Wan Tat-ming (溫達明) and Ling Nam Weaving (嶺南布廠)
York Lo: Wan Tat-ming (溫達明) and Ling Nam Weaving (嶺南布廠)
Left: Wan Tat-ming(Kung Sheung Evening News 1956-12-24); Right: Ad for Ling Nam Weaving in 1948 (Tung Wah Monthly, 1948)
Like Shum Choy-wah who was covered earlier in another article, Wan Tat-ming (1911-1988) was a major figure in the weaving mill business and community leader in the 1940s through 1960s who also owned a hotel but is largely forgotten today.
Wan Tat-ming’s father Wan Kam-pui (Kung Sheung Evening News, 1958-1-23)
A native of Dongguan, Wan Tat-ming was a second-generation industrialist as his father Wan Kam-pui (溫錦培, 1874-1958) was the proprietor of Wan Hop Cheong Umbrella Factory (溫合昌遮廠) in Foshan, which known for its “Morning Star” brand of umbrellas. Wan Kam-pui lost his father at an early age and became an apprentice for an umbrella maker in Foshan at the age of 13 to support his family. In 1925, his eldest son Wan Yat-koon (溫一貫) became a Christian and by 1928, his entire family (which included his wife Heung Sze, 3 sons and 1 daughter plus grandchildren) was baptized at the Methodist Church. In 1930, he established Wan Hop Cheong in Foshan and thanks to its quality and low price, its umbrellas were sold throughout South China and Southeast Asia. When the Japanese occupied Canton in 1938, Kam-pui sent his third son Tat-ming to HK to establish Ling Nam Weaving Factory to manufacture cotton fabric. According to a directory from 1938, Ling Nam’s factory was located at K.I.L. 1716, Ma Tau Wai Road in Kowloon with a branch factory at 7-15 (Woo?) Sung Street.
After the War, Ling Nam’s factory resumed its operations in 1946 at 35-47 Ha Heung Road in To Kwa Wan while its office was located at 29 Wing On Street in the Hong Kong side. According to an article in 1959 about a small fire that broke out at the factory, the To Kwa Wan plant was a 2-story building where the weaving was done on the ground floor and the offices were on the second floor with drying operations up on the roof.By the 1960s, its factory was located at 273-279 Un Chau Street and most of the firm’s products were exported to Southeast Asia in markets such as Singapore and Indonesia.
Wan Tat-ming cutting the ribbon for the Western district branch of Amoy Canning in 1957 in Des Voeux Road West. Also present were CMA leaders such as Haking Wong, U Tat-chee, C.C. Yin, Fung Yuen-hon, Ngai Shiu-kit etc (WKYP, 1957-3-2)
Wan Tat-ming and CMA leaders opening the Association’s Kowloon clinic in 1957. From left to right: Shum Choy-wah, Wan Tat-ming, C.L. Hsu and Chuang Chong-wen (WKYP, 1957-6-4)
In addition to Ling Nam, Wan also operated Tung Wah Weaving Factory (東華電機布廠), which was located at Ma Tau Wai Road and Kwong Hing Piecegoods Co (光興疋頭行). He also served as chairman of Yau Yat Chuen Development, the developer of the Yau Yat Chuen housing development where he lived alongside many other industrialists but his highest profile business was Clover Hotel (高華酒店) at 380 Nathan Road, which opened in May 1958. The 86 rooms hotel (in 1967 it was charging US$25 a night for a single room and US$35 for a double) also housed the Astor Theater and a nightclub in the 11th floor named Bayview. Wan was chairman of the hotel while Y.L. Nie of Shanghai Yaik Sang Construction (see article) was vice chairman. (Nie’s business partner Wong Jim-wan was a fellow Dongguan native of Wan). The hotel had since been re-developed into Eaton Hong Kong.
Wan Tat-ming as chairman speaking at the opening of the Clover Hotel in 1958. Sitting to his right is Sir Sik-nin Chau, the guest of honor (Kung Sheung Evening News, 1958-5-15)
Left: Clover Hotel on Nathan Road in the 1960s; Right: Wan Tat-ming as honorary chairman of the HK Weaving Mills Association receiving a memento from a graduate of the Association’s school in 1977 (WKYP, 1977-12-16)
Wan Tat-ming was perhaps better known for his community involvement than his businesses. He was elected vice chairman of the Chinese Manufacturers Association in 1956 and chairman of HK Weaving Mills Association in 1960.He was also a director of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1948, chairman of Lok Sin Tong and involved with the Sham Shui Po Kaifong Welfare Association and many other groups.
By the mid-1980s, Ling Nam was still in business although Wan Tat-ming had largely retired. At the time, the firm operated out of 69-69A Hung To Road in Kwun Tong and its annual production was 1.2 million square yards with annual turnover of HK$4.5 million. In 1988, Wan Tat-ming died (obituary below stated age of 82 but picture of Wan’s grave provides by George Wan listed his birth year as 1911 so the age should be 77) and was survived by 4 wives, 1 son and 6 daughters. His funeral was attended by over 1000 guests from the various organizations he was involved in during his lifetime.
Article about the funeral of Wan Tat-ming in 1988 (WKYP, 1988-8-8)
Additional Sources (in addition to articles listed above):
華僑日報, 1958-1-23, 1960-07-09, 1959-09-21
The Directory and Chronicle for China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands India, Borneo, the Philippines, and Etc (1938)
Red Book, 1969
Golden Guide to South and East Asia, 1967
Directory of HK Industries, 1985
This article was first posted on 15th October 2018.
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