Impressions of Orchard Road in the 1970s

5 07 2009

Travelling along Orchard Road in the 1970s had a very different feel than it does these days. Far from being the bustling crowded shopping hub it has since been transformed to, Orchard Road had more of a sleepy feel to it back then.  The best recollection I have relates to the stretch from around the Scotts Road junction to Dhoby Ghaut, which I often visited with my parents.

The Scotts Road junction was where the old Lido Cinema building stood next to Shaw House, across from Liat Towers on the other side of Orchard Road. While old Shaw House and Lido has since been demolished, giving way to the new Shaw House which houses the Lido Cineplex, Liat Towers still stands. The branch of Standard Chartered Bank located in Shaw House was one that my mother made frequent visits to.

On the opposite side of Scotts Road, where Tang’s Plaza is now, you would be greeted by the old C K Tang building. Opposite this, across Orchard Road and what was then the open canal, was the distinctive roof structure of the Indonesian Embassy, the Wisma Indonesia, where Wisma Atria now stands. Further along was the old Champion Motors showroom and Fitzpatrick’s Supermarket, probably around where the Paragon now stands. Opposite that there was the old Ngee Ann Building, which housed a number of Specialist clinics as well the the popular Mont D’or Cake Shop, which my parents often got our birthday cakes from.

Heading further down the road, you would come up to the Heeren Building – not that I remember much of it except for a barber shop at the corner. The area maybe a little further down was a little more interesting for me. The old Cold Storage Supermarket, from which my mother would buy the chipolatas and cold cuts which I always looked froward to digging my teeth into. Next to the supermarket on the nearer side of the entrance to the car park, there was the Magnolia Milk Bar which my mother often brought me to to satisfy my childhood cravings for Milk Shakes and Pies. Opposite Cold Storage was an open air car park  which Hawkers took over in the evening – referred to as Glutton’s corner, which my parents would sometimes go to if we visited Cold Storage in the evenings or late afternoons. What my parents frequented more was the well known Beef Noodle stall at Koek Lane, close to the old Orchard Road Market. Koek Lane has disappeared as has the Beef Noodle stall, which initially moved to the food centre at Cuppage Centre (which is now Starhub Centre), but has since moved from the area.

The old Cold Storage building along Orchard Road (a scan from a Cold Storage mousepad give away).

Another view of Cold Storage in way of the entrance to the car park (link).

Further down the road, memories were rather vague, at least until Plaza Singapura was built around 1974. What I can remember is the Borneo Motors showroom next to MacDonald House, MacDonald House itself and Amber Mansions at the end of Orchard Road near Dhoby Ghaut.

Of the other end of Orchard Road near Tanglin, again I don’t recall much except for the Air India advertisment which greeted you on the side of a building at the junction with Orange Grove Road, which provided the effect of the turbaned Maharaja taking a bow, through the sequencing of the neon lighting mounted on the advertising board.

The Turbaned Maharaja at the corner of Orchard Road and Orange Grove Road in the 1970s

The Turbaned Maharaja at the corner of Orchard Road and Orange Grove Road in the 1970s

Added on 27 Aug 2009:
Source: Straits Times 24 Aug 2009

Graphic from 24 Aug 2009 Edition of The Straits Times provides a good idea of what was on Orchard Road in the 1970s.

Graphic from 24 Aug 2009 Edition of The Straits Times provides a good idea of what was on Orchard Road in the 1970s.




24 responses

21 02 2010
Beautiful buildings and a tale of buried treasure under a bridge: Memories of Stamford Road « The Long and Winding Road

[…] up from the junction where Stamford Road merged into a disjointed section of Orchard Road then, there was a beautiful mansion like building that was the YMCA that would stare at you. The […]

2 04 2010
JC Carino

I think the old Fitzpatricks stood at where the Rolex building now stands (beside the Paragon)…it was at the corner of Mt Elizabeth and Orchard Road…the old car showrooms were torn down and replaced by Lucky Plaza…we lived right behind that area when they were building it and had to hear (and feel) the pounding of the pylons every day 🙂

5 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks JC – it might have been – perhaps I should look up some old maps on the area :).

7 04 2010
The magical world of the Tivoli that was on Orchard Road « The Long and Winding Road

[…] land. The gardens had apparently also provided the inspiration to Singapore’s own Tivoli in Orchard Road, and it was this Tivoli that would have come into the minds of many of us back in the 1970s. Tivoli […]

16 04 2010
My big, strong, and maybe a little less than friendly experiences at the corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads « The Long and Winding Road

[…] demolished when that happened sometime in 1990, having been a prominent landmark at the corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads since it was unveiled in 1958. Along the way, it also housed several embassies, consulates and […]

25 04 2010

Very comprehensive coverage of the major buildings, shops, etc along Orchard Road…impression of memorable recollection of my childhood days.

The Turbaned Maharaja at the corner of Orchard Road and Orange Grove Road in the 1970s, is that referring to Ming Court Hotel?

