Walking Through Heritage

National Heritage Board, Singapore

Explore heritage sites in Singapore and discover interesting stories behind these places.

Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter
The air raid shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street is significant because it is the only public housing building by the Singapore Improvement Trust to have been built with an air raid shelter as part of its design. It is also the last remaining pre-war civilian air raid shelter still in existence today.

According to a press report dated 28 June 1939, Blk 78 on Guan Chuan Street would comprise a "basement floor … (and that) (i)n normal times this will be used as a covered playing ground for children, but in times of emergency, it could readily be converted into an effective air raid shelter."

The air raid shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street occupies an area of 1,500 sqm and it could accommodate up to an estimated 1,600 persons.

More information can be found at: http://goo.gl/KbqNB0

Beach Road Army Market
The Golden Mile Food Centre was completed in 1975 to house resettled hawkers from the Jalan Sultan street market. The food centre is also known for its "Army Market" on its third storey due to its high concentration of army supply shops.

The concentration of such shops could be attributed to the market’s proximity to the former headquarters of various uniformed organisations such as the Singapore Volunteer Corps (or the People’s Defence Force), the Singapore Military Forces, Boys Brigade, St John’s as well as the Beach Road Camp which housed several SAF units and was used for military training.

The Beach Road Army Market started off by selling army paraphernalia at competitive prices to National Servicemen, Operationally Ready NSmen (who patronise the shops to obtain supplies for their in-camp training) as well as secondary and tertiary uniform groups from the National Cadet Corps.

More information about Beach Road Army Market - http://goo.gl/567TMN

Jalan Kubor Cemetery
Parts of Jalan Kubor Cemetery used to be a mangrove swamp, and according to 19th century reports, there were 3 distinct burial plots – a Malay cemetery, the Sultan’s burial ground located within the cemetery and a cemetery for Indian muslims.The name “Jalan Kubor” translates directly into “Cemetery Road” and the cemetery is also known by different names including Sultan Kramat, Victoria Street Cemetery, Sultan’s Burial Ground etc.

Based on the plans of Singapore by G.D. Coleman (published in Calcutta in 1836 and in London in 1839), the area was also known as the “Tombs of the Malayan Princes”. The map was the result of a survey conducted in 1829 by J. T. Thomson.

The Jalan Kubor Cemetery grounds are part of the royal town established in Kampong Gelam, the Kota Raja, which enjoyed water frontage (along what is Beach Road today) and included an encircling palisade and a number of tall gateways.

According to a Berita Harian article dated 25 September 1984, Sultan Ali Iskandar Shan (Sultan Hussein’s son) opened the burial grounds to the public on 26 August 1848. The cemetery, with its close proximity to royal territory, made it a popular cemetery of choice for rich Malay merchants during the 1800s to early 1900s.

Part of the cemetery served as the royal burial ground and there are a number of graves belonging to members of the royal family within the aforementioned burial ground.

For more information about Jalan Kubor, please visit - http://goo.gl/shz4ck

Bukit Brown Cemetary
Located in the central area of Singapore, bordering Lornie Road and parts of the Pan-Island Expressway, Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was the first Chinese municipal cemetery in colonial Singapore. 

Bukit Brown Cemetary is also intertwined with the early history of Singapore. Among those interred at BBC were prominent leaders of the local Chinese community, philanthropists, municipal commissioners, Chinese revolutionaries and literati, and even colonial office bearers from the Dutch East Indies. Examples of the aforementioned well-known and prominent Singapore residents include Cheang Hong Lim, Chew Boon Lay, Lim Chong Pang, Ong Sam Leong, Ong Boon Tat, See Tiong Wah, Tan Chor Nam, Khoo Kay Hian, Khoo Seok Wan, Ho Siak Kuan and Wee Chim Yean.

At the same time, the materials used in the construction of tombs, such as fine stone reliefs from China and decorative ceramic tiles from Europe, demonstrate a material culture that is very much integrated with the global economy of the early 20th century. Furthermore, the cemetery features some of the largest, most intricate and oldest graves found in Singapore. For example, the tomb of Ong Sam Leong and his wife is said to be the largest tomb in Singapore and it is one of a small number that features statues of Indian watchmen standing guard over the grave.

