Monday, March 04, 2013

Tan Seng Chong (Bukit Brown)

Tan Seng Chong 
Tan Seng Chong is an Architect and proprietor of Tan Seng Chong and Co. with business at 14 Raffles Quay as architects and general contractors, under European supervision. Prior to this he was a student of the I.C.S. and Municipal Surveyor and Daughtsman with 14 years of experience before deciding to start his own business as an architect and estimator in 1910 initially in his residence in No 189 Queen Street and subsequently in 14 Raffles Quay. He was the first Chinese to start his own architectural practice.
Phones were only 4 digits then
(source: NewspaperSG) 
He was also in the business of retrofitting houses and renting them out. An example was an advertisement renting out a bungalow by the name of "Fairydale" at 379 Paya Lebar Road.

Death 
Tan Seng Chong, passed away on August 20, 1927  in his residence at No 189 Queen Street. He was 53 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Madam Au Swee Hai , one adopted son, Mr. Tan Teng Kee (also known as Battling Key), one son, Mr. Tan Chui Guan , 2 daughters, Miss Tan Eng Keow, Tan Hong Keow, 1 daughter-in-law, Tay Kim Swee Neo.

Picture of Tan Seng Chong funeral, hearse and accompanying group
taken in front of his office ( photo courtesy of Mervin Tan, great grandson)

Mr. Tan Seng Chong marble inscription. 
Madam Au Swee Hai passed away on August 5, 1937 at the age of 62.
Madam Au Swee Hai marble inscription 
Family
Son: Tan Teng Kee (Battling Key)
The story goes that although Battling Key was a handsome man and had a throng of female admirers, he never married.  He loved boxing too much and was heard saying, "I love boxing and I am prepared to die fighting in the ring". He fought in Singapore, Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong. In Singapore, many fights took place in the Moonlight Hall, New World.

As a young boy, he learnt boxing through bare knuckle street fights against bigger bullies who threatened his friends and his neighbourhood. At school he was considered "unmanageable" by his teachers as his interest was always fighting.
Battling Key
(source: NewspaperSG)
Battling Key was described as a terror in the ring but a kind and charitable person, so much so that the wealth of $45,000 he amassed through boxing was gone to people who asked him for money because he couldn't turn them away.
Battling Key 
One of the most memorable bout of his career was when in August 4, 1922 Tan Seng Kee knocked out his opponent, Johnny Carvalho (Johore Tiger) in 95 seconds in round 1 of a 10 round bout. He became the lightweight champion of Malaya and booked a place in the history books. Battling Key fought his last bout when on March 20, 1935, in a match against Johnny Nelson in Seremban, he was tragically killed. It was the 7th round, when after several hits in the earlier rounds, he finally collapsed. Taken to the hospital, he never regained consciousness. Tan Teng Kee aka Battling Key died at the age of 37 and was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Seremban.
Battered trophies of Battling Key kept by his younger brother
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Son: Tan Chui Guan
Tan Chui Guan is a committee member and hon. public officer of the Union Sporting Association. He married Miss Tay Kim Siew Neo, only daughter of Mr and late Mrs Tay Yam Sock on January 13, 1926.
Mr Tan Chui Guan and Miss Tay Kim Neo
(photo courtesy of Mervin Tan)

Tan Chui Guan passed away in 1944 during the Japanese Occupation and he was buried at the cemetery along Duchess / Coronation Ave.  His grave was exhumed in the mid 1990s and his remains have been cremated and relocated to Mandai Columbarium. Tay Kim Swee Neo passed away in 1941 and is buried at Bukit Brown. (Tan Chui Guan is the paternal grandfather of Mervin Tan)

Mother: Madam Wee Yang Neo (Peg Number 1950)
Madam Wee Yang Neo is the mother of Tan Seng Chong. Tan Seng Chong's name is not listed on her tombstone because he passed away earlier than her mother (she passed away in November 22, 1928 at the age of 83.  Listed on her tomb were her surviving sons, Tan Seng Kiang, Tan Seng Watt, Tan Chye Liang and Soh Chye Watt. The connection to his son, Tan Seng Chong is through the name of his mother's grandchildren, Tan Chui Guan, Tan Eng Keow, Tan Hong Keow.
Madam Wee Yang Neo (mother of Tan Seng Chong)
Moving House
Mr and Mrs Tan Seng Chong are affected by the 8 lane highway. Their peg number's are 1945 (Tan Seng Chong) and 1946 (Au Swee Hai) and is located in Hill 2 Division B, in front of Tok Cheng Tuan's tomb. His mother, Madam Wee Yang Neo is also affected (peg 1950). Their tombs however have been claimed and will be remembered.
Mr and Mrs Tan Seng Chong

Reference
Advertisement. (1910, October 1). The Straits Times, page 8
Untitled. (1914, September 25). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement.(1925, December 16). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement.(1926, September 21). The Straits Times, page 8
Death. (1927, August 22). The Straits Times, page 8
Boxing in Singapore. (1929, July 20). Malayan Saturday Post, page 17
The Union Sporting Association. (1930, September 16). The Singapore Free Press, page 13
Tragedies of the Ring. (1938, December 18). The Straits Times, page 31
Battered cups that were once boxer's joy. (1953, May 17). The Straits Times, page 18
My Uncle, the Peranakan Boxing Champion. [website] Peranakan Newsleter December 1995.
Who's who in Malaya, (p. 173). (1925). [Microfilm: NL 6705].   Singapore: Fishers in conjunction with Mass Printers.
Email correspondence's with Mervin Tan and Wong Tin Hway

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