Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Memories of Sembawang

More memories of Sembawang, this time via email from a friend from Australia (I presume).


***************************************************

G'day Lam,

I just stumbled upon your blog about Singapore in the 60's and 70's and felt a wonderful sense of relief - Singaporeans still remember the 'Kampong Days'!!

I was a member of the ANZUK Force serving with them for about two-and-a-half years - in retrospect, perhaps, the most educational and significant years of my life! I spent a bit of time at Changi and used to catch the bus along Tanah Merah Road - not sure if it was actually, Tanah Merah Besar …. also lived in the barracks at HMS Terror, a house in Sembawang and lastly at Woodlands.

I just visited Singapore in 2008 and was dismayed to [and shocked and impressed by the vastness of the changes - culturally as well as economical - though Lee Kwan Yew was always going to make a big statement after getting booted out of Malaysia] find the village just out of Sembawang where I used to go and learn TKD was nowhere to be found - I think maybe the railway station was built on that site!! And the Sembawang Strip [probably you never went there, but just about every western serviceman would have had a beer there] looked so sad and lifeless.

It came as a shock - because even though I have spent many months in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos .. and saw the changes in those places - they did not have the same level of emotional impact as I experienced in retracing my early soldier years in Singapore. I doubt now you even have the Indian piercing festivals etc..

Anyway .. please excuse my rambling .. congratulations on your initiative - it is very worthwhile.

Regards

Terry


PS – I think the village that Terry mentioned must have been Chong Pang Village and the ‘Sembawang Strip’ must be referring to the row of bars that I blogged about in my previous post.


This 1967 photo of the same row of shops by A. J. Allen is from Memories of Singapore. Doesn't seem to have changed much over the past 43 years.


OK, here’s a quiz to test your knowledge of Singapore. Below are two photos of houses which I was quite surprised to see. Where is this place? It is quite difficult to see houses like these nowadays. I think Victor has blogged about such buildings in the Alexandra Road vicinity.



45 comments:

Icemoon said...

There are nice ang moh (Tudor?) bungalows in Adam Park and the area beside Hort Park. Maybe Chun See took those pictures there.

peter said...

There's a reason why those Black & White bungalows are called by that name. It's got to to do with the colour. Black was a kind of pest-control chemical to prevent termites. White was because they used limestone mixed with water.

Another place to see those bungalows is Malcolm Park and Mt Pleasant.

JollyGreenP said...

I was going to sy they look like the house in Malcolm Road where my sister in law's father lived in the 1930s when he was chief engineer on the installation of the electricity grid in Singapore. However, Peter has already beaten me to it with his mention of Malcolm Park.

peter said...

Ang Mo Cho = Seranggon garden type of landed properties. Not the same with Tudor or Black & White.

Black & White one row along Tanglin Road. Tudor at Chancery Lane (behind the 7 Day Adventist Church in Thomson Road. That Tudor was my dream house - so beautiful.

peter said...

Sorry, I mention black & white along tanglin Road. Should be Tudor design - was formerly Singapore Tourist Promotion Board office in the 70s.

Anonymous said...

To Terry,

RE:Indian piercing festival.

I believe you are referring to Thaipusam. We still have it and here are some pictures of Thaipusam 2010 found in another forum.

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1058183

Anonymous said...

I believe that there are stll many of these black and white bungalows scattered all over the Sembawang Park area. But I heard the area is now less open (more security) then before 9/11.
Correct me if I'm wrong, most of these houses are owned by the Ministry of Finance.

peter said...

Those accomodations that were a part of the British military were transfered (e.g. Raf, British Army and RN) to the Ministry of Finance.

Russ Wickson said...

