Thursday, June 30, 2016

Clarke Quay moods

1.Clarke Quay one pic is birds eye view of temple celebration at night. Dinner tables set along the wharf.
2. And a day time view of the river with the boats still moored along the bank with The Liang Hiang Tua temple in the centre.
3. A procession along Clarke Quay with the public loo (see separate thread) in the background.
4. A quiet side lane near Angus street on the south bank. The common sight of clothes drying on bamboo rods and a ritual offering in progress possibly for the full moon (Chap-Goh).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A visit to the cinema

Finding these two photos of the old alhambra cinema brought back early memories.  My parents took me to see  Fall of the house of Usher (see poster) with Vincent Price of course. Scared out of my shell, my love for the horror genre was born.

The Alhambra and Malboro theatres were two cinema halls in Beach road. After changing ownership several times finally The Cathay organisation took over post WW2.


The evening I was taken to the Alhambra was in 1960, a bridge partner (of my parents) failed to turn up so a visit to the cinema was suggested. The Cinema was already old and badly in need for refurbishment. I recall the sound of peanuts being cracked open, and the sound of presumably rats, too dark to see, scurrying on the floor amongst the rubbish left overs from  earlier screenings.
    I believe that 9 years old me was holding on to my mother the entire film, with its visit to coffin laden ancient crypts and sadistic cackling around every corner.
 The final denouement of a swishing pendulum blade swinging ever lower to the naked belly of a whimpering heroine.
   My mother said she would never return, the cinema was in a disgraceful condition.
   I have recollections of visiting The Cathay, The Pavillion and Capitol cinema end 50s and early 60s. Perhaps another day there will be room to discuss the visits to local cinemas. That might well be an entertaining project.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The one that got away

This is for Victor, this may be the one who covered her face, remember? The one with the basket? It is the same basket ya?
   Now her head dress is different from the earlier posted photo. We need an expert to tell us this style is from Guandung that from Chaozhou etc etc.....
With any luck some one will visit and enlighten us about these wonderful Sam Sui ladies. i may have to pay a visit to their association....:)

Clarke Quay peoples loo

Here is another before and after look at an old local institution, the public loo located at Clarke quay. It was demolished just before the boats were banished to Pasir Panjang, late 80s.
   I imagine that the stevedores and river folk were glad to have a little privacy in the midst of a busy day. Anyone remember this one?  I know there were 3 or 4 other public lavatories in the city at one time. I have a vague memory of one at peoples park.
   In the photo a tree flourishes and branches over the present round about where this once glorious colonial vestige stood.
  Is the round about (1988)  there today? I rather think its not in the plans of the new entertainment centre of current yuppie Clarke Quay, but I will need the upgrade to see that.   :)
   The clean and green river, be assured I will be very soon posting pictures of fishermen and swimmers enjoying .....

A ten grand view of the River of life.

This $10k note from the 1990s depicts the span of time for two hundred years from the creation of the port to a later time when cargo laden barges still plied the water.  The "then" image shows the old wooden drawbridge, the cargo and godowns signifying trading as the main activity.
The message is clear The Singapore River was the lifeline of the emerging nation. Elgin bridge which I have been showcasing is prominent and central to the scene.

The currency note is no longer in circulation, and the boats long removed to the southern islands.
 It is fitting that the Singapore River is depicted on the highest value currency in the land.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Rickshaw wallahs

Another group of people who worked hard to survive were the ricksha or jinricksha pullers that were transport before pedal power. These hardy fellows pulling their wooden vehicle with passangers or goods aboard, existed throughout the region. I found these cards from Singapore, Sumatra and Osaka.
How similar they all look


And here is one sad story recorded by Dutchman Hugo Pederson which he describes as "surrender".

Notice how the bullock carts in the background are encouraged with whip lashes to enhance the point of how tough life can be.
 Introduced to Singapore in the 1880s, considered inhumane, it was replaced after WW1 with the pedal trishaw.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Elgin before and after bridge

I found one more card that fits together with this presentation. here we have the old Elgin bridge before being removed for the 1926 installation shown earlier. I should have included this one with the earlier post. Better late than neva!

Bridge over the river Singapore

Lets look closer at the development of Elgin bridge that was originally known as 'Thompson" when a wooden drawbridge, constructed in 1823.  A more sturdy effort was erected in 1850 (?)  which then was replaced in 1926 (completion) by the Elgin bridge we know today. it was subject to superficial changes, and road widening, but looks much the same as we know it today.
  So here are some photos to illustrate this development.

original "Thompson"wooden


Transformation to Elgin bridge in 1850+

Below, from 1960s
Thanks to NAS for images.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Now you see him, now you don't, a new bridge is born.

Elgin bridge stands at the spot where Singapore Rivers first bridge ,a wooden drawbridge built at the same point. It was replaced in 1922 and named after an Indian Gov-general,Lord Elgin. I am fortunate in possessing two post cards, one "before" and the other "after".
  Take a look at the two photos captured at a short interval apart from the same vantage point and see if you can spot the difference

Bridge being constructed on the side of the road( High street??)

Resplendent new Elgin Bridge with fresh coat of paint.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The red bandana brigade...

Photo of Sam Shui women being taken to work on a construction site by lorry. The leader holds what looks like a building plan as she chats with the contacting agent.
   These Sam Shui "Red bandanas"  women worked hard on many construction sites in the formation of the city. They were a more common sight in the 1970s. The vast majority have either passed on in old age or returned "home" to Guandung long ago. Many boarded their ships departing on barges from Clarke Quay.  Its estimated more than 200.000 arrived pre WW2. In 2014 there was a report about 2 remaining survivors in their 90s still alive in Singapore.
 They deserve respect for their simple hardworking lives and cemented in the history of the Republic.

meanwhile at the stadium...

