Tan Kim Seng Fountain

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The Tan Kim Seng Fountain

The Tan Kim Seng Fountain is a fountain in Singapore that was erected in 1882 in memory of notable philanthropist Tan Kim Seng.


The erection of the Tan Kim Seng Fountain by the then British Colonial Government was in response to Tan's donation of $13,000 to the government for the construction of Singapore’s first reservoir and waterworks. The Tan Kim Seng Fountain was erected by the Municipal Commissioners to commemorate Tan's donation. However, his donation was squandered away by the Government Engineer, who hoped to make water run uphill through water pipes.[1] In 1882, possibly out of shame and to mark the British colonial government's appreciation for such a generous gift, the fountain was installed in Fullerton Square to perpetuate his name, where it graced the busy traffic intersection for four decades.[2]

The fountain was made by Andrew Handyside and Company from England, and officially unveiled on 19 May 1882.[3] The fountain was moved to Battery Road in 1905 and later in 1925 to the Esplanade Park, while the Fullerton Building was being constructed, where it now stands.[4][1] In January 1994, it was shut down for repairs that lasted seven months. As part of this S$1.12-million restoration project, the 7m-high cast-iron fountain was also rust-proofed and a new foundation was built. On 28 December 2010, the Tan Kim Seng Fountain was gazetted as a national monument.[5] It now sits alongside other monuments such as the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and the Cenotaph.[6]

Design and appearance[edit]

The Victorian-style iron fountain has three tiers and is decorated with classical figures.[7] The exquisite fountain features four Muses – Greek goddesses of science, literature, and the arts – in its lower bowl, each bearing an object of her patronage. Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry, carries a writing tablet; Clio, the Muse of History, carries a scroll; Erato, the Muse of Lyric Poetry, carries a lyre; and Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, carries a wreath. Beneath the sculptures of the Muses are four faces of Poseidon, the God of the Sea according to Greek mythology, each spouting water.[8] The fountain bears close resemblance to the Carriedo Fountain in Manila, which also dates from 1882, and was possibly manufactured by the same founder.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Victor R Savage; Brenda Yeoh (15 June 2013). Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 214–. ISBN 978-981-4484-74-9. The Tan Kim Seng Fountain was erected by the Municipal Commissioners to commemorate this donation. His donation was squandered away by the Government Engineer, however, who hoped to make water run uphill through 214 ...  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "SavageYeoh2013" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Justin Corfield (2 December 2010). Historical Dictionary of Singapore. Scarecrow Press. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7387-2. He also helped, through a private donation, to improve the water supply by paying for the Tan Kim Seng Fountain in Fullerton Square in 1882; this in turn led to the establishment of the Singapore Waterworks. 
  3. ^ S. Ramachandra (1961). Singapore Landmarks; Past and Present. Published for D. Moore for Eastern Universities Press. pp. 31–. The makers of the fountain were Andrew Handyside & Co. Ltd., of Derby and London, England. ... work would be completed within a year. But it never was. A large amount of money was spent on earthen drainpipes... 
  4. ^ Victor R. Savage; Brenda S. A. Yeoh (2003). Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names. Eastern Universities Press. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-981-210-205-8. Fullerton Square is bounded by Battery Road and Fullerton Road, and surrounding the square currently are Fullerton Hotel, ... The Tan Kim Seng fountain was originally installed in Fullerton Square in 1882 as a tribute to Tan Kim Seng's donation to the Waterworks. 
  5. ^ http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1119_2010-05-07.html
  6. ^ Insight Guides (2 March 2015). Insight Guides: Explore Singapore. APA. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-1-78005-846-7. At the park's northern end is the Victorianstyle Tan Kim Seng Fountain, constructed to mark the merchant's contribution in ... At the southern end is the Lim Bo Seng Memorial, dedicated to the war hero who led the anti-Japanese resistance ... 
  7. ^ Wan Meng Hao (15 April 2011). Heritage Places of Singapore. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-981-4312-95-0. This is the Tan Kim Seng Fountain—a 127-year-old memorial built by the Singapore municipal government in appreciation of Tan's generous donation towards the costs of early waterworks in Singapore. The selected cast iron fountain was ... 
  8. ^ "Esplanade Park Memorials". nhb.gov.sg. 

External links[edit]