Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Labrador & Alexandra Heritage tour (My Community Heritage Trail) - Part II

My Labrador and Alexandra Heritage Tour continues with a visit to the houses in Alexandra Park. On the way, we pass by the SP Jain School of Global Management at 10 Hyderabad Road . It  was the former Institute of Dental Health (IDH) and before that, the former Officers’ Mess for Gillman Barracks. After the British military withdrew in 1971, the buildings were handed over to the Singapore government, who converted the officers’ mess into office buildings for the Dental Health Education Unit in 1973. In 1977, the Public Works Department completed a $5 million 6 storey building annex to house additional facilities for the IDH. Designed in Classical architectural style, the two buildings feature large windows and doors which allowed for proper air circulation.

SPJ Jain Global Management 

IDH grill gates (a reminder of the building past)

The military estate at Alexandra Park evolved over half a century. The earliest houses dated from around 1905 to 1906 while the majority were constructed in the 1930s for senior medical staff in
the Royal Army Medical Corps working in Alexandra Military Hospital. When you walk there you will at awe at the different architectural style ranges from tropical Edwardian to Art Deco and a series of Public Works Department’s plantation style houses on Canterbury and York Roads. The whole feel to the place is like stepping into England itself and not Singapore !

Plantation style houses 

Art Deco house of No 1 Cantebury Road 

Beautiful Lattice Ventilation of 6 Russel Road 
Yes, this is Singapore 

Alexandra Industrial Estate - The former Archipelago Brewery Company

The former Archipelago Brewery Company at Alexandra Road was Singapore’s second brewery.
Built at a cost of $2.25 million, the brewery was opened on 3 November 1933 and produce the well-known Anchor Beer. The site was chosen for its close proximity to the railway tracks, which provided convenient transportation for the export of its beer. Brewing took place at the main plant where Anchor Point Shopping Centre now stands. Bottled beer was  then transported via a wooden conveyor belt across an overhead bridge to the canning line, where IKEA stands today.

In 1939, the Archipelago Brewery Company was annexed by the British Government as enemy
property. In 1941, Malayan Breweries, a joint venture between Fraser & Neave and Heineken, took over the assets of Archipelago Brewery Company and the Anchor Beer brand. Production ceased in 1990 when operations were relocated to Tuas. The brew master house was gazetted for conservation in 1993.

Map where you can see the Rumah Bomba Circus and the Archipelago Brewery
(source: National Archives Singapore)  

It was in front of the former brew master house, we got to meet Mr. Ng Moey Moey, 79 years old who joined when he was 18 years old and work there for 38 years ! He proudly showed us all the long service medals he got as well as a Favre-Leuba watch he received when he finally retired after working in the boiler room where the beers were brewed.

Ng Moey Moey in front of the heritage plague (if you look carefully you will see him
in the picture as well  

Ng Moey Moey proudly showing his long service medals 

Alexandra Industrial Estate - Alexandra Fire Station 

The Alexandra Fire Station was officially opened on February 25, 1954 and served the newly minted Queenstown area as well as the industrial estate around the area. Some of the early action it saw included the Bukit Ho Swee Fire (1961), Robinson Department Store Fire (1972) and in recent years the Shell Pulau Bukom Fire (2011). The old Fire Station building no longer exist after it was replaced with a joint complex housing the 1st SCDF Division, Alexandra Fire Station and Queenstown Neighbourhood Police station in 1st June 2005.

During our visit we got to hear first hand from fireman such as Mohd Fadzli on the work they do and also some hands-on on the equipment they use. I personally got to try on the oxygen tank fireman wear when they enter smoke ridden rooms. The firemen in Alexandra Firehouse are equipped to handle Hazmat  (Hazardous materials and items) as well. I am very impressed by the professionalism of the team and their enthusiasm in educating us of their work.

Alexandra Fire Station during construction 

The great volunteers and guides of My Community 
Mohd Fadzli and his fellow team mates showing us
the difference between the modern and old hose

Tiong Ghee Temple and Boh Beh Kang village 

Located at 1085 Stirling Road, this temple was rebuilt in 1973 after the original village temple in Bo Beh Kang  (无尾港 or No Tail River when translated from Hokkien) was demolished to make way for the Mei Ling Estate. Bo Beh Kang  (无尾港 or No Tail River when translated from Hokkien) got its name of the stream and fresh water swamps that dominate the terrain, but locals could not locate the source of that water

Mr Ang Beng Tet, 88 years who was long time resident here in the past, shared with us in Hokkien of how as a young boy , he experience bombing and stories of the Japanese soldiers that were stationed in the former Buller Camp.  Although 88 years of age, what impress me about Mr. Ang is his drive to continue to contribute and be active and to share his experience. He is a good example of a Senior who gives back willingly to the community.

Tiong Ghee Temple 

Mr. Ang Beng Tat

This ends my write-up about this tour which i really enjoy when the marry stories of its heritage past with the stories of the people who lived through that period.

You can read about the other Heritage Tours that My Community organises from my previous posts:
Commonwealth and Holland Village Tour - Part I, posted on March 20, 2016
Commonwealth and Holland Village Tour - Part II, posted on March 23, 2016
Dawson & Alexandra Heritage Tour - Part I , posted on April 5, 2015
Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Tour-Part II , posted on April 5, 2015

Queenstown Heritage Trail (correct as of 14 January 2017)

Commonwealth & Holland
Village heritage tour

Every third Sunday

sg or email

Labrador & Alexandra
heritage tour

Every 2nd and 4th

Tanglin Halt & Margaret Drive heritage tour

Every 2nd and 4th


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