Kallang

8 08 2009

Kallang for most of our recent memory is synonymous with the Kallang Basin and the National Stadium, home to the famous Kallang Roar harking back to the days when Singapore participated in the Malaysia Cup football competition at a time when up to 70,000 people could pack the stadium.

The Kallang river and the basin it flowed into has since been transformed from the foul smelling and badly polluted river, used for transport of logs, inland transportation, with the many warehouses and godowns upriver, and for Singapore’s fledgling shiprepair industry downriver. The area around Jalan Benaan Kapal was lined with slipways, and saw many smaller ships such as tugs, coastal vessels and bunkering tankers, lining the banks of the river. The small family owned shipyards featured names such as Eagle and Overseas. Across the basin on Tanjung Rhu, there were also some larger establishments involved in shipbuilding such as Singmarine, and a branch of the well known British shipbuilder Vosper Thorneycroft, which closed in the 1980s. The Police Coast Guard (formerly the Marine Police) has its headquarters in the area as well, with a slipway and some workshops to maintain its fleet. These days, the shipyards have disappeared, and the godowns which have not been demolished, stand disused along the river banks. We see a much cleaner version of the basin, which would be part of a reservoir formed by the recently completion of Marina Barrage. The basin is used for water sports including dragon boat training. The Coast Guard headquarters has also moved with the closure of the basin’s access to the sea.

Dragon Boat practice in the Kallang Basin

Dragon Boat practice in the Kallang Basin

The covered slipway of the Police Coast Guard's HQ being used for NDP preparations.

The covered slipway of the Police Coast Guard's HQ being used for NDP preparations.

The sports facilities built around the stadium, and the stadium itself would soon make way for the new Sports Hub. The stadium, built in 1973 for the South East Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games, the first occasion that Singapore hosted the Games which has since been renamed to the South East Asian (SEA) Games. Besides the sport facilities that were built. Kallang also became an entertainment centre, with the construction of the Kallang Theatre, where several musicals, including Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Cats were performed, the Leisuredrome home to a large bowling alley and an ice skating rink and also the Indoor Stadium. In the 1970s, one of my favourite places in Singapore was the Wonderland Amusement Park, which was located probably where the big carpark besides the Leisure Centre is today (I can’t be too sure). The roller coaster was a favourite and the spinning cups – which I think were called Ovaltine Cups. There was of course the Oasis Seafood Restaurant located just behind the Indoor Stadium, which has since been closed, that used to be quite popular.

Which way will the Stadium go? The Stadium would be replaced with a new Stadium within the new Sports Hub to be developed around the area.

Which way will the Stadium go? The Stadium would be replaced with a new Stadium within the new Sports Hub to be developed around the area.

The building that housed the former Oasis Restaurant on the left on Kallang Basin. In the background the icons of the new Singapore are being erected - the Singapore Flyer and the IR.

The building that housed the former Oasis Restaurant on the left on Kallang Basin. In the background the icons of the new Singapore are being erected - the Singapore Flyer and the IR.

The Indoor Stadium opened in 1989.

The Indoor Stadium opened in 1989.

News on the Indoor Stadium's opening

News on the Indoor Stadium's opening

I have many fond memories of the stadium, in particular, following the ups and downs of the Singapore football team’s fortunes in the Malaysia Cup competition. It was in the days of S. Rajagopal, Dollah Kassim, Quah Kim Song and Mohammad Noh, when Singapore donned a light blue strip, when crowds as large as 70,000 packed the stadium. The stadium would literally rock from a combination of the 70,000 voices, as well as 70,000 pairs of feet stamping on the terraces. The deafening noise, referred to as the “Kallang Roar” was as they say the 12th man. The first match I watched was a 1st leg of a semi-final match against Penang in 1974 which saw the match swinging back and forth, before Singapore won the leg 3-2 (unfortunately Singapore lost the 2nd leg in Penang by a score of 1-4). More recently, during the semi-finals and finals of the Asean Football Championships in 2004, 2006/7 and 2008, some of the Roar did return, but somehow this did not seem to come close to the Roar in the 1970s. My father, who brought me to the matches in the 1970s, would sometimes opt to use public transport to get to the stadium. In the later years, there were dedicated buses taking fans from the main population centres to the stadium, but during the earlier days, well before the dawn of the MRT, it would mean alighting from the bus near where Kallang MRT station is today, and walking across the People’s Association compound (or maybe next to it), crossing Nicoll Highway over to the stadium.

The Terraces of the National Stadium once held up to 70,000 spectators.

The Terraces of the National Stadium once held up to 70,000 spectators.

The former Kallang Airport building was the home of the People's Association until 2009.

The former Kallang Airport building was the home of the People's Association until 2009.

The People’s Association building itself was a well known landmark. Featuring the distinctive control tower of the former Kallang Ariport, the building was used as the terminal building of Singapore’s first commercial airport, until its closure when Paya Lebar Airport opened in 1955. Around the area, we have of course, Old Airport Road where the old runway used to run to, and Dakota Crescent.

For some time, the entrance to the main roadway to the National Stadium was guarded by the Merdeka Lions, stone sculptures which were commissioned for the Merdeka Bridge linking Kallang with Nicoll Highway. I am not sure why, by somehow, the two lions were moved to the entrance of Stadium Boulevard for a while. They have since been shifted elsewhere.


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9 responses

2 04 2010
JC Carino

Sad to hear about the Oasis restos, really good food, each pod housed a different type of chinese cuisine

3 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for your comments JC – yes – sad to see the Oasis in the state it is in – forgotten …

10 09 2010
Page not found « The Long and Winding Road

[…] Kallang […]

15 10 2010
esther

I have been looking through the web but found no pic of the Wonderland Amusement Park….anyone with that can share? I was borned and raised in that region, hence has fond memory of these places you mentioned…

18 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

There are some photos that I have come across, including one of the Ovaltine Cups at this page: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=305623.

27 10 2010
esther

thank you thank you 🙂 though only 2 pics but better than none. I could still rem that ferries wheel ride, haunted house, some free-to-play ride made of steel….hope someday i would be able to read blog on the Wonderland Amusement Park with lots of pics.

29 10 2010
The wondering wanderer

Oh gosh … almost forgot the haunted house! Thanks for mentioning it! Like the Ovaltine Cups cos we could spin it even faster by turning the wheel and spindle in the middle of the cup! 😀

7 01 2011
The wondering wanderer

Hi Esther, for your information, I have put a post up on Wonderland … click on this link.

26 11 2010
Crossings through the passage of time « The Long and Winding Road

[…] end of the 1960s when the area was reclaimed to house concentrations of sawmills from areas such as Kallang, which were being relocated due to urban renewal. The crossing at Sungei Kadut Avenue seemed to be […]

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