Che Eam Lane
The view from Penang Street(Little India)
The Sai tailoring shop on the right
One of the old double storey house, may be the early house?
Lorong Che Eam or Che Eam Lane, the lane is named after Che Eam @Che Yan((謝寒掩) , a Chinese merchant named as the largest Chinese property owner by Capt Francis Light in 1793. He was also one of the founder of Cheah Kongsi in 1820. His full name is actually Cheah Eam, and also Cheah Hum Eam. Che Eam may be the name from Malay Encik Eam or polluted pronunciation of Cheah Eam. He was a merchant with business trading spices, grains, clothes within Malaya, and Medan, Burma, and China. So between 1793-1820 he must be at the peak of his life.
Chinese called Che Eam Lane " pok-kan-lai"(北間內), which literally means within the town(pekan). This is a short and narrow lane,it is within the original grid planned by the founder Capt Francis Light, so the lane is "within the town"( within the original grid in 1786). Another name is Bey-kay-hang(賣雞巷), literally means chicken selling alley. The Malay name is Lorong Ayam(Chicken Alley). It is not surprise as the lane is at the back of Market Street, close to the market in olden day. This place must be the place of commercial activities during early 1786 to 1800s, as the sea front at that time was Beach Street.
This is the first road in Penang named after non-European personality(Che Eam) in 1790's.
The lane is located between Beach Street and Penang Street. Beach Street is today a financial hub of Penang, and Penang Street is within the Little India, a commercial area. Both are busy street. But Lorong Che Eam is a small lane, few people know it, even local Penangites do not know the place. It is a quiet lane, occasionally some cars may take a short cut and pass through the lane. There is nothing attractive here,there are old houses used for worker's quarter, lawyer's office(near Beach Street) and tailor shop. The place is now occupied mainly by Indian community. Nobody will remember this place,not even Penang people. Will it benefit from the Heritage City status?, as it is located within the core area of Heritage City.
Talking about Che Eam or Cheah Hum Eam(謝寒掩),there are roads named after his son Mr Cheah Choo Yew(謝自友), who was a justice of peace(JP) and once a joint owner of Lim Seng Seng Bus Company; and his grandson Mr Cheah Seng Yean(謝成金), who was a state assemblyman. It is a privilege to have a street named after a personality, but it is rare to have three streets named after three generation of the family members. The Cheah family is the only family in Penang. The three streets are Che Eam Lane, Jalan Cheah Choo Yew and Jalan Cheah Seng Yean.
You may not passing the lane, but it is good to know a little about the history......
The following is an article appeared in the local newspaper, extract as it provide better information:
謝炎路是爲了紀念謝寒掩而命名，紀念謝寒掩理應以謝寒掩路爲名，怎會變成謝炎路？一般有兩種說法，一是謝寒掩雖名爲謝寒掩，不過古人除了名外，還有字號， 而謝寒掩的字即爲炎，所以又稱謝炎。另一個說法是謝寒掩，馬來名爲 CHEAH HUM EAM, 念快了就變成CHE EM，所以當地方上的友族同胞習慣以CHE EM稱呼他時，該路名也就被稱爲 LORONG CHE EM。
不過他說，根據其祖父謝自友生前的口述，其曾祖父謝寒掩19世紀也就是1820年前即來往中國、馬來半島、棉蘭、緬甸一帶從事貿易買賣，範圍涵蓋五谷、香 料、服飾等等，由于當時處于動蕩的亂世，特別是從事進出口貿易者，必須擁有相當的財力及人力，在那尚未講究法治的年代，很多時候次序的維持必須依靠人爲因 素，這也是當時幫會逐漸形成的原因之一。
至于有關謝寒掩資料的記載，目前也僅限于槟城謝氏福侯公司的章程中提及的部份，根據記載，謝寒掩 就是在1820年創立謝氏福侯公司的創辦人，當時正值明末清初，中國沿海一帶許多鄉民都陸續離鄉背景到海外尋求更好的生活，包括謝氏鄉親他們早期落足于槟 榔嶼對岸的北海，後來因爲槟島貿易發達、進展神速，許多同鄉們都逐漸遷移到槟島經商謀生，初期聚居在喬治市沿海一帶，由于人生地不熟，謀生辦事常遇阻礙， 于是以謝寒掩爲首的一批較有成就威望的謝氏宗親便籌劃成立鄉會團體，以照應剛來的宗親。
提及謝寒掩和謝氏福侯公司的關系，就不得不提到其 夫人王信娘，這也是謝寒掩4任妻子中唯一有記載者，根據史載，當謝寒掩去世時，因爲其子謝自友尚年幼，所以王信娘就被委爲遺産管理人，掌管公司的一切業 務，一直到1846年，她才委任謝素意爲唯一的公司信理員，1862年謝素意去世後，王信娘才再委任9名信理員來掌管公司的事務，王信娘死後也被安葬在謝寒掩之旁。