27 December 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (22) - Old Building

Just like Icemoon who gave an Old Building Quiz before going on holiday, I will do the same. That is, give an Old Building Quiz, not go on holiday. So the clue for this quiz is a photo which I took in August 2009 of an old dilapidated building - one that would make an ideal backdrop for a sequel to a movie like Haunted Changi. I don't know how this building looks like today as I have not visited it since then.

Quiz Question:

Where is the location of this building?

20 December 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (21) - Another Pair Of Old Cannons Again - Answer

The two old cannons are located inside Changi Naval Base. Since they are sited near the sea, you should be able to see it if you pass by on a vessel. However, I was not in the sea but on land. To be precise, I was on the grounds of the Navy Museum next door which is not a restricted area.

Nobody got the answer to the location correct although YG did come up with a good guess, i.e. Cliff House at Bukit Chermin Road.

Peter Stubbs was probably right when he said that the cannons looked very much like 68-Pounder Smoothbore cannons. Compare the cannons with the one in the photo below which is reproduced from the Wikipedia link on the 68-pounder gun:

The following passage of the 68-pounder gun is extracted from the Wikipedia link:
The 68-pounder cannon was an artillery piece designed and used by the British Armed Forces in the mid-19th century. The cannon was a smoothbore muzzle-loading weapon that weighed 95 long cwt (4,800 kg) and fired projectiles of 68 lb (31 kg). Colonel William Dundas designed the gun in 1846 and it was cast the following year. It entered service with the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy and saw active service with both arms during the Crimean War. Over 2,000 were made and it gained a reputation as the finest smoothbore cannon ever made.

The gun was produced at a time when new rifled and breech loading guns were beginning to make their mark on artillery. At first the 68-pounder's reliability and power meant that it was retained even on new warships such as HMS Warrior, but eventually new rifled muzzle loaders made all smoothbore muzzle-loading guns obsolete. However, the large surplus stocks of 68-pounders were given new life when converted to take rifled projectiles; the cannon remained in service and was not declared obsolete until 1921.

07 December 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (21) - Another Pair Of Old Cannons Again

As promised, this post is about another pair of old cannons again. However, this time, I didn't manage to get near enough to examine the cannons up close. The above photo was as close as the 3x optical zoom lens of my point-and-shoot camera could take me. So that is a clue, I hope. Nevertheless, you could see the cannon balls in front of the cannons. There are also 2 stick-like objects in front of the one of the cannons.

I have also removed the background of the photo, lest some people could identify the building behind instead of the old cannons. However, I have not erased the foreground as there are no ketapang leaves on it. What I can tell you is that the old cannons are near the sea. In fact, most cannons are located near the sea, as I have noticed. With Singapore's small size, there is certainly a physical limit as to how far inland you can site the cannons.

I must admit that I don't know the history of these cannons. So there is only one question is for this quiz for which I know the answer, and that is:

Q1. Where are the cannons located?

Another two questions which perhaps only Peter Stubbs could answer are as follows:

Q2. Are these cannons replicas or originals?

Q3. What is the history of these cannons?

As usual, the answer to Q1 will be revealed in a week's time. Happy guessing!

29 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (20) - Yet Another Old Cannon - Answers

Peter Stubbs got all the answers correct although it is quite obvious that both YG and Icemoon knew the answers too.

From Peter Stubb's detailed and informative comments, you could tell that he is an expert on the subject of guns, batteries and cannons used in World War II.

British gunners cleaning the gun barrel (IWM)
Publicity photo from WWII British War Office, showing off impressive size of Monster Guns (IWM)

The replica at Cosford Road, minus the "publicity models"
Here are the answers to the quiz:

Q1. The cannon in the above photo is a replica. Where is it sited? (Give the road name.)
A1. Cosford Road

Q2. How many such guns were there orginally near this location and what were they collectively called?
A2. Three guns and they were called the Johore Battery.

Q3. How many such guns were there in Singapore at that time?
A3. Five.

Q4. What was the diameter of the shell (in inches) that the gun fired?
A4. 15 inches.

The passage below is reproduced from the National Heritage Board's marker at the Cosford Road site.

