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May 18, 2019

The Queen's Coronation Day

Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom

On 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on the untimely death of her father, King George VI.

Her Coronation in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953 represented a day of historic pomp and ritual for the dignitaries at the ceremony, and the excitement of colourful pageantry and national rejoicing for the crowds who lined the streets of London in the rain to see their new sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabet II.

[Source:  Pitkin Pictorial record of this historic event, a poignant and personal account seen through the eyes of the late Beverley Nichols.]

The start of the great day

They don't care if it rains, how chill the wind blows - or even if it snows!  They've been there all night.  More than 130,000 camped out on the pavements along the route of the procession for the whole night before Coronation Day.  A scene in Northumberland Avenue.

You can't move an inch, even seven or eight hours before the procession arrives.  An early morning picture in Trafalgar Square (photo above).

The Queen's Progress to the ancient Abbey is under way.  Her Majesty's guardsmen, airmen and sailors line the route.

A coronation day smile from the Queen

"How happy the Queen looks!"  That was what her people were saying throughout this historic day as they cheered her on her triumphal Coronation drive.  Beside her the Duke of Edinburgh wears the full dress uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet.

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is crowned

"O God ... bless this Crown, and so sanctify thy servant Elizabeth ... that she may be filled by thine abundant grace with all princely virtue. "
The Archbishop takes up St. Edward's Crown and places it upon the Queen's head.  Queen Elizabeth II is crowned.  In her right hand is the Sceptre with the Cross, ensign of power and justice, and in her left the Rod with the Dove, symbol of equity and mercy.

The Balcony Scene

The spectacle witnessed by the vast crowds that massed in front of the Palace after the Queen's return.  Between the Queen and her husband stand their children, the Duke of Cornwall and Princess Anne.  Prince Charles wears his first medal - the Silver Coronation medal.  There too, are the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.  

Prince Charles points excitedly while the Queen and the whole of the balcony party look up.

Here comes the RAF!  The airman-Duke was the first to detect the whine of the jet engine.  This was the RAF's Coronation salute to the Queen.  168 aircraft took part but they had to use open formation since bad weather made it too risky to fly wing-tip to wing-tip.

Her Majesty's Coronation Speech

Below is the text of the Queen's speech, which was broadcast at 9 p.m. on her Coronation Day, 2nd June, 1953.

When I spoke to you last, at Christmas, I asked you all whatever your religion, to pray for me on the Day of my Coronation.  To pray that God would give me wisdom and strength to carry out the promises that I should then be making.  Throughout this memorable day I have been uplifted and sustained by the knowledge that your thoughts and prayers were with me.

I have been aware all the time that my peoples spread far and wide throughout every Continent and Ocean in the world were united to support me in the task to which I have now been dedicated with such solemnity.

Many thousands of you came to London from all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire to join in the Ceremony, but I have been conscious, too, of the millions of others who have shared in it by means of wireless or television in their homes.  All of you, near, or far, have been united in one purpose.  It is hard for me to find words in which to tell you of the strength which this knowledge has given me.

The Ceremonies you have seen today are ancient and some of their origins are veiled in the mysteries of the past, but their spirit and their meaning shine through the Ages, never, perhaps, more brightly than now.  I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine.  Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.

In this resolve, I have my husband to support me.  He shares all my ideals and all my affection for you.  Then, although my experience is so short and my task so new, I have in my parents and grand-parents an example which I can follow with certainty, and with confidence.  There is also this.  I have behind me not only the splendid traditions and the annals of more than a thousand years, but the living strength and majesty of the Commonwealth and Empire.  Of societies old and new, of lands and races different in history and origins, but all by God's Will united in spirit and in aim.

Therefore, I am sure that this, my Coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendour that are gone, but a declaration of our hopes for the future and for the years I may, by God's grace and mercy be given to reign and serve you as your Queen.

I have been speaking of the vast regions and varied peoples to whom I owe my duty, but there has also sprung from our island home a theme of social and political thought which constitutes our message to the world and through the changing generations has found acceptance both within and far beyond my realms.  Parliamentary institutions, with their free speech and respect for the rights of minorities, and the inspiration of a broad tolerance in thought and its expression.  All this we conceive to be a precious part of our way of life and outlook.

During recent centuries this message has been sustained and invigorated by the immense contribution in language, literature and action of the nations of our Commonwealth overseas.  It gives expression as I pray it always will, to living principles as sacred to the Crown and monarchy as to its many Parliaments and Peoples.

