The emblem was donated to the Club at the time of the Handover in 1997. It had been mounted on the entrance gate to the Tamar site in Central built in 1978 which was the Headquarters of the British Forces serving in Hong Kong. Four of them were mounted on the gates to HMS Tamar up until it became the Prince of Wales Barracks in 1993. Two of them were then moved to the new HMS Tamar on Stonecutters Island, one went to the Maritime Museum and one came to the Club.
In his very interesting SCMP article, Dr. Stephen Davies (former Museum Director of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum who also happens to be a RHKYC member), writes that it's a common misconception that the 1878 refers to when HMS Tamar came to Hong Kong. In the article he tackles various Tamar-related myths and teaches us that not only did the original HMS Tamar arrive in Hong Kong in 1865 but that the 1878 depicted on the gate emblem is actually the year in which the new gates to the old naval dockyard were installed.
The 1878 built dockyard was a makeshift one and later a stone constructed dockyard was inaugurated in 1902.
The photo below (source) is from the early 1900s clearly shows three gate emblems and a fourth can be made out on the open gate. One can surmise that two of these emblems eventually found a home at the Tamar site (one later coming to the Club and one to the museum) and at least one other found its way to the small naval base at Stonecutters Island.
It is unclear when 'our' emblem was painted white, gold and blue and mounted on the external wall of the Shelter Cove Clubhouse but in 2019 after the Kellett Island Development Project was completed, it was decided to relocate it from there to the Bistro.
First though, the gate emblem needed a fresh new look and we decided to find out what the original paintwork looked like.
This is a photo of the 'new' Tamar barracks which was opened in 1978 and you can clearly see the gate emblem (you can also see the brass lamps on the gate posts which we also have and you can read our blog post on those here).
And this photo is taken nearer the handover as the solider was a member of the Black Watch which was the last British military unit to leave Hong Kong in 1997. (source).
We do not know which gate emblem we received (the left or right gate) but we do know that our gate emblem came from the Tamar site along with the brass lamps from the gate posts. As gate emblems also appeared on the gates to the small naval base on Stonecutters Island. it may well be that there were many originally and they were divided up to Stonecutters and to Tamar at the same time.
So, back to our gate emblem. Eventually we found a high resolution image of the gate emblem on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. This enabled the Club to copy the colour scheme as well as adding in the words 'Hong Kong' and taking care to replicate the rather unique font for the lettering.
The images here show the progress of the work as we tracked it from having its old paint blasted off, through to the various stages of the new colours being painted on. All of this work was done in house by our very own Boatyard team. The final paintwork can be seen in the image at the top of this page but of course you can visit Kellett Island and see the gate emblem for yourself in the Bistro Bar area.
If you have ideas for future Ahoy Lite articles, or perhaps have always wondered about the history of something at the Club please email email@example.com and we'll try our best to look into it for you! We're also very happy to hear if you have anything to add to our stories!