The Club's establishment dates back to 1846 but sadly its early history is, to a large extent, forgotten. As far as can be gathered, however, it was inaugurated as a "Taipans' Club" for the convenience of, and as a meeting place for, the heads of the large "hongs" then existing in the Colony. These gentlemen were some eight in number and it is recorded that they occupied premises in Queen's Road Central facing what was the Post Office at the time. They obtained, and held, the property on the understanding that it should not be sold while any of them lived and, on those lines, the Club served its purpose for many years until only two of the original founders remained. These gentlemen disposed of the property, which was rented by the newly formed Members' Club in 1886.
An excellent opportunity for acquiring a new site presented itself when Sir Paul Chater's scheme of reclamation was undertaken and, on a block of the reclaimed land, the Club erected a commodious building in a commanding position fronting Victoria Harbour. The main building was three stories high. In the course of time additional accommodation became necessary and an annexe was erected and the two buildings were linked by a covered way. The main building was completed and occupied in July 1897 and the annexe in 1903. The Club was handsomely appointed throughout with spacious dining, bars, a fine bowling alley, nine billiard tables, reading and general rooms and living accommodation for 34 guests. Some of the rooms were let to Members at a monthly rate and the remainder were reserved for visitors. Electric lights and fans were fitted throughout and electric lifts gave ready access to the upper floors.
The Club also housed a fine Library which consisted of 15,608 works in 18,091 volumes, some of which are still in the ownership of the Club. The Library has, of course, been modernised and now some 19,000 items; books, CDs and DVDs, are catalogued on a new computer system.
The current resident membership is around 1,550. Members are admitted only by invitation and ballot. Reciprocal Club members and temporary visitors proposed by Members may use the Club's facilities for not more than 30 days in a calendar year.
The Club has a Committee of 9 members elected annually by the Membership and who convene the various Sub-committees which ensure that the different sections of the Club operate smoothly. The Club Chairman is selected from within the Committee. The Club workforce consists of a General Manager, Executive Assistant Manager, 8 Department Heads and around 280 general staff.