Monday, August 28, 2017

Coolie lines (Bukit Brown)

One of the rich source of pictures was a collection of aerial photographs taken by the Royal Air Force in 1959 and made available from National Archives Online. The photo below is an aerial close-up on an area which is now part of the highway been built, but what can be clearly seen is a building close to the tarmac road of Hill 3 and turning into Hill 4. From the Masterplan of 1958, this structure was labeled as Coolie lines and one can clearly make out the location is the same and it confirms that it existed.
Coolie line structure between Hill 3 and Hill 4 (1959)
Coolie line structure listed in Master Plan for Singapore 1958 (source: URA) 

In  August 1929, there was at tender notice to invite for the building of two blocks of coolie lines at Bukit Brown Cemetery. The tender was eventually awarded to Lian Hup Co. for the amount of $6,200 for the erection of the coolie lines in Bukit Brown.

Strait Times 1929

The coolie line buildings would have housed the municipal workers hired to maintain Bukit Brown Cemetery and would have included people tending the grass, drains as well as the buildings that made up the area. However i have no prove of that, only a hunch. If you have evidence and if you have access of the floor plan of the building or even photos of it, do share it with me.

Advertisement. (1929, August 1). The Malayan Tribune, page 7
Municipal Activities. (1929, August 28). The Singapore Free Press, page3
Master Plan for Singapore 1958. URA
Part of Series of  Aerial Photographs from East to West showing: MacRitchie Reservoir, Lornie Road, Bukit Brown Cemtery by Royal Air Force. National Archives of Singapore

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ng Whoey (Lao Sua)

It started with a post on facebook of a black and white postcard of a tomb with the words "Chinese Cemetery that was put on sale on ebay (it was sold eventually on August 13, 2017). From the picture, we can clearly make out the occupant of the tomb based on the text of the tomb shoulders; "In Loving Memory of Ng Whoey, born 1858 died 1918 Age 61"  and "The Beloved Father of Ng Kah Ghee and Ng Swee Chee, Built 1920).

Postcard with caption Chinese Cemetery, Singapore  (from ebay)

Tomb of Ng Whoey (closeup)

Within a week, the ever resourceful Raymond Goh together with local area expert knowledge from Soh Ah Beng (a tombkeeper familiar with the Loa Sua), they found the actual tomb and its location is at Greater Bukit Brown or what we term as Lao Sua. The tomb that was built in 1920, 2 years after the death of Ng Whoey is now rediscovered again.
The tomb of Ng Whoey uncovered (photo courtesy of Raymond Goh)
I don't have any information on Ng Whoey, but one of the son who erected the tomb in 1920, Ng Kah Ghee was a well known business man whom was once buried in Bukit Brown.

Son: Ng Kah Ghee 黄佳宜 (1885-1941)
Ng Kah Ghee was the managing director of chop Bee Huat or Bee Huat & Co, a company that supplies motor oil for a booming transportation industry. He was also the Vice President of the Socony Athletic Club for a number of years after it was formalised around 1929 (Socony is short form for Standard Oil Company New York). He also held position in a company called Standard-Vaccum Oil Co which is a close business partner or supplier of Bee Huat Company's petrol stations.

Ng Kah Ghee (黄佳宜) and Ang Ah Pee (汪亞扁)

Mr Ng Kah Ghee pased away on May 26, 1941 at his residence at No 23, Lorong 27-A Geylang at the age of 56 while Mrs Ng Kah Ghee passed away on Aug 11, 1955. They were buried in Block 5 Division B and have since was exhumed since they were affected by the highway.  He left behind 5 sons ( Ng Cheng Hoe, Ng Cheng Ann, Ng Cheng Kiat, Ng Cheng Chwee and Ng Cheng Bok ) and 5 daughters. He was also survived by a brother and 2 sisters.

In a subsequent visit, we found also Ng Whoey's mother and wife.

Ng Whoey's mother (located close by to Ng Whoey's tomb)

Ng Whoey's wife tomb in Loa Sua 

Ng Kah Ghee. (Rojak Librarian). posted on May 16,2012
Grave Number 1192. Ng Kah Ghee Ang Ah Pee. (Bukit Brown Documentation Project)
Death of Mr. Ng Kah Ghee. (1941, May 27). The Malayan Tribune, page 12

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hoe Eng Watt (Bukit Brown)

Hoe Eng Whatt or Hoe Eng Watt Hoe is the son of Mr and Mrs Hoe Hoon Seng. In an article dated May 15, 1907 for Botanic Gardens, Hoe Eng Watt was one of the recipients of rubber seeds from botanic gardens to encourage growth of this crop in this region for rubber.

Mrs Hoe Eng Watt nee Koh Keng Hay
Miss Koh Keng Hay married Mr Hoe Eng Watt. The widow of the late Mr Hoe Eng Watt passed away at the age of 57 at her residence, No 193 Marine Parade Road on December 17, 1939. She is survived by her elder brother, Koh Hoon Teck, her 2 sons;  Hoe Cheng Yan, Hoe Cheng Hin, 1 adopted son; Koh Keng Leng, 4 daughters and 4 son-in-laws; Chin Chye Fong, Ee Kim Guan, Peck Teck Chee, Lim Chong Beng, 2  daughter-in-laws. She is buried in Block I Division B, plot 83

Her parents, Koh Lian Ghee passed away September 3, 1936 age 82 and Madam Wan Chin Neo passed away October 25, 1938 age 75.

Mother: Mrs Hoe Hoon Seng nee Madam Tan Gin Neo
Mrs. Hoe Hoong Seng, passed away at the age of 64 years at her son's residence (residence of Hoe Beng Whatt), 140 Rangoon Road on 29 April 1917. She was buried at the 4th mile, Bukit Timah Road Chinese Cemetery. She is survived by 3 sons, one daughter and several grandchildren. With the rediscovery of Mrs. Hoe Hoon Seng tomb at Lao Sua, we know the names of the children as well; Mrs. Hoe Hoon Seng is survived by 3 sons ( Hoe Beng Whatt, Hoe Choon Whatt, Hoe Eng Whatt ), 1 daughter ( Hoe Cheng Neo ), and several grandchildren.

Death. (1939, December 18). The Straits Times, page 2
Annual Report of Botanic Gardens. (1907, March 15). The Straits Times, page 3

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Newspaper mentions of the Rojak Librarian (2017)

The feature on the front page of Tabla! is on the "Sikh Guards of Bukit Brown -The presence of their statues among the ornate tombs of the Chinese is testimony to a shared heritage frozen in time". The article is by Madam Vandana Aggarwal who was inspired to write after seeing this statutes while participating in the free tours organised by the volunteer group All Things Bukit Brown. To keep the story short, i met up with her and gave her and Rakesh Kumar a personal tour of of some this statues. The article was eventually published on Tabla! on August 4, 2017 on the main page and continued on pages 6 to 11.

For the full list of Indian/Sikh Guards of Bukit Brown, do read my article: Punjabi/Sikh Guards at Bukit Brown, first posted on Dec 11, 2011.

Tabla! August 4, 2016 (Available Online)

The Newpaper August 6, 2017 (Available Online)

The article was also picked up by two other papers, The online version of  Newpaper (Singapore) and The Tribune, (online newspaper from India).

About Tabla!
tabla! is aimed at the Indian diaspora, with 30,000 copies being given out free each Friday. The paper is named after the popular two-piece Indian percussion instrument and is published by the Tamil daily newspaper Tamil Murasu, a paper under the Singapore Press Holdings.