I ask you now to cherish them and practise them too, then we can go forward together in peace, seeking justice and freedom for all men.

As this day draws to its close, I know that my abiding memory of it will be not only the solemnity and beauty of the Ceremony but the inspiration of your loyalty and affection.

I thank you all from a full heart.

God bless you all.

(Above): The picture of the day.  Thousands saw the Queen like this.  Many others will also treasure this human photograph of the radiant Sovereign, so obviously happy as she rides triumphantly "home" to Buckingham Palace.
(Below):  Family group at Buckingham Palace.  Prince Charles looks smart in his long white trousers, Princess Anne pretty in her white frock.

Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II Coronation in Singapore

The Coronation celebrations in Singapore and the Federation was among the finest in the Commonwealth.  In every kampong and new village, in every town and in the City of Singapore, people were getting together to make this the most memorable occasion in a generation.

Throughout the country, buildings have been decorated with lights and bunting and flags.  Arches have sprung up on all the main roads and at the entrance to every small town.

Painted crowns have been erected and giant signs bearing the words, "Long May She Reign" and "God Save The Queen" bear eloquent testimony to the loyalty which her subjects bear to the new Queen, Elizabeth II.

Hundreds of processions and parades were held on Coronation Day and throughout the weeks.  There was pomp and pageantry and a general rejoicing.

May 10, 2019

No Place Like Home in Singapore

What do the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Marina Bay and Tiong Bahru Market have in common?  They are some of the favourite spots of 12 well-known Singaporeans as shared with BT.  This National Day, let's celebrate the special corners that we hold dear.

[Source: Business Times, 9 August 2013, Page 32/33]

This photo of the only diamond shaped flat in Singapore (Block 63 to 66 Yung Kuang Road) is featured in Soh's new book on disappearing landscapes.  PHOTO: DARREN SOH

Darren Soh, 37
Award-winning photographer whose new photography book looks at Singapore's disappearing landscapes.

"In the past 10 years, I've been taking thousands of photos of old places and spaces that are deemed too banal or insignificant to be conserved by the government.  They include ageing flats, old playgrounds, Big Splash, and the currently demolished Queenstown cinema.

Many of these places were built in the 1960s and 1970s.  And because they have no so-called 'colonial' or 'historical' characteristics, they are deemed not worthy of being conserved.  But the truth is that, for a lot of Singaporeans, they are reminders of who we are and where we come from - not just potential locations for new condos or malls.

One of the places that strike me as strange and wonderful is this diamond-shaped block of flats.  Block 63 to 66, on Yung Kuang Road.  Built in the 1960s and 1970s, it looks like a quirk of urban planning because it consists of four blocks, each a massive 21-storeys high, facing each other to form a diamond shape.

It is the only one of its kind in Singapore and it has a kind of fascinating symmetry you won't find anywhere else.

I know it will be torn down to make way for a development someday - which is why I've captured it and included it in my new photography book.

I titled the book For My Son because it documents the places and spaces my young son will never get to see or play it."

'For My Son' is the first of 20 books by famous emerging Singapore photographers.  Visit

Eric Khoo, 45

"I love the wanton mee at Guangzhou Wanton Mee at Tanglin Halt Market and Food Centre.  I have been coming here for over 10 years already.  In the old days they would operate through the night, and I would come here at five in the morning for breakfast.  This is my soul food - I have my bowl with two spoonfuls of chilli, I will mix it up and add a bit of soup and stir it all together.

Ever since my first film, Mee Pok Man, food is a constant theme.  When it comes to Singapore, what can we really call our own?  Our food!  We have all these different races that came here, and while we can hit one end of the island to the other in 50 minutes, what fascinates me is the diversity of food.

Food is about memories; I am currently working on my latest project, Recipe, with the Health Promotion Board about Alzheimer's disease, and it stars Zoe Tay.

I am reminded of how flavours and taste can bring you back.  To be honest, a lot of local hawker fare does not look all that titillating - but the minute it goes into your mouth, for $2.50 or $3, my gosh, I don't need any three-starred Michelin restaurant."


Lim Choon Hong, 54
Founder and managing director of Xtra Designs

One time on a weekend, together with my wife and two kids, we had a picnic there.  It was fun, but not as pleasant as being in the Gardens on a weekday, when there are fewer people.

