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

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