The relentless pace of development is fast catching up with the few bits of mainland Singapore that has been spared from the clutter found across too much of Singapore such as at so-called Canberra (displaced from Canberra Road from where its name would have been derived) at Sembawang. What was a wonderfully green open space just a few years back, is well on its way becoming more like the rest of Singapore: cluttered, overly built and concretised, and with all of its naturally occurring greenery replaced with orderly rows of trees planted in its sea of concrete. It is inevitable I suppose. The intent, as the rather unpopular 2013 Land Use Plan would suggest, is to fit a magical number of 6.9 million people into an already overcrowded Singapore – a future, given the strains the current population level is already putting on our mental well-being, that many like me, would not wish to contemplate.
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Tags: Canberra, Changing Landscapes, Development, Overcrowding, Overpopulation, Photography, Sembawang, Singapore, Urbanisation, Where once there were trees
Categories : Changing Landscapes, Forgotten Places, New Singapore, Sembawang, Singapore
A collection of 51 photographs taken at sunrise that show that the north may have some of the best spots in Singapore to greet the new day.
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Tags: Colours of Sunrise, Colours of the Morning, Dawn, Lower Seletar Reservoir, Mandai, Nature, Northern Singapore, Photography, Photography Spots, Sembawang, Singapore, Straits of Johor, Sungei Seletar, Sunrise, Tebrau Strait, Upper Seletar Reservoir, Where to Catch the Sunrise, Yishun
Categories : Forgotten Places, Mandai, Nature, Parks and Gardens, Photography, Photography Series, Sembawang, Singapore, Sunrises, Yishun
Sitting in relative isolation and surrounded by a lush forest of greenery for much of the 77 years of its existence, Old Admiralty House may soon find itself in less than familiar settings. The National Monument, built as a home away from home for the officer in command of the British Admiralty’s largest naval base this side of the Suez, will soon find itself become part of Sembawang’s sports and community hub.
The hub, it seems from what’s been said about it, will feature swimming pools, multi-play courts, a hawker centre, a polyclinic and a senior care centre; quite a fair bit of intervention in a quiet, isolated and of late, a welcome patch of green in the area’s fast spreading sea of concrete. Plans for this surfaced during the release of what became the 2014 Master Plan, which saw a revision on the intended location of Sembawang’s sports and recreation complex from the corner of Sembawang Avenue and Sembawang Road to the parcel of land on which the monument stands.
The monument, a beautifully designed Arts and Crafts movement inspired house, is without a doubt the grandest of the former base’s senior officers’ residences built across the naval base. Set apart from the other residences, it occupies well selected position placed atop a hill in the base’s southwestern corner, providing it with an elevation fitting of it, a necessary degree of isolation and privacy, and the most pleasing of surroundings – all of which will certainly be altered by the hub, notwithstanding the desire to “incorporate the natural environment and heritage of the area”.
The naval base that Old Admiralty House recalls is one to which colonial and post-colonial Singapore owes much economically. With the last working remnants of the base are being dismantled, the area is slowly losing its links to a past that is very much a part of it and Singapore’s history and whatever change the creation of the sports and community hub brings to Old Admiralty House and its settings, it must be done in a way that the monument at the very least maintains its dignity, and not in a way in which it is absorbed into a mess of interventions that will have us forget its worth.
