Sunday, December 26, 2010

Can you identify this place?

The photo below was taken around 1965 to 1967 by Geoffrey Pain’s father. Where exactly is this place?

UPDATED – 29 Dec 2010

I think the unanimous answer is: North Pier and Telok Ayer Basin. Most people know about Clifford Pier; but North Pier and South Pier are not so well-known. Further down; at the end of Prince Edward Road was Finger Pier.

Below are 3 more photos showing the same place from different directions. North Pier is the one where there is a building with white roof.

Photo No. 1 – Clifford Pier and North Pier viewed from the East; probably Fullerton Building. (Photo credit: Memories of Singapore)

Photo No. 2 – Aerial photo of Clifford Pier and North Pier viewed from the South. (Photo credit: Memories of Singapore)

Photo No. 3 – Aerial photo of Clifford Pier and North Pier viewed from the West. (Photo credit: National Archives of Singapore)

By the way, does anyone know why the two piers are named North and South Pier? I thought East and West Pier would be more appropriate.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Old buildings quiz (13)

I believe even young readers will have no difficulty identifying the bridge in the above photos. But I’m interested in the buildings behind it.

I know the answer to the second photo, and I have posted a rather poorly taken ‘second shot’ of it – minus the two boys of course. As for the 1st building, I am not sure, but I think it is a different building.

Talking about those two boys, I must say I admire these two dare-devils. Since they are in swimming trunks, I presume they are diving into the Singapore River from a considerable height. But what takes greater courage is enduring the stench and filth for which the Singapore River of the sixties was well-known for. In fact, I think that was what my British friends* like Tom Brown, Brian Mitchell and John Harper remember most about this place.

But thanks to the foresight and determination of our former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, this river has been cleaned-up and transformed into a part of our water catchment system, bringing clean water into Singapore’s largest man-made reservoir, the Marina Bay. The story of how this was achieved is more appropriately posted in my other blog, My 5S Corner. But you can read the story and view some nice old photos here.

* To read their recollections of their time in Singapore, please click on the appropriate labels in the right margin.

Photo credit: The first 2 photos are from Mike Robbins taken around 1966 by his friend. Photo no. 3 was taken by me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Then, Then and Now – Singapore River

My friend Char Lee aka, Icemoon is well-known for his ‘second shots’. He takes an old photograph of certain place and then meticulously takes another present-day photo of the same place from exactly the same angle for comparison. In fact he was invited by the National Library Board to share his experience at the recent When Nations Remember conference.

Well actually I too have been doing this for some time. I usually title my posts, Then and Now. Here is an example which I did of the old Singapore Polytechnic building at Prince Edward Road.

But today, I am going to go one up and do a ‘Third Shot’ of the Singapore River.

· Photo no. 1 was taken around 1951 by Antione Lahitte.
· Photo no. 2 was taken around 1966 by Geoffrey Pain’s father.
· Photo no. 3 was taken by me yesterday.

I believe all three photos were taken from the same spot; namely the Elgin Bridge joining North and South Bridge roads.


1) Can you spot any note-worth similarities or differences? I for one thought it was quite interesting that the Bank of China has literally grown much taller. This is the tallest building in photo 2 and the white building (second from left) in photo 3.

2) And how about those 2 pointed buildings with flags in photo no. 2, which were already there in 1951? Anyone know what they were?

3) What is that structure/building behind the trees on the left side of Photo no. 3?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Old Photos of Singapore River

I have just received another batch of old photos of the Singapore River. This time it is from Mike Robbins. Mike, you might recall (from this post) spent three years in Singapore from 1966-69 living mainly in the Naval Base at Sembawang.

The two black-and-white photos were from someone who was here in the late 50's. The other two were from a colleague of his who was a keen photographer and were taken between 1966 and 1969.

Thanks Mike.

By the way, can you spot the Marine Police Station @ Empress Place in photo no. 4?

And here's a photo that Peter took of the Spore River from the Fullerton.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some things never change (7) – Rubber tapping and processing

Among the photos that Geoffrey Pain sent me are several about rubber tapping and processing. These photos were a gift from a friend to his dad and hence he isn’t sure whether they were taken in Malaysia or Singapore. If you compare them with those taken by me in Yong Peng last year, you will see that things have not changed much in nearly half a century.

Set no. 1 – Geoffrey Pain’s Photos (mid-1960’s)

Set no. 2 – My photos (2009)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Stuff Quiz (1)

Recently I went for another kelong fishing trip and this time I brought along my friend Charles who is a retiree and who used to be an avid angler in his younger days. At the kelong, he brought out an old rusty box which contained his fishing accessories. I have never seen such a box before; have you? Do you know what this box is originally for?

