The old bungalow located along Grange Road - Circa 1920s - Photo credit: Sean
The old bungalow's verandah - Circa 1920s - Photo credit: Sean
1. Some of the earlier expatriate community lived in very grand colonial houses in Singapore. Earlier this week, I received the following email from Sean of Perth, Australia:
Have just come across your blog when looking for a house in Singapore. My grandfather was born in the house in 1920 and I have always wondered if it was still standing as it was in Grange Rd, which I believe has been developed. I have attached two photographs of it and wonder if you know of the house? The back of the external photograph simply reads "Grange Rd, Singapore". My family was there until about 1923. Anything you can tell me about the house would be wonderful.
2. Below is my reply to Sean
Thank you for writing. What a beautiful bungalow that your grandpa stayed in!
Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with the old houses on Grange Road. However, if it is still standing near the main road, I would surely have noticed it as I have driven past this road many times. If you could provide the house number, it would have been easier. (The house numbers on Grange Road ranged from 1 to 130, according to my 1963 Street Directory.)
There are several high-rise condominiums, apartments and commercial buildings that have been built along this road in the last few decades. The properties in this area command a very high price because they are located in prime postal districts 9 and 10. (Under the old postal district system, 9, 10 and 11 are the prime areas in Singapore. For example, the famous shopping belt of Orchard Road is located in postal district 9.) Because the land in this area commands a very high premium, I am afraid that there is a very good chance that the bungalow could have been demolished to make way for one of the new developments. After all, it has been almost a century since your family stayed there.
The owner of the bungalow would certainly have reaped a very handsome windfall by selling it for redevelopment. Such a big bungalow in that area could be worth tens of millions of dollars today, with most of the value being attributed to the prime land which the bungalow sits on.
If you have no objection, may I suggest that I post the 2 photos on my blog and ask if anyone remembers seeing this bungalow on Grange Road before. Who knows? You may just get lucky.
Hope to hear from you again, Sean.
3. And Sean's response:
Thank you so much for your email.
Indeed, it was a beautiful bungalow. I just wish the number had been written on the back of the photograph, but my grandfather has passed away and was just three when he left Singapore so probably wouldn't have known, anyway. His parents died many years ago and, I suppose, the information went with them.
I doubt my great grandfather owned the house at any time as the family had little money when they arrived in Australia and rented for at least the first ten years here, only buying a house with the help of a wealthy relative. There is actually another photograph of my great grandfather at a Singapore property, which refers to him being "at Melrose". Unfortunately, there is little of the building in the background of that photograph to suggest what "Melrose" might have been. Perhaps that was the name of the house in Grange Rd? Perhaps it was a house in Melrose Drive in Serangoon?
Anyway, I have no objections to the posting of my email, including the photographs, on your blog. It would be wonderful if any of your followers are able to help.
For the record, my great-grandfather was a clerk at WH Mansfield & Co at Collyer Quay. Mansfields were the local agent for the Blue Funnel Line shipping company and my great grandfather had lived in Singapore since about 1908, returning to the UK in 1917 to marry his long-time girlfriend and then returning to Singapore until 1923 when the family moved to Australia. I assume there would be no record of the family in Singapore (given the damage done to the island in WWII), but I'd love to hear from anyone who might have suggestions about finding any further records of them in Singapore. I know my grandfather was never able to obtain a British passport during his lifetime because the record of his birth in Singapore (in 1920) was destroyed during the war.
Thanks again for your help.
Kind regards, Sean
4. Thanks to Peter Chan's friend who once lived in Grange Road. He provided the first input below:
From my somewhat fading memory, this building may have been part of the East Staff English School premises located near the junction of Grange/Leonie Hill Rd. I don't know who the owner/residents were before it became a school.
If you have any nostalgic memories of this old house, Sean and I would certainly appreciate if you could share them with us here.