My big, strong, and maybe a little less than friendly experiences at the corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads

16 04 2010

There was a time when the prospect of a visit to the bank would fill me with terror. That was during the time when I was a boy of four, perhaps five, and would dutifully accompany my mother on her many errands, shopping trips and visits to the hairdresser and the like. I accompanied her on her banking trips as well, including those that she made to the branch of The Chartered Bank at the bottom of Shaw House on a fairy regular basis. The visits to the bank, which was then touted as being “Big, Strong, Friendly”, somehow never seemed friendly for me. Big and strong maybe. It would always mean that I had to come face to face with the tall burly guard who also served as a doorman, who, wearing the stern look of a bearded and turbaned Sikh, would always open the doors for us. For some reason, I never did take notice of the warm smile my mother tells me that he would usually flash, choosing to focus instead on his imposing appearance which heightened my irrational sense of fear of policeman and security personnel, which was perhaps brought about by having been constantly reminded during my bouts of misbehaviour, that a figure of authority would soon apprehend me. Such was the terror that I felt that I would chose to forego the opportunity for childhood adventure that being outside the stuffy confines of the Austin 1100 would have presented me with, opting to remain in the parked car with nothing to do except stare impatiently out of the partially wound down window. There were actually a few occasions when I did have to overcome my irrational fear, venturing into the banking hall once I remember, to get my hands on the brightly coloured Donald Duck coin box that I so craved. I must have trembled at the sight of the guard, while keeping a tight hold on my mother’s hand as I followed on her on the far side of the guard hoping that her skirt could obscure me .

Lido and Shaw House at the corner of Orchard Road and Scotts Road, seen in 1960 on an old Postcard.

In the later years, a Chartered Bank advertising campaign actually had another burly Sikh security guard as the face of the “Big, Strong, Friendly” slogan, opening the doors to a banking hall with a big cheery smile. I would often then look back in amusement at my own personal experiences as an anxious young boy of the big, strong and maybe a little less friendly banking experience I had in my younger days.

Another view of Shaw House with Lido next to it c.1960 from an old postcard.

I was indeed sad to see the old Shaw House being 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 national trade bodies, including the Swiss embassy and also the South Vietnamese embassy until the fall of Saigon in 1975 when it was abandoned. Another landmark next to Shaw House, Lido Cinema, went with it in 1990. I too have a few fond memories of Lido. That was where I had watched many movies with my parents. Lido was also where I watched the first movie unaccompanied by my parents. I went with a few older neighbours in 1975 for the screening of The Pink Panther Returns.

The new Shaw House now houses the Lido Cineplex.

Looking at the area where the new Shaw House has come up over the old, you wouldn’t see anything of how it was all those years ago. In place of the block of offices and a small open car park in front of it where I would often wait in the parked car, and the a cinema next to it, the new Shaw House stands tall, housing the new Lido – a cineplex popular with Singaporeans, as well as Isetan Department Store and several popular eating places. Very little is left behind to remind me of the big, strong and friendly experiences that I had there … maybe only the successor to The Chartered Bank – a branch of Standard Chartered Bank which moved from the old Shaw House to neighbouring Shaw Centre in 1985.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

24 responses

16 04 2010
Gary

Do you remember a police station diagonally across the Lido site, where ION Orchard is now? My older friends do not remember it or am I the one who wrong? Kindly verify for me. Thanks

16 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Yes that was the site of the Orchard Road Police Station, which was an icon of sorts, serving even as an unofficial tourist information office! 🙂

17 04 2010
peter

When I was young I was confused between Bengalis and Punjabis.

Beside the banks, the Bais could be found as watchman in the godowns, especially along the Singapore River. One time in the early 60s during a family outing in the evening in the Clark Quay area, I saw a Bahi washing his hair. OMG I go frighten because when he took out his turban, he got a long strand of hair. Other times, I saw a Bahi curling up his strand of hair and singing a song at the same time.

There was this bed in which the a Bahai watchman slept. It had ropes made from jute and wooden frames. It must have been very airy because the ropes were fashioned into a pattern whereby there were pockets of holes.

I see Bahis during “off-duty hours” wearing a white cloth as his “shorts”. Sometimes I saw Bahis watchman holding on to a double barrel shot-gun.

Other places I saw many Bais washing hair was at Niven Road opposite a Sikh temple.

17 04 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for your comments Peter. I suppose the confusion was (and still is) quite widespread – as many refer to Sikh Punjabis as “Bengali” both in Singapore as well as across the causeway. I had a similar experience seeing a Sikh neignbour take off his turban as well – I used to practically live in the neighbour’s house – his son was my best friend when I was in primary school and I would go to his place everyday after school and spend most of the afternoon there. My favourite time was tea time – as it always meant a robust cup of tea and chapati with a sprinkling of sugar on it.

