Dockyards of Hong Kong
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Opening of Large Dockyards

The Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd. was founded in 1863. It later acquired Lamont Dock and Hope Dock in Aberdeen, and when the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance was promulgated in 1865 it became the first registered company in the city the following year. It sold its dockyards in Huangpu (Whampoa), Guangzhou to the Qing government and then, in 1888, built No. 1 Dock of Kowloon Docks in Hung Hom to provide services for merchant ships coming to Hong Kong and for vessels that plied their trade in the Far East. By the late 19th century, the company employed a 3,000 to 4,000-strong workforce and, with its dockyards in Hung Hom, Tai Kok Tsui and Shek Pai Wan (Aberdeen Bay), was capable of building ships up to 213 metres in length.

As Hong Kong’s shipping industry flourished in the early 20th century, the Whampoa Dock was no longer able to cope with the many ships awaiting repair. In 1908, the British trading company Butterfield and Swire founded Taikoo Dockyard in Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island. Covering 52.5 acres and accommodating large ocean-going vessels up to 209 metres long and 21 metres wide, the dockyard was the largest and most advanced shipbuilding and repair facility in the Far East at that time. By 1939, Taikoo Dockyard could build vessels with a carrying capacity of close to 9,000 tons.

Meanwhile, the Royal Naval Yard was completed at the Admiralty site in 1878 to service British warships. The facility was expanded in 1906 to cater to 7,000 to 8,000 ton cruisers, while branch dockyards had also been opened in Tsim Sha Tsui and Aberdeen by the 1930s. Before the Second World War, Hong Kong’s shipbuilding and repair industry was largely dominated by Whampoa Dock, Taikoo Dockyard and the Naval Yard.


  • Victoria Harbour teemed with junks

  • Long distance view of Whampoa Dock

  • Launching ceremony for S.S. Taiping

  • Main office building of Whampoa Dock