Hong Kong Corinthian Yacht Club [1906-1920]

Submitted by David on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 22:16
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
Date closed / demolished

Photos that show this Place



After some good discussion about the photo below, we'd settled on North Point as the location of the clubhouse.

Hong Kong Corinthian Yacht Club

Turns out we were a couple of miles wrong!

Last night I searched the old newspapers for "Corinthian", and found it was actually over in Wanchai, on the old Praya (now Johnston Road) near the junction with Wanchai Road. The building on the hill in the background is on the north end of Hospital hill - you can just make it out in this photo.

Key dates:

  • 1904: Hongkong Corinthian Yacht Club formed.
  • 1906: The first (wooden) clubhouse building opened.
  • 1910: A more substantial building replaced it.
  • 1920: The club closed as the government began preparations for the large reclamation in the area.

So, quite a surprise! I hadn't realised there were any buildings north of the Praya before the reclamation. Does anyone have a photo of the Praya in the early 1900s that might show it? We can also see that Ah King's first boatyard was in Wanchai, probably moving to Causeway Bay around 1920 when reclamation started in Wanchai.

Apart from regular race reports, here are some of the interesting snippets from the newspapers:

1867. No sign of the club yet, but the first mention of the word Corinthian for racing: "Corinthian Crews. Apropos of the Yacht race which was to have taken place a few days since we now quote the following article from "Hunt's Yachting Magazine:" There can be but one opinion relative to Corinthian matches, and that is, when well organised and efficiently carried out, they prove an admirable school for yachtsmen. [...]". Hong Kong Daily Press, 1867-03-06, page 2

1868. Details of a "Corinthian Yacht Race". The China Mail, 1868-04-03, page 5.

1890. Details of a race titled "Hongkong Corinthian Sailing Club". The China Mail, 1890-02-10, page 3.

1893. Letter to the editor titled "Corinthian Club's Sailing Race". One boat crew arguing with another about fair play during a race! Hong Kong Daily Press, 1893-03-18, page 2.

1904. Hong Kong Corinthian Yacht Club (HKCYC) formed in September (see next quote),

1905. AGM of HKCYC. "Started in September of last year, the Hongkong Corinthian yacht Club is already quite a flourishing association, having a membership of 71. [...] Mr Donald brought forward several matters of importance including the desirability of the erection of a club house, [...]". The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1905-10-10, page 5.

1906. "[...] the Corinthian Yacht Club was formally opened on Saturday afternoon [...]. The club house is situated on a very convenient spot on Praya East, between A King's slipway and No. 2 Police Station. [...]" The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1906-01-29, page 5.

1906. "The club house itself was the subject of expressions of appreciation and congratulations to the members. Situated almost in front of No. 2 Police Station and built in bungalow fashion, the structure is very neat and compact. A movable partition marks off the dressing room, while the convenience required by yachtsmen are provided - there being a loft for storing sails, lockers, etc., and in all respects the club house is admirably adapted for its purposes. It is raised from the ground a few feet, and on descending the steps at the rear one notes with approval the fine flag staff with its signaling apparatus. the whole, it should be added, is enclosed by a wooden railing.' The Hong Kong Weekly Press, 1906-02-05, page 8.

1907. Details of Water polo competition, with teams from VRC, RHKYC, Corinthian YC, and several military groups. The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1907-08-1, page 4.

1908. Rowing regatta announced, jointly organised by VRC, HKCYC, and RHKYC. The China Mail, 1908-03-07, page 5.

1908. Announces competition to design and build "a small yacht suitable for the younger members of the Club". Hong Kong Daily Press, 1908-05-15, page 2.

1909. HKCYC holds their first annual swimming carnival. The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1909-09-13, page 4.

1910. The new clubhouse was opened. "[...] on the 27th day of January, 1906, my wife opened your first Club house - a small wooden structure which long ago grew too small for our numerous members who flocked to our banner. The only memento of that first Club house that now remains is this very excellent photograph [the same one shown above? - David] which adorns our walls. [...] The Club offers every facility for yacht racing, cruising, boat racing, motor boat racing, swimming and water polo [...]" The China Mail, 1910-06-25, page 6.

1911. "[...] we have recently constructed a new sea wall to protect our eastern boundary, and we have also erected a new steel and timber pier, [...]" The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1911-10-12, page 4.

1914. "[Their assets of $10,000] were largely made up of the value of teh slipway and pier, which in the next year or two might be wiped away by the reclamation scheme which but for the war would already be in hand. He thought they had no necessity to worry about that, but that they might rely upon the Government to treat them fairly in the matter if they had to move from their present site." The China Mail, 1914-11-21, page 4.


