Royal Naval Dockyard [????-????]

Submitted by moddsey on Sat, 05/08/2010 - 15:17
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists

Photos that show this Place


Tamar to live on...! In a corner

Apart from displaying art pieces, we will also designate a small corner in CGC for displaying background history of the Tamar site. Additional funding is needed for the artworks acquisition and installation; as well as the supporting facilities for the information corner. The cost is about $32.4 million. (from legco paper on new central govt offices)

In other countries, concerned members of the public would band together to form a foundation, raise funds to purchase works of art, (or get them donated), hire the right people to protect the collection and loan it out for display - all in the name of civic pride and public benefit.

If there is no one in Hong Kong willing to take the initiative to do this, then that shows the state of the citizenry, and I ask you, if we/they will not step up and organize and take responsibility for our collective memory (or long before our personal memory began) - then have we earned the right to point fingers at the Government ?  Especially regarding the Colonial era, we ex-colonials should find out how it is done, and do it - not whinge about the current Government.

Is there anyone willing to start a foundation where citizens like ourselves offer dollar for dollar matching for anything LegCo is willing to put up? If so, I will pledge the first $100.


There's a document here showing the details of the 1959 land reduction of the naval dockyard on HK island.

The document also details the 1959 shutdown of the Kowloon Naval Dockyard.

This - so far as I know - was not the 'Kowloon Dockyard' in Hung Hom - seen here - but was actually located pretty much where the Ocean Terminal is now, in TST.  I say this because this is what the sign says which is on the carriage of the cannon which is on the roof of the Ocean Terminal.   I paraphrase, but it says that during the building of the Ocean Terminal in the early 1960s ( after the 1959 shutdown of the naval dockyard at the same location ) three cannons of East India Company origin were dredged up.  One is the cannon as seen, another is in a private collection somewhere else in Kowloon, and the third was returned below the waves for a future generation to rediscover.

However, looking here at the photos of Star House in the 1950s, there doesn't seem to be much of a dockyard in existence.   Can anyone clarify where the Kowloon Naval Dockyard actually was ? 

A final question - anyone know if there's anything left of the gun battery marked on the Hung Hom dockyard map linked to above ?   Thanks !

[the easy way to the Ocean Terminal roof, which is a car park, is to go to the bit of the Harbour City shopping centre between the Ocean Terminal and the Gateway Arcade, ascend the escalators to the top floor, and there's a linking passageway on the roof to the car park ]

The Yard was just north of the Ocean Terminal complex. It was used by the RN for fuelling, and for maintenance of small craft. It became the Governmment Dockyard (GD) when the RN sold it, until 1996, when GD (and HMS Tamar) moved to Stonecutter's Island. The seaward entrance to the Yard  was still recognisable a few years ago, and was in use to access the China Ferry Terminal.  

Submitted by
Jabberjabber (not verified)
Fri, 07/01/2011 - 20:37

This post is entitled "Former Royal Naval Dockyard". But many of the comments are concerned with HMS Tamar. Can someone enlighten me? What was the connection between the RND and HMS Tamar?

Thank you, David, noted.  Strictly speaking, the wooden ship was moored off the RND. The later land-based Tamar occupied what was Wellington Barracks - I am not sure that any encroachment on the dockyard preceded the abolition of the RND.  But I suggest your reply underlines the point that the RND and Tamar were separate entities.

British naval dockyards were civilian run under the supervision of a naval officer (I'm simplifying a bit) and were not naval establishments (stone frigates). They are the bailiwick of the Department of the Controller (the 3rd Sea Lord - so a serving senior officer (though this chopped and changed a bit from the 1860s until the 1970s), who is the boss of all the civil(ian) bits of the Royal Navy. The distinction here is between the administrative and operational sides of the navy.

