Going on the Lighthouse Trail!


Tomorrow morning, I’ll be going on the Lighthouse Trail, which is part of HeritageFest 2014.

We will be swinging by Sultan Shoal Lighthouse. The lighthouse is between Tuas Extension and Jurong Island. Both are products of reclamation.

We will then visit Raffles Lighthouse, located on the southern-most island of Singapore. I am looking forward to this in particular as my one and only visit to the island was on 22 November 1986.

I remember the date because on 20 Nov, the late Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at the old National Stadium. My family was fortunate to get seats just on the edge of the covered part of the grandstand. It rained, and most people got wet.

21 Nov is my birthday. The meat in this date sandwich.

The next day, my family took a bumboat to Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu.

I am not sure how we got to go. I think one of my uncles is related to someone who worked there. Security was definitely not so tight back then.

In the 80s, film was precious, so I don’t have much evidence of being on the island.

There are a couple of photos (below), but they don’t prove anything. One shows my relatives and me on the bumboat. The other shows my mum and sis on the porch of the lighthouse. The background doesn’t show the lighthouse though! You’ll have to take my word for it.

Tomorrow, we’re not allowed to take photos on approaching and while on the island. So, even though I have the ability to take as many photos as I want, I can’t.

Still, I’m looking forward to this!




Saint Anthony’s Boys School, 6B (a.m.) 1989


Time to reminisce.

Tomorrow, I will be attending Cakap Heritage: Schooldays in Bras Basah, an event organised by the Singapore Heritage Society. More immediately, I’ll meet classmates and teachers from St. Anthony’s tonight, some of whom I’ve not met since leaving primary school.

My classmates’ private Facebook page has been inundated with memories of school days. I took the opportunity to go through some old blog posts and photos.

I’ve added the links here more for my reference, but you are more than welcome to read them. They are listed in chronological order.

Miss Tan, Teacher Extraordinaire
My Primary 5 and 6 form teacher is one of the most influential people in my life. I think she touched the lives of everyone she taught. Sadly, she passed away more than ten years ago. This post is about my reaction to finding out about her passing and my memories of her.

Visit to old St Anthony’s
In an ever-changing landscape, it is a minor miracle that the decrepit old school building at Victoria Street still stands. I would have thought they would have razed it to the ground and made more profitable use of the space. This Flickr set contains photos of the building, which was then an adult education school. I am thankful to the people who ran the place for allowing me in to take the photos.

Heritage Tree Nomination
The cutting down of the Braddell Road Angsana prompted me to try and protect the Angsana at old St. Anthony’s Boys’ School. I nominated the tree as a Heritage Tree.

Primary School at Victoria Street
My classmate, Edwin Kheng, prompted this post. It’s just a short one, brought about by old photos. We didn’t seem to have many photos of our primary school days.

Heritage Tree Nomination Update
The previous post reminded me to check on the Heritage Tree Nomination. Sadly, it was not to be.

School Annual
Another post prompted by Edwin. He passed his school annual to me for scanning. It took me the duration of a primary school education – six years – to get that done. I am returning the school annual at the gathering tonight.

P.S. Photo above was our Primary 3 class photo.

Island View Road and Prince Edward Point – places gone from Kent Ridge

Saturday 15 February 2014 marks the 72nd anniversary of the fall of Singapore during World War II. A few of us will be walking at Kent Ridge to commemorate the Battle of Pasir Panjang, which took place a few days before the British surrendered to the Japanese.

It is very hard to imagine the ridge as it might have been during the war. Things are very different here with a university campus in place of a battleground. Two geographic features which were around during the war no longer exist: Island View Road and Prince Edward Point.


Island View Road

Island View Road began off Clementi Road, near where Kent Ridge Crescent is today. It turns right, roughly in line with today’s Kent Ridge Drive.

You can see this in the map above. It is an overlay of a 1976 street directory – roads in colour – over a 1968 street directory (credit to Lao Kokok of Times of My Life blog for scanning and passing me these images).