1920. CYC to be wound up. "Owing to the Praya Reclamation Scheme, it will be very shortly necessary to vacate the present lot of ground, foreshore, and premises occupied by this Club." The Club had not decided what to do in future, but the recommendation was to merge with the RHKYC, rather than find a new site:

  • The Club's finances were in poor shape after the war years
  • Most members were also members of the RHKYC. This duplication was seen to add unnecessary costs to yachting in HK
  • the new reclamation would "extend to practically 200 yards from this Club. [...] there will be no anchorage left on this side. It takes you out to the big moorings and deep water, which is not suitable for small yachts."

The Government agreed to make good any losses after the club was wound up. There's also teh suggestion that the Club House would be used as an by the Government as an admin centre during the reclamation. So it may still have stood for some time after the reclamation began.

"The Chairman: I am sorry to say that this is the last meeting of the Corinthian Yacht Club." The China Mail, 1920-10-07, page 4.

1920. Liquidator announces members must remove all private effects by October 26th, with auction to be held on the 28th. The China Mail, 1920-10-20, page 5.

I've set it to 28th Oct 1920, the date of the liquidator's auction.

There's a suggestion above that after the yacht club moved out, the building was kept and used as an admin centre during the big reclamation here. In that case the demolition date will be later.


In Gillian Chambers' history of the RHKYC, Eastern waters Eastern Winds, she mentions that the RCYC at one stage early in the game had their clubhouse in a loft over Ah King's boatyard. The reason for this seems to have been that following the shift towards smaller boats that emerged from changes to rules by the Yacht Racing Association in the mid-1890s, Ah King proved a whizz at building the new craft and hospitable to the chaps who sailed them, who weren't part of the affluenza who could afford the whoppers favoured at the HK Yacht Club. Something like that.

Stephen D

From Eastern Waters, Western Winds

[end of 1904] The first premises of the CYC, as it became known, were in a room above the offices of Ah King, a local boat builder whose yard was at that time on the waterfront in Wanchai, opposite the old No. 2 Police Station at the junction of Fleming and Johnson Roads. 
The new Club introduced a new type of boat known as the Gael Class, designed by Harold Deacon of Cowes. These boats were built locally by Ah King. ...


As the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club began to design and plan its new headquarters, the Corinthian Yacht Club was one step ahead. It had moved from its original premises at Ah King's and bought a piece of land next door where it had erected a Clubhouse and slipway. The small wooden bungalow-style structure was raised off the ground by a few feet and included a changing room, sail loft and lockers. It had been officially opened on 27th January, 1906, just 15 months after the founding of the Club, by the Commodore's wife. Mrs Francis Clark. In a speech to the large number of Members and friends who attended the ceremony, Mrs Clark outlined the Club's brief history and its main aim of providing sailing in a less expensive class of boats than the 24 footers of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.


The new scheme would reclaim a large area in front of Queen's Road East, Hospital Hill and Morrison Hill to East Point, near the offices of Jardine Matheson &. Co. The site of the CYC would become, as the South China Morning Post succintly put it, "an inland point". There seemed only one logical step to take and so it was that in 1920, Ah King moved to Causeway Bay and the Corinthian Yacht Club amalgamated with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, once more uniting the colony's keenest sailors....

I'm writing an article about the short-lived, small of membership Amoy Yacht Club (c.1884-c.1886!) and its flagship, built in HK in 1882 (don't know by whom). One thing that emerges from this is that as early as 1890 a Hongkong Corinthian Sailing Club (HKCSC) was founded in HK, first President (as the Commodore was until 1891) being Montague Beart of Butterfield and Swire. The new club raced small Mersey Canoes (dating from the 1870s on the Mersey, though first built in HK by don't know who in 1889) - q.v. the newspaper entries for 1890 and 1893 above.

The whole object of the new club was to get yachting off on a new direction, away from the whopping yachts - small ships almost - which had dominated the scene since the days of the Canton Regatta Club.

The HKCSC became the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club (RHKYC) in 1894 (Bob Wilson's excellent https://www.rhkyc.org.hk/club-facilities/history/commodores). The RHKYC merged with the HK Boat Club (a rowing club) in 1905, meantime, as noted in the timeline above, in 1904 the Hongkong Corinthian Yacht Club (HKCYC) had been founded, perhaps because the RHKYC had slithered away from being truly Corinthian (i.e., no paid, professional seafaring crew), which lasted until 1920, when it was wound up and its members invited to become RHKYC members. 

By inference from race announcements, in early days the HKCSC may have worked from the VRC premises. By 1893 their race starts were from the "S.M. Pier" (labelled "Wellington Battery Pier" at https://gwulo.com/media/37018), which was the long pier running out from the tip of the Wellington Barracks' bastion that appears on maps by 1885 and is clearly marked "S.M. Pier" in the mid- to late 1890s. It clearly served the Royal Engineers base, so my supposition is that S.M. meant 'Submarine Miners'. 

This suggests that the club did not have its own waterfront premises from which races could be started and off which they finished.

So, a minor puzzle here is where the HKCSC and RHKYC were based before they took up residence in their new premises in North Point in 1910, since one assumes it was not the same as the HKCYC in Wan Chai.

Stephen D