More on Old Admiralty House: An ‘English country manor’ in Singapore’s north once visited by the Queen
Around Old Admiralty House
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Tags: Architecture, Arts and Crafts Movement, British Admiralty, Changing Landscapes, Colonial Architecture, Forgotten Buildings, Forgotten Places, Former Admiralty House, Green Spaces, National Monument, Naval Base, Old Admiralty House, Photography, Reminders of Yesterday, Sembawang, Sembawang Naval Base, Sembawang Sports and Community Hub, Singapore, Sunrise
Categories : Architecture, Changing Landscapes, Forgotten Buildings, Forgotten Places, Heritage Sites, Military Sites, National Mounments, Parks and Gardens, Reminders of Yesterday, Sembawang, Singapore
It is wonderful that technology allows the wealth of photographs that exist of a Singapore we no longer see to be shared. Those especially taken by those whose stay in Singapore was temporary, offer perspectives of places as they were that the local might have thought little of capturing. One of my favourite sets of photographs are those of a David Ayres. Shared through a Flickr album Oldies SE Asia containing some 250 photographs, they take us back to Mr. Ayres’ days in the Royal Navy and include many scenes of places of the Singapore of my childhood that I would not otherwise have been able to ever see again.
Mr. Ayres interactions in Singapore came from his two stints at HMS Terror (now Sembawang Camp) in the Naval Base. The first in 1963/64, just about the time I was born, and again in 1966/67. Now 71, he finally managed a trip that he said he he just had to make having not been back to Singapore since he last saw it almost 50 years ago at the end of his second stint in 1967.
I managed to say a quick hello to Mr. Ayres during his short visit, managing a short chat with him at a coffee shop in what had once been Sembawang Village, an area that is quite well represented in Mr. Ayres’ set of photographs. Once a busy area of watering holes, shops and makeshift eating stalls located just across one of the main entrances to the huge Naval Base – an entrance used especially by personnel headed to HMS Terror, all that it has since been reduced to is the row of two-storey shophouses in which the coffee shop was at.
It was interesting to learn that there was much Mr. Ayres could still recognise from his walk earlier in the day around the former Naval Base, a walk he did with his mate Phil with the help of Nora of the Old Sembawang Naval Base Facebook group. It is perhaps fortunate for Mr. Ayres that Sembawang, a part of Singapore he would have been most familiar with, is one of few places left in Singapore in which much of its past is still to be found in the present.
A good part of the base housing still remains intact, as do the former dockyard and stores basin, both of which still operating under another guise. Part of HMS Terror is also still around, a part that is visible over its perimeter fence. There also is the former “Aggie Westons” on the hill across from the dockyard gates. This saw use as the Fernleaf Centre in the days when the NZ Force SEA had troops based in Sembawang and is now in use by HomeTeam NS as a recreation centre. A sea pavilion, which served as the Fleet Sailing Centre in the days of the Naval Base, is also still visible from the SAF Yacht Club. Referred to as the “Red House” for its red roof tiles, the pavilion has since been turned green and as observed by Mr. Ayres, now looks rather dilapidated.
As we poured over some photographs Mr. Ayres had printed over glasses of lime juice, he also made mention that the row of shophouses we were at had not been around during his first stint at HMS Terror. One of the area’s last additions, it had been put up before Mr. Ayres came back for his second tour. It is in the row that several bars including the Nelson Bar were housed and was a popular drinking spot for servicemen up to the days when the New Zealand forces had a presence in the area. It is also worth mentioning that the cluster of stalls found in the area, popular as stopover for personnel looking for a quick bite, was where the improvised hawker dish we know as Roti John is said to have originated from.
Besides those in and around the Naval Base, Mr. Ayres captures include many other places that featured in my younger days; places in and around the city centre, then referred to as Singapore, as well as a few far flung places such as Changi. There are also scenes found in the set taken in peninsula Malaysia that are familiar to me from the drives my father was fond of making north of the Causeway. The photographs of the city centre have proved to be particularly fascinating to younger Singaporeans. One taken of Raffles Place in its landscape car-park rooftop garden days in the direction of Battery Road, made its rounds in 2012, going viral in Singapore. One impression of the modern city that had replaced the one in his photographs that Mr. Ayres and his friend Phil had, was of seeing very few elderly people in it; this perhaps is a manifestation of the disconnect with the brave new world that the city centre has become many in the older generation feel.
