Have you heard about the ‘King of Trishaws’? We’re talking about Boon Eng Keat, who was born in Sumatra in 1928 and came to Malaya in 1933 with his family. His early years were spent working at ‘Sin Meng Hong’, a bicycle shop at No. 8 Anderson Road, Ipoh.
In the years following the Second World War, transportation was greatly effected – especially with the shortage of fuel and rubber. And so, the people had to adapt to this – thus the birth of the trishaw. The trishaw is actually an amalgamation of a bicycle and a rickshaw. The earlier models retained the springs while the later ones had no springs and solid tyres.
When Eng Keat was 19, he went on to work in a Hale Street trishaw shop (in Old Town) called ‘Sin Seng Huat’. After 23 years, Eng Keat decided to go into business for himself as a trishaw manufacturer and renter. But what happened to Eng Keat’s trishaws when the requirement for them was no longer there?
According to an interview we did with Eng Huat some years ago:
…some were sold off locally and several went overseas. Two particular customers, both British he remembers, were a College Professor in Kuala Lumpur and an engineer working locally in Ipoh. When the former was due to return to UK after his term of employment was over, his students asked him what he wanted as a gift and he chose a trishaw, saying that he owned practically everything else. The students took him at his word, bought a trishaw from Eng Keat and presented it to the professor who took it back to England. The engineer also took his back to England, but being mechanically minded he stripped it right down and packed it flat, presumably reassembling it later. Neither has been heard of since, but they may well still be rolling along English country lanes. Two more of his machines found their way to Spain and Thailand.
More about this story can be found here.
Recently, we received a message on Facebook about one of Eng Keat’s trishaws. Subsequently, we also received an email from Steven Day, from UK, – one of the owners of this same trishaw (see pictures below).
According to Steven, he and two other friends decided to buy this trishaw for rides around their village and the surrounding areas. Who would have thought that this Ipoh-born trishaw would one day make its home in the UK!