A granite bollard belonging to a 19th century Peranakan merchant was discovered in Dover Forest (also known as Ulu Pandan Forest).
The gravestone belonged to merchant, philanthropist and community leader Tan Kim Cheng who lived from 1806 to 1864.
Bollards have been used in the past to demarcate and identify land holdings. In colonial times, landowners had to place landmarks at critical points, such as corners or turns, on their properties.
This particular granite marker was found along the northern boundary of the ancient Tan Estate in southwest Singapore
He bears Tan’s initials (TKC) as well as his company’s Chinese name, Hong Hin (豊 興). It is almost a meter long and weighs around 62 kg.
According to current research, Tan’s domain was vast.
It would have encompassed present-day Clementi Avenue 2 in the west to Dawson Road in the east, and the School of Science and Technology in the north to Southern Kent Ridge Park in the south.
Here is a map showing the original land boundaries:
The marker was extracted on October 27.
It was sent to NHB’s Heritage Conservation Center where it was cleaned up. It is currently the subject of conservation treatment and further research.
According to Alvin Tan, Deputy Director General (Policy and Community) of NHB, this marker has heritage significance because it is the only known boundary marker associated with Tan.
It is also one of the few terminals to be engraved with English and Chinese characters.
The Hong Hin border post will be part of the national collection where it will join 107 other objects associated with Tan and his family. It could be exhibited at the Peranakan Museum after it reopens in 2023.
A road and a bridge bear his name
In addition to being a businessman, Tan was appointed a justice of the peace in 1850.
He helped establish one of Singapore’s first Chinese language schools, the Chinese Free School, and was well known for his donation to improve the city’s water supply.
He was also known to bring food and money to patients at Tan Tock Seng Hospital every Chinese New Year.
You can read more about Tan at Infopedia.
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Top image credit: NHB, roots.sg