A lost world in Lim Chu Kang

19 07 2011

Deep within a world that much of Singapore has lost lies a reminder of that life we once had, a life of carefree days spent by the sea, and quiet nights gazing at the stars. It is a world that for most, doesn’t exist anymore, one that many will find hard to go back to. That reminder is in the form of the former property of the late lawyer Howard Edmund Cashin which includes an expansive garden by the sea and an incredible house built on a pier like structure out over the mud flats and mangroves that still dominate the north-western coastline of Singapore. The house which has been left vacant shortly after Mr. Cashin’s passing in 2009, is one that reminds me of a time when escapes by the then remote, quiet and idyllic coastlines – many of which have been lost to land reclamation, were fashionable, as was living in remote locations by the sea. It reminds me of my own carefree days in the sun, accompanied by the sand and the sea in places that I will never be able to go back to, when Singapore was a much gentler place.

A reminder of carefree days in the sun, accompanied by the sand and the sea … a world that doesn’t exist in Singapore anymore?

A lost world that reminds us of a Singapore that doesn’t exist anymore can be found in Lim Chu Kang.

The lost road to the lost world …

The house, named as “The Pier” by the Cashins, served as Mr Cashin’s home for close to 50 years. Based on newspaper articles from the Straits Times and oral history interviews, the Cashins, Howard and his wife Gillian, had moved in the 1960s. The pier had been built in 1906 by Mr Cashin’s father, intended to allow rubber to be moved from the vast Cashin estate in Lim Chu Kang to Kranji. The house on it was added in the 1920s.

The Pier was the home of Mr and Mrs Howard Cashin and was built over a pier which fell to the invading 5th Division of the Japanese Imperial Army in the dark days of February 1942.

The pier is significant from the perspective of the landings of the Japanese Imperial Army’s 5th Division along the north-western coastline during the dark days of February 1942, bringing in the initial waves of invaders in the lead-up to the fall of Singapore. It was at the pier that the Japanese out-fought the Australian 22nd Brigade, despite a valiant fight being put up that inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese, establishing a foothold. The battle, fought over the night of the 8th of February, was to see some 360 Australian troops losing their lives in the small area of land around the Pier, based on the article. The Japanese were to erect a war shrine in the plot of land – something that Mr Cashin reportedly had trouble finding workmen, who were willing to demolish it, after the war. The stone from the pedestal it stood on had apparently been used to lay the road in that Mr Cashin added before he moved in.

A view of The Pier from the expansive gardens.

A view of the gardens.

One of the things I was able to find out from N. Sivasothi or Siva who was kind enough to invite me to accompany him in his recce of the mangroves (see my previous post), was that the Sultan of Johor (the late father of the current Sultan), would drop in on the Cashins for tea, coming over by boat across the Straits of Johor – the first occasion of which he had to be carried in over the mud at low tide on the shoulders of a huge man in the entourage (the Sultan himself was said to be of a towering stature). I guess that again is a reminder of gentler times, times when borders did not really exist both physically and also in the minds of many who lived on either side of the Causeway.

The Pier.

A look through the gates ….

While that gentler world has since been lost, we will still have at least The Pier that is left to remind us of it. The Pier which now lies vacant and its ownership has been passed on to the Singapore Land Authority, is not something that we would be saying goodbye to (as is often the case with many abandoned homes which eventually fall into decay). Siva was good enough to share some comforting news on its future, saying that it would see future use as a field station. I know that I can now look forward to going back from time to time, not to a place that I would have once known, but to a world that takes me back to those places that I did know that now remain only in my dreams of yesterday.

A peek through the grilles at the entrance to the house …

Signs of abandonment.


A peek inside … what would have been the kitchen and dining room.

The living room.

The balcony.

View of the mangrove dominated coastline.

A stariway to the sea … probably one that the Sultan of Johor would have used to ascend from his boat on his visits to the Cashins.

Update on status of the house (as seen at the URA Draft Master Plan 2013 exhibition in Nov/Dec 2013): The Pier (Draft Master Plan 2013)

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32 responses

19 07 2011
claire leow

absolutely nostalgic! a wonderful post, Jerome

19 07 2011
The Dead Cockroach

Looks creepy!

20 07 2011

It’s simply beautiful Jerome – I love such places. How on earth did you find such a treasure?

20 07 2011
Anjana Dutt

I felt sad after reading about this place because it is a shame that such an idyllic setting is just left standing like that without giving it its due respect. Wow, I wished I was there right now, standing out at the pier and reading a good book and getting lost in translation!

