The History of Royal Ulster Yacht Club


The Ulster Yacht Club was formed.


Earliest records are minutes of a meeting of the Ulster Yacht Club on 12th June at which Right Honourable Lord Dufferin and Clandeboye was elected Commodore.

The frist Club Regatta was held at Cultra.


In August this year Queen Victoria was "graciously pleased to approve the Yacht Club taking the title of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club."  Since then members have been entitled by Admiralty warrant to fly the Club burgee with defaced blue ensign.


It was agreed to rent the property now No 172 Seacliff Road for a period of four years.  The starting battery was established across the road (now No 11).


The Club moved to Ardmara and leased the western side of the property.  This property has since been demolished and been replaced by town houses.


1873-Royal-ulster-yacht-club.jpgAfter years of debate, on the 27th of July 1897 discussions came to a head. The members agreed at a Special General Meeting to buy the present site at 101 Clifton Road (Known as "Garratt's field"). A club member, Vincent Craig, brother of Sir James Craig (later Lord Craigavon), was an architect and yacht designer. He designed the villa and prepared plans for a Clubhouse which were adopted by the members.

The building contract was awarded to McLaughlan and Harvey for £4,100 and the present Clubhouse was created for a final sum of £5,789 plus furnishings. After 16 months the building was finished - quite an achievement even by today's standards. The grand total including furnishings and land was £8,157.

Much of this capital was raised through debentures from members, and several large donations were made, particularly from the brothers John and Charles Lepper.

A meeting was held to consider "one class, one design" boats.  The Number One or 'Bird' Class was formed.ccc 


1900-Royal-ulster-yacht-club.jpgThe Clubhouse had an informal opening on Wednesday 12th April 1899 when the press and Officers of other clubs were invited. Three days later, on Saturday 15th April 1899, there was a reception for all members and guests, with bands on the lawns, teas and dinner that evening.

The press at that time reported a reception for 300 ladies and gentlemen, followed by an inaugural dinner for 60 members and guests. There was even a special train run to Belfast.

Sir Thomas Lipton's first challenge for The America's Cup - Shamrock I


Sir Thomas Lipton's second challenge for the America's Cup - Shamrock II


tl.jpgSir Thomas Lipton's third challenge for the America's Cup - Shamrock III


The area of the tennis court, garage and car park was bought in 1905.


Sir Thomas Lipton's fourth chalenge for the America's Cup - Shamrock IV


ruyc-b&w.jpgThe use of the Club has changed since Vincent Craig's bold design but there is no questioning the magnificence of the site and the quality of materials in the Clubhouse. There are few yacht clubs in the world with such a commanding view of their sailing waters.

The dining room was originally downstairs, but before the First World War it moved to the drawing room upstairs. Meals were prepared downstairs in the kitchen and then brought up in a hoist. The hatch can still be seen in the east end of the Gloucester Room, and the hoist casing is still in place in the staff kitchen.

Originally there were ten bedrooms for member's use. Many have been converted to offices and a training room on the second floor.

502 squadron, late 1930's flying over the Royal Ulster Yacht Club.jpg1923

There were no Steward's quarters in the original design, and these were added later. The Club Steward from 1923 to 1966 was William (Willie) Moran, and he lived in the clubhouse with his wife. He first started work as a "junior boy" in the Club in 1912. He is still fondly remembered by senior members as a paragon of industry, discretion and diplomacy. His service to the Club was exceptional, even on Christmas Day.

The Billiards Room was without a table from 1924 to 1948, and at that time was called the Large Card Room. The Small Card Room was later the committee Room, and more recently renamed the Lipton Room.


Sir Thomas Lipton's fifth and final challenge for the America's Cup - Shamrock V


The Gentlemen's Locker Room and Changing Room was converted to the Back Bar and is still a snug spot on a stormy night.


Only four external additions have been made to the club over time. A somewhat stark front bar in 1962, the gentlemen's changing rooms and showers in 1978 and the front porch extension was added in 1990 during renovation. Then in 2002 a new dining room replaced the front bar which had been added in 1962.



Since 1973 catering has been in a franchise arrangement. Dining was transferred downstairs to be nearer the kitchens. The Club layout has obviously been a problem since it opened. The upstairs drawing room was renamed the Gloucester Room in the 1970's.

The Strangers Room, a rather unfriendly title, was as far as visitors to the Club were permitted without a member accompanying them. It now has a series of photographs of anchorages on the West Coast of Scotland, presented by the Clyde Cruising Club in 1987.A selection of half models are on display here also.


The Club building is listed by the Department of Environment as a building of historic interest. The exterior and main rooms cannot be altered without consent.


The Club celebrated its 150th Anniversary.  The highlights of the celebrations included vists from HRH The Princess Royal and our Commodore HRH The Duke of Gloucester.