Photographs: The 'King Wah' Chinese Food Take-Away - Grove Road - Sutton - the First Chinese Take-Away in Sutton! (26.11.2021)
The picture above is from around 1980, whilst the image below is from 1985. Our current thinking is that Master Chan Tin Sang opened the King Wah c. 1966.
Mr and Mrs Chan did initially live in a privately-purchased house not far from here - but this property was lost in a business-deal gone wrong. Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) came to the UK in 1956 - and settled in 'Sutton' - then in 'Surrey' - because this is where a number of the Chan Clan had previously settled after making the journey from the British Colony of Hong Kong to the British Mainland as 'British Citizens'. A number of British governments had requested Colonial Subjects to migrate to an economically 'booming' UK to carry-out all the menial employment tasks - such as 'sweeping' and 'cleaning toilets', etc. Maser Chan left his wife and Hong Kong and came to the UK on his own where he got a job washing-up in London's Chinatown. In his diary he records that whilst travelling on a bus in Sutton - he was 'spat at' by a British person. He worked hard for ten years until he had earned enough to bring his wife and two young daughters from Hong Kong (all of whom arrived in the UK in 1966)! Initially, the Chan Family lived in a comfortable three-bedroomed house in Orchard Road (next to the local school). From between 1966-1980, the Chan Family (two parents and two daughters) ran the very successful 'King Wah' Chinese Take-Away situated in Grove Road (believed to be the 'first' such Chinese Take-Away in the Sutton area). It was through cooking and selling their Hakka-Chinese food to the general public that the Chan Family made their fortune in the West! Due to a business deal going wrong around the early 1980s, however, the 'King Wah' Chinese Take-Away had to be sold - meaning that the family had to move-out of their home in Orchard Road. They were re-housed by Sutton Council (now a Borough of Greater [South] London), in 'Killick House' - a high-rise Council Estate completed in 1966 as part of the money given to Sutton Council to house the local working-class. This is typical of a number of similar structures built all over Sutton - with many being 'sold' into private hands since the mid-1980s. Killick House consists of each individual living-structure consisting of a two-floored flat with the bedrooms on the ground-floor and a livingroom and kitchen on the upper floor. There was a shared utility room next door where we would hold ad hoc gongfu classes when no one was making use of the washing-machines that used to be stored there. Master Chan's two daughters, until about 1972, used to attend the nearby 'Crown Road Council School' (now closed) when they lived in both Orchard Road and Killick House. This name for the school has been given to me by a Librarian working for Sutton Library Services - although I seem to remember the school as being called 'Sutton District', or something similar. After this, Master Chan's two daughters secured professional employment - one in accountancy and the other in insurance.
The school ran across the bottom of the four roads mentioned above, with the Main-Gate being situated at the end of Sydney Road. After it was closed, this land was used to build a number of high-rise Council Estates in what is now called the 'St James' area of Sutton. Again, many of these Council Flats have been sold into private hands. Although life was generally good in the area, around 1970, a tragedy occurred, which saw a young teenage Chinese boy (who had been subjected to months of racist bullying at this school) one day took a knife into the classroom and stabbed the main protangonist to death (a single blow to the heart)! Master Chan's youngest daughter (herself about fourteen years old at the time) had to accompany the police when they went to the young boy's parents to explain (in their local Hakka-Cantonese dialect) what had happened and what their son had done (the mother collapsed in absolute grief). After this, life went on as before with good memories obscuring the bad. Racism definitely existed then as it does now - but there was also many good people who refused to sink to these depths. Generally speaking, everyone helped one another get on - and this is why another place for gongfu practice was outside on the 'concourse' near the main entrance (c. 1983-1993)!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.