More information about Bukit Brown Cemetery - http://goo.gl/EiWp7D

Chinese Garden
The Chinese Garden, otherwise known as Yu Hwa Yuan, spans 13.5 hectares. It was built from an area once occupied by fish and prawn ponds fronting the banks of the 6 mile long Jurong River. The garden was developed as part of a comprehensive development plan for the Jurong Industrial Estate by Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) which sought to attract visitors to Jurong while retaining nature within the predominantly industrial area.

Jurong River was converted into a lake with three islands, with the Chinese Garden covering one of them. It was the largest Chinese Garden outside of China and served as a contrast with the “dry” Japanese Garden.

Construction works for the Chinese Garden began in 1971 and the garden was completed in April 1975 at the cost of S$5 million. During its opening weekend, the garden attracted 21,000 visitors and by 1976, 1,624,316 visitors had visited the garden.

The Chinese Garden is the only typical Chinese traditional park in Southeast Asia and it is modelled on the Beijing Summer Palace as well as on the picturesque gardens of the Song Dynasty and Suzhou Gardens.

Some of the garden’s distinguishing features include the main Gate House with its bright red doors, the white rainbow bridge which leads from the Gate House to the main arch entrance, the 48-metres high-seven storey Cloud Piercing Pagoda, the Stone Boat, and the five pavilions.

For more information about the Chinese Garden, please visit - http://goo.gl/4QA6aL

Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin lies on the Straits of Johor off the North-eastern coast of mainland Singapore, separated by Serangoon Harbour.  It was known as Granite Island ("Chieo Suar" 石山), as granite from the island was used to make floor tiles or jubin in Malay. The island's name derived from a shortened or corrupted  form of jubin to Ubin.This boomerang shaped island has an area of 10.2 sq km. The island is 8km long and about 1.3-1.7 km wide. This is Singapore's second largest offshore island and was the result of amalgamating five smaller islands as the river separated them was dammed for prawn farming.

During the 16th-17th century, Pulau Ubin came under the influence of the Johor-Riaus Empire and the earliest inhabitants were the Orang Laut and indigenous Malay with Bugis and Javanese origins.

During the mid 1840s, the Chinese began settling in Pulau Ubin and started to quarry granite. In the 1850s, Government quarries were established and convicts were deployed to quarry granite for the construction of Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca (1851), Raffles Lighthouse (1855), the Causeway (1923), Pearl's Hill Reservoir (1903), Fort Canning (1858), Fort Canning Reservoir (1926), Fort Fullerton Expansion and Singapore Harbour (1913).

During the 1880s, Encik Endun Senin initiated a major migration project to settle inhabitants from Kallang River area to Pulau Ubin. About 50 families settled around the South-eastern coast of the island at Kampong (Kg) Durian, Kg Melayu, Kg Sungei Durian and Kg Surau. Most of them were fishermen. Other Malay Kampongs included Kg Noordin, Kg Bahru, Kg Mamam, and Kg Petai at the Northern coast and Kg Chek Jawa at the Eastern tip of the island.

Pulau Ubin is also called Ban-Gang (半港) by the island's Chinese community. The island's former Chinese residents were Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Cantonese and Hainanese. The Chinese community was concentrated on the Central and Western parts of the island.

For more information about Pulau Ubin, please visit - http://goo.gl/xzqbS9

This video focuses on the boat operators of Pulau Ubin and explores the history as well as the future of the trade.

Toa Payoh Dragon Playground
During the early 1970s, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) introduced locally-designed playgrounds in the heart of housing estates. These early playgrounds were mainly functional and comprised swings, slides, see-saws, merry-go-rounds etc.

In 1979, HDB started to introduce new playground designs which conveyed a sense of Singapore's identity. One such design was the iconic dragon playground, designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, a former in-house designer at HDB.

The dragons have heads decorated with terrazzo tiles, a spine of steel rails, a slide as well as attached ropes and tyre swings. The full-sized dragon playground design can still be found in Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio while a smaller version can be found in Braddell and Macpherson.

For more Singapore-designed playgrounds, please visit - http://goo.gl/obAFnv

Credits: Story

National Heritage Board

For walk-throughs of historic sites in Singapore, please visit - http://goo.gl/7Uhd95

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