If you've been to Kellett Island you've walked past either or both pairs of brass lamps that were presented to the Club by the Royal Navy. The first pair are up at the Main Bar Balcony and the second pair are outside the entrance to Reception.
House Committee minutes from 1993 note that the Royal Navy would be donating four brass lamps to mark the Club's Centenary the following year and adds "The dolphins were situated on the gates of the old HMS Tamar." They're not actually dolphins though, they are fish and likely koi given their significance in Feng Shui (read more here).
It was first planned to situate one pair of lamps at the Main Entrance to the Club (ie at the entrance to the car park) and the other pair on the balcony outside the Main Bar. In the end, the two originally slated to go at the entrance of the carpark were placed at the main entrance to the building (as shown in a photo below from 2008).
In 2018 this pair was moved to outside the new Reception after the Kellett Island Development project.
A plaque commemorating the gift can be found on the wall of the Main Bar Balcony beneath one of the lamps and reads:-
"These lanterns, which were on the gateposts
of HMS Tamar in Central, were presented by the Royal Navy
in February 1994 to mark 100 years of close association
with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club".
We tried to find some evidence of the lamps being at the old Tamar and we came across an image on Gwulol.com (a great website for Hong Kong history) that shows the lamps. The image, kindly shared by Stephen Chadwick, dates back to the 1950s and is linked here to Gwulo and placed below.
Digging further we learned that the original HMS Tamar was scuttled by the Royal Navy in December 1941. Shore bases belonging to the Royal Navy are referred to as "stone frigates" and on 21 November1946 HMS Tamar's name was given to a new Royal Navy shore base which was previously the Royal Engineers' Wellington Barracks. (source: All about the ship that gave Hong Kong’s Tamar complex its name (SCMP Long Reads by RHKYC member Stephen Davies).
There's another photo on Gwulo that shows the entrance to Wellington Barracks (see here) from around 1910. We think we can make out the shape of one of the koi on the right hand gate post (so perhaps the lamp section was added on top later?). Or maybe we're being a little too hopeful.
Here's a photo below dated 1949 (source Pinterest) and we can see the lamps on the gate posts. Whilst the image is dated 1949, it could well be from the Wellington Barracks days (which were up to 1946) as the HMS Tamar ironwork above the gate is not seen here (but is seen in Stephen Chadwick's 1958 photo above).
And another photo of Wellington Barracks (found online here) is shown below and the two lamps are clearly visible.
We've also come across a photo showing the gates of the 'new' Tamar barracks which was opened in 1978 in the location it is now and the two lamps made their way there too and can again be seen below. Note also in this photo also you can see the emblem on the gate - we've got one of those - we'll cover that in another blog post!
Perhaps you've not really noticed the lamps on your way through the Club. So next time you are here, stop for a moment to admire them, soak in some history and think about all of the people from all walks of life who have walked by them at their various locations for the past 100 years or so!
We hope you've enjoyed learning more about them and if you have ideas for future Ahoy Lite articles, please email email@example.com
Have a great weekend!