The Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company, newspaper article 1937

IDJ has sent the following newspaper article about the Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company.

HF: The Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company was founded in 1886 by Paul Chater. Its present name is The Wharf (Holdings) Limited. The company owns the Star Ferry amongst other holdings

HF: I have retyped the article for the sake of clarity and to enhance reader’s searches.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped article.

Kowloon Wharf And Godown Premises C 1897 Source Historical Photographs Of China

The Kowloon Wharf and Godown premises c1897 Source: Historical Photographs of China



Reference to the history of the Company was made at the 50th annual meeting of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Co., Ltd., held at the office of Messrs. Jardine Matheson yesterday.

Presenting the report, the Hon. Mr. J.J. Paterson, Chairman, said that the company commenced in 1886, under the present name, by taking over property from the P. and O. Steam Navigation Co.; Jardine, Matheson and Co. and the Hongkong Wharf Godown and Cargo Boat Co. The driving force was Sir Paul Chater. The capital then was $1,700,000 and the property consisted of 278,200 square feet (about 6½ acres) of land, gowdowns with storage space for 11,500 tons, three wharves allowing 2,200 feet for berthing ships and ten launches and lighters

Today we have 1,202,000 square feet (27½ acres) of land, godown space for 340,000 tons, berths with 6,650 feet available for berthing vessels and a fleet of 110 launches and lighters.

In 1887 the cargo landed amounted to 80,000 tons, whilst last year 670,000 tons were landed from ships alongside and in the stream.

For a number of years there was a large traffic in yarn from Bombay from which the Company derived good revenue both from landing and storage. In 1920 there was a stock of over 100,000 bales of yarn on storage. This trade has almost entirely disappeared, for today we have 950 bales on storage of which only 220 came from India.

The typhoon of 1906 staggered the Company a good deal when two launches and 27 lighters were lost and two wharves were swept away. The year following this blow was the only year funds were not available to pay a dividend.

Year’s Earnings

The net earnings for the year under review amounted to $381,048.26, which is $45,764.65 less than the previous year. This decrease is due to a further falling off in revenue from storage , the receipts being $51,000 less than for 1935. At our last meeting I had to report a decrease of $168,000 in this department.

Storage earnings commenced to fall in 1933, coinciding with the continued fall in exchange. Since then merchants have continued to draw from their stocks, awaiting a settled state of local currency, and have recently been trading on the “hand-to mouth” principle. Now that the dollar has been apparently practically fixed it is hoped that ample stocks will be carried on storage.

Wharf work also suffered a drop to the extent of $43,000 whilst there were increases in receipts for wharfage lighterwork.

During the year 972 steamers berthed at the wharves and landed 618,733 tons of cargo, this being an increase of 47 ships to go alongside whilst there was a decrease in cargo of 40,035 tons. Shipping companies now realize that greater satisfaction is obtained by discharging at a wharf than at a buoy. Quicker dispatch is given a vessel when alongside and the cargo is soon under cover and in safety.

Kowloon Wharf And Godown Company Piers, 1950s Source Artsand Com

Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company piers, 1950s Courtesy:

Hit By Strike

The American shipping strike hit us very severely, the last American ship to call with cargo in 1936 did so on November 15. The President Hoover came back to us on February 26 and thus you will observe we were without any shipping from the United States for three and a half months, six weeks of this lack being in the year under review and two months in 1937.

At a recent Board meeting your directors decided to increase the charges for landing cargo by 20 per cent. No increase has been made for some years past but in the meantime working expenditure has advanced considerably, and an increase is now necessary and justified. Notwithstanding this increase, our cargo handling rates are still lower than at any other port in the Far East.

A serious typhoon passed over the Colony in August but your property escaped damage and due to the timely notice being given by the Royal Observatory we succeeded in getting our fleet of 101 lighters to safe anchorage before the blow reached the Harbour. We recently had driven at the ends of two wharves clusters of piles, to take the first weight of vessels when berthing, and these have proved very successful in protecting ships and wharves. They are greatly appreciated by ships’ masters and it has been decided to drive similar dolphins off the other wharves.

While on the subject of wharves I may mention that the leases of all the piers come up for renewal in 1949. You are no doubt aware that this Company owns the land from which the piers run out. The Crown leases for the land are for 999 years.

In the accounts there does not appear to be anything that calls for special comment, except perhaps the disposal of the profit on sale of new shares which were not taken up by shareholders when offered in 1935. This amount is added to repairs and renewals account.

I now beg to propose that the report and accounts as presented be adopted and passed.

The motion was seconded by the Hon. Mr. S.H. Dodwell and carried.

Kowloon Wharf And Godown Company Aerial View 1963

Aerial view of Kowloon Wharf and Godown 1963, Source: Marine Department, HK

Other Business

On the proposition pf Mr. G.B.S. Thomson seconded by Mr. D. Mackenzie, Mr. A.H. Compton and Mr. T.B. Wilson were confirmed in their appointment to the Board of Directors.

On the proposition of Mr. G.W. Sewell seconded by Mr. G. Castle, the following were re-elected to the Board: the Hon. Mr. Dodwell, Mr Drummond, Mr. M.T. Johnson and Mr. Felix A. Joseph.

On the proposition of Mr. J.D. Danby seconded by Mr. C.A.L. Rickett, the following auditors were elected: Messrs. Percy Smith, Seth and Fleming, Messrs. Linstead and Davis.

Among those who attended the meeting were: Hon. Mr Paterson (Chairman), Hon. Mr. Dodwell, Sir Robert Ho Tung, Messrs. Frank Austin, A.H. Compton, D. Drummond, J.H. Jessen, M.T. Johnson, Felix A. Joseph, and T.B. Wilson (Directors); Messrs. F.N. Crapnell (Secretary), G.W. Sewell, F. Shrever, D. Mackenzie, G.B.S. Thomson, G. Castle, J.D. Danby, C.A.L. Ricket, and A.N. Mackenzie (shareholders)

Meaning of “dolphins” as used in the article.

Source: The China Mail 13th May 1937.

This article was first posted on 27th November 2021.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Sir Paul Chater – connected to several major Hong Kong companies
  2. S. H. Dodwell, Managing Director of Dodwell and Company Ltd
  3. Holts Wharf and Godown
  4. Alfred Holt, 1829-1911, founder of Alfred Holt & Co (Holts Wharf TST)
  5. Singnam Choy (蔡星南) – Founder of the HK Chinese Godown Association
  6. Tacksen Shuihing Godown (德成瑞興貨倉)

Leave a Reply

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