Teutonia Club

by Chia, Joshua Yeong Jia

The Teutonia Club was formally founded by seven German traders on 28 June 1856.1 It started with 21 members in a house in North Bridge Road, behind where Raffles Hotel now stands. Club membership was opened to Germans and German-speaking people.2

History
Origins
In the early 1850s, the Germans who came to Singapore formed an informal club to meet regularly to sing German songs in their leisure time. As the gathering grew in size, seven German traders established the Teutonia Club on 28 June 1856.3 There was little entertainment for the Germans at the time, hence their social activities revolved around the club.4


Relocation and expansion  
In December 1856, the Teutonia Club was relocated to Blanche House at Mount Elizabeth.5 It soon became the recreational and social hub of the European community. Bowling matches, musical activities, beer and sausages were some of the main attractions. The club organised several successful charity shows that became popular in Singapore.6


In 1861, the Germans acquired a plot of land on a hillock on Scotts Road to build a new clubhouse. By 1899, major repairs were needed for this clubhouse on Scotts Road and membership had grown to more than 100. The club then decided to build a new and bigger clubhouse after acquiring more land adjacent to its existing premises.7 When construction began in the same year, the club was temporarily housed at the nearby Tanglin Club.8

On 21 September 1900, the new clubhouse (present-day Goodwood Park Hotel) on Scotts Road was opened by James Alexander Swettenham, then acting governor of Singapore.9 It was the fourth clubhouse that the Teutonia Club called home. Built at a cost of 20,000 Straits dollars, the structure was designed by architectural firm Swan and Maclaren.10 Over 500 guests were invited to an extravagant opening ball.11 The building was fashioned after the castles of the Rhine to reflect its German heritage. Its distinctive tower, overlooking Scotts Road, was the main architectural feature. It had a top-rated restaurant, as well as amenities for concert and sports.12

Closure
When World War I broke out in 1914, the Germans were regarded as enemies and many of them were shipped out of Singapore. Teutonia Club’s building was confiscated by the British under the Custodian of Enemy Property, marking its end as a German clubhouse. The building was subsequently sold to the Manasseh brothers, who converted it into Goodwood Park Hotel in 1929.13


Establishment of a new club
In November 1935, the Germans residing in Singapore revived the earlier Teutonia Club by registering a new club called Deutsches Haus. In 1938, they built a new clubhouse at the junction of Dunearn and Adam roads to replace the previous club building. The new clubhouse was officially opened on 5 November that year.14 However, the German clubhouse was abandoned by September 1939, following the onset of World War II.15 By October 1939, it was seized by the British under the Custodian of Enemy Property, and subsequently converted into government quarters for European officers.16 The clubhouse was destroyed by fire during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45).17


After World War II, the German community in Singapore grew rapidly and there arose a need to form a German club. Deutsches Haus was thus re-established in 1955, and a new clubhouse was set up in a bungalow at 12 First Avenue in July 1956. 

In 2000, the club had to terminate its activities at the bungalow as the property was not approved for non-residential purposes. Two years later however, a space at 36 Watten Rise was obtained for the club. In October 2005, a new clubhouse was set up at 61A Toh Tuck Road.18



Author
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia




References
1. Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 174 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Arnold Wright and  H. A. Cartwright, eds., Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources (London: Lloyd’s Greater Britain Pub., 1908), 624 (Call no. RCLOS 959.51033 TWE); Goodwood Park Hotel, The Goodwood Heritage (Singapore: Goodwood Park Hotel, 1990), 18. (Call no. RSING 647.94595701 GOO)
2. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 174; Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624.
3. Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624; Goodwood Park Hotel, Goodwood Heritage, 16–18.
4. Barbara Ann Walsh, Forty Good Men: The Story of the Tanglin Club in the Island of Singapore 1865–1990 (Singapore: Tanglin Club, 1991), 26, 56 (Call no. RSING 367.95957 WAL); Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 174.
5. Goodwood Park Hotel, Goodwood Heritage, 18; G. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places (Singapore: Archipelago Press, 2002), 27 (Call no. RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624.
6. C. M. Turnbull, A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), 126 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]); Walsh, Forty Good Men, 56; Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624.
7. Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624; Goodwood Park Hotel, Goodwood Heritage, 18–19.
8. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27; Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624.
9. “The Teutonia Club,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884—1942), 22 September 1900, 3 (From NewspaperSG); Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27; Walsh, Forty Good Men, 56; Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 624.
10. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27.
11. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27; Walsh, Forty Good Men, 56; Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 625.
12. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27; Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 175; Turnbull, History of Modern Singapore, 126.
13. Uma Devi, et al., Singapore's 100 Historic Places, 27; “German Association – Deutsches Haus,” Die Historie (29 June 2017); Goodwood Park Hotel, Goodwood Heritage, 26.
14. “Colony Cavalcade,” Straits Times, 10 November 1935, 2; “Deutsches Haus,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (18841942), 25 June 1938, 5; “Singapore Germans’ Club Opened,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (18841942), 7 November 1938, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Singapore’s German Club Is Silent and Empty,” Straits Times, 4 September 1939, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Deutsches Haus to Follow Predecessor,” Straits Times, 6 October 1939, 10; “Property of Germans,” Straits Times, 5 December 1939, 10; “Property of Germans,” Straits Times, 17 February 1940, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “German Association.”
18. “‘German House’,” Singapore Standard, 9 July 1956, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Day of German Unity Special 2017/2018, accessed 3 April 2019; “German Association.”



Further resources
Goodwood Park Hotel, Goodwood Park Hotel (1900–2000): 100 Years of Hospitality (Singapore: Goodwood Park Hotel, 2000), 2–10. (Call no. RSING 647.955957 GOO)

Sin Chew Jit Poh (Singapore) and Archives and Oral History Department, Singapore,  Singapore Retrospect Through Postcards, 1900–1930 (Singapore: Sin Chew Jit Poh [and] Archives and Oral History Dept., 1982), 74–75. (Call no. RSING 769.4995957 SIN)



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
Organisations
Teutonia Club