Johore Battery

A close-up view of one of the "monster guns", 14 November 1941
A close-up view of the replica 69 years later - 15 November 2010
The Johore Battery comprised three guns. They were part of a group of twenty nine large coastal guns installed in Singapore in the 1930s.

The Johore Battery's three weapons were among Singapore's largest coastal guns. They were known as 15-inch guns, because 15 inches (38 cm) was the diameter of the shell they fired. Their gun barrels were 16.5 metres long and the shells stood 1.5 metres high. The guns were capable of hurling these shells at battleships over twenty miles away.

[From left to right]: General Sir Archibald Wavell accompanying the C.F.D. Brigadier Curtis and the General Officer Commanding Singapore Fortress, Major-General Keith Simmons, touring Singapore's defences, c. 1941
They were originally called "monster guns" when tested in England in 1934, before being sent to Singapore. When World War II started, there were only seven of these defending the coasts of the British Empire. Two were near Dover in England, and five in Singapore. Besides the Johore Battery, Singapore also had two 15-inch guns at Buona Vista Battery. They were located at the junction of Ulu Pandan and Clementi Roads, in the West of the island.

Gunners "pulling through" the barrel of a "monster gun" after firing, c. 1941
Each of Johore's Battery's guns had its own ammunition bunker. These were about 500 metres apart, arranged in a line that stretched from the present site onto what are now the runways of Changi Airport. Though these guns were originally intended to stop an attack from the sea, two of Johore Battery's guns could turn around and fire to the rear, towards Johor Bahru. The third, the one located at this site, could only fire out to sea.

One of the "monster guns" ready to "roar", 15 November 1941
From 5th to 12th February 1942, the two guns of the Johore Battery that could turn around fired landward in Singapore's defence. They shelled Japanese infantry positions from Johor Bahru, just across the Causeway, eastwards to the area North of Tanjong Punggol. They also joined in the battles for Bukit Timah Road and Pasir Panjang. The guns of Johore Battery fired 194 rounds before their demolition by the British on the night of 12th February. This demolition, and the postwar upgrading of Changi aerodrome, means all the remains are the underground tunnels on this site, which once housed ammunition and power plants.

22 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (20) - Yet Another Old Cannon

For the past month, I stumbled upon quite a few old cannons without actually aiming to look for them. Luckily, they were not aiming at me either. So it looks like the next few blog posts will still be about old cannons. Sorry, if this is not your cannonball game.

1. The cannon in the above photo is a replica. Where is it sited? (Give the road name.)

2. How many such guns were there orginally near this location and what were they collectively called?

3. How many such guns were there in Singapore at that time?

4. What was the diameter of the shell (in inches) that the gun fired?

Answers will be revealed in a week's time.

01 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (19) - Another Old Cannon - Answers

No correct answers were received for the last quiz although YG did come close with his "near the sea" guess about the location. I truly marvel at his keen sense of observation - he noticed the ketapang leaves on the ground of the quiz photo and guessed it was near the sea. Looks like for future such quizes, I will have to "digitally clean up" the ground as well and not only "paint over" the name plaque.

I said YG's guess "come close" because the location used to be near the sea in the 1950-60s, possibly even till the 1970s, as this 1963 map shows:

Now, the map of the area looks like this:

About 400 metres of land had been reclaimed and on it stand the Pasir Panjang Wharves.

Answers to the Quiz

Q1. Where does this cannon lie?

A1. Pasir Panjang Park - This got to be the one of the smallest, if not the smallest park in Singapore. Its area is probably only slightly larger than an HDB executive flat which is about 140 square metre or 1,500 square feet. This is because a large part of the park has been converted to an open-air carpark. The park is located next to the Pasir Panjang Food Centre. Incidentally, the cannon is located directly in front of the old pre-war house which I blogged about previously.

Q2. Who presented this cannon?

A2. The photo of the plaque above says it all. He is HJC Kulasingha, OBE (1900-1982). HJC is not his title but part of his name, i.e. his full name is Hollupatherage James Calbera Kulasingha. OBE is not part of his name but probably stands for Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He contested in Bukit Timah as a Progressive Party candidate in 1951 Legislative Council General Election against Valiya Purayil Abdullah of the Labour Party. He won, garnering 1,311 (57.1%) of the votes against Abdullah's 983 votes (42.9%). He also contested in Southern Islands in the 1955 General Election under the same party as well as in Pasir Panjang in the 1959 General Election as an independent candidate but lost both elections. (Refer to this webpage for further details. If you explore the website, you will find that people like clerks, hairdressers and newspapermen contested the General Elections in those days. Not quite different from recent times when you have people like the Slipper Man contesting the General Election, am I right? For your information, Kulasingha was a merchant.)