Mr Ayres’ photographs have a quality that goes beyond simple snapshots. Well composed and often offering a wider view of the places he found himself in, they not only take us back to the places we once knew but also immerse us into the scene being captured. The photographs are for me, a means to travel back in time, back to the places I could otherwise have little hope of seeing again, and back to a world I would not otherwise have been able to go home to.
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Tags: 1960s, 1960s Singapore, Aggie Westons, Albert Street, British Naval Base, Canberra Road, Changi Creek, David Ayres, Fernleaf Centre, Fleet Sailing Centre, Flickr, Former Naval Base, HMS Terror, Jalan Sendudok, National Museum, Nelson Bar, North Bridge Road, Old Photographs, Old Singapore, Raffles Place, Red House, River Crossing, Sembawang, Sembawang Camp, Sembawang Gate, Sembawang Village, Singapore, Tekka Market
Categories : Changing Landscapes, Forgotten Buildings, Forgotten Places, Photography, Reminders of Yesterday, Road Journeys, Singapore
The Sumatras, squalls that blow rapidly in from the west, can sometimes add to the drama of the lightening skies at dawn. Such was the case this morning on the Straits of Johor, as observed from Beaulieu Jetty in Sembawang at first light. It didn’t take long however for the scene to turn from the magical one pictured at 6.28 am to one of darkness and gloom. More on the Sumatras can be found on the National Environment Agency’s website: Sumatras. Other encounters I have had with Sumatras at dawn can be found at the following posts:
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Tags: Beaulieu Jetty, Colours of Sunrise, First Light, Mata Jetty, Photography, Selat Tebrau, Sembawang, Singapore, Squalls, Straits of Johor, Sumatras, Sunrise, Tebrau Strait, Thunderstorms, Weather
Categories : Nature, Photography, Photography Series, Seascapes, Sembawang, Singapore, Sunrises
Some information on the area:
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Tags: Beaulieu Jetty, Colours of Sunrise, Photography, Seascapes, Selat Tebrau, Sembawang, Singapore, Straits of Johor, Sunrise, Tebrau Strait
Categories : Photography, Photography Series, Sembawang, Singapore, Sunrises
The full moon of the Tamil month of Panguni paints the Sembawang area with the colours of a Hindu festival, Panguni Uthiram, celebrated by the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple. The celebration of the festival, which involves a street procession of kavadis, is a tradition that dates back to 1967 during the days of the British Naval Base.
The temple back then was off Canberra Road within the base and the procession took a route from the laundry shop at the junction of Canberra and Ottawa Roads, down Canberra Road, left into Dehli Road and into Kowloon Road, before continuing back up Canberra Road, ending at the temple.
The procession this year, as with the one last year, took a shortened route from Canberra Drive, down Canberra Lane to Canberra Link and to Yishun Industrial Park A. Now surrounded by the obvious signs of urbanisation and change, the procession now has a very different feel to it than it did in the good old days.
More information on the celebration, as well as some photographs of the celebration of the festival at its original site, can be found at the following links on the temple’s website:
Posts and photographs from the celebrations of the previous years’ that I managed to catch can be found at the following links:
- Panguni Uthiram 2015: Panguni Uthiram 2015 in photos
- Panguni Uthiram 2014: Colours of April
- Panguni Uthiram 2013: The Silver Chariot returns
- Panguni Uthiram 2012: The sun rises on a Sembawang tradition
- Panguni Uthiram 2011: A lesser known Hindu festival with a Kavadi procession
More photographs from Panguni Uthiram 2016
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Tags: Canberra Drive, Canberra Lane, Colours of Singapore, Festivals, Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple, Kavadi, Kavadi Preparation, Milk Pot, Panguni UIthiram 2016, Panguni Uthiram, Photographs, Photography, Religious Festivals, Religious Procession, Sembawang, Singapore, Traditions, Yishun
Categories : Forgotten Places, Reminders of Yesterday, Sembawang, Singapore, Traditions, Yishun