Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Seven Wonders (of Singapore)

This post is inspired by a similar one done by Household Name.

My choice is based on ‘nostalgia’ value and I only chose those man-made structures which are no longer in existence. In this regard, the National Stadium only just made it because it is being demolished.

And here is my list, not in order of preference.

1) National Library at Stamford Road

2) National Theatre

3) Van Kleef Aquarium

4) Haw Par Villa

5) The Merdeka Bridge of Nicoll Highway

6) National Stadium

7) Nantah Arch at the former Upper Jurong Road

8) Special mention - An additional ‘wonder’ applicable only to ACS old boys: Anglo Chinese School Clock Tower

Photo credit:

Photos 1 – 4: My UK friends at Memories of Singapore.
Photo no. 5: From National Archives of Singapore
Photo no. 6: Fellow Friend of and Flickr member Acroamatic
Photo no. 7: Singapore, An Illustrated History, 1941 ~ 1984, Information Division, Ministry of Culture



Victor said...

Haw Par Villa is still around what. You mean it's going to be demolished?

Lam Chun See said...

Rebuilt not counted. e.g. the ACS tower.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance but:
1. What happened to the Nantah Arch?
2. What's the difference between Merdeka Bridge and Nicoll Highway?
3. Why did they tear down National Theatre and Van Kleef Aquarium? There's nothing where they used to stand except for a small car park, I think. BTW, heard that River Valley swimming pool is also headed for the dump. Or maybe it has been demolished already.

Anonymous said...


Hope this helps!
1. Merdeka Bridge and Nicoll Highway - the bridge itself was called Merdeka Bridge and the orad leading to and after the bridge is called Nicoll Highway. For some reason, the bridge + road is called Nicoll Highway. I did not notice the change until 10-15 years ago where government made reference to the road rather than the bridge. I think it coincided with the time they shifted the lion statutes away from Nicoll Higway leading to Merdeka Bridge.

2. Van Cleef Acquarium was demolished because of high maintenacne and falling visitorship. Also some of the exhibits were shipped to Underwater World in Sentosa.

National Theater was pulled down because (official word) of leaking roof and high maintenance cost but if you check URA plans, there was a provision to widen Tank Road that included taking land from the grounds of the national Theater.

3. Nantah Arch still around - read Chun See blog

Unknown said...

Nice choice there though I would probably also include some of the buildings which are still around. I wonder if Siva could do a seven natural wonders of Singapore? Hmmm..... Chek Jawa, Sungei Buloh, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Pierce Reservoir, Mandai, Lim Chu Kang, Southern Islands (or what's left)...?

Anonymous said...

good choices Chun See and I was interested in the other lists and blog. My choice is very simple - the view of Singapore Harbour that I saw from my hotel on my first morning in Singapore in 1960 - blue sky and sea, hot sun and what seemed like countless boats and ships stretching out before me. I have never seen a sight like it since!

Lam Chun See said...

I confined my list to 'ancient' wonders; i.e. structures that have either been demolished or rebuilt. As such, existing buildings do not qualify. Otherwise, I certainly would have included the National Museum.

According to the book, Spore's Monuments & Landmarks, co-authored by Dr Tan Wee Kiat, (see link on right side of this page), the National Theatre was removed in 1986 becos of its proximity to the CTE; plus declining usage due to its not having air con.

The National Library @ Stamford was torn down becos they felt that it was unhealthy for oldies to have such fond attachment to something made of bricks; plus they needed to dig up this beauty.

Lam Chun See said...

I prefer the Merdeka lions to the neither-here-or-there, characterless Merlion.

Anonymous said...

During an important function held in the nineties, at the PSA building, a minister forcasted that thirty to forty years down the road, most port activities would be shifted to TUAS, giving way to overall land development. By then, people who want to see a large concentration vessels have to go there.

Anonymous said...

If I were to pick I would include your first 4 plus most likely Clifford Pier and an 'amusement park' and a theatre.

Anonymous said...

How about Gay World Amusement Park and Wonderland Park in Kallang?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter and Mr Lam,
Thanks for the answers!