I remember that we used to see watchman, of whom many were Punjabis and other Indian men, who slept outside the premises they were watching over in foldable beds similar to what you mention, especially along five-foot ways …

26 04 2010
Thimbuktu

Hi Peter,

Most of the Sikh jaga (now known as Security Guard) during the 1960s as I remembered them at the godowns opposite Great World. It is now the Zuok after renovation of the warehouses there. The charpoy (or something) was the roped beds they used on becos one of my former primary school classmates. Bygone days

14 05 2010
Eveline

Has it been THAT LONG since Lido was demolished? OH MY GOD! I do remember going to the theatre after school as well as buying flowers from one of the shops at The Heeren (the old one).

14 05 2010
Eveline

DUH, obviously memories not serving me well. I was thinking of the Orchard Cinema now known as Cineleisure Orchard.

14 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Hi Eveline, guess we all need a bit of help with our memories sometimes. I think you would remember Jackie’s Bowl housed within the Orchard Cinema building as well as Singapore’s very first escalator being in the cinema building? Jackie’s was where I had my first game of ten-pin bowling when I was in secondary school, I remember that very well as the most of the balls I threw ended up missing the pins completely!

14 05 2010
Eveline

Oh yeah bowling at Jackie’s Bowl… that I definitely remember. I was from RGS (River Valley) so Orchard was quite accessible!

14 05 2010
James Seah

Thanks for jolting my memories of the foreign embassies and consulates housed in the former Shaw House in the 1960s. I remembered visiting these offices with my secondary school classmates to collect colorful brochures and pamphlets of various countries for geography class assignments. In those days we didn’t call them “class projects”…sounds more academic ; )

14 05 2010
peter

In the 70s, there was Copper kettle tucked between Lido Cinema and Shaw House; some short-cut path. I liked their Earthquake. After eating so much, ken atoielt immediately.

16 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Now that you mentioned it Peter, I remember the Copper Kettle! Had almost forgotten about it!

14 05 2010
peter

I think second floor of Lido Cinema in the 60s there was Ross D’or, a Chinese up-market restaurant with live band music.

16 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Was this the Coq d’Or that Mamadondi mentioned? Name rings a bell but just can’t place it.

14 05 2010
John Harper

I remember The Lido Cinema being built towards the end of 1958 and opening early in 1959 and if memory serves me well one of the first, if not the first film was Kirk Douglas in The Vikings. It was one of the highlights of the bus journey in from RAF Tengah to school at Gillman Barracks to see the film poster as we went by. I think the second film was called The Naked Maja and there was a picture of a naked lady laying on a chaise longue, very titilating for young boys of eleven!

16 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for sharing your memories John! When did you leave Singapore?

16 05 2010
John Harper

We left in July 1959, it was then 30 years before I came back for a visit with my own family in 1989. I have made several visits since then for holidays and work. I am planning to visit again in November with my brother who has not been back since 1959. I’ll be acting as his personal tour guide showing him how much SIngapore has changed since 1959.

16 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

That was quite a long time that you stayed away! There probably wouldn’t have been much that you would have been able to recognise in 1989 and even much less now! Hope you and your brother have a great time when you come in November.

19 11 2010
John Harper

Sadly, my brother and I will not be visiting this month. Whilst packing for a house move his wife fell off a ladder and damaged her knee severely. We have set a tentative date of next March now for our visit although that may now be delayed further as latest x-rays are not encouraging.

21 11 2010
The wondering wanderer

I’m sorry to hear that John, I hope your wife has a speedy recovery and that you have a great time in March! 🙂

9 08 2010
Vanessa

I really love your picture of old Lido! I went there to watch movies when I was a teenager until my early 20s. Think it was closed for reno in the very early 90s. Believe it went thru quite a number of years of reno before it became the new Lido now.

I remember my friends telling me that the old Lido used to be haunted. ;p

9 08 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for your comments and sharing your experiences … I am not sure if I ever heard about the cinema being haunted … but there is nothing like the cinemas of old! 🙂

14 08 2010
Jeffery Abdullah

I remember well enough of the old Lido Cinema. I love the architecture and design. I too heard from my relatives that it was haunted. Due to my interest of the cinema, I have built a little model diorama of it. You can view it:-

Old Lido Cinema

17 12 2011
Nick

My late grandfather’s barber shop was called the Heeren…… He used the cut the hair of former MM and all when they were young……….. Dont know whether The Heeren ‘copied’ the name of his shop….
The building housing his shop is long gone……..

Concidentally, in the 90’s I worked in an amusement arcade and one of the mgrs there used to work for his father around that place and he happened to know my uncle 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: