Saturday 8 February 2014

North Point - the former Yacht Club and Power Station

Last week I was strolling down Electric Road, North Point on Hong Kong Island looking for the site of the North Point Power Station which came under siege on the night of 18 December 1941, when the Japanese army landed in this area. I came across these old buildings at the junction of Oil Street and Electric Road. I had seen them before but had forgotten their history. Old buildings are something of a rarity in Hong Kong - so I had a look inside. 

Oil Street Buildings (Wikipedia)

It's now an arts/design centre. They allow visitors to walk around and had a pamphlet which gave some history of the buildings. They were built in 1908 to house the Hong Kong Yacht Club and in those days before various reclamations they were situated on the harbour front.

Looking along Electric Road

The Power Station was situated at the junction of the aptly named Power Street and Electric Road.  An old map from Hong Kong libraries (sourced from local history we site gives an idea why the nearby street is called Oil Street.

To one side of the Yacht Club is the Power Station and to the other, a building and jetty marked Dutch Oil. In later aerial photographs, I can see oil storage tanks and a nearby street is named Shell Street. The map above shows Bay View Police Station which still existed in 1941 and came to be in the front line.

The two photographs below were taken from Gillian Chambers "Eastern Waters Eastern Winds" a history of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.

The above photograph shows the Club Building on the waterfront in 1927 some twenty years after it was built.  The photograph below is taken from in front of the Yacht Club and looking east at the North Point Power Station.

The Japanese landed along this stretch of shoreline having pulverised it with artillery picking of the Pill Boxes one by one. This sector was defended by the  5/7th Rajputs an Indian Army regiment commanded by Lt Col. Cadogan-Rawlinson. The Japanese landed in force and after close-quarter fighting, they decimated C,  D  and B Coy which had been held in reserve. Some survivors made their way to the Power Station which was defended by a unit of the HKVDC known as the "Hughesiliers" commanded by Major J.J. Paterson the Taipan or Head of Jardine Matheson - the "noble house" and "princely Hong". 

An armoured car commanded by Cpl Harry Long with  Lt Mike Carruthers aboard was despatched but was knocked out in Kings Road killing the driver and seriously wounding Cpl Long.  Likewise, a mobile machine gun platoon under Lt Graham of the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment was sent out in three 15-cwt trucks but they were ambushed in the same location with some survivors making it to the Power Station which was gallantly defended throughout the night and the following day.

Back to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club - in the late 1930s they had relocated to Kellet Island (shown below) off the coast of nearby Causeway Bay following reclamations of the shoreline in front of the North Point Club premises.

Kellett Island had been used as a Royal Navy Magazine. In 1941 it was still an island but in the 1950s a causeway was built out to it and it remains the home of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and another piece of history.


1 comment:

  1. I am learning a huge amount from your writing, Philip. Can I pre-order the book?