I did visit the Gardens in my younger days and also when my now grown-up kids were toddlers, but now I feel I can better appreciate the space and greenery.  The Gardens is a lovely oasis, a real haven, especially in the city.

In the last few months, I have gone there about four times.  I want to go more often, but since returning to work, the phone calls start coming in and it becomes difficult to find time to go.

I have a group of old school mates who often go there to exercise.  I hope to join them soon."

I've come to the stage of my life where I long for nature, peace, and open spaces.  The Singapore Botanic Gardens is my favourite place.

I only started going there about three months ago, when I was recuperating from an operation.  It is across the road from Gleneagles Hospital where I was at.  I've discovered that the Gardens is a place I really like.  My wife, Sara, and I would take a walk through the Gardens, and then have a coffee, before we would head to the hospital for my check-ups.  Being in the Gardens you can feel that life slows down, and things are unhurried.


Zizi Azah, 32
Playwright and artistic director of Teater Ekamatra

"I'm leaving for New Haven on Aug 20, and will be there for three years with my husband and daughter.  I am a little nervous about the move - I feel I'm leaving behind my youth and the protected life I have in Singapore.

My identity is tied to my memories - the physical memory of the past may not exist anymore, but who I am stems from my experiences.  And these give me a sense of belonging: a sense of being home.

Bedok has always given me that sense of belonging.  I grew up in Block 90 at Bedok North Street 4 and moved out when I was eight.

But I spent most of my life there because my baby-sitter lived in my old block; my parents worked shifts so she looked after me every day.  I used to hang out and play with my friends in the neighbourhood.

Now, I visit the area only once or twice a week.  My husband and I enjoy going on drives through the streets; sometimes I like to annoy him by singing Madonna's This Used To Be My Playground.

What I like about Bedok is that it has not changed as much as the rest of Singapore has.  Some of the old buildings have been replaced by new developments, but Block 90 is still there.

Change is good, but I think sometimes we quantify the monetary value of a place too much, to the point where we don't realise how much heritage is lost when the place is gone.  It doesn't feel like anything is sacred anymore.


Ti Lian Seng, 59
Director at DP Architects

"My favourite place in Singapore is the Marina Bay area.  The place has evolved and is still evolving into one of the most complete and integrated urban waterfront environments on the planet.  This is the consummate cosmic centre of Singapore which is why I love it.

The mixture of historical and urban modern buildings alludes to Singapore's past and present as a global city; the developments around the Bay give it so much vibrancy, diversity, texture and depth.  For me it is an irresistible and ever-changing place that one can go back to again and again.

I count myself very fortunate in the sense I go past and get to enjoy the view of the Bay every day on my way to and back from my office at Marina Square; but when it comes to actually going into the Bay area, I do that about twice a month.

I have been going to the Marina Bay area over the last 10 years.  Of course, way back then, there were not that many developments and there was not a Bay as we know it today where a person could walk around.  But you could already get a sense of its amazing potential.

When I am there, I walk around the Bay as part of my exercise regime. 

But sometimes I simply sit at a park bench or lean against the rail looking across the water and I feel very humbled and inspired.


Jeremy Monteiro, 53
Composer and pianist

"I cycle to Bishan Park two to three times a week, normally at one in the morning.  I will be working on my music, or I may be working on a proposal for a show, and wind down by coming here.  I guess almost all my whole life I have been performing and finishing at 12 in the morning.

I love to be still - as a musician, there is always a whole lot of movement.  To me the hallmark of a successful life is being able to balance motion and stillness; I'm always playing, I'm often talking and interacting with people, so that's why the stillness of Bishan Park, and being able to ride and to be still and calm my mind, appeals to me.

Music, melodies and inspiration come when I'm most quiet and not thinking and worrying.  The Botanic Gardens is great, Gardens by the Bay and even East Coast Park as well, and I have cycled all the way from East Coast Park to Changi Village - a 20-kilometre ride, I would cycle all the way, burn off all my calories, have supper and take a cab home."


Chris Lee, 43
Founder and creative director of design agency Asylum

"There are many new places in Singapore these days, but I don't have any emotional attachment towards them the way I do to Queensway Shopping Centre.

I grew up in the Queensway area and lived there for 20 years before moving away.  I now live I Balestier, but I still occasionally visit the shopping centre to buy sports equipment.