If you do not know the answer; please don’t bother to do an internet search because I will give you the answer shortly. Unlike my friend Victor, I don’t believe in deferred gratification for my readers.

In the meantime, I will digress a bit and talk about an interesting article in yesterday’s Straits Times. It was reported that many young smokers in Singapore are turning to ‘rollies’ to feed their unhealthy habit. In this method, the smoker puts a wad of tobacco leaves on a small rectangle of paper, which is then rolled into a tube and smoked from one end. The health authorities are concerned by this trend because such unfiltered ‘rollies’ are even more harmful than conventional cigarettes.
Rollies of course are not a new invention. Many smokers of the older generation used to smoke this type of cigarette which is called ang hoon in Hokkien. As a kid I have often seen kampong folks smoke ang hoon. In fact, I think my grandmother too indulged in it occasionally. But I will need to confirm with my brother Chun Chew (Zen) because he was the oldest in our family and also closest to our grandmother.

I am reminded of yet another obsolete practice that smokers from our kampong days engaged in; and that is to offer cigarettes from a round container to guests at a wedding reception. Usually the groom will hold out an open tin of cigarettes to the guest with both hands. I can’t remember if he actually lit the cigarette for the guest – I suppose he did.

And speaking of cigarettes, have you seen the metal ashtrays of the old days where pressing down a round button would cause the spiral cover of the ashtray to open. Once the cigarette butt is discarded into this container, you can release the button to close the cover. I think it might not be a bad idea to bring back this type of ashtray as it is probably cleaner and would reduce the amount of ashes and passive cigarette smoke escaping from the cigarette butt.

Answer to quiz question. This box is for holding tobacco, in this case the Lloyds Old Holborn blended Virginia tobacco. My friend Charles did not use the tobacco for ang hoon but for pipe-smoking. Nowadays, we hardly ever see people smoke pipes. I wonder why?

By the way, what image comes to your mind when you hear the term pipe-smoking? For me it’s Sherlock Holmes. Elementary; Watson!

My friend has long given up smoking. If you are a smoker, I suggest you do the same. Giving your hard-earned money to the government unnecessarily and ruining your own health at the same time just doesn’t make sense.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Where exactly is this place (1)?

Photo No. 1

Among the photos that Geoffry Pain sent me was this one taken by his dad around 1965 to 67. I have been cracking my head, trying to figure where exactly is this place.

a) The road sign says, Grange Road. Looking through my old street directories, I would guess that the road on the right is Orchard Road. But if this was the junction of Grange Road and Orchard Road, then where is Mandarin Hotel and Orchard Theatre?

b) If this is not the junction of Grange Road and Orchard Road, then what is the name of the road on the right and what is that building in this photo? I know for sure that Orchard Theatre was already up in 1967 because I saw the movie Sound of Music there in 1966 or thereabouts. But I’m not sure about Mandarin Hotel.

Photo No. 2

This 1960 photo of Orchard Road was sent to me by Roger White together with another photo of a Lockheed Super Constellation on the tarmac at Paya Lebar in 1960/61 (which I will share with you another time).

Question: Where exactly is this place?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Old Photos of Singapore River

Last month I received another generous offer from a reader in Britain to share his collection of old photos of Singapore with us.

“During 1965 to 1967 I was fortunate to live in Singapore (I was fifteen when I arrived and seventeen when I left) my father being in the RAF was stationed there. During this time he was stationed at RAF Seletar but worked at JATCC (Joint Air Traffic Control Centre) at Paya Lebar Airport. On arriving in Singapore we lived at The New Country Hotel (which I think no longer exists) before moving to 5 Eden Grove, Singapore 19 for the rest of our stay. As far as I know the house still exists and is now a nursery.

During our time in Singapore my father took many slides which I am now scanning and transferring to my computer. Looking at images on the Internet, Singapore has changed beyond all recognition and with this in mind I would like to send you some images as I come across them that I think you might find interesting as after my day these images will no doubt be thrown away.”

Geoffrey Pain

On behalf of readers of Good Morning Yesterday, I thank you Geoffrey. Below are three of Geoffrey’s photos of the Singapore River.

While I am at it, I might as well show you some photos of the Singapore River from even further back in time; this time courtesy of Jacques Lahitte. You may recall that Jacques’ photos were taken by his father Antoine who visited Singapore sometime in 1951 or 52.