He was also Chairman of the Pasir Panjang Rural District Committee. In this position, road safety in his district was one of his concerns, as can be seen from this Straits Times article dated 20 Oct 1950, courtesy of the SPH and NLB:

He was also once the Director of the Jurong Bird Park.

Q3. When was it presented? (Just the year will do.)

1 Feb 1957, or should it be 2 Jan 1957? It says "1.2.1957" on the plaque. Erm... that's why I said "just the year will do". The year is definitely 1957 - I was only less than one year old and probably still breastfeeding.

22 October 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (19) - Another Old Cannon

I stumbled upon another old cannon yesterday. (The other old cannon is here. Well, sort of.)

Incidentally, did you know that 車大炮 ("cheh dai pao" in Cantonese or "che da pao" in Mandarin) means to lie?

So here are my questions for this quiz:

1. Where does this cannon lie (pun intended)?

2. Who presented this cannon?

3. When was it presented? (Just the year will do.)

Of course, to prevent eagled-eyed readers like Icemoon from having an unfair advantage, I have painted over the plaque in front of the stand. Not with real paint but digitally with Photoshop.

Answers will be revealed in a week's time. And they won't be lies, I can assure you.

11 October 2010

Then And Now (2)

I had been very busy lately as I was attending a 2-month part-time course at the Singapore Polytechnic. As this course was sponsored by my office, it was important that I pass it otherwise I don't know where to hide my face. Hence, please accept my sincere apologies for having disappeared for some time.

To hold the fort for a while, here is another "Then And Now" post. The following photo, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore, shows the junction of Rochor Road and North Bridge Road in 1986:

It shows the 7th Storey hotel which I blogged about here and here. This old hotel was demolished in 2009 to make way for the Downtown MRT Line. This location was also where the DHL balloon was sited. The bubble was burst balloon was taken down sometime last year too.

The photo below shows how the same junction looked like a few months ago. You can see the ongoing construction work being carried out on the right side of the photo. (I have placed the old photo of the junction directly below the newer one for comparison purpose.)

19 September 2010

Who Were The Soap Stars?

Who were the soap stars in the last post? Both Andy and Frannxis thought that the Chinese star was Li Li Hua (李麗華) while Chun See was not sure.

Above photo (right) was reproduced from this website.

I think that both Andy and Frannxis are right, although the woman in the left photo seems to have smaller eyes than the one on the right. Hmm... maybe they grew bigger as she matured? The eyes, I mean.

Nobody made any guesses for the Hollywood actress though. I believe that for the cinema-goers in Singapore at that time, Chinese films were more popular than English films and hence we are more familiar with Chinese actresses. I know it is not a fair comparison as Li Li Hua was born in 1924 while the Hollywood actress was born some 32 years earlier in 1892. But still, not many people in Singapore then were educated enough in the English language to appreciate Hollywood films.

I think the Hollywood actress is Ruth Chatterton.

Above photo (right) was reproduced from this website.

10 September 2010

When Skincare Was A Piece Of Cake

Skin care in the old days was a piece of cake, or rather, a cake of soap. More specifically, Lux soap. Things were simple then. No need for such things as cleansers, toners, moisturisers, anti-wrinkle and whitening creams, etc.
Photo taken from Wikipedia
Lux soap was endorsed by popular Hollywood and Bollywood actresses of the era. Below is a Lux soap advertisement in a local Chinese newspaper dated 25 May 1932:

Do you know who is the actress in the above photo? Here's a clue: the Chinese characters in the advertisement say 路斯傑特登 or Lu Si Jie Te Deng. (The answer will be reviewed in a week's time.)

Not only did Hollywood and Bollywood actresses grace advertisements for Lux, even Chinese actresses did the same:

The above illustration is taken from the book "Vintage Singapore - Souvenirs From The Recent Past". It is a paper poster advertisement from the 1940s, commonly hung on the walls of coffeeshops then. (I don't know who is the actress in the above photo. Do you?)