Julian Davison, the son of an architect and who grew up in Singapore and Malaysia and I suspect known to many Singaporeans for the TV series 'Site and Sound, The Story of Singapore' co-authored a book in 2006 called 'Black and White, The Singapore House, 1898 to 1941'. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to read this book so cannot comment on its content, would be interested to hear if anyone has.

yg said...

as this post is about the sembawang area, chun see must have taken pictures of these b & w bungalows in the same area. if you travel along admiralty road east, nearer to sembawang road, you will see many black and white buildings. some were used by ncos and junior officers. the bungalow houses were reserved for high-ranking officers. king's avenue, deptford road and queen's avenue have some of these bungalows.

Zen said...

When the british forces left Singapore in the seventies, much land, houses and other properties were handed back to the Singapore government which was at a loss of what to do with them. Our Port Authority was alotted with a U-shaped basin (formerly used by submarines or small naval crafts) with 7 berths. We made use of five berths for conventional cargo vessels and the other two were managed by ANZUK forces for their naval ships. Our next door huge repair yards was converted to our present Sembawang Shipyard. As for the black and white bungalows, some were leased to contractors who used the large compounds to store their equipment and housing their workers. One day I saw a group of girls, apparently foreign workers, unable to pass through a locked gate and the contractor boss was not around to help. Solution? they climbed over it with much enthusiasm.

Lam Chun See said...

YG is right. You will notice that the dates on these photos are the same as those of my other Sembawang photos. After checking out the Sembawang Park, I decided to explore the area next to it. I noticed that they have very interesting names of small Commonwealth islands/countries like Malta , Cyprus, Gilbraltar, and St Helena. I think those 2 houses were at St Helena Rd.

I have also seen some building similar to these in Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill. Ye O' Smoke HOuse is one of them.

Lam Chun See said...

Russ's mention of the book Black and White by Julian Davison reminds me that I received an email from him last year.

He was referring to Tessa Michell's article about her grandfather and the Cliff House, and wanted me to pass on some information about the history of Cliff House (which incidentally, YG has also blogged about here) to her.

Maybe I should share this email with readers.

sgporc said...

Regarding the Sembawang area and the presence of foreign military bases... As late as around 1995 when I was serving NS... for the 3-4 hours that I was stationed at Admiralty Rd West for a military vehicle spotcheck exercise, I observed many tens of vehicles with totally foreign licence plates driving around the area. They were mostly normal cars and maybe some vans, and were not obviously military. But I somehow deduced from the plates that they were either from Australia or New Zealand. My question is... were they still here in any form of organization during the mid-90's? Are they still here now?

peter said...

Foreign navies from U.S., Australia, Britain, NZ now call at Changi Naval Base.

Anonymous said...

Is it still possible to explore these houses or are they off limits? Past by them couple of days ago and they look really interesting.

eve+line said...

These houses are currently occupied by tenants. I believe that they are available for rental from the SLA from time to time.

I work at the power station nearby and hence am quite familiar with the area.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Lam, I am very interested about old Singapore and I like your website. However I notice that there is one major component that is missing from your website and perhaps you might like to add a section to it so as to further improve the website- cemeteries.

Young Singaporeans would have heard only about Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. But unknown to them there were cemeteries all around Singapore from Pulau Ubin, Changi to Jurong and Woodlands etc. Please include a section on it. Thanks

Lam Chun See said...

It is interesting that Anonymous (of 15/5/2010) brought up the topic of cemeteries. Actually, I don't know enough about this subject to have a separate category for it. In fact, in the process of checking up the old street directories about various other places, I was surprised to realize that our little country had many cemeteries even up to the 80's.

Nevertheless, as Peter and I blogged about various subjects, we did mentioned some of the cemeteries that we had come across. Below are some examples that come to mind.

1) The cemeteries at New Cemetery Rd near Kg Java and well as the Jewish cemetery at Thomson-Moulmein junction was mentioned in one of my artcles on the Bt Timah Heritage Trail series.

2) The cemetery between Sixth Avenue and Old Holland Rd was mentioned in another article in the same Bt Timah series.

3) I described in detail the cemeteries at Bishan (Kg San Teng) when I blogged about Qing Ming here.

4) Peter has also blogged about the British Military cemetery at Ulu Pandan in one of our articles on the Ulu Pandan Heritage Trail series here.

