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Chapter 1.1
Private dockyards
Contributor: Ma Koon-yiu

The Early slipways

When Captain Elliot declared Hong Kong a free port in January 1843, a wonderful opportunity arose for the shipbuilding and repair industry on the island. David Frazer’s request in Britain for the installation of a patent slip was recommended by the Land Officer, A. T. Gordon, and granted by Governor Sir Henry Pottinger in August 1843, with a special lease condition for the Royal Navy’s priority use of the slipway.[1] In the same year, the vessel Celestial - whose designer was the late carpenter of the Fort William - was launched on 7 February 1843 at East Point (Causeway Bay today).[2] The vessel weighed 80 tons and was made entirely of teak. Charles Emery and George Frazer, both Americans, set up their firm Emery & Frazer Co. and moved to Marine Lot No. 31 (Lun Fat Street and Queen’s Road East today) in Wan Chai in 1845, where they constructed a slipway.

From 1846 to 1848, John Lamont, George Frazer and John Younghusband were the main shipbuilders on the island. Lamont and Frazer were assisted by William Ross and George Perkins respectively, while Younghusband left the business in 1848. In 1845, Peter Badenoch arrived in Hong Kong from Singapore and set up a shipbuilding company on Queen’s Road, but he left Hong Kong in 1847 after selling the hulk of the Isabella. He was succeeded by Charles Barton, also from Singapore, in the same premises. In 1850, Ross and Perkins left Lamont and Frazer to form Ross & Perkins Co. in the same location as Emery & Frazer Co. until 1856, when they expanded their shipyard by taking the adjoining Marine Lot No. 36 (Lun Fat Street and Ship Street today). Two years later, the shipyard was sold to Stephen Prentice Hall. After Hall had left in 1866, it was transferred to MacDougall & Co. in 1868 and was known as the Victoria Foundry.


  • [1]
    CO129/4, p. 295; CO129/10, pp. 557-560.
  • [2]
    Friend of China, 9 February 1843.
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