It has a unique, old-school layout and retro feel with all its nooks and crannies; walking through the place always gives me a sense of nostalgia.

I remember how during my schooling years, I would run away from school and head for the shopping centre, to play games, such as Galaga, Rally X and Pacman at the arcade.  Strangely enough, I never got into much trouble or doing that, other than the one time when my father caught me.  I was so engrossed in playing a game that it took me some time to notice his reflection on the screen.  He was really angry and I got a big scolding.

The arcade has long since been torn down and most of the shops from my childhood are no longer there, but Queensway Shopping Centre still has a place in my heart as it holds so many good memories for me."


Royston Tan, 36

"Dakota Crescent 'Doves' playground is very old school and it reminds me of my childhood.  During the Mid-Autumn Festival my friends and I would burn lanterns here, and hid things like pocket money in some secret compartments.  You will find secrets if you dig around the playground.'

We played and got injured here, then learnt how to protect ourselves - it is not only a playground but also a learning ground.

There is a sudden emphasis recently on heritage projects, and many are initiated from the ground up.  People feel that the landscape is changing too quickly and a crisis is coming up.

When I started working on the film installation Old Romances about two years ago, there were people from all walks of life calling in to a hotline, and they spoke about old places like playgrounds and hair salons, which formed a very interesting narrative thread of 45 places in Singapore.  But by the time the film premiered in January this year, half the places were gone.

I think the youths of today can start by asking their family members what personal stories they have, and start documenting them.  Everything starts from the family - we all have interesting stories about parents, and we have to get to know our dialect."


Genevieve Chua, 29
Full-time multidisciplinary artist

"In Singapore, where every plot of land has to be accounted for, and things are quickly torn down and rebuilt, it is becoming rare to find areas that have prevailed despite all the changes around them.

So it came as a pleasant surprise three years ago, when I was walking along the KTM railway and stumbled upon a piece of farmland that was flourishing amidst the resilient weeds surrounding it.

Located behind Block 305 at Clementi Avenue 4, that stretch of vegetation was clearly well-maintained, with plants like okra and chili padi growing in separate plots.  It seemed to have escaptede the changes and development that the areas around it had undergone.

I later found out that residents in the area had been tending to the crops there for the past 30 years, simply for their love of gardening.

I visited that place a few more times after discovering it, the most recent being last month.  I usually seek quiet places where I can contemplate my thoughts, but none have left on me an impression as strong as that plot of land.  To me, it is a comforting place, a respite away from the rest of Singapore's changing landscape."


Lee Meng Joo, 54
Owner, Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Noodles, Tiong Bahru Market

"I started out as a hawker's assistant in Tiong Bahru in 1983.  The market's current structure was only built in 2006, when I opened my own stall.  Before that, the market was really made up of three separate stretches: one along Seng Poh Road, one at Lim Liak Street and an open-air space at the back.  Hawkers had fierce loyalties to the section they were in; there were even debates over which one had the best food.  All that was lost when the hawkers were dispersed throughout the new market.

The old market was very dimly lit, the floors were paved with uneven, broken tilesd and you might have a tree trunk growing out from behind your table.  But people came because the food was good, and comfort was less of an issue.

The camaraderie between hawkers then was much stronger.  With no physical walls between stalls, we would borrow salt and plastic bags from each other, and share extra food with our neighbours at the end of the day.  Many famous artists and writers who lived in the neighbourhood would come regularly; this market has also bred many doctors and leading businessmen out of hawkers' sons.  Many of the first-generation hawkers have since retired, and newer hawkers have come in, but the food quality is not as good anymore.  Food cost was cheaper then and fish came fresh from the sea, not farms, and kampong chicken were allowed to grow in natural conditions for a longer time, not just 50 days.

Thankfully, rents in the market are still affordable today - they haven't risen as quickly as those in the private buildings outside, which have led many around here to shut down.  But the government doesn't set any quotas on how many wanton mee stalls you can have in a market, so you still have to up your game.  You can't get byt just making mediocre food.


Malcolm Lee, 29
Chef/co-owner of Candlenut Kitchen

"I grew up at Ang Mo Kio Street 62, attending nursery, kindergarten and primary school there.  In fact, they were literally beside Ang Mo Kio 628 market - one of Singapore's hidden treasures.  I can still remember the taste of the chicken rice, braised duck rice, fried carrot cake, bak chor mee, wanton noodles, barbecue chicken wings and barbecue seafood.  And even thoughI have moved out from the area, I still go back when I can to have my favourite food.