Here's an interesting one for the athletes among us, a photo recording the special olympics at the National stadium during  the annual Sam Sui ladies race.

Yes i am having a bit of a laugh! ^^
National stadium during dress rehearsal for the 1978??  National Day parade, a group of disappearing trades and their representatives proudly showcasing before the nation.

whats going on here?

Continuing with the same theme of mobile conveniences.....This section is called "Whats going on here?"
 I shall wait a week to see how many answers we get. Extra prize for guessing the location and event in the photo with the younger operator.  (Thats a clue.  Same thingy??? different operators.)

It should be more fun to have the occasion quiz just so I know I'm not alone in this project of showcasing Singapore from the 1970s.

the power of wheels

Today I'm looking at the effort put into manually driven contraptions on wheels so commonly seen on the streets in the 1970s, and no longer see. Here are a few photos selected to show mobile hawker food, ice cream,  tau chwee (soya drink) etc, and one lovely lady with a trolley full of meat dumplings, (bak chang).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Our jetty...

This picture relates to the name of the blog in Hokkien. Cha chun tau refers to the "wood loading jetty" that is one of the names for the Clarke quay district. Read bridge is visible in the background.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

a river of golden reflections...

Aerial view of Clarke Quay in 1983. One of those early evenings with the perfect soft light just prior to sunset. I used the same conditions to photograph refections off the river, with remarkable results. I will provide examples of this. After the clean up in 1987 and removal of the river boats the river ceased to provide this mirroring effect on light and colour bounced off nearby buildings and barges.

I'm proud that i found a way to  literally highlight the beauty of the river made possible due to its polluted state, allowing the photographer to take advantage of the psychedelic mirroring effect.

Lunar new year 1898 twas a wet one!

Post card of Wayang hall could be Merchant street. New

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Wayang halls of old Singapore

  Today I was going through some of my old books and started browsing through a Dutch volume of travels in The East Indies published in 1902.  By Hugo V Pederson. The above sketch of his shows a permanent indoor location with large audience watching Chinese opera. The queues are visible so the time late Ching dynasty most likely 1898. I started thinking about accounts of large public performances I've read about.. There were 3 or 4 theatres in Singapore. The best known was most likely the one in Wayang street.
  I thought what if.....   and started looking for a photo of my own which after some effort I located.

This is the photo of the derelict once so popular theatre house in Wayang street. Naturally I'm considering the possibility that this exterior (from 1978)  is the same location as the interior sketch shown above.
  I await comments from those who can add to this . My friend Jeff and his brother were brought up in

the religious paraphernalia shop very near by in Merchant street, run by his family for generations. He might have something to say

I found out that the name of the Theatre in the picture is The Diat Hng created in 1921, so it wasnt the one sketched by Pedersen. Not many records remain of any of the theatres, but i did find this interior of the above derelict building

also there is a photo of a second theatre hall in Merchant road , before demolition was selling religion paraphernalia and porcelain.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ah Pek at Clarke Quay (Cha chun tau)

Birthday celebrations for Twa Ya Peh at Liang Hiang Tua temple Clarke Quay
The troupe of devotees led by medium Ah Hui perform rituals to cleanse the district of negative energies and empower the guardian spirits with offerings. Despite the heavy rain, Hell money is cast to the wind and ritual petitions burned. The black flag (Orh Leng Kee) is carried to signify the presence of the Deity whose duties in Hades involves policing any misbehaving ghosts.
The photo is from 1973 when the area including Ellenborough market opposite is flourishing and Twakow boats vie for parking space on the river.

What the bird saw...

A birds eye view of Clarke Quay, in the late evening. The lights have been turned on at The Liang Hiang Tua temple , the floors swept in readiness for seekers coming with their problems and questions for the Deity.
  This would be early 80s with the presence of the Twakow boats getting less and less , the lorries, cars and lights also, more on that later.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zog of the blogs.... starting time

 Thanks to Victor, Zog of the Bloggs, and nurse to the technologically impaired here I am finally able to share my photos (and film) of Singapore in the 1970s and 80s.... into the digital age. I am hoping over time to introduce various themes, such as wayang and puppets, funerals, religious rituals , but for now we will focus on the river, attempting to showcase its pungency and energy.
  At the moment iI am playing with the options to learn how to drive this Twakow, (river vessel) with the expert guidance of Captain Victor!
  I will be adding photos and attaching comments of my own reminiscences and personal anecdotes.
 I launch the boat with a bottle of ritual wine "Gnoh KaPi"  and toast you all Huat Ah!
    The above test photo is from 1975, at Clarke Quay, The Leng Heng Tua temple celebrating the Hades Deity Twa Ya Peh. Devotees sit in the late evening gloom of a wet and stormy day enjoying a dinner, on the sides of the temporary tent can be seen papier mache clothes for the Deities which will be combusted later. Temple medium Ah Hui can be seen walking towards the photographer.
    It is fitting that this should be the first image as it was from here that the seeds of my interest in the folk culture sprouted and bloomed. I will be writing much about Leng Hiang Tua and Clarke Quay.
     Cha Chun Tau is the localised name of the Read Bridge area, called so in Hokkien dialect as the place "to haul wood". Clarke Quay itself however is traditionally a Techiu  district.
   There is so much to talk about, and a large stash of photos to choose from, I need to pace myself and slowly allow the stories and legends to unfold.

    Feel free to ask any questions and comment.