Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Chua Ban Ann (Bukit Brown)

Fatal road accident -knocked down by a trolley bus
In my research of this simple tomb located in Block 4 Section C, plot 881, i found out that Mr Chua Ban Ann, whose death on January 16, 1939 at the age of 82  was caused by him being knocked down by a trolley bus at North Bridge Road, driven by a driver named Goomti Singh. In a court judgement, Coroner W.G Porter exonerated the driver from blame has no evidence of criminal negligence was submitted.

Tomb of Chua Ban Ann

I also got curious to find out what a trolley bus would look like during that period, and found a number of pictures from the archives.

A trolley bus
(source: a2o)
A trolley bus
(source: a20) 

A trolley bus along North Bridge Road
(note: 1st class in front followed by 2nd class behind)
(source: a2o)
Trolley buses were introduced to Singapore in 1925. Prior to this electric tram (and before that steam tram) cars were the major public transport. High fare cost due to high operating cost and cheaper competition from other modes of transport led to the eventual demise of the electric tram. An example from infopedia highlights  that a first class tram ticket cost around 10 cents (for first class) and 6 cents (for 2nd class). It's competitor,  rickshaws cost half of that. Add to this, were competition from gharries (horse drawn carriage and bullock carts made it a losing business. Trolley buses cost 5 cents or less depending on route.

Initially i was slightly confused as to what was the difference between a tram and a trolley bus. Well, one key difference is the tram run on rails that are laid on the road, while trolley bus has wheels with inflated rubber (tyres). A tram is also obviously more noiser on the road. I am sure there are other differences, but let's leave that to the experts to explain.

What i can only further conclude from the simple tomb of Mr Chua Ban Ann, an accident victim of a trolley bus, is that his memories live on in his adopted son, Lim Keng Tian, daughters, Chua Kim Neo, Chua Kichi and grandchildren.

Coroner Exonerates Bus Driver. (1939, February 2). The Straits Times, page 13
Trams.[website]from Infopedia.
Warren, James Francis.(2003). Rickshaw coolie: a people's history of Singapore, 1880-1940. Singapore: Singapore University Press,page 76

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