Page revised 19 October 2008




The gentlemen’s clubs of London are represented in most crest albums. Less commonly found are the crests of overseas clubs. Club life was very often a feature of life in British colonies when the British Empire was in its heyday. Expatriates involved in administration, the army, the navy, commerce or trade could recreate to a small extent the social life which they would have followed in Britain and some of the overseas clubs were sumptious enclaves of British life.


The massive presence of British in the sub-continent led to the establishment of many clubs. In India we find the Bengal Club in Calcutta, the Bengal United Service Club, the Bombay Club, the East India United Service Club, the Madras Club which has its own history (Short Historical Notice of the Madras Club, HD Love, 1902), Howrah Club near Calcutta, Oootacamund Club at the noted hill station of that name (see Topics: India), the United Service Club, Bangalore and the Club of Western India at Poona.


It is not known if the British India Marine Service Club* and the British Indian Engineers Club were located in India or Britain, or possibly both. Nor is it known if the Hyderabad Military Club was in the Indian or Pakistani town of that name.

In Pakistan were Rawal Pindi Club, Sialkot Club, the Scind Club, Karachi, the Punjab Club, Lahore and The Club, Murree. Murree had been developed as a hill station by the British. They created, amidst some of Pakistan’s most beautiful alpine scenery, a typical English resort complete with a mall for promenading and ceremonial parades, parks, churches and schools. The station became the summer headquarters of the Punjab government until 1876 when the administration was removed to Simla.

Burma had the Burma Club, the Pegu Club, now an officers' mess of the Burmese Army, and the Pyinmana Club.


In Sri Lanka, Ceylon as it then was, were the Colombo (which still exists), the Kandy, founded in 1877, and the Hill Clubs.

Other outposts of the Empire which had their clubs were Barbados with the Bridgetown Club; British Guyana with the Georgetown and the Demarara; and Natal with the Durban Club which was founded in 1854 for gentleman to meet over a game of billiards. The club has gone through several clubhouses and continues.

Hong Kong had its Hong Kong Club, the Jamaica Club was in existence by 1875, and Montreal, Canada, had its St James’s Club.

The Fiji Club was originally established in Levuka in 1875 but moved to Suva in 1883 where it still operates.


From Australia we find the Melbourne Club, the New South Wales Club and the Warrigal Club which from 1887 to 1889 was conducted in the house in Sydney which was to become the home of the Royal Australian Historical Society. The Tasmanian Club in Hobart was in existence by 1846.


Nor were British clubs limited to the Empire. There was an Anglo-American Club in Dresden,Germany, an English Club in Rome and, perhaps the best known of this class, the Shanghai Club in China. The British community founded the Shanghai in the late 1860s, creating an atmosphere of colonial opulence. In 1910 they built grandiose new premises of massive white marble in the neo-classical style, which was opened with great ceremony the following year. No expense was spared in making the club an elegant and comfortable refuge for its privileged members.

The Shanghai Club.



The British were not the only ones to recreate their clubs abroad. In London various expatriate clubs have been noted:The Irish Club, the Canada Club founded in 1810 and the German Athenaeum which was founded in 1860. In Lucknow there was a U.S. Club.


Ireland had its gentlemen’s clubs in the English tradition and examples of crests have been noted for the Clare Club, the Limerick Club, Waterford County & City Club, Ulster Reform Club, Belfast, and the Kildare Street Club, Dublin.

Crests have also been seen for the Florence Club, the Himalaya Club, the Khedivial Club in Cairo, the Victoria Club, Dinan, and the Union Club, Malta which was founded in 1826.


In my first version of this page I stated that the origins of the Pipe Clay Club were not known, though they were thought to lay in Australia. Since then Richard Num of Adelaide kindly pointed me to the Naval & Military Club, Melbourne, who use the same motto and have a magazine called the Pipeclay. An enquiry to the club brought a most helpful response. They had started out as the Pipeclay Club in May 1881, retaining the name until 1886 when they became the United Service Club. Three further name changes brought it to the present title, though its original name is recalled in the name of the members' magazine and the Pipeclay Bar.

So we have a very close dated crest: it must have appeared between 1881 and 1886. The choice of pipe clay as a name no doubt arises from the practice in the armed forces of its use to whiten webbing and straps.

*I am grateful to Juzer Mohammed Husain for confirmation that this club was indeed in India, being noted at King's Building, Hornby Road, Bombay in 1908.

Return to HOME