Ever wondered what does some of our road names mean? Like Tiong Bahru, Beach Road? Ever wondered why are some places have height restrictions? Well, let this post shed some insight and unravel the past of the heritage She has to provide. To answer them all, I participated in the Explore Singapore: The Old days of Club Street.
Club Street is located next to Ann Siang Road, and was the home to the wealthy merchants and businessmen of the past. Come along and read on!
A bright and cheery Saturday, I made my way down to the Singapore City Gallery. Our friendly tour guide, Iris, was the guide for this tour. The Singapore City Gallery houses permanant exhibits of mini-scale replicas of the buildings in Singapore. On the ground floor, one can see the whole island, mapped out completely with roads and buildings in the whole island, and at a glance, one can see which are the more densely and sparsely populated areas… It was quite a sight to behold, as it took about 9 months for it to be put together. Now that’s loads of painstaking hardwork.
Here are a few of the snap shots…
(Thankfully the group wasn’t so huge, else I would have difficulty hearing the guide)
On the way to the Singapore City Exhibit…
We were then taken to the third level to view the Singapore City Exhibit. There stood before us were the miniature replicas of the buildings, right down to the very detail on the 1:400 scale of the 16 sq m of the CBD (Central Business District).
Do you know that for buildings that have not yet been constructed or in the process of construction, such as the IR (Integrated Resorts), are being placed as a structure made of wood without any decorations on the miniature map? That was one of the many nuggets of knowledge and information gained throughout the guided tour.
Last but not least, a picture of Orchard Shopping Belt..
The guide also pointed out to us that Beach Road was once where the shoreline of Singapore used to be, till land reclaimation pushed the shoreline far out. Also, the areas of Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India were all made up of low-rise buildings. In the Central Business District, the tallest building stands at 280m, which is also the height restrictions in place. Hmm, I didn’t know that there were height restrictions in the City areas. I always thought that the height restrictions were in place in areas near the Airport, like Paya Lebar and Tampines.
Do you know that Singapore has 5 airports? We have the most number of airports for such a small city. THe 5 Airports are Changi, Seletar, Tengah, Paya Lebar and (I forgot the last one). =X
A brief and quick tour at the 3rd Level Singapore City Gallery, and we were off to hit the roads of walking along Ann Siang Road and Club Street! If these buildings could talk, I am sure they will have a lot of tales to tell us, having stood there for the longest period of time to date, watching the days of development of modern Singapore.
Both roads were located in close proximity to the URA centre, and its relatively well hidden. What struck me was the unqiue fusion of the old days of Singapore with the modern elements of our culture, like bars, lounges and other shops etc. The buildings in Ann Siang Road and Club Street were conserved by the government, thus businesses and establishments are not allowed to knock down or modify these shop houses, and have to keep all the elements of the yesteryear in place.
We also walked through the back alley of Ann Siang Hill, and we were told that Sir Stamford Raffles have decreed that each house must have a backdoor, to faciliate the collection of ‘night soil’. For the uninitiated, ‘night soil’ means human waste. These are collected through buckets. Before the existence of the backdoor, the ‘night soil’ collector will do the collection through the front doors of these shop houses. The pails, though used to hold the waste, would corrode over time, or worse, if the pail is filled to the brim, spillages and leaks may occur during the collection. *Ewww*
One can clearly see that no two shop houses are the same, and each have different design elements in them. Though these are all shop houses, the heights differ. The height of each shop house signify how wealthy the person is.
In the early days, the immigrants in Singapore do not have the luxury of having electricity or air conditioner, as compared to today, and to make living conditions bearable in these shophouses, they installed 2 things at the entrance. The first being the 3/4 door, and the a door where its actually a Metal Frame with horizontal metal bars in it., allowing air to flow through, improving ventilation and also preventing theives from sneaking in. The 3/4 door prevent prying eyes of the passer-bys, thus giving the inhabitants a sense of privacy.
The second level of the shop house protrudes out of the ground floor, and this provides the covered walkway, known as the 5-ft way. Its interesting to know that a small little square is cut into the floor, allowing the inhabitants to pull it up and peep upon downstairs in the event that there is someone at the door, and then deciding whether to go down and open the door for the visitor or not. We have our peep holes today at the door, but they have it on the floor of the second floor. Kinda interesting, because the visitor will have no idea that he/she has already been spyed upon. LOL!
There were quite a number of clans operating in Ann Siang Road and Club Street, though some have moved away. The group was lucky enough to be granted permission to step into one of the clan house which is a Cantonese Clan, but because no photography were allowed, I don’t have the pictures. However, I shall describe them to you in greater detail.
Grown accustomed to seeing almost everything around me in colour, it is quite a sight to find these clan surroundings set in the oldern days, with a ceiling fan, flourescent lighting, and chairs made out of teak wood (if I am not mistaken), which has carvings on the handles. These chairs are not joined up with screws, but rather being joined together by interlocking joints. The only difference between the chairs of the Cantonese and Teochew is that the Teochew lay a layer of marble onto the chair.As if trap in the warp of time, the clan has pictures and names of its members hung on the wall. Its a small shop house, and really sets one back into the distant past. Such is the beautiful connection of the present and the past of Club Street.
A we walked and walked, we came back to the point where we started the tour. It also signalled the near end of the event. I wished our guide could tell us more, but time does not permit. Though the trip was short, it has provided me with a deeper insight about the colourful heritage of Her past.
I leave you with a group photo!
Do view the rest of the photos that I have taken here.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed the exploration of Club Street.
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