The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports

Alfred William Burkill (1873 - 1952)

Burkill pictured in 1908

A caricature of Burkill as Master of the Paperhunt Club drawn in 1930.

Burkill opened the new Shanghai Race Club building in March 1934. The building is still standing today. It is possible to eat on the top floor in Kathleen's restaurant.

​  Albert ‘Bertie’ William Burkill was born in Shanghai in 1873, went to school in Bromsgrove, England in 1879 returning to live in Shanghai in 1892. His younger brother was Charles ‘Chuck’ Reginald Burkill who also played rugby.

  Their father, Albert Robson Burkill had arrived in Shanghai in 1857, an early Shanghai adventurer out to make his fortune. He started by joining the firm of Messrs Glover, Dow & Co before starting his own company A R Burkill & Sons. They were in the business of silk.

When his father died in 1913, ‘Bertie’ took over as Chairman of the company.  He married Katherine Kidd in 1897 and they had three children, the eldest, Katherine was born in 1900 and died in the year 2000. The second child Albert Reginald died as a toddler and their third child, Ivan Francis born in 1906 died in an accident in the UK in June 1942 having escaped from France in 1940 after War broke out.

Albert served briefly on the Shanghai Municipal Council and on two occasions was Master of the Shanghai Paper Hunt Club (1903 – 1905 and 1906 to 1911). He was also the Chairman of the Shanghai Race Club. He became President of the Shanghai Rugby Football Club in 1906 and did not relinquish this role until 1935 when he returned ‘home’ to England.

  He was awarded an O.B.E in 1929 for services to the Shanghai Defence Force. His wife died in 1939 only four years after he had returned to England. Shortly afterwards he married again, to Catharine Isabelle Macfarlane with whom he shared his life until his own death in January 1952 in Kensington, London. On his death he left a substantial estate valued at GBP28,683.