Dockyards of Hong Kong
Recently Visited

The Birth of Hong Kong's Shipbuilding and Repair Industry

From 1757 up to the outbreak of the Opium War, Guangzhou was China’s only trading port. While foreign merchants generally conducted their business in Guangzhou, their cargo ships were required by the Chinese authorities to berth in Huangpu (Whampoa) port for loading and unloading supplies, as well as paying duties. At that time, permission had to be obtained from the Guangdong Customs to hire Chinese workers to repair ships. After China’s defeat in the Opium War, foreign merchants set up a number of dockyards in Huangpu port, such as Whampoa Dock built in 1863 by a consortium of British companies that included Jardine, Matheson & Co. and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O).

British forces occupied Hong Kong in January 1841 during the Opium War, and in June of that year Britain declared the city a free port. Foreign merchants began using Hong Kong as an entrepôt for trade with China, and, as the number of ships going in and out of the port and their total tonnage continued to rise, a demand for supply and repair services for ocean steamships soon emerged on the market.

Hong Kong’s earliest dockyard went into operation in Aberdeen in 1843 when it built a small boat with a carrying capacity of 80 tons. At that time, a number of shipbuilding and repair facilities were operated by foreign merchants along Hong Kong Island’s northern coast from Queen’s Road East to East Point (part of present-day Causeway Bay). John Lamont then opened Lamont Dock in Aberdeen in 1857, and four new dockyards able to service 300-ton ships were later built. However, as the use of iron-hulled steamships became more established, the original small dockyards gradually went out of business, as they could not accommodate such large vessels. They were replaced by substantial dockyards in Victoria Harbour.


  • Shipbuilding craftsmen in Kowloon

  • Guangdong Customs

  • Pedder's Hill and Harbour Master's House

  • Huangpu in Guangzhou