5) I have also blogged about the Bulim Cemetery at Hong Kah when I blogged about the old SAF public training areas here.

There are probably others but I cannot recall all of them.

Icemoon said...

Chun See, have you blogged about the one near your house, at Victoria Park Rd.? It is now marked "Chinese Cemetery (Former)" in the street directory.

peter said...

I can't think why cemeteries in Singapore should be "interesting". I supposed for eerie stories?

The cemeteries I thot unusual and was an eye-opener for me was the Chinese cemeteries in the Philippines. I could not imagine why they build such luxurious "villas" and have a game of majong overnight during the 7th Month. I took some pictures in the early 80s because of the unique architure and the unique practice. At that time visiting a cemtery was one of the tourist itinerary, the others the entertainment area of Ermita District in Manila nad Fort Santiago/Intramuros.

Anyway coming back to the topic of cemetery in Singapore, I know one which can provide history on the early settlers in rural Singapore. Go to the back of St Joseph Church opposite Bukit Gombak. Some tombstones date back to the 19th centruy of Chinese settlers who raised gambier crop.

Lam Chun See said...

Folks. I have just added a 1967 photo of the row of shops at Sembawang Road. Photo is by A. J. Allen courtesy of Memories of Singapore. Interesting to see the 'second shot" comparison from almost the same angle.

Icemoon said...

now cars are parked on opposite side of the lane ..

Anonymous said...

How nioce to be reminded of all these things.....I cannot remember the name of the bookshop, though I'm sure I will bring it to mind in due course. The 'American style' Ice Cream shop was called 'Wa Hin's' but I think it was more art deco in style. The black and white houses around the naval base were called 'Jackson' bungalows in the 1960s when I lived in Sembawang. They were mostly reserved for British civllian dockyard workers; very few Royal Navy people ever got one, however the one behind the Church of Scotland (across the road from what used to be the Naval base primary School) was reserved for the chaplain.
Chris Brown

Ima said...

Thanks for the B&W bungalow house. I believe that was on the hill opposite the Sembawang shipyard dock. It is a fond memory as my family and I lived in the area for 20 years but our house was 29 Admiralty Road.

Our swimming pool was the Terrier Club now and we only need to pay 5 cents to get in. Sometimes free when my dad's friend was working.

Do you know where can I get old pictures of the Tailor Shop at the beginning of Admiralty Road ie. gates, old curch etc.? Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION:In the 70's Singapore govt officials and sembawang shipyard senior staff lived in the b/w bungalows when the british commoners left.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, my family and relatives are some of the people belong to the old Chong Pang Village. Yes i love my days in the village and the best memories i will still hold on till i die. I went to West Hill Primary School in Bah Tan Road where the old Naval Base Secondary school used to be which is now the Sembawang MRT Station. I used to stay in Kendondong Road which is now an empty land nearby the Yishun Seafood Restaurant. Nowadays if you see the area between the Yishun Seafood all the way to the Sembawang MRT, the original village of Chong Pang totally gone n some forgotten. im tracing as many pictures of my village which i shared with my friends who went to West Hill Primary School. my Facebook -Chong Pang Village group i form to get connected to people living there and shares pictures. Some refresh Memories Landscape - Sultan Theater, Church of the Lady Light, Chong Pang Post Office, The shops around the Sultan Theater roundabout and along the chong pang road,Chong Pang Police Station, Chong Pang Market, Old Chong Psng Polyclinic and old Chong Pang CC. I have the street map of Sembawang in 1985 in my facebook...nadirah omar

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Nadirah. Thanks for sharing your memories of Chong Pang. Did you check out Philip's article on Chong Pang that I linked to?

I sure would like to visit your Facebook site to look at the old photos of Chang Pang & Sembawang.

Anonymous said...

I would say, that Picture was black and white house in King's Avenue..

Jason said...