In HK the operational side by the late 19th century was the ships of the China Station under the C-in-C, China who flew his flag in the flagship when afloat and at the (varying) house for the C-in-C in HK when ashore. The operational RN in Hong Kong was overseen by the Senior Naval Officer Hong Kong, usually a Commodore 2nd class, who flew his flag in the operational HQ, from 1841 until 1858 something of a moveable feast, then from 1858 until 1941, a naval vessel 'hulked' (that is reduced to a hull) and permanently moored in the harbour. He may also have been the captain-superintendent of the dockyard, but this is not very clear - my generalsense is that he wasn't, and especially not in the 20th century. The first of these receiving ships was HMS Princess Charlotte (1858-1875), then HMS Victor Emmanuel (1875-1899), then HMS Tamar (1899-1941). So in principle and practice there were two RN entities in HK:

a. HMS Whatever, the operational base which acted as the receiving ship (aka 'barracks') for naval personnel being drafted to and from ships, men on sick leave, etc, and which had its own 'ship's company'. This included all the HQ staff, all personnel needed to keep the ship afloat and tickety-boo, the ship's companies of any attached tenders and personnel temporarily moving throughon their way out of station or to a ship.

b. the Naval Yard, Naval Stores, Torpedo Camber, Naval Coaling Yard, which were on the admin side, didn't have commissioned ship status, were largely civilian staffed and run, and had a separate organizational structure and chain of command, not answering directly to the C-in-C but to their boss the Director of Dockyards (usually a naval officer) in the Department of the Controller.

So until 1941, as you've both noted, there were two quite clear entities: the (Royal) Naval Yard/Dockyard and HMS Whatever.

After WW2 and the scuttling of HMS Tamar, there was a briefly revived floating HMS Tamar - the River class frigate HMS Aire, that was renamed Tamar and played the part or receiving ship March-Dec 1946 when for the first time HK was given a 'stone frigate', named HMS Tamar, which was created out of the old Wellington Barracks that had been vacated by the pongos (whoops, the Army). My father became the first padre of the stone frigate Tamar when he (and the rest of us) arrived in Jan 1947.

The two entities retained their separate identities until the RN closed down the dockyard in 1957-59. At that point - which was co-terminus with the area occupied by the RN shrinking massively - there became only ONE entity, the stone frigate, so the whole shebang got called HMS Tamar, which is how we all ended up referring to the entirety of the RN occupied area as HMS Tamar, rather anachronistically extending this usage to before 1957.


Being a researcher for the History of British North Borneo, I came across the annexed article in the "British North Borneo Herald" 1903. In connection with the 1910 layout of the Naval Yard, published on your website, I would be interested to know, which of the buildings were the "Chief Engineers and Chief Constructor's Department", mentioned in the Herald Report.

Thank you

Herald 1903.png
Herald 1903.png, by BNB Government, uploaded by Uwe Aranas
1910 Naval Dockyard
1910 Naval Dockyard, by Admiralty/War Department

This is a picture of a dockyard gate. The description says shipyard workers undergoing body search by police at the gate when leaving. No information about name of the shipyard. There are not that many possibilities.  It looks like the Royal Naval Dockyard and the gate is possibly the main gate or south gate. The shadows imply the gate is opening to the south. The time is morning. It seems some workers were waiting to be searched .

dockyard workers undergoing body search
dockyard workers undergoing body search, by simtang

 The buildings look similar to those of the Royal Naval Dockyard except the gate had been replaced. Shadows below point the other direction. It was afternoon.

1945 royal naval dockyard gate
1945 royal naval dockyard gate, by simtang


A 1946-7-26 news report:

On 7-25 at 12:05, dockyard workers were lining up in front of the gate waiting to be searched before leaving. A man was running towards the queue of workers with a security guard chasing after him.........

It was the Whampoa Dock but other dockyards also carried out body search like the Naval yard shown above.

1946 whampoa dockyard incident
1946 whampoa dockyard incident, by simtang

 Another picture of Royal Naval dockyard in 1945 near the gate. The soldier on the right has captured two Japanese swords. The women in the picture were carrying what look like sacks of rice and other food stuff. The place was probably used as a distribution center of food where people can get free food packages from the government. There is a news report on 1946-7-26 about a woman fined 50 dollars for illegally selling these food packages.

royal naval dockyard 1945
whampoa dockyard 1945, by simtang
1946-7-26 woman selling government food package
1946-7-26 woman selling government food package , by simtang