Po Chiak Keng Tan Si Chong Su was constructed in 1876 and is located at the intersection of Magazine Road and Merchant Road. In 1974, it was gazetted as a national monument and subsequently opened for general public and tourists’ visit.
Over a century ago, with the increasing high influx of foreign immigrants into Singapore to find a living, many matters became complicated. There were many occurrences of internal disputes or confrontation among the different ethnic groups which often lead to fight and bloodshed. This social unrest was worrisome and had also impacted the economy. Ancestor Chen Yuan Xiao (陈元萧) was deeply concerned on this issue so he converted his own ship to establish an ancestral assembly hall to boost cohesiveness among the clansmen and to resolve dispute. Again in 1876 (光绪二年), he was determined to build an assembly hall. The response from the clansmen was very encouraging and they donated generously.The construction was funded mainly by Tan Kim Ching (陈金钟) – the son of Tan Tock Seng (陈笃生), and Tan Beng Swee (陈明水) – the son of Tan Kim Seng (陈金声).
Their enterprises Kim Cheng & Company (振成) as well as Hong Hin (丰兴)enterprise had also contributed generously. The temple was finally completed in 1878. Contribution from Chen Yuan Xiao is certainly immeasurable.
After the assembly hall was built, besides implementing the intended objectives and directions, it also aggressively established education in the community. In 1889, clansman Yi De (依德) formed Yu Lan Study Hall (毓兰书室) within the premises of the assembly hall for educational purposes. After the death of Yi De (依德), this educational mission was then passed down to his son Chang Wan (长万) till his passing. Thereafter the temple took over the mission, renamed it to Po Chiak School (保赤学校) and hired Chen Yu Xi (陈玉玺) to be the principal. He allocated some funds to repair the school building, expand the facilities as well as increase teaching aids. He changed to new school curriculum as established by Ministry of Education and continued carry forward his mission.
Singapore’s development accelerated after the war. City redevelopment plan had brought upon new lands reallocation. Many residents nearby were impacted so they moved out. Hence, the school was closed in 1962 due to the declining number of students.
In 1954, descendants from Shun Clan took turn to organize Full Moon gathering in the temple. However, due to undesirable attendance, they replaced it with lunch for the worshippers who came to pay respect to their ancestors during spring or winter period. They also organized dinner for all Shun clansmen to get together and for bonding.
With history of over a century, despite the temple had braced through all sorts of weather, it suffered severe deterioration in the building. It was quite an unpleasant look with cracked walls, fragile or even broken pillars, faded or peeled off paints. As such, extensive restoration work had been carried out in 1926 and 1966. In the decade of 90s, a nearby construction work on underground tunnel had severely ruined the foundation and structure of the temple. The temple subsequently underwent a major renovation work in 1999 after the successful fund raising by two clansmen Mr Kay Suan (启算先生) and Mr Khuan Seng (宽成先生). With the amazing renovation skill, artifacts rich in Chinese traditional culture had been largely preserved. In addition, it was also decorated with many meaningful carved sculpture and inscription. This restored magnificent temple is gracing attractively at the waterfront of Singapore River.