The old yacht club, formerly known as the royal Bombay yacht club, was founded in 1846 in Colaba. It was initially envisioned to be one of the premiere gentlemen’s clubs in the Mumbai area. Today It acts as the headquarters of the department of atomic energy government of India. It served the tata institute of fundamental research for a brief period in 1949. John Adams designed the old yacht club. John Adams is credited with designing the Mumbai Gymkhana, Police courts etc. and has a street named after him. 

The club’s location, Close to the coast, offers a splendid overlooking view of the Gateway of India. It lies near some of the architectural wonders of Mumbai city, like the taj hotel, Maharashtra police headquarters, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, to name a few. The club is known for its sailing facilities on the Arabian sea. Other than that, it houses a library, Club shop, Bar, Lounge, and ballrooms for its exclusive members. The club offers chambers for residence overlooking the Gateway of India, a bar, a lounge, a restaurant, ballrooms, a club shop, a library, a members’ sleeping room, and sailing facilities in the Arabian Sea.

Timeline of restoration:Old Yacht Club, Mumbai - Sheet1
The Old Yacht Club_©SNKIndia

History

The old yacht club was constructed in 1846. It was initially presided over by Henry Morland as the club Commodore, responsible for the management and running of the club. It took 30 years for the club to become known as the royal Bombay yacht club, on the recommendation of sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse and the patronage of Queen Victoria. The year 1881 saw the construction of the seafront clubhouse. The prominence of the club rose after that. The royal family of Duke, Duchess of Connaught, and H.R.H. prince Arthur were some of the club’s prominent personalities in its initial years of commencement. The club was initially restricted to Indian members, but flowing a brief closure in 1958 for not accepting Indian members, it started accepting. A clubhouse was added to the existing structure in 1896. The purpose of this clubhouse was to provide accommodations for its members. The new clubhouse was executed in Venetian gothic style with indo Saracenic features.

Timeline of restoration:Old Yacht Club, Mumbai - Sheet2
painting of The Old Yacht Club_©Raphael Tuck & Sons

Style and Architecture

The Royal yacht club was built in indo – gothic style of architecture with Victorian interiors. Gothic style was prevalent in Bombay during the mid-19th century. The building boasts a rich material palette consisting of Mangalore tiles, Wood, and extensive plaster work. It has intricate glasswork in its openings and features a rich earthy color palette. The stone cladding on the exterior gives the yacht club exquisite air. The Roof style is an amalgamation of sloping roofs and conical pointed roofs at the edges of the building, accentuating the structure. The original interior was Victorian in style and featured intricate woodwork with a smooth plaster finish on the walls. The stained glass adds to the signature gothic look of the old yacht club. Wood’s rich brown tones and creamy white palette give a royal look. The corridors and interiors see the extensive use of pointed arches set against high ceilings, another prominent feature of gothic architecture.

Timeline of restoration:Old Yacht Club, Mumbai - Sheet3
The lawn area_©SNKIndia

The old yacht club building is an essential milestone in the gothic buildings of Bombay. Under the crown rule during the mid-19th century, Bombay’s Gothic style became prominently used. Some famous examples of Gothic-style buildings in Bombay are, The telegraph office, saint Xavier’s college, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, to name a few. While the earliest of them were designed and commissioned by the Britishers, the mid-1800s saw a rise in the opium and cotton trade, making Indian merchants wealthier. This led to them also commissioning work from British architects as an attempt to mark their presence in Mumbai. This was succeeded by the birth of the Hindu gothic style, which saw elements like chhatris, jails, domes etc. combined with typical gothic features like split facades, multi-colored stained glasses, etchings, and engravings in the façade, pointed arches etc., used in a mixture of Indian and foreign material palette.

The interiors_©SNKIndia

Restoration

The restoration of the Old Yacht club was initially done by Ar. Vikas Dilwari in the year 2012. It included efforts to restore the club’s original Victorian interiors and treat its exteriors and common areas. Art deco style was introduced to the flooring, making it lively and cheerful. This was followed by restoration efforts by Sommaya and Kalappa architects, a conservation firm based out of Mumbai. They worked on strengthening the original structure. The requirements of the new user, the department of atomic energy government of India, were kept in mind during the restoration. The year 1976 saw about one-third of the structure being demolished due to structural reasons. So R.C.C. interventions had to be done by S.N.K. The restoration efforts received much applause and an award of merit from UNESCO during the 2013 Asia-Pacific Heritage awards. The old yacht club, in all its indo gothic glory, remains a hidden gem in the sea of gothic, Victorian and colonial buildings of Bombay.

References:

  1. Gehi, R., 2022. Cementing history. [online] Mumbai Mirror. Available at: <https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/others/sunday-read/cementing-history/articleshow/58876770.cms> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
  2. Rbyc.co.in. 2022. Royal Bombay Yacht Club. [online] Available at: <https://www.rbyc.co.in/> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
  3. Rbyc.co.in. 2022. Royal Bombay Yacht Club. [online] Available at: <https://www.rbyc.co.in/> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
  4. Snkindia.com. 2022. The Old Yacht Club. [online] Available at: <https://www.snkindia.com/project.php?category_id=3&project_id=54> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
  5. andBeyond. 2022. Bombay Gothic. [online] Available at: <https://www.andbeyond.com/experiences/asia/india/west-india/mumbai/bombay-gothic/#:~:text=The%20essence%20of%20a%20Bombay%20Gothic%20Tour&text=Gothic%20architecture%20in%20India%20originated,%2Dcoloured%20stained%2Dglass%20windows.> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
Author

An aspiring designer, she believes architecture plays an innate role in adding nuances to the multi faceted world we live in. When not reading, pondering on how design can shape , or be used to influence human behaviour has become her favourite pastime.

Write A Comment