Tracing its origins back to 1822 in Whampoa, the Mariners’ Club in Hong Kong was established to meet a specific need for an Anglo-Chinese society defined by that most dubious of activities, seafaring. Its creation was anything but straightforward, and in this can be seen the mutable and often tortuous relations between the various religious bodies, the local population, the transient sailors, the emerging captains of industry, and the growing regulatory reach of the colonial government. The club evolved through many embodiments and witnessed the growth of Hong Kong from a collection of mat-sheds on the foreshore, through colony to its current status. Throughout its turbulent past it has been occasionally marginalized but has always served as an important base for the key actors in the main commercial activity in Hong Kong: seafarers.
This is a history of one of the most enduring institutions of Hong Kong, and the first of its kind. Using the Club’s own records as well as a wide range of sources both from within Hong Kong and from the seafaring world at large, this is a comprehensive account of the life of the Missions, the tenancy of the different chaplains, managers, and stewards, the changes in seafaring practices and shipping, and the transformation of Hong Kong itself.