When did the tiger at the corner of Selegie Road and Short Street go missing?

15 03 2010

While looking at a photograph I had taken of that distinctive building which stands at the corner of Short Street and Selegie Road, a building that has been a feature on Selegie Road for as long as I can remember, it came to me that I once used to see a tiger at the top of the building. The 4 storey building which was, when I was growing up, used by the Chung Khiaw Bank and later after its merger with United Overseas Bank (UOB), by the UOB Group, had more recently housed the offices and a food court of Banquet Holdings Pte Ltd, operators of the Banquet chain of halal food courts. The building, I sadly learnt, would soon be making way for a 12 storey entertainment hub named 10 square after its 100 Selegie Road address which would feature a 14 metre wide LED screen on its façade.

The very distinctive building at the corner of Short Street and Selegie Road.

The tiger I used to see was not a live one of course … it was one that we are well acquainted with in Singapore – the tiger that we see on the labels of Tiger Balm. This does provide a clue to the history of the building, which my father had referred to as the Tiger Balm Building. It had housed a Eng Aun Tong Medical Hall, as is evidenced by a 1941 photograph seen at http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/tiger-balm/. The photograph also shows that an additional floor had been added on at some point in time.

The Tiger Balm Building, 1941 (Source: http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/tiger-balm).

It would not be hard to explain how the building came to be used by Chung Khiaw Bank – the bank had been established in 1950 by Aw Boon Haw, the man who together with his brother Aw Boon Par, gave us Tiger Balm, Haw Par Corporation and the Haw Par Villa. When, the use of the building changed, I was not able to establish, as with when the tiger disappeared. What I do know is that the tiger could still be seen in a 1975 photograph of Selegie Road. I also remember looking out for it on the bus ride home when I was receiving my lower secondary education between 1977 and 1978. By 1990, as seen in another photograph in Ray Tyers book, the tiger had already gone missing, a fate that now awaits its former home.

The tiger still seen above the former Tiger Balm Building in a photograph of Selegie Road taken in 1975 (Source: Ray Tyers Singapore Then & Now).




5 responses

17 03 2010
greg LIM

I remembered that building very well….Do you know that Selegie Rd was also known to the locals in the Area as 7th Street ??… starting from Nth Bridge Rd as 1st street + Victoria St as 2nd st…etc… I used to study Mandrain at Spore Chinese Mandrain School at 122 Prinsep St ( no 6th st ). walked passed Middleton Hospital ( VD infectious diseases hosp ) in Middle Rd.. the Reg of Vehicles was at the cnr of Bencoolen st
Middle Rd was known as Hylam no 1 St, Purvis No 2 + Seah No 3
3.. Cnr Middle Rd / Beach was the Bus Term for Tay Koh Yat Bus.. also Satay Club… A cinema Alhambera ?? was nearby in Beach Rd… beyond Beach was the sea.. pl tell me how much land was reclaimed in Spore ??.. the areas beyond Beach Rd / Marine Parade..etc.. are all foreign to me !!!

17 03 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for the information Greg … that the streets were referred to by numbers is something that’s new to me! I think you meant the Middle Road Hospital … the Middleton was in Moulmein Road and is now the Communicable Disease Centre of the enlarged Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Yes it well quite well known that the hospital was for VD treatment and I remember an incident when one of my schoolmates had to visit to the A&E department there and was teased no end about it!

I remember the ROV as well … my father actually worked there for a while and would mention it to me.

The Satay Club was a favourite makan place for my parents and their friends – and I remember the low stools we sat on with the low tables by the old Beach Road Camp along the street on which the bus terminal was … and how the satay man would dump satay continuously on the table … counting the number of sticks and charge only for what was consumed.

Yes there were the Alhambra as well as the Marlborough Cinemas at the end of Middle Road – this is where Shaw Towers stands today …

Perhaps you’d like to visit Google Maps. There is a street view function that is pretty handy with which you can take a look at how the area is today.

There has been a substantial amount of reclamation – I think some 10% in terms of land area has been added along the way … most of the east coast has been reclaimed and the ECP which runs from Changi Airport to the city is built entirely on reclaimed land! There is also a fair amount added to the western corner of the island … on which Tuas Industrial Estate has been developed. Jurong Island – now a huge (and protected) petro-chemical complex – is largely reclaimed – joining what was Pulau Ayer Chawan, Pulau Ayer Merbau, Pulau Merlimau, Pulau Pesek, Pulau Pesek Kecil, Pulau Sakra and Pulau Seraya.

17 03 2010
The wondering wanderer

Some links to photos on the PICAS site:

The Alhambra and Marlborough along Beach Road.

The Alhambra being demolished in 1969 … can clearly see Beach Road Camp next door and Hoi How Road where the Satay Club was.

A view down Middle Road looking straight down at Shaw Towers on Beach Road where the Marlborough and Alhambra one stood.

17 03 2010
My stroll through the streets of that made up the Mahallah: Selegie Road « The Long and Winding Road

[…] how the area looked like before the war in 1940. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)When did the tiger at the corner of Selegie Road and Short Street go missing?Curry puffs, brightly coloured candy and a bus garage: Selegie and Mackenzi…Thaipusam […]

14 08 2013
Gerald Lim Vernon

They ought to maintain the building’s façade (i.e windows) as it was. No wonder I have had very hard time finding this building, not until I came here.

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