The Royal Northern was originally based in Rothesay but moved to the current clubhouse in Rhu on the Gare Loch in 1937. The Royal Clyde vacated its premises at Hunters Quay in the fifties and also moved to Rhu before the two clubs merged in 1978 to form the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club.
The Royal Northern Yacht Club is believed to have been the first British yachting club to receive a royal charter, in 1830. The club was founded to organise and encourage the sport, and by 1825 Scottish and Irish clubs were racing against each other on the Clyde. However, yachting and yacht building didn't really take off until the middle of the 19th century. The Clyde Model Yacht Club was inaugurated in 1856, receiving its royal charter in 1863, and the two clubs dominated the Scottish yachting scene at that time. In 1886 the Royal Northern yacht Galatea challenged for the America's Cup and the following year it was the turn of Thistle from the Royal Clyde.