Tanglin Club



One of Singapore’s most prominent social clubs, the 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
 
Origins

In 1865, an interim committee was formed for the Tanglin Club. The committee comprised 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.


On 26 June 1866, the club purchased a property in Claymore district 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 verandas 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

Early developments

By the 1890s, the Claymore district had evolved into a prestigious district occupied by many prominent European residents.During the construction of the German Teutonia Club (present-day Goodwood Park Hotel), the Tanglin Club accommodated Teutonia’s members.8 When the palatial Teutonia Club was completed in 1900, it overshadowed the Tanglin Club’s premises, which by then was considered old and dismal-looking.


The Tanglin Club’s German membership dwindled from 236 in 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), the 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, the 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

Selected milestones

Sep 1977: The Tanglin Club begins constructing a new four-storey clubhouse at the rear of the existing building at Stevens Road-Draycott Drive.
Mar 1981: Construction of the clubhouse is completed.
14 Mar 1981: Members bid farewell to the original clubhouse at a closing ceremony.
25 Apr 1981: The new clubhouse at Stevens Road-Draycott Drive is officially opened by then Law Minister E. W. Barker.11 

1995: Female members are given the right to vote.12
2005: The club embarks on a S$21 million upgrading plan that includes the construction of a new sports complex.13
Apr 2008: The club elects its first female vice-president, Shanta Sundarason.14

Membership
In 1962, the government appealed to clubs in Singapore to have at least 50-percent local membership. This was thus included in the Tanglin Club’s membership rules. Some of the first locals to join the club included Shaw Vee Meng, Dr Yeo Chee Peng, Tan Eng Han, Koh Eng Yam, U. S. Chan and C. K. Sng.15

In 1997, club members rejected a proposal to increase the proportion of Singaporean members, which had been capped at 51 percent.16 This limit was addressed in later years. In January 2013, the Tanglin Club held a vote to raise its planned total membership to 5,000 members, citing an ageing membership and a long waiting list of Singaporeans.17 As this increase was not approved, membership concerns were discussed again at a special general meeting in 2015.18 At this meeting, club members voted in favour of counting a member’s nationality at the time of joining. In doing so, 292 members who had joined the club as foreigners but were recorded as local members after they took up Singapore citizenship would not be counted as local members. This outcome enabled the club to maintain its 51 percent cap on any one nationality, and made room for Singaporean applicants on the waiting list to join the club. It was noted that this change allowed “the Tanglin Club to admit new Singaporean members for the first time since 2008 while also preserving the traditional diversity of the club”.19

By April 2019, the club had over 7,000 members comprising 40 nationalities.20



Author
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia




References
1. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of SingaporeSingapore: Who’s Who, p. 301. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Tanglin Club. (2019). Club History. Retrieved 2019, April 11 from Internet Archive website: https://web.archive.org/web/20190411084705/https://www.tanglinclub.org.sg/about/club-history.html

2. 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)
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. 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);
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); 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, pp. 159–160. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 WAL);  Completely new Tanglin Club for $10 million. (1977, August 25). New Nation, p. 4; Tanglin Club facilities will be envy of others. (1977, October 31). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Loh, C.K. (2008, April 9). First female elected as club’s vice-president. TODAY, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Wong, K. (2005, April 27). $21m upgrade okayed for Tanglin ClubThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Loh, C.K. (2008, April 9). First female elected as club’s vice-president. TODAY, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. 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)
16. Koh, B. P. (1997, August 20). Tanglin Club rejects move to increase S’porean membershipThe Straits Times, p. 23; Lee, J. (1998, May 21). Tanglin Club furore over limit on localsThe Straits Times, p. 39; Wong, K. (2005, March 15). Tangling ClubThe New Paper, p. 2; Raj, C. (2009, May 8). Scrap ‘unfair’ limits on Singaporeans. TODAY, p. 8; Vijayan, K.C. (2014, May 24). ‘Local ratio’ an issue at Tanglin Club polls. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Raj, C. (2012, December 18). Tanglin Club to raise membership by 25% to 5,000. TODAY, p. 18; Raj, C. (2013, May 9). Tanglin Club to vote again on raising membership quota. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Vijayan, K.C. (2015, March 14). Face-off at Tanglin Club over cap on S’poreans. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
19. Vijayan, K.C. (2015, March 20). Room for 112 more Singaporeans after club’s rule change. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

20. The Tanglin Club. (2019). Club History. Retrieved 2019, April 11 from Internet Archive website: https://web.archive.org/web/20190411084705/https://www.tanglinclub.org.sg/about/club-history.html


Further Resources
Spykerman, K. (2011, April 25). Club rift over ‘member’ issue. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tanglin Club (Singapore). (1999 onwards). The Tanglin Club Magazine. Singapore: The Tanglin Club. Available via PublicationSG.

Vijayan, K.C. (2014, January 24). Ex-Tanglin Club chief explains why he quit. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Vijayan, K.C. (2014, March 8). New team to run Tanglin Club. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at April 2019 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
Tanglin Club
Organisations
Organisations>>Associations