Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Recollections of Braddell Rise School by Kim Aii Chan

1950 photo of Braddell Rise School nearing completion


This article is contributed by my primary school classmate Aii Chan. As some of you may know, I went to Braddell Rise School for 4 years from 1960 to 1963 and have blogged about this school previously. Aii Chan read my story and contacted me. Since then we have exchanged emails and managed to unearth many old memories of BRS.


Years: 1959 – 1964 (6 years)

Location of BRS was 2-3 bus-stops away from home (Thomson Road), so to save the 5 cents bus fare (for extra use in the school tuck-shop) quite often we (my sister & I) walked to/fro school.

School Principal was Mr Marriappan (I thought we had a temporary one in early years before his arrival, a certain Miss Guin or Miss Quin (Caucasian lady) ??

List of class teachers
Pr.1 Miss Koh (children with neat handwriting – received a sweet each) Pr.2 Mr Seto Mun Chap (he taught us sewing !! really unique)

Pr 3 Miss Josephine Gomez (v. lively teacher, brought her favourite students (me included) out a lot and even to her home near Farrer Park swimming pool)

Pr.4 Mr Chew Wai Choon (yes he taught us to sing Yellow bird with his guitar. We loved also his Art lessons becos we moved our desk into 4’s )

Pr. 5 Mr Chia Kah Hock, thin (not tall) soft-spoken

Pr.6 Mr Pang (drove a red sport car like a playboy, can be quite fierce esp. to the boys) Our Chinese teacher was Miss Ong and I think she stayed v. long because she also taught my nieces many years later.

School Tuckshop

On entering the first stall sold kueh kueh and otak in banana leaves, then came the old Hainanese lady who sold cakes/biscuits, tea and coffee, then the drink stall of Fong Jie who kindly gave us cold water foc, the mee pok lady (her niece called Lily was in our class for some years), the Indian Mee siam stall then the sweet stall (our favouriteJ)

Girls Toilet (2nd Block)

Facing the entrance door are table-tennis tables, we have to go early to “chop” the table for our group of friends to place. The toilet doors can be quite difficult to lock esp. for young children and I remember one girl called Elsie (who stayed across the school, at the corner of MacRichie Reservoir, she was in my sister’s class) got locked in the toilet for some time !! After this, we all got frightened and never went to toilet alone during recess time. Near to the girls toilet was the Indian Jaga’s home or storeroom (?).

Girls Toys

Some of the girls also played the kuti kuti but I think it was considered more for the boys, for us I remember that we sewed our own 5 stones (triangle cloth-made filled with red seeds from the angsana trees growing in the school ground) and we also played group skipping : 2 girls turning a long rope while a 1 or 2 girls jumped inside.

Memorable events

School sports days (since Miss Gomez came, our sport days included also Folk dancing. I was involved in this in Primary 3 we wore a standard white blouse but Miss Gomez made us red skirts from a type of fluffy paper) and I remember also some concert days which took placed in 2nd block with a piano esp. when Singapore merged with Malaysia in 1963 and there was a song which went like this:

Let’s get together, sing a happy song
Malaysia forever, ten million strong
Land of the free, marching as one
Ready to go in every way, so let’s get it done, get it done!

We’re all in the same boat, sailing as we go
we’re ready for merger, let’s open the door
To Malaysia forever, ever more.

Malaysia forever, ever more, united for Liberty,
Homes of the happy people Just you wait and see,
wait and see !

** You can hear this song on YouTube here.
I also remember singing at a school concert with Catherine and another girl (Lim Poh Lan ?): Isles of Capri (must have been either Primary 4 or Primary 5)
The BRS sports field was situated at the back of the school at the highest point. Today it would be the Assissi Home and the Marymount Road
Unpleasant memories
Early years, when the mobile Dentist van came and we queued up for the nurses to check our teeth. The primary 1 classes were situated in the first block where we could see the arrival, then fear set in our little heads!
During primary 2, Mr Seto picked me (with a few others) to be School Prefects. I ended up being assigned to make children pick up papers/other rubbish on the school ground during recess time. This was really difficult because being only at Primary 2 (also shorter than the other kids), so much younger - how could I get the other “bigger” ones to obey me? I tried always to get the lower primary ones to do that but they were not always around. Quite often I ended up picking the papers or rubbish myself!!

Of course this was only the first initial years, on getting older with each passing years, it was easier to get the others to obey J During Primary 5 or 6 years Catherine and I even helped the primary 1 or 2 teachers to look after their classes in their absence: it was great because we felt like teachers and the “little” kids respected and obeyed us too!


BRS brought to me more pleasant than unpleasant memories : A great school!


Lam Chun See said...

Reading Aii Chan's memories brought back some for me.

My brothers and I liked to play table tennis at the table outside the girls toilet. Sometimes the ping pong ball went into the toilet and nobody dared to go in to retrieve it.

I have been trying to recollect the name of my Primary 5 teacher. I only remember she was an Eurasian who taught us history in a very interesting manner. She once narrated the story of how Alexander the Great. I remember feeling rather smug because I could guess the correct answer of how Alexander solved the problem of the Gordian Knot, although I cannot remember if I raised my hand. Thanks to Aii Chan, I now recall she was Miss Gomez.

Anonymous said...

