Friday, April 30, 2010

More views of Singapore’s tallest building

In my previous post, I showed you several views of the Cathay Building in 1947 or thereabouts. Below at two more photos.

Photo No. 1

This was sent to me by Peter after reading my article. These are his comments (in blue).

This was taken in June 1946 from an RAF aircraft. Cathay Building is viewed from Kirk Terrace. There is Amber Mansions and parts of Clemenceau Avenue in the background. Notice that the site where the Supreme House (now called Park Mall) along Penang Road is empty land.

You can also see:

a) The Sacred heart Church @ Tank Road,
b) United Engineers (tall chimney) around Mohd Sultan Road,
c) Orchard Presbyterian Church,
d) Fort Canning.

From what I read in my grandfather's notes, the British Army requisitioned all the warehouses/godowns around Pulau Saigon, Mohd Sultan Road, Roberston Quay for their logistic base after the recapture of Singapore from the Japanese, The tongkangs will sail up the Singapore River after collecting all the military cargo from Keppel Harbour.

Later the British Army decided to build their own base instead of renting from the Chinese merchants. This new place was called Alexandra Camp which is now Dawson Estate and Prince Philip Avenue.

Talking about the Amber House, I recall an experience there in the 50’s. My father brought me to visit a dentist at a unit facing the Orchard Presbyterian Church. I remember the building being very ‘solid’ and having green colour stained glass windows. The name of the dentist was Dr Woon (or maybe Oon). Anyway, I was so terrified that I absolutely refused to let the dentist remove a rotten tooth. Thank God, my teeth today are still in good condition. And my children have no fear at all of the dentist.

Photo No. 2

Here’s a quiz for you. This photo shows the Cathay Building in the distant background. It was from the George Shaw collection sent to me by Russ Wickson.
Next to the photo were scribbled some words. I will reveal them later. First, can you identity the ‘nissen hut’ building and the street shown in the foreground?


Anonymous said...

It was the Nishat Cinema Hall in Bras Basah Road.

Tom said...

The photo with the nissen hut, my memory tells me That I have been inside it , what is making me think that I have been there its the front doors, and the area round about the building, but I cant name the street, looking at the left of the photo I see two guys sitting on a wall , are they not Singapore police? at that time The police wore shorts,boots and white gaiters.

Lam Chun See said...

Tom. Unfortunately the image is too blur to make out the details of the two men in the bottom left corner. But their uniforms look very much like the ones you and your comrades at the First Queens Own Highlanders wore in your photo here.

So if you have been here before, can you recall what kind of a place was it?

Unknown said...

Peter once showed me a photo of the area with nissen hut in it, taken outside SJI. If my memory is correct, the museum would be left of this nishat, bras basah road on right (shophouses in the Shaw photo). The street in front could be Queen or Waterloo Street.

To my horror, I can't find the email conversation with Peter anymore. There goes the photo.

There should be a lone building somewhere along the plain, like the police station at Hong Lim Park?

Unknown said...

I checked 1950s aerial photo of the plain. the street shown in the foreground should be Waterloo.

peter said...


I see those 2 guys in the photo wear a kind of bush hat like the Australian soldiers wear with a chin strap. I got one of those Aussie hats in my place (I think mfgr is AKIBARA).

Your photo shows a cap made from woold right? What do you call the Scottish cap?

Tom said...

Hi Peter you are right at saying the hat that Iam wearing in the photo is made of wool , and they come in different colours, In Scotland the hats are called Tam O Shanter Abberviated (TOS)the Scotish Regiments still wear the (TOS)as thier battle headdress, and the other Hat they wear is called a Glengary

Ian Ainslie said...

There are some intriguing and interesting photos here, even for someone who has never been to Singapore (Just like me)
Thanks for sharing them

Tom said...

Chun See I just cant remember what was in side the nissen hut, why Iam very sure I have been there is because I have lived in a few army camps with alot nissen huts and I have never came across another nissen built like the one in the photograph, I think the hut was between Orchard Road and Bras Basah road or near there my be not , Chun See I will take a print of the photo and ask one of my old army pals if he has seen or been inside the Nishat.

Lam Chun See said...

Tom. I hope your friend can remember and give us more details.

This is interesting. But I think I now know the exact location of this place. Will reveal answer in next post.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Anonymous. Could you pls give us a name or initials so that it is easier to refer to you. Thanks,

Russ said...

I wonder if the very first comment has 'hit the nail on the head' so to speak. Interestingly the first Nishat Cinema opened its doors in Karachi, Pakistan on the 25th Dec 1947 and that cinema is still up and running today. Could this be an 'offshoot' of that cinema.

Also, looking at the front doors of this building, the entrance is very similar to many of the old 'Astra' service cinemas found on UK and overseas RAF stations in the past.

If the building is a cinema then the flat roof brick protrusion half way down the left side as one looks at the photograph is most probably an emergency fire exit.

I wish I had studied the photographs and captions more closely before passing the album to Chun See, but then of course, I would have had to keep quiet?

pcwong said...

When was the Nishat Cinema demolished?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Honestly, the Cathay should have been left just as it was. It was a rent in many people's true blue Singaporeans' heart!

How many buildings of old Singapore are left?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Sorry, "It was a rent in many true blue Singaporeans' heart!"

professor said...

It was called the Nishat Cinema Hall but often used as a place for "town hall meetings" after Ww2 ended.

peter said...

It later became the Malayan Recruiting Centre - where local boys (and the lads from Malaya) could join the British Army as Locally Enlisted Personnel.

It was here that interviews were done here to recruit for the newly-raised 1SIR Battalion in early 1957

Tom said...

got a reply from my old army pal He said he never seen the Nishat before , anyway I still say I have seen a building like that some where but I cant recall, Chun See you said it was a Indian cinema, was Anonymous the first person to get the question right ?

Tom said...

got a reply from my old army pal He said he never seen the Nishat before , anyway I still say I have seen a building like that some where but I cant recall, Chun See you said it was a Indian cinema, was Anonymous the first person to get the question right ?