26 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks James for your comments. The Turbaned Maharaja was on the Air India ad on the wall at the end of a row of shophouses, roughly where Delfi Orchard stands today opposite Ming Court Hotel – there was a petrol kiosk at the corner.

1 10 2010

Orchard Police Station held special memories for me. Once a week, if I remember correctly, the Police Station have a movie screening within their compound for the families of Policemen who lived there. A number of us neighborhood kids would crawl under the fence where a small drain leads to the outside. The area is in darkness once the movie got started. We just sneaked from behind and sat on the ground like everybody else. The people in there were either too engrossed with the movie or just couldn’t be bothered. Growing up mischief : )

4 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for sharing that Frankie! 😀 I guess boys will be boys and mischief is never far away … You mentioned that you were a neighbourhood kid – whereabouts did you live?

6 10 2010

Sorry I missed your question earlier. As you would have read my comments from your other post, I lived Tanglin Road. Beside Aw Boon Haw there was another big shot living at nearby Cuscaden Road, Mr Ko Teck Kin. I didn’t know much about him till now when I gotten interested in Heritage matters after reading yours and Chun See’s blog and did some research. His was President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, St. John Ambulance Brigade, treasurer of the Nanyang University council, and Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia in the early years. Before this all I knew and remembered was that when he died a VERY VERY elaborate procession.
For the interesting details see:

Note: 500 of the St John Ambulance Brigade and it’s brass band led in procession from Cascaden Rd to Tanglin Rd (not mentioned in the report but I remember and found a picture in the archive) , then to Orchard Road and all the way to Cairnhill Road.

Thereafter the procession formed a motorcade along Orchard Rd, Stamford Rd, North Bridge Rd , South Bridge Rd, Circular Rd, Chulia St, South Bridge Rd, Upper Pickering St, New Bridge Rd, Hill St, Brass Basah Rd, Selegie Rd, Bukit Timah Rd, Whitley Rd and then to the Hokkien Cemetery.

6 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

No worries Frankie – I got the answer with your comment on the stone elephants. Thanks for the very interesting information on Mr Ko Teck Kin – I never really took notice of some of these personalities as well!

1 10 2010
Michael James

Gosh, this really brings back memories for me, having known
Singapore from 1956 -1965 and then from 1977-82. As a kid a favourite treat for me and my sisters was a visit to Cold Storage
(The Milk Bar) and have a curry puff and milk shake. When I returned to work in Singapore in the seventies I was delighted
to find the curry puffs were as good as ever………..

4 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

Great that it does Michael! 🙂 The Milk Bar was a favourite of mine – for the milk shakes. Always enjoyed the pastries they served as well! It’s a shame we don’t really have places like this anymore …

3 10 2010

Hi Michael, Cold Storage Milk Bar, I had my first scoop of a “high class” ice cream there. One of my uncle gave a few of us (his nephews) a treat. At that time the only ice cream we ate were from the roving ice cream man. Time changed, nowadays the youngsters enjoy the expensive ice cream like nobody’s business.

17 03 2018

Hi Frankie, Good Evening. I would like to know back then in 70’s and 80’s what was the landmark now stands the St Regis Singapore (next to Tanglin Shopping Centre)? I hope to get some answers from you.
Thank you. Jeffery

14 08 2018
Frankie Koh

It was a 3 or 4 storey Building. Shops on the ground level and office on the upper levels; some foreign embassies. A very well know trader Barkath Store, agent for “HACKS” cough drops occupied one of the units. It had a very interesting roof top where you can play there. I don’t know what you’d call it. We the neighborhood kids would go there and fly kite. We use to make our own glass coated string for “kite fighting”. Some malay kids their kites out a malay kampong at what is now Tanglin Mall and the lines of our kite will cross and we’ll jerk the line to try and cut the line of the opponent.

10 10 2011


I’m pretty curious to know if anyone happen to have images of the cemetery along orchard road in the early 1900s? That would be interesting. Let me know!

29 09 2012
Wendy Reynolds

I remember having my first ‘knicker blokka Glory’ ice cream in Cold Storage. Wonderful memories

22 01 2015

Heyy, this post was really helpful 🙂 I was looking for something about the Orchard 22 building. It would be pretty amazing if you could give me some info. Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

17 06 2015
Paul Ridgway

I lived in Grange Road 1969 to 1971..
Now if you walked towards Orchard Road then turned right down Orchard Road and stayed on that side there was an English style pub. Any idea of the name?

18 06 2015
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Paul, which section of Grange Road was that? Around the Tanglin end of it?

18 06 2015
Paul Ridgway

Where Grange Road met Orchard Road. Big cinema on left just on Orchard Road. (opp NAAFI HQ). Am I gettiong warmer?

19 06 2015
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Might it have been the Pavilion, Paul? It would have been a 300 yard walk down from the cinema you mention and right next to another cinema that was also called the Pavilion.

A newspaper advertisement for the Pavilion.

By the way, the cinema you mention would have been the Orchard:

14 08 2018

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