I am absolutely certain they are the black and whites on Lagos Circle and Canada road.... I am actually staying in one as I type this. Cheers Jason

nadirah omar said...

If you used to be a ex students of West Hill Primary school in bah tan road, please join our Facebook Group and find your friends there.
search for West Hill Primary fb acct.

Anonymous said...

The houses are on Queen's Avenue and on the corner of Queen's and King's Avenue.

Fernat said...

I used to live in a Black and White at number 14 Malcolm Park in the 70's and early 80s.

Just checked it our on googlemaps. It's still there, but most of my old neighbours' houses in Malcolm Park are gone. How sad.

Anonymous said...

The houses are off limits due to the number of Americans in the area who live there. I think they actually lease the whole lot from Canada, Ottawa, Admiralty and across the street close to the Shipyard and next to the old Sembawang Prison.

Mal said...

I served in Singapore from December 1980 to May 1983 as part of NZ Force SEA. I stayed at the Fernleaf Centre which was located directly opposite the main entrance to the Sembawang Shipyyard.

I recall the Sembawang Strip, makan stalls and shops such as Karachi Silk. Other areas were the shops outside Nee Soon Barracks (Paris Silk), Dieppe Barracks, Chong Pang and travelling by bus into the city precinct.

I'd like to return in May 2013 to see how much has changed in 30 years. Maybe I might even get lost lol.

Thanks for this blog. I had good memories of my time in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Hi, am Nadzreen from KL...my mom was looking for her old friend which in in 1960-1962 at West Hill Primary School Singapore. If u got any infos abt it pls email to me at msprelude@gmail.com

rgds.

Thenash Kumar said...

I used to stay at no.3 Kedondong Rd (Senbawang) .we used to have goats and chickens at our back area. Do any good soul please share pictures of areas like chong pang area. Ulu sembawang and others. I remember there was this school called, see shan, i think. Canberra school too. My email id is edibleoilsg@gmail.com

Lam Chun See said...

Thenash. For your info, there is a Facebook Group called, Old Sembawang Naval Base Nostalgic Lane where members often post old photos of that area. You shd join that group. They even organise walks around that area.

newsfromnowhere said...

Some of my own memories of the bars and brothels of Singapore.
http://broadsidesdotme.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/the-fleshpots-of-singapore/

Rick Orlik said...

Hi Lam,
In answer to Terry's post earlier. You are right, the village was Chong Pang.TKD classes were held at the Sri Narayana Mission under 2nd deg black belt, Mr. Jaram Jayaraman, who resided in the village.Mr. Jaram worked for the post office in Singapore.He had permission to enter the Barracks and would wake us, his students on a Sunday for training.
I often reminisce about the "good old days" in Singapore, especially the nights at the Sembawang strip.
Thanks for the blog.
Regards
Rick

Anonymous said...

西山园就是今天三巴旺地铁站所在的镇中心不远处。
Got this from internet. Anyone know the more exact location of 苏丹戏院 and 培材小学 my primary school. I live in Kee Ann Road then.
Regards.

Anonymous said...

Am very curious where was this Kee Ann Road. Because that's my name and i am Singaporean.
Please kindly share with me at stevelimaudio@yahoo.com.sg.

nadirah omar said...

lam chun see,pls send me a request in facebook i will add you in.. will gladly share old photos in.there..

Anne Richards said...

There are houses like these in King's Avenue - my old house was 118 King's Avenue when my father was Captain of the Dockyard 1967-69. They were designed by Lutyens (same guy who designed the Cenotaph in London) and were called colonial houses.

Anonymous said...

I got stopped by police and detained for 2 hours when riding my bike around the Queen's ave area looking at black and white houses. They told me that it is a "sensitive area", but it is a public road that anyone can go in. They told me I was just unlucky to be stopped by them.

I asked them why is it a sensitive area, they refuse to answer. I wonder who are those ang mohs living in the area. Yes, they are built by ang mohs last time, but it seems that they remain as a privilege to some powerful rich ang mohs, reserved for them by SLA even long after independence.