Bukit Brown Cemetery was opened in 1922 by the then Municipal Council which oversaw administrative issues in Singapore before Singapore’s independence. It is located by Mount Pleasant Road and Lornie Road (the major road that cuts through Bukit Brown). Since its closure in 1973, Bukit Brown Cemetery has been since abandoned. Families of the departed only visit the cemetery once a year during the Qing Ming Festival to pay their respects to their ancestors.
Bukit Brown was named after George Henry Brown, a British trader who arrived in Singapore in the 1840s.
Bukit Brown was bought by three rich Hokkien businessmen (Ong Kew Ho, Ong Ewe Hai and Ong Chong Chew) in 1872 as a burial and farming ground for the Ong clan. Before it was officially named as “Bukit Brown”, the area was known as Tai Tuan Shan (太原山) or Xing Wang Shan (新恒山). The hill’s more famous name Kopi Sua (咖啡山 or Coffee Hill) was commonly used by people due to the nearby coffee plantations back then.
Bukit Brown houses many famous Chinese pioneers (and their ancestors). Here is a list of some of these famous and respectable Chinese pioneers:
- Ong Sam Leong, from the Ong Clan (Sam Leong Road was named after him)
- Tan Ean Kiam, founding member of Tong An Clan Association and Chinese philanthropist
- Chew Boon Lay, famous Chinese businessman (Boon Lay New Town was named after him
- Tan Cheng Siong, grandfather of current President, Dr. Tony Tan