I would take a walk around the block where I used to live and reminisce back on the days when we played soccer, and broke some lamps in the process; catching at the void deck; marbles and other games like Red Indian and Blind Cat at the playground, which still had sand then.  I used to ride my BMX almost every day around the area, and I can still remember where I crashed and injured myself.

Just looking at my old neighbourhood, it has changed quite a bit - the playground is no longer there and as everything is new and upgraded; it just isn't the same anymore.

It has only been a little over 10 years and things have changed so much.  But that really defines Singapore and who we are; we move quickly with the times and adapt to changes just as quickly.

But there is not much we can do about it - Singapore is small and we need to change quickly in order to survive.  I would say, just treasure the memories we have and not lose them in the midst of the many changes happening around us."

Lee Guo Sun, 32
Lawyer/Supperclub owner/cookbook writer

"Every other Saturday back in the 80s and the early 90s (when people used to work half-days on Saturdays), my mum used to bring me to her workplace at Exeter Road, also known as ComCentre, where I would just hang around, read books or run around the fountain outside.

When my parents finished work, we would rush over to the Killiney Road Kopitiam, which was across the road, in a attempt to beat the lunch queue, and order their famous kaya toast and Hainanese coffee.

I remember seating inside a cramped old shophouse, with light streaming down from the airwell, me perched on a stool playing with my toys on the cold marble coffee table, the open top charcoal fires grilling the kaya toasts, and large pot of kaya simmering gently on the charcoal stove.

We knew Killiney Kopitiam as Bulldog back then, thanks to this one grumpy and squat uncle with a furrowed brow, a stubby nose and sagging cheeks, barking out orders in Hainanese as the order rolled in.

I hope that the old stalls and the traditions that come along with them would learn to modernise and evolve with the times and remain relevant - like the National Museum, the MITA building or the Fullerton Hotel.  I don't think you can recreate the feel of a place, but we can preserve things like recipes and stories.

What I am worried about is the techniques and flavours which may be lost in the effluxion of time.  And that my own kids may never know the taste of toast grilled on charcoal slathered with handmade kaya."

The Value of Old Newspapers

I  missed the National Day 2013 edition of Business Times and found this interesting feature through the archives of  NewspaperSG. 

I reproduce this articles because newspapers in print form are unlike books, cannot be reprinted to replenish the books' stocks are sold out. The daily newspapers are published once, not reprinted.

The old newspaperws are not just rubbish or garbage, for the 'karung guni man' to sell at a few cents a kati.  The printed words in all languages of the newspapers and other publicationsa are the gems: valuable for knowledge, research and resources which everyone could learn and share for education. 

'No Place Like Home'  is a topic for everyone in every country where a person is born and share our fond childhood memories to share.  Writing about personal memories of an individual in a place to grow up anywhere in the world is not about patriotism or to treat this topic as propaganda of the government.  Every citizen in the world are proud of every place like home.

Tiong Bahru Market - Then and Now


Apr 27, 2019

A village goes up in smoke

With the courtesy of to share an aged newspaper article in The Straits Times published on 14 January 2014.

In the second of a series about events that shock Singapore, Debra Ann Francisco looks at the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire which left four people dead and 15,000 homeless.

Debra Ann Francisco

May 15, 1961

The area of Bukit Ho Swee included the area bound by Kampong Tiong Bahru (known as Jalan Bukit Ho Swee today), Delta Road and Havelock Road.

The fire of Bukit Ho Swee was the biggest fire in the history of Singapore since World War II.

Also known as the Hari Raya Haji fire, the initial flames reportedly broke out at about 3.30pm among some squatter huts.

Strong winds quickly spread the fire across Tiong Bahru Road.  The flames were described by eyewitnesses as terrifying and fast-moving.  The flimsy attap and wooden huts were easily set ablaze and soon, even the five blocks of flats and shophouses close by were consumed by the fire.

Smoke filled the wooden homes, squatter huts and shops.  Kampung residents worked together, using hoses, buckets and any container that could hold water to douse the flames but, before long, they had to evacuate the area.

The residents tried to salvage whatever they could physically carry as they frantically evacuated the area.

The scene was one of utter chaos as screaming children and weeping women searched for their family members.