Seto (Szeto) Mun chap your primary 1 teacher sounds familiar to me. Was he not the one who went to RI to teach? If we are referring to the same person, he became our PE Teacher and also my Sec 1 Form teacher. He wear spectacles and quite fair for a guy?

Life is Short said...

I think the same Seto was one of my teachers in RI in the late 1970s. I remembered him as extremely stern and strict. Wow, since Peter was enlisted in the early 1970s, Seto must have been a RI teacher for a long time.

yg said...

seto mun chap taught science in ri until the 70s and after that he was seconded to moe hq. don't know if he was posted back to school.

Zen said...

Great school, in fact I can recollect happenings in this school better than those at my secondary school, especially the the strict principal F Choo (an ex British army officer). Why was this headmaster so feared by all?

He used school assembly time more often as a caning session to discipline all and sundry, using military tactic (Japanese style) caning the ring leaders to warn the rest of the community.

In early BRS years there were many gangster-influenced students and Choo would get hold of a few notorious ones and told them he would meet their 'big brothers' alone at Kg San Teng at the time and place of their choice - to settle once and for all 'outstanding issues'.

I once witnessed Mr F Choo lining up a few ring leaders - overaged male students and snatched the prefect badge out of the chief culprit's chest and had him sacked on the spot from school. The dismissed student subsequently enrolled into Christ Church School.

There are simply too many colourful episodes to cover in this unique kampong school called BRS which I never regret studying in it.

Anonymous said...

I recall Seto Mun Chap as the Form Teacher for Sec 1F at RI in 1970. I was Sec 1B. Mr. Seto Mun Chap did teach us science.
I believe that when the MOE decided that only teachers with at least a bachelors degree could teach secondary school students, there were several good experienced teachers from RI, who were assigned other positions outside of RI. [nicknamed "Colonel"]

Victor said...

Aii Chan has an amazing memory. I mean who else could remember the lyrics to a 1963 song? I bet she knows the tune too. Make her sing the song as a podcast leh.

Lam Chun See said...

Friends have often complimented me on my good memory when they read my stories in this blog. But having read Aii Chan's recollections from more than 40 years ago, don't you she is trully amazing. She was able to remember so many names that I had forgotten.

And I don't even remember that Malaysia song, let alone the lyrics. But still she missed out one song that Mr Chew taught us; Red Sails in the Sunset :)

Unknown said...

Hello Victor, Tks for compliment about memory. Sori, quality of voice of today cannot match up to that of sweet yesteryears.

Chun See, in fact I connected Red Sails in the Sunset with BRS. Just that I could not recall it was Mr Chew who taught us.

Roger said...

I was interested to read your blog about old school days. I had a different sort of old school days in Singapore when my father worked for the British Army. If you are interested you can find my account of those days on The [British] Army Children’s Archive web site at:

The article’s about half-way down a long page and is called “Personal story: my time at Alexandra Grammar School, Singapore, 1959–62”. It includes a couple of old photos. I hope you enjoy it.

Unknown said...

Hello Roger,

I have read your recollections of your Alexandra Grammar School - very interesting indeed! Quite a change from the local schools.

You do have a long backward memory too, especially with all those details... wow, that's great !

gaga said...

my uncle told me there were usually nuns from the hospital giving out tracts near the school area. : )

Anonymous said...

I graduated in year 1973, can't recall any teachers, but can still remember our school song....
its quite different from yours though...

Our mater dou a mine
Dear old Braddell Rise
In the island of the sea
In the lovely eastern sky
Our mater dou a mine
Dear old Braddell Rise

Kim said...

Hello ex-BRS Anonymous, It is surprising that BRS is still active in Chun See's blog for so long! Actually the song that I remembered was not the BRS song but one we were taught in school following the merger of Singapore to Malaysia. We were not taught the BRS SONG during our school years but I had heard this BRS song from my elder sister's year and the words were quite similar to what you wrote. I think the tune is from some military music - I heard this occasionally on TV.

Anonymous said...

So nice to read all of this of our school. Please post more OK?

I remember that we kept asking our form teacher where is our school song from and she didn't know. Then one day Principal Mr Phoon told us during assembly (way way back in the early 80's) that our school song is a United States Navy (Miliatry) song. It's called "Anchors Aweigh".

You all can listen to the song on YouTube:

This school song really bring back memories. I think it was rather funny that we are brought up in Singapore (British style) system and that the school song is an American song! Wah lau!

Lee Wee Kiat

Anonymous said...

It is nice to read our Primary School. I had studied at Braddell Rise School from 1960 to 1965.

LeeSK said...

Is Mr Phoon still around? Mr Lee Joon Koh was my FT in 1973 n 74. He was a very gd teacher.

HG LEE said...

IN LOVING MEMORY OF ROGER C.M. PHOON 10/26/1930 - 6/15/2015

LeeSK said...

So sad to read about Mr Phoon's demise. He was a fantastic teacher n all these years, he remained in my memory as one of the most passionate and best teachers anyone could ask for. RIP Mr Phoon.

LeeSK said...

I wonder how my teachers from BRS are and whether some are still around. Mr Lee Joon Koh, Mr Poh, Miss Nancy Goh, Mrs Seet, Mr Koh, Mr Quek, Mrs Woon and Miss Ong. The last 2 were my Chinese teachers. Time flies