It was only when I read your post that I remembered the term 'Merdeka Bridge'. It has been so long since I last heard that. But I don't remember the lions. Where were they?

And I also completely forgot about the existence of Wonderland.

Victor said...

When I wrote my post on the National Theatre, I read somewhere that the building was torn down because its cantilever roof was unstable.

We should know by now that when the authorities want to demolish a building (or bring down an old tree for that matter), they surely have tons of reasons, some of them conflicting and controversial.

Lam Chun See said...

I heard that the Merdeka Lions are now placed outside the Safti Military Institute in Jurong. They obviously don't like the public and the tourists to see them.

As for the cantilever roof problem with the National Theatre, I too seem to recall reading about that at the time when the news came up that it was to be demolished.

Anonymous said...

Wonderland was at the carpark opposite the Kallang Indoor Stadium. If you stand in the carpark, the Kallang Theater is behind you.

The place was an amusement park owned by a Chinese owner who owned a bicycle shop at the corner of Frankel Avenue and Changi Road in the 1960s.

We NS enlistees at Bedok Camp 1 or "Bullock Camps of 3SIR and 4SIR" as they were called then in the 1970s like to come down here to "Kwa Cha Boh" (life was tough from school to NS - no women) and played snooker.

Anonymous said...

Chun See
The lion statutes are inside SAFTI MI, on the parade square. You get the chance to see it when your OCS from that place.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Chun See, I was thinking hard about when Haw Par Villa had been rebuilt, and I figured that there were indeed some form of rebuilding, at least after it became a theme park years ago, and after the theme park ceased operation.

As for Nantah Arch, did you include it because it has been moved away from its original location?

Lam Chun See said...

What I know about Haw Par Villa is what I read in papers. I believe at one time they tried to convert into a high-tech theme park with rides and so on. But not successful, and then revert back to orginal

As for Nantah Arch, I saw it at Jurong West St 93 (see earlier post) but it looked like it has been shifted. Original was at entrance of road to Nantah from Upp Jurong Road. The road was quite level. But now it is at entrance to a park called Yunan park which is on raised ground.

Maybe somebody can confirm.

Lam Chun See said...

I just found out from this website that the Nanyang University Library and Admin Building, the Nanyang Memorial and Nanyang Arch have been gazetted as national monuments in Dec 1998.

And so has the Old Ford Factory, but this one has been converted into a museum and its looks so different from the one I know before.

koah fong said...

Anyone knows when the Van Kleef aquarium started operations? I happen to see it in an old movie (Air Hostess released in June 1959) I watched recently. Thanks!

Lam Chun See said...

Says here that it opened in Sep 1855.

koah fong said...

Thanks for the link! Just a typo. Should be Sep 1955.

Anonymous said...

I was born (Peglar Clinic), and raised in Singapore. Served in both in the Army combat signal Corps., and Special Constabulary (while I was doing my HSC). We did SC beach patrol (from Marine parade [before the flats came up], and right up to Changi Point and Pasir Ris) duty during the 'Confrontasi' days of Sukarno when the treath of "invasion by sea" we were told was immenent. I just came across courting couples along the beach and in cars! Whatever happened to 'Sri Tumasek', David Marshall's fabulous seaside house? which I used to see during my patrols? It's so sad to see so many landmarks, both personal and otherwise, torn down. So much character about Singapore gone just like that. For me, the 'golden days' of Singapore with its tea dances, kite flying and chasing, endless weekend house parties, street hawkers (the tick tock mee man, the pan banging Indian mee goreng man, bicycle bread and bun man, kachang man and etc.) were during the sixties and seventies) Everything was simpler, and everyone mixed with each other freely. Haven't been back since the late eighties. Ah.. I miss those days...
Anil Sene

Anonymous said...

For an article in our newspaper I am looking for an image of the van Kleef Aquarium. Can anyone help me with this? Tnx Frank

Victor said...

Hi Frank, I have just sent you a photo of Van Kleef Aquarium which I think was scanned from a postcard.

Hope it serves your purpose.

arashi kensho said...

very good content!! thanks