Early HK Shipyards and Graving docks

Hugh Farmer: In early colonial Hong Kong shipwrights used traditional skills to build junks and sampans and later acquired new skills by building western style ships. A considerable change came with the construction of dock facilities to build and repair iron steamships.

John Lamont completed HK’s first dry dock in Aberdeen in 1860. The Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company’s dry dock started operations at Hunghom in 1868. Cosmopolitan Dock was finished at Tai Kok Tsui in 1876. By 1907 the Kowloon Peninsula contained several shipbuilding and repair yards. And in 1910 Butterfield & Swire’s Taikoo Dockyard was completed at Quarry Bay.

Lamont Dock Date unknown

Lamont Dock
Date unknown

Tymon Mellor’s article : Defense of HK  used information taken from an article in The Engineer 18th Jan 1889

The Engineer 18 Jan 1889 Shipyards HK 1The Engineer 18 Jan 1889 Shipyards HK 2

I have highlighted the section dealing with graving docks. These are more commonly known as  dry docks which can be drained of water to allow repair of a ship’s hull.  The article mentions  that in 1889 these existed in two locations in Aberdeen and much more vaguely in Kowloon. And that there were three of them.

Shipbuilding and maintenance is an enormously important topic in Hong Kong’s industrial history. It took place over a period of more than one hundred years.

Plan of Kowloon Dockyards Early 1900s

Plan of Kowloon Dockyards
Date unknown but the use of the name  “Kowloon Docks” suggests between 1884 and 1895

This article was first posted on 11th February 2014.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Defense of HK
  2. 19th Century Wanchai Shipyards – Messrs. George Fenwick & Co Ltd
  3. Bailey’s Shipyard – 1908 Account
  4. Tai Kok Tsui Shipyards
  5. The Hongs of Tiree, John Lamont


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *