The mudflats of Victoria Harbour were bought for $2.50 per square foot by a Hong Kong businessman who began charging for tipping rubble from the growing colony. The land began selling for $25.00 per square foot. Short of buyers for the land, the businessman joined with the personnel of the Royal Navy’s China Fleet to raise funds for a Royal Naval Canteen.
The Canteen proved to be extremely successful and was soon demolished to make way for a new building. Using the Club funds and with a generous loan from the Hong Kong and Shang-hai Bank, Admiral Kelly Commander in Chief China Station, laid the foundation stone for the seven story China Fleet Club building. For the men who served on the China station ‘The Old Blue’ as it was known provided a place for refurbishment and decent accommodation away from the crowded ships.
During the battle for Hong Kong, the Japanese occupied the Club using it as the naval HQ. The Club was extensively refurbished and returned to its former use after the Royal Marines and Royal Navy liberated the Colony. During the Korean war, the Club became a major rest and recreation centre for British and allied sailors. During the Vietnam War, allied and American sailors used the Club extensively between tours of duty boosting Club profits.
Land values escalated and the trustees sold the air space over the club. A developer paid for temporary facilities while building a new luxury club on the first 9 floors, with 14 more floors of office space above. Fleet house opened and because of the agreement to hand back Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, the search began for a suitable successor to the China Fleet Club in the UK.
A proposal to build the China Fleet Country Club in Saltash, Cornwall was put to the Hong Kong sailor’s committee and Trustees. The feasibility study was approved by the Hong Kong sailor’s committee, the land was purchased and the design of the complex began. Building work started on the 180-acre Saltash site. The new China Fleet Country Club was officially opened on June 1st 1991 and was formally opened by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales on 5th December 1991, along with a prestigious golf course, designed by Dr. Martin Grant Hawtree. On 30th November 1992, the Hong Kong China Fleet Club closed its doors for the last time ready for the Chinese to take over Hong Kong.
The China Fleet Country Club extended membership to the local community, ensuring that the Club remains financially viable, as well as offering a non-military, contemporary and family-friendly environment.
China Fleet Country Club celebrates its 25th anniversary by receiving a visit from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. The Club was rededicated to commemorate this event.
China Fleet Country Club temporarily closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the closure, the Club was used as a vaccination centre by the NHS, supported by Royal Navy volunteers.
After an uncertain period during the COVID-19 pandemic, China Fleet Country Club fully opened its doors again, welcoming members, beneficiaries and guests and celebrated its 30th anniversary.
14th June 2021 The Royal Navy strengthens its ties with the China Fleet Trust, with a formal affiliation with the New Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Ship HMS TAMAR. Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson RN, the Commanding Officer of HMS TAMAR opened the Club’s new heritage area and acknowledged the affiliation with his ship.