23 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks for your thoughts Anjana :)

31 01 2013

I share your sentiment Anjana….this discovery is so inspiring, it somehow triggered one’s desire to revert to the past…. to want to know the owner of this unique place, his psyche. The whole thing is so profound and mystical…

21 07 2011
We recce Lim Chu Kang east with NUS students organisers « News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

[…] Lim’s posts – “The forgotten shores” and “A lost world in Lim Chu Kang“. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed A sand box for […]

22 08 2011

Wow, a beautiful place and setting. It seems like a dream doesn’t it.

25 08 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

It is a beautiful place … made even more so by the sense of separation from the urban world that lies not far away … and yes it does seem like a dream! :)

29 08 2011

Can you show on the map where this pier is? Raised in Chua Chu Kang and a frequent visitors to Lim Chu Kang during scouting days, and living across the pacific ocean for the last 30 years, I am trying to recapture fading memories of idylic Singapore in the 60s and 70s.
Thanks in advance,
Sam Foo

23 03 2012
4 11 2011
Happy nana

Beautiful photos! I am a writer and is inspired to feature this place, will it be too much to request that you contact me so that we can take the discussion offline?

23 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

I did contact you – unfortunately the outcome was that the SPH publication that you worked for used my photographs in a way that I had not consented to. I asked that I speak to the photo editor of the publication which was already three months ago and until now I have not been contacted. :(

26 11 2011

Thank you for the excellent shots. I stumbled upon this bungalow while i was on my way to the nearby kelong sometimes in 2010. The imprint of this Colonial structure, extending out to the sea was so breathlessly nostalgic; it was like a time tunnel : I was held breathless, for it was a great surprise that we, in Singapore, still process unpublicised idyllic scene. However, this hidden gem looked forlorn, deserted and neglected as seen from the open sea. I thought that it must be an acquired ‘stateland’ property until I read about the pride of the Cashin Estate in the newspaper, recently. The rich history behind this idyllic pasture deserve much conservation attention.

23 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Wendy! :)

16 03 2012

What a beautiful place and story. Back in the good old days.

23 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Indeed a beautiful place Faizal :)

21 03 2012

Delete your post at once!!! Let no one know that this place exists, so that it can survive longer.

What a beautiful place? What secrets it holds? Where have those idyllic days gone? What are we running after and why are we always running?

This post compelled me to stop and stare, and just lose myself in the moment, conjuring up my own thoughts and fantasies about the place.

Excellent post. I had to re-read it to ensure I was not dreaming and that this was indeed Singapore in the 21st century. Well done!

23 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks Prashanth! :) There is hope yet that it will survive! Thanks for sharing your impressions of the post.

23 12 2013
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Update Nov/Dec 2013 (as seen at the URA Draft Master Plabn 2013 exhibition):

Update Nov/Dec 2013 (as seen at the URA Draft Master Plabn 2013 exhibition)

29 04 2012
Shaun Sim

how do i get to this place? :)

18 06 2012

Dont tell anyone

23 06 2012
faz lee

Seriously? Abandon? O.o
ive seen this house bright up at night it was 2009 if im not wrong. And just got to know its abandon? Woah.

11 10 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

It was vacated after Mr Cashin’s passing in 2009.

11 11 2012

do we need permit to shoot here?

19 11 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Raymund, you would probably need to check with SLA on that.

14 11 2012

Hello Jerome,

How do I get here? What is the address? Amazing find. Amazing pictures.

Are we able to go in?? Thinking of doing my photoshoot here. Possible??

Perhaps email me.

Thank you!!!


19 11 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Darius, it is close to the end of Lim Chu Kang Road. I believe it is maintained by the SLA right now, sealed off and under surveillance.

31 01 2013

so sad to see these soulful archectecture withering away while the city ceaselessly erecting meaningless modern shopping complex at every conner, degenerating us…

31 01 2013
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Yes it is. What is also sad is that the world we have been forced to accept has little room for places such as these, as well as the many places that made Singapore the Singapore many of us felt at home in. :(

25 04 2013

This house in Lim Chu Kang certainly brings back memories of my NS days serving in Sungei Gedong Camp from 1990 to 1992. Back then, Ama Kang Village was still around further down the road, and there was even a row of old shops directly opposite the camp entrance. Much of the area remains fairly the same over the last 20 years, except for the eradication of the villages. A good thing for our rapidly changing island where familiar images of our past are often erased without a trace. Wonder how long LCK will be able to hold on to its rural landscape. The last countryside of Singapore.

8 10 2013

Hey Jerome, i’m very curious – how many rooms did this bungalow have? Thanks!

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