A postcard from the past: Shaw House and Lido

29 06 2017

Another landmark of the Orchard Road that I loved was the old Shaw House. That, stood at the corner of Orchard and Scotts Road through the 1960s to the 1980s. What made the building special was the branch of The Chartered Bank that was housed on its ground floor, a branch that my mother frequented and one at which I obtained my favourite piggy bank that was modelled after the Disney cartoon character Donald Duck. Completed in 1958, the modern 10-storey block was lit the path for the eventual transformation of Orchard Road. It was one of two that the Shaw Brothers built, the other being Lido Theatre next to it – a cinema at which I caught many Pink Panther movies. In its latter years, Shaw House was also where a popular restaurant Copper Kettle opened.

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5 responses

29 06 2017
rhonda deering

I remember going to this bank to draw money to buy a seconhand car. The manager was worried that I should carry cash – (about $500) and ensured that I hid the notes in my handbag before leaving. Also remember taking our 2 boys to the movies. We were expats working with SAF – wonderful times for 5 years from 1969

29 06 2017
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

$500 was a huge sum then! Wonderful memories Rhonda, thanks for sharing them. Have you been back since?

30 06 2017
rhonda deering

Of course – many times – I never wanted to leave and 2 more sons born in Singapore are very proud of their heritage. I loved the OLD Singapore. We saw it at its best ! Older 2 sons went to Yio Chu Kang School, then St Stephens and St Patricks

30 06 2017
N Narayanan

Thanks again Mr Jerome Lim, for this latest post on Orchard Road. Like the proverbial bad penny, here I turn up again (please feel free not to put up my comments if for any reason they are unwelcome, but believe me they are made purely as incidental to your commentary)

‘A nation of shopkeepers’ is reportedly a not-too-complimentary phrase referring to England going back to 1794 (Wikipedia). Much in the same vein, one could say we Singaporeans could be dubbed ‘a nation of shoppers’.

‘Orchard Road’ is apparently the ‘flavour of the moment’ with pleas being made ‘to restore the vibrancy of the area’, mainly by those whose memories &/or experiences go back to more recent times. True, their attitudes may be reflected in the phrase ‘Orchard Road, Singapore: Asia’s Most Famous Shopping Street …” as one description goes. But time was when it was less ‘glitzy’ and a more sedate and respectable upper-middle-class residential area, as would be fitting for its proximity to the ‘Governor’s House’ – in colonial times – and ‘The Istana – President’s Residence’ since Independence. In sharp contrast, Orchard Road has today earned the distinction of being ‘Every Shopper’s Paradise’, with much of the credit being accorded to those who have developed the area. While giving them their due, I personally find it sad that in this context, all-forgotten now is my then-boss the late Mr Moshe J Nassim, founder of the Auctioneers & Estate Agents firm ‘Nassim & Co Ltd’. Circa 1950 he persuaded the Hongkong Bank to buy the land where MacDonald House now stands, confidently assuring them ‘Orchard Road will be the place of future Singapore’.He was eminently qualified in his observations, as he had been resident in the area from pre-WWII years. Surely Mr Nassim needs to be remembered for his foresight. In property matters, he was largely responsble in opening up the then undeveloped ulu areas of Frankel Estate, Loyang and Sarimbun.

Returning to ‘Orchard Road, quite by accident, I just stumbled upon a video blog titled ‘Singapore in 1956’ – MichaelRogge.

‘Published on Jun 19, 2013 —
Singapore as a world port more than half a century ago. I see bankers walking around in white tropical suits as I did myself at the time in Hong Kong…’

(Source/Link: )

The clear views of the Orchard Road/Dhoby Ghaut corner are stunning, as too Union Building (now Tung Centre) at Collyer Quay, and these, along with others in the clip, will surely evoke nostalgic memories in those who were here in Singapore more than six decades back.

For a more recent appreciative view, this post (http://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/places-to-see/orchard.html) sums up:-

”Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned shopper, Orchard Road, a 2.2km shopping belt, is the place for retail therapy.

‘Who’d have thought that over 150 years ago, Orchard Road was just a small lane lined with fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms.

A look back

By the 1850s, these humble origins had changed. People moved in, along with outdoor hawker centres, wet markets, cemeteries, temples, and even an open-air laundry basin.

It was only in 1903 that Orchard Road’s shops sprung up, with Singapore’s first supermarket, where The Centrepoint now stands.

The first department store was opened by local merchant C.K Tang in 1958 on a plot of land facing a cemetery. When it was demolished in 1982, it was replaced by the landmark Tang Plaza, which houses a local department store and hotel.

In the 1970s, cinemas, a bowling alley and ever larger malls followed, and Orchard Road’s reputation as an entertainment hub grew.

Spoilt for choice
Today, Orchard Road is flanked by iconic shopping malls, restaurants and hotels, choc-a-bloc with retail, dining and entertainment choice for every taste and budget.

Designer threads, fast fashion, upscale restaurants, ethnic wares, art galleries and relaxed hangouts – you name it, Orchard Road has it.

Here’s a tip: while the almond and jambu trees are no more, huge angsana trees lining the large pedestrian mall give ample shade from the blazing sun – making this still a nice place to stroll””

Thanks for the memories!

30 06 2017
N Narayanan

Apologies that the link to the clip ‘Singapore in 1956’ was inadvertently omitted in my earlier message.

It is and runs for 3 1/2 minutes.

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