Victor Koo and Malcolm Young of Adelaide, Australia, were happily swapping DVDs and among Malcolm’s collection was a movie, “G.I. Executioner”. This movie was filmed in Singapore in 1971. I got involved when some questions were raised about the Singapore scenes in the movie and Victor asked me to watch the movie.
Malcolm was interested in one of the scenes which showed an overhead bridge and a Chinese temple somewhere in Singapore. Malcolm’s initial thoughts on seeing the bridge was that (in terms of size) it resembled the Singapore-Malaysian railway bridge that passes over Upper Bukit Timah Road - the one near the Railway Mall. He didn’t think that the bridge in the background would have been a POB (Pedestrian Overhead Bridge).
Now you probably asked what is so amazing about this bridge. Honestly, watching an old “B” movie with a routine Singapore storyline can be quite boring. The movie has a long line of terrible dialogue and the only selling point is nudity. I guess a girl shooting a gun while in the nude and being killed landing in a big net and hanging in the net nude is supposed to be the entertainment highlight of this film.
It was not until the end of the movie when I caught sight of the overhead bridge and the Chinese temple. Good heavens, it was the same bridge along Upper East Coast Road which I last saw in 1983 when I often would take my son for a double-decker bus-ride on SBS #12 to the terminus (future Max Pavilion). When information or photos are difficult to come by, it can be quite difficult to “pictorially” explain the bridge to others, although I knew exactly its location. I know for sure many younger people would never be interested.
Photo 1: A scene from the movie and the same place today. The Bailey bridge was after the future Temasek Secondary School. The man hailing the Yellow-top taxi stood in front of the Yuan Ming Si Temple. The bicycle’s position would be the future Kew Residential condominium
There were two reasons for my interest. First, my cousin Seow Boon, who was 7 years older than I, led me to scale the bridge when it was built in 1963. We were scolded by the contractors for this dangerous adventure. The other reason was because it was my “alarm clock” in the 1970s when I did my NS at Bedok Camp. As the bus drove under the bridge, it created a low droning sound which was of the right decibel to wake me up for the next bus stop outside Jalan Haji Salam
Photo 2: Upper East Coast Road in front of the Yuan Ming Si Temple. View towards Bedok Corner. The sexy dame was walking passed the future Kew Green condominium.
This was a Bailey bridge and was built across Upper East Coast Road to support the Phase 1 land reclamation in the Bedok area. It was a temporary steel framed bridge used as a method of supporting the conveyor-belt system which transferred fill material from the hills (between Upper East Coast Road and the Anglican High School in Upper Changi Road) to the sea off Upper East Coast Road. This project was undertaken by the Japanese contractor Ishikawa Jima Harima in 1966, as part of the S$50 million Japanese War Reparation to Singapore.
Photo 3: The Cut-Site (present Yokogawa factory) was opposite Aida Street, Opera Estate. The bucket-wheel excavator scrapped the hill and the fill material was transferred to the conveyor-belt to be transported to the fill area (circa 1969). Photo courtesy of Malcolm Young
There were a number of work-site accidents, one which took place at the foot of Parbury Hill. It was said that at Blk 68, there is a shrine under a tree to appease the spirits because there were many Malay cemeteries in that area. Bedok South Road itself took its shape from the original alignment of the conveyor-belt system as more fill material was taken from the hills off Siglap Hill and Aida Street.
I saw two Bailey bridges constructed in other parts of Singapore. One was from Bedok South Avenue 1 across Upper East Coast Road towards the Laguna Flyover, and the other was on Serangoon Road, near the present Boon Keng MRT Station. All the Bailey bridges had a connection with the land reclamation programs. The bridge at Bedok South Avenue 1 was in support of Phase 2, 5 & 6 of the land reclamation project from the Singapore Swimming Club to Marina Central. The Serangoon Road bridge was used to enable lorries to transfer fill material from the future Toa Payoh Estate to Kallang Basin.
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