Tanglin Club



One of Singapore’s most prominent social clubs, Tanglin Club was founded in 1865 to cater to the social and recreational needs of the British.1 Up until the 1960s, club members were predominantly British.2
 
Beginnings
In 1865, an interim committee was formed for the Tanglin Club, comprising Thomas Dunman (president), Herbert Buchanan (vice-president), Lancelot C. Masfen, Jos. M. Webster, William Mulholland, Walter Oldham, Edwin A. G. C. Cooke and John R. Forrester.3


On 26 June 1866, the club purchased a property in the Claymore estate for $600.4 That same year, the construction of a clubhouse with bowling alleys, billiard rooms, stables, and a dance floor began.5

The clubhouse was constructed from bricks made to British standards by a brickfield in Serangoon. After plastering, the brick walls were washed or distempered. The building had a long overhang roof that was slabbed over with red Chinese clay tiles. The upper storey of the clubhouse, where the main activities were held, had verandahs around its perimeter. Its floor was laid with chengal timber, and supported by timber joists. The dance floor, which was later reputed to be the best in Singapore, was reinforced with cast-iron supports. The kitchens, changing rooms and toilet – all located on the ground floor – were laid with red Malaccan tiles and bricks.6

Tanglin Club and Teutonia Club
By the 1890s, the Claymore district had evolved into a prestigious district occupied by many prominent European residents.7 During the construction of the German Teutonia Club (present-day Goodwood Park Hotel), Tanglin Club accommodated the Teutonia members.8 When the palatial Teutonia Club was completed in 1900, it quickly overshadowed the Tanglin Club, which by then was considered old and dismal-looking. Tanglin Club’s German membership had dwindled from 236 from 1901 to 181 in 1911. When World War I broke out in 1914, Teutonia Club was declared an enemy property.9

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), Tanglin Club was used by the Japanese army as a club for their officers. It was also used as a base for their propaganda unit as well as their storage area for rations and weapons. After the Japanese surrender, Tanglin Club came under the management of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes until March 1946. It was not until 1 September 1946 that the club was informally reopened.10

Changes
In 1962, the government appealed to clubs in Singapore to have at least 50-percent local membership. After an extraordinary general meeting, the club’s membership rule was amended to admit all races. The first locals to join the club included Shaw Vee Meng, Yeo Chee Peng, Tan Eng Han, Koh Eng Yam, U. S. Chan and C. K. Sng.11

Due to the club’s constitution that capped local membership at 51 percent,12 the waiting time for Singaporeans to become members could be as long as nine years.13 This constitution was frequently challenged as a result. Many members held intense, divided views over other club issues, and their disputes and lawsuits also made headlines.14 In March 2005, a High Court judge reprimanded the club members for their frequent bickering, and implored them to act together to resolve their differences.15

The construction of a new four-storey clubhouse was carried out in phases since September 1977 and completed in March 1981. On 14 March 1981, members bade farewell to the original clubhouse at a closing ceremony. More than a month later, on 25 April 1981, the new clubhouse was officially opened by the then Law Minister E. W. Barker.16 Over the years, the clubhouse had been upgraded to cater to members’ needs.17

In 2005, the club embarked on a S$21-million upgrading plan that included the construction of a new sports complex.18 In 2006, the club membership was 5,800, comprising 70 nationalities.19



Author

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia




References
1. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who, p. 301. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Lee, J. (1998, May 21). Tanglin Club furore over limit on locals. The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. British Club. (n.d.). History of the club. Retrieved 2017, April 20 from British Club website: www.britishclub.org.sg/the-club/our-history
3. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, p. 28. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL)
4. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, p. 28. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL)
5. Dunlop, P. K. G.  (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who, p. 301. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 27–30, 143. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL); Lee, J. (1998, May 21). Tanglin Club furore over limit on locals. The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; British Club. (n.d.). History of the club. Retrieved 2017, April 20 from British Club website: www.britishclub.org.sg/the-club/our-history
6. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 30, 55. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL); Tanglin Club. (n.d.). History of the Tanglin Club. Retrieved 2017, April 20 from Tanglin Club website: http://www.tanglinclub.org.sg/about/club-history.html; Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 176. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
7. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL)
8. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
9. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 53, 56–57. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL); Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
10. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 104–105, 109. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL)
11. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, p. 143. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL); British Club. (n.d.). History of the club. Retrieved 2017, April 20 from British Club website: www.britishclub.org.sg/the-club/our-history
12. Lee, J. (1998, May 21). Tanglin Club furore over limit on locals. The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Koh, B. P. (1997, August 20). Tanglin Club rejects move to increase S’porean membership. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Wong, K. (2005, March 15). Tangling Club. The New Paper, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Koh, B. P. (1997, August 20). Tanglin Club rejects move to increase S’porean membershipThe Straits Times, p. 23; Wong, K. (2005, March 15). Tangling Club. The New Paper, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 159–160. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL)
17. Wong, K. (2005, April 27). $21m upgrade okayed for Tanglin Club. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Wong, K. (2005, April 27). $21m upgrade okayed for Tanglin ClubThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Walsh, B. A. (1991). Forty good men: The story of the Tanglin Club in the island of Singapore. Singapore: The Club, pp. 159–161. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL); Wong, K. (2005, April 27). $21m upgrade okayed for Tanglin Club. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2006 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Clubs--Singapore
Sports, recreation and travel
Organisations>>Associations
Tanglin Club
Organisations