Just like snake oil which could cure multiple ailments, most people in those days washed their hair with just soap and not shampoo. The whole family would share the same piece of soap. So if you found hair stuck onto the soap, you would know that the one who used it before you had washed his/her hair.

The humble piece of soap had so many uses that you could even use it to wash your underwear!

Photo taken from Wikipedia
And it is cheap - only 10 cents. However, for washing of clothes, most households used another type of soap which was even cheaper in order to save money. One such popular brand then was Labour soap. But still, I believe that people in those days didn't have so much dirty laundry to wash especially in public.

I heard that some poor families even used Labour soap for their baths to save money! It would certainly be cleaner than if they had used just water.

You can see a neon sign advertising Labour soap in the photo below.

Photo courtesy of NAS showing New Bridge Road, Singapore. Circa 1962. (You could see Majestic Theatre in the background.)
The neon sign was animated which was no mean feat considering that moving images did not arrive in Singapore until the next year via black-and-white TV. And our lives changed forever after that.

The jerky 3-step animation showed the man's arm swinging downwards to hit the soap object with the mallet. As a kid when I first saw the neon sign, I could not help but wondered if the Labour soap was made that way, i.e. by hitting it with a mallet. Of course, now I know that the sign was misleading, like most advertisements.

For those of you who don't know how a bar of Labour soap looked like, let me try to describe it to you. It was about a foot long, i.e. about 30 cm, if you are more used to metric measurements. Its cross section was a 2-inch or 5-cm square. The opaque soap was yellow in colour and was wrapped in waxy paper of a colour which I don't quite recall but I think was blue. The long bar of soap would be cut up into smaller, more manageable pieces like these:

However, you won't get so many pieces from just a single bar but maybe three or four.

To end this post, here is a song titled "A Little Bit of Soap", a hit song by the Jarmels which reached Number 12 on the US charts in 1961:

30 August 2010

Then And Now (1)

I am starting a new series called "Then And Now". Wherever possible, I will try to attempt "second shots", although I know mine will never be as precise as those captured by Icemoon.

To start off this series, what could be more meaningful than to show you what my secondary school used to look like and how it looks like today:

Today, the old Victoria School building is occupied by People's Association HQ. The newer science block behind the main block was demolished to make way for a new tall block that you see now. Somehow, I find that the new building does not blend well with the old facade of the building. But still, I am very grateful that the old building, which dates back to the 1930s, has been conserved.

By the way, did you know that the old building was designed by the same architect who designed the old Kallang Airport building which by some strange coincidence, was the old PA HQ? Do you know who is he? (Note: This is not a quiz because I don't know the answer myself.)

To round off this post, I would like to show you a panaromic view of the Jalan Besar area as seen from the same spot. You could see Jalan Besar Stadium on the right. (Click on the photo to get a clearer view.)

Oh my, how lucky the residents of this HDB block are - they could watch every football game held at the stadium from their homes!

19 August 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (18) - Old Object - Answers

Okay, here are the answers for "Old Singapore Quiz (18) - Old Object". Thanks to Tom for his timely reminder. Wah, stressed man!

Icemoon obviously knew the answers as he was at this location recently to take photos for this post. But he was such a gentleman that he did not give the game away.

YG not only didn't know the answer but misread the quiz as he asked "Why close the quiz?" the very next day when all I said was that Icemoon was interested in war relics.

Chun See was the first to guess the object correctly, followed by Tom, Anonymous (No. 2 on 15 Aug 10) and finally Peter Stubbs. But no one gave the correct answer for Question no. 2, i.e. "Where is this object located? (Provide the name of the building or the road name)".

Yes, the object is a weapon. More specifically, it is a mortar.

This plaque near the object says, "This mortar, probably a World War II relic used by the British, was found during excavation for the Annex Wing of this building. (Conservation and installation funded by Singa Development Pte Ltd)".

And the building in question is none other than the Peranakan Museum which is located in Armenian Street. The mortar is situated on the left side of the above photo. It is the side of the building which is facing the public open-air carpark.

Tao Nan School occupied this building from 1910 to 1981 when it moved to Marine Crescent. (Both my sons studied in the new Tao Nan School in Marine Crescent).