Karachi Boat Club History

Club Formation
(1881 -1900)

Records of the actual formation of the Karachi Boat Club are not in existence but the 2™ Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters have in their possession a Cup, which was won by a Four at a Regatta held in 1866.

Any Club that then existed apparently ceased to function and the Club was again formed at a meeting held on 19th July, 1881 with the following fifteen gentlemen attending and forming the membership of the new Club: A McHinch, H.M. Birdwood, C.S.J. Leask, D. Mclver, A. Thole, P. Fendail, G.T. Portlock, P.O. Carnegy, W. Cooper, N. Seville, F.C. Constable, Dr. D. O’Sullivan, Capt. W. Wetherall, Major W, Keays and H.M. Thomson.

A Boat House was constructed on land reclaimed from the marshes at the side of the China Creek. With further reclamation and extension of premises from time to time, the Club is still situated on the same site.

The first Regatta was held on 18th October, 1881. The importance of the event may be judged from the fact that the Bank of Bombay and the Agra Bank closed for the day in honour of the occasion, and the local newspaper issued a special morning edition giving details of the races to be held and the names of the crews.

In 1883, the Club made history by sending a crew to Poona. who won the Fours, Pairs and Sculls against the Poona Boat Club The Honorary Secretary of the day, however, did not think this worthy of entering in the Club records and had it not been for the History of the Royal Connaught Boat Club, Poona, the event would have remained forgotten.

Membership of the Club increased and from the records it would appear that in 1892 the Members were very satisfied with the management of the club as it is recorded that at the Annual General Meeting held on 22nd September 1892, the only one to turn up at the meeting was the Honorary secretary, which meeting he adjourned after waiting, with commendable patience, for 11/4 hours.

On 1st September 1894, with the assistance of Officers and Men of H.M. Ships in the harbour and the Band of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, a water fete was held in honour of the birth of a son to T.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of York. Unfortunately, the records are irritatingly reticent as to the exact nature of many of the features of the Fete and also the names of H.M. Ships in the harbour at the time

1900 – 1945

About the beginning of the century finances would appear to have been somewhat difficult, as in 1900 it was decided to approach the Karachi Gymkhana with a view to amalgamate, the effort being renewed in 1901. Fortunately for rowing, this came to nothing as the club has undoubtedly developed far more than it would have done as a subsidiary of the Gymkhana.

The buildings and boats suffered badly from cyclones in 1902 and again in 1907. In 1915 for the first time and thanks largely to the generosity of Mr. T.C. Beaumont who donated the necessary crockery, etc. A small kitchen was started enabling meals etc to be supplied to the members.

The Club buildings have from time to time been enlarged to meet the growing membership. In 1922 very considerable enlargements were made resulting in fresh popularity.

The Jubilee of the reformed Club of 1881 fell on July 19, 1931, and to mark the event a Fancy Dress Ball was held on July 18. This being a Saturday, over 200 members and guests attended, and supper was served on the newly reclaimed land north of the Club.

Alterations and small additions continued to be carried out and again considerable enlargements were made in 1936. This consisted of an extension towards the reclaimed land north of the Club and permitted Improvements to the verandah and bar, and construction of an ‘Office and store-rooms. Also in 1936 a garden and lawn were commenced on the reclaimed land adjacent to the Club. This was ably planned, supervised and Carried out by the then President, Mr. G.H. Raschen, being completed in 1937.

Prior to WWII, the largest membership recorded occurred In 1926 when, at the time of the Annual General Meeting in September of that year, 211 Permanent and Temporary Members were present in the Station. In addition, four Regimental Messes and the Royal Air Force Mess belonged to the Club, with a total of 70 officers, making up a membership of 281.

1947 – 1999

A children’s swimming pool was designed by Mr. B.E. Herman and Constructed in 1947. This pool has now been removed and in its place ‘pagoda’ like structures were constructed in 1973 to provide more facilities for members for outdoor enjoyment.

In 1954/55 a new wing was added at right angles onto the north end Of the Club and this enabled major improvements to be made in the dressing room facilities and in the kitchen, and also substantially Increased the total numbers which could be accommodated in the building on dance nights and other occasions.

In 1955 the number of Members resident in Karachi had risen to over 600 and the Committee found it necessary to close the Club to new Membership for a period, as had been found necessary several times since 1948.

During the period from 1960 to the end of 1968 many alterations and additions were made to the club premises; these included a new concrete and terrazzo terrace, which extended along the whole length of the Club frontage, giving members much greater facilities, especially when attending Regattas. A new Rowing Pontoon was also constructed. Boat House storage and repair facilities were greatly improved as were other amenities of the Club, larger and modern kitchen premises were constructed, paved car parking facilities were provided and the Bar and dining areas of the Club were enlarged and modernized.

In 1967 the Club garden was entered into the “Club and Hotels” section of the Horticultural Society of Pakistan’s annual flower show for the first time, and adjudged second in this section.

Thereafter the Club has won the competition several times as an under:

  • First Prize 1979, 1980, 1981 (for 3 years running)
  • Second Prize 1983
  • First Prize 1984
  • Second Prize 1985
  • First Prize 1986
  • Second Prize 1987, 1988, 1989 & 1990
  • First Prize 1991
  • Second Prize 1992
  • First Prize 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000
  • Second Prize 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002First Prize: 2013-2023

The Karachi Boat Club was pleased to present to the Madras Boat Club a Silver Salver on the occasion of their Centenary Dinner and we were honoured to know that this Salver will be called “The Centenary Plate” and will be rowed for annually over a course for approximately one mile. We understand that this event first took place at Madras Boat Club Spring Regatta on 6th April, 1968 and we sincerely hope that a good race was held by all entrants.

In 1970 the facilities of the Club were further improved by constructing an air-conditioned dining room on the ground floor, with a small bar This room became quite popular with members. However, in 1998 when club extension was done, this room was demolished and converted into a passage/reception area.

In 1971 the concrete extension was also converted into an air-conditioned dining room. This has become most popular with the members and was named the “Upper Deck” later renamed as “Garden View” in 2002.- The front dining room, known as ‘Harbour View’, was also air conditioned in 1989 where members can dine in casual atmosphere.

In 1993 Managing Committee decided to add to the Banqueting facilities and also to provide space for Card Room and a small reading/conference room.

Ground breaking ceremony of the project was done in December, 1995. The project was completed in 1998 allowing parking space at ground level and a Banquet Hall, a Card Room and Reading Room at first floor.

With the above addition, upgrading of kitchen facilities became essential. The kitchen was totally renovated and the most modern kitchen equipment was installed and was inaugurated on 24th November 1999.

2000 onwards

In order to provide further facilities to its members, a Gymnasium was been added in 2002, equipped with the latest exercise machines including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, rowing machine, free weights, various resistance and strength training machines, punching bag, etc.

In September 2005 the Club inaugurated a modern, six lane swimming pool overlooking the creek, for its members and their families.

Recent Refurbishment and Initiatives

During the COVID years, the Club refurbished its main building modernizing its exterior facade and uplifting its Snack Bar and Dining facilities. Further, as part of its sustainability initiatives, the Club invested in 126 solar panels capable of generating 69kW energy to take advantage of one of nature’s most powerful yet free resources: the energy produced by the sun.

More recently in 2022 the club added a state-of-the-art glass lift for the convenience of its senior members. Additionally, the washrooms for the Harbour View and Creek View dining areas had been renovated.

The Club plans to enhance its member offerings further with a new swimming pool building facility with additional facilities including a pool room. Ground breaking ceremony for this new building is expected in 1H2023.