The end of an institution at Tanjong Pagar?

16 11 2010

While many of us with a sense of nostalgia for the grand old station at Tanjong Pagar are comforted by the knowledge that the main station building would, as a minimum be conserved in some form, which, we don’t really know yet, we are uncertain of the fate of some of the many features that we have associated with the station over the years. One such feature is what must certainly be an institution at the station, the little convenience shop and money changer, Habib Book Store and Money Changer, which has apparently been very much a part of the station’s scenery for over half a century, having started at the station in 1958.

Habib Book Store and Money Changer has been a feature at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station for over half a century.

It is not just the trains and tracks that we will see the last of at Tanjong Pagar once the station moves to Woodlands, but also an institution that has been very much a part of the station since the 1950s.

Habib Book Store started operating at what is now a room used by the KTMB Auxiliary Police (Polis Bantuan), which provides security services at the station, and moved to its present location only around 1990. I had sometimes wondered why the shop was called a book store, thinking that it might have been for the magazines that it sold. The most I had ever remembered seeing of books being sold were the few novels and self-help books that were displayed on two rotatable racks that had been placed opposite the shop through which I would sometimes browse through while waiting for the gate to open. It is a shop that I would fondly remember for its colourful display of magazines strung out at the front of the shop, and one where I would often get my supplies of snacks and drinking water for the long railway journeys. It was also where I had obtained the Malaysian Ringgit I needed for that first ever train journey I made, and one that will certainly be missed not just by me, but by the many who have passed through the station at Tanjong Pagar.

The counter now enclosed and used as a room by the KTMB Auxiliary Police (Polis Bantuan) was the original location of Habib Book Store.

The counter is similar to the one used as the ticket counter and is directly opposite it.

Habib Book Store and Money Changer seen at its original location in 1980 (source: National Archives of Singapore).

If you do ever have the chance to pass through the station, do make it a point to pause for a while and take a last look at the convenience shop – it may be the last you might see of it in its current form. It would also be nice if you could stop and chat with the proprietor of the shop, the very amiable Mr. Syed Ahmad, who would certainly be pleased to share his experiences at the station, where the shop was originally located, and when he had first started operating at the railway station … and perhaps where he will be going next.

Mr. Syed Ahmad being interviewed for television.



3 responses

17 11 2010
SG Daily: 17 Nov 2010 « The Singapore Daily

[…] 69er: {Photos} First EVER human rights film festival in Singapore – The Long and Winding Road: The end of an institution at Tanjong Pagar? – The Restaurant: A Square on Your $5 […]

13 12 2010

Can I buy Malaysia newspapers and magazines (e.g . Utusan Malaysia, Sin Chew Jit Poh) from Tanjong Pager Railway Station? Thanks!

13 12 2010
The wondering wanderer

I do not believe that you can …

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