroleum Company has been identified as a cultural site under the protection of Chongqing’s Nan’an District.
文字/杨艳 图片/南岸区文旅委 文管所提供