Speaking of Kent Ridge Crescent, it did not exist during the war. Instead, Kent Ridge Road – now a dead end road – used to connect to Island View Road and Clementi Road.

With the sides of the ridge clear of vegetation and the coast so close to the ridge (you can just see some of the original coastline before reclamation in the 1968 map), it would have been a very nice drive – or cycle – up and down Kent Ridge Road.

You really have to use your imagination for this.

Prince Edward Point

The other missing feature is Prince Edward Point. It is highlighted on the Kent Ridge Plaque. The plaque can be found at the South Buona Vista Road end of Kent Ridge Road.

We used to highlight that Point 270 – the highest point on campus – was Prince Edward Point.

The 1968 street directory map says otherwise (and this is corroborated by other topographical maps I have seen). Prince Edward Point is where the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design & Environment now stands.

A Bag of Bones – A National Heritage and a Lesson for Humanity?

A Bag of Bones – A National Heritage and a Lesson for Humanity

Prof Leo Tan wrote a guest post at Lam Pin Foo’s self-titled blog.

He tells the familiar story – familiar to most Toddycats* at least – of the story of the museum, from an idea of Raffles (hence the name) to its rebirth at Kent Ridge.

But he has added on to this story with his experience with the museum and his reflections on the drive to create a full-fledged National History Museum.

I’m not sure who Lam Pin Foo is, but I’m thankful that he got Prof Tan to write that post.

* Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research volunteers

UPDATE The original screenshot was deleted from Flickr. Strange, because I didn’t do it. Anyway, it’s been replaced.

Scene City: Singapore – Wednesdays 8.30pm on Channel News Asia

Scene City: Singapore – Promo

Description from YouTube:
A BRAND NEW photographic & cultural series that checks out the less explored & undiscovered Singapore, follow TOM ANG – as he leads 2 guests photographers each week as they visit places less known!


19th August – Resorts World & School of the Arts
26th August – Singapore Dance Theatre & Timbre
2nd September – Semakau Landfill & Pulau Ubin
9th September – Kim Keat Lane Bakery & Changi Fishery
16th September – PSA & Print Dynamics
23rd September – Pearl Bank Apartments & Margaret Drive
30th September – Southern Ridges & Sungei Buloh
7th October – Star Cruises

Scene City: Singapore
Channel News Asia
Wednesdays, 8.30pm to 9pm

Raffles the Biodiversity Geek

Raffles' Ark Redrawn: Natural history drawings from the collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles

There has been a flurry of letters and coverage in the press recently about the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

What I don’t think has been mentioned is: why is the museum named after the founder of Singapore?

As the Guardian puts it, the man was a “voracious wildlife enthusiast”.

I’m sure Raffles would be delighted if the Raffles Museum finds a large, permanent and accessible location.

Digitised and searchable Straits Times archives (1845-1982)

I have used the National Library’s microfilm collection a few times. They have issues going back to to the beginning of the Straits Times.

If you are searching for an article with microfilm, you have to know roughly when the article was published. The microfilms have a number of issues on each reel. You load it onto a special projector, then start scrolling through the film to find what you are looking for.

It’s manual and tedious – though strangely enjoyable, like a treasure hunt – but if you have absolutely no idea when an certain article was published, then you’re stuck. At very least, you need to know the month and the year.

So, I want to thank the National Library Board for coming up with http://newspapers.nl.sg/. (Thanks, Ai Lin, for pointing this out!)

NLB has scanned its Straits Times microfilms, so now the text is searchable. No more wading through rolls of microfilm. And you can discover other articles related to your search which you might not have been aware of.

If you search from home, you get article titles and short abstracts. The microfilm reel number is listed too.

You can only access full text and get prints if you’re at the library using one of their multimedia terminals. Or, since you now know the microfilm number, you can zoom in to the article faster. At least you know which reel it’s on! You still have to scroll through the film to get to a particular article. No shortcuts there.

It’s an amazing resource!

Will have to try “Malay Regiment” and “Battle of Pasir Panjang”. Already saw some interesting abstracts…

Microball by Serenity Nichols Ibsen
reproduced under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license