Workers returning home at 4.30pm were met by horrific clouds of smoke.  Stunned, they tried to find their loved ones in the fleeing horde.

Twenty-two fire engines raced to the scene to fight the flames.  Even the troops from the British Army and the Singapore Military Forces came to help the firefighters contain the blaze at Delta Circus.


The blaze across the 150-acre site left four people dead, more than 45 injured and 15,000 homeless.

Two oil mills, three timber yards and three motor workshops were among the countless businesses destroyed.

The flames were finally extinguished more than seven hours later.

Many people returned to the area in the next few days to discover that their homes were completely razed to the ground and precious belongings reduced to cinders and ash.


The public and the Government acted swiftly and provided relief to the victims of the fire.  Donations in cash and kind poured into the relief centres that the homeless were housed at.  These relief centres included four schools in the Kim Seng area.

By February 1962, 12,000 low-cost flats were constructed for the victims on the very same piece of land ravaged by the Bukit Ho Swee fire.

The fire prompted a shift of people into public housing built by the Housing Board.

Sources: ST, NLB Infopedia

Bukit Ho Swee fire victims queuing for breakfast at the Kim Seng relief centre.

Survivors putting up at the Kim Seng (West) School.

A massive salvage operation being conducted at the 150-acre Bukit Ho Swee fire site.  Under strict police and army supervision, groups of people were allowed into the ravaged area to dig for their belongings.


Apr 21, 2019

Ushering Singapore into the Jet Age

Construction of airport buildings began in mid-1936 when reclamation and consolidation of land were completed.  The new airport was officially declared open by the Governor of Singapore, Sir Shenton Tomas, on 12 June, 1937.  The air corridor to Kallang brought planes over the waterfront. 

In October, 1951, the BOAC Comet I became the first jetliner to land at Kallang, ushering Singapore into the jet age in the process.

Kallang Airport with decorations to celebrate the Queen's coronation in 1953.  It was built by the British colonial government.  In the 1930s as Singapore's first commercial international airport building.  Officially opened on 12 June, 1937 by Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Shenton Thomas, the airport was replaced by Paya Lebar Airport in 1955.

More related blog about the former Kallang Airport here .

The air hostesses add glamour to the Kallang Airport

Four of the six new hostesses who began learning their jobs at Kallang Airport on 4 July, 1955 took time off to pose for this Singapore Standard picture.

They have been selected to augment the staff at the new international airport which was opened on 26 August, 1955.

From left:  Misses Maggie Seow, Lina Chin, Katherine Tan, Eunice Lecomber.

According to Singapore Standard's report on 20 July, 1950, the Singapore Finance Committee has voted $115,000 for investigations into the suitability of developing Kallang Airport.

This follows the abandonment of the use of Tengah by civil aircraft jointly with the RAF which makes it necessary to provide a civil airport for Malaya capable of accepting modern commercial aircraft.

A prediction of a bright future for Kallang Airport as an important world-feeder airport for aircraft not exceeding 60,000 lbs. bearing weight was made by RAF.  The Kallang Airport is excellent, a first-class aerodrome for planes of the Dakota type, and played an important role in the city's progress and prominence in the air-world. 

PWD experts have reported that the Kallang runway is generally stronger than was previously thought possible and will be safe for fully-loaded Constellations.

The QANTAS ground organisation's new home in the terminal building at Kallang would become the colony's only airport and much busier than has ever been.

The move follows exhaustive tests of the runway at Kallang.  Experts of the Public Works Department have reported that the strengthened runway is safe for the heaviest tyopes of Constellations such as those operated on BOAC-QANTAS-Kangaroo route.

Paya Lebar Airport

The Door to Singapore

Source:  The Straits Times, 21 August 1955.

A fanfare of trumpets and the hoisting of 16 flags signalled the opening of Singapore's multi-million dollar Paya Lebar airport on 20 August 1955 by the Colonial Secretary, Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd.

The historic event, watched by more than 10,000 people was preceded by: a world record short flight by a Super-Constellation - two minutes from Kallang to Paya Lebar.

Hundred of people skipped going to the races and went to Paya Lebar hours before the $37 million airport was actually opened.

For them there was a full and interesting programme, which included a display of an RAF helicopter and Canberra bomber.  There was also an exhibition of heavy machinery used in the building at the airport site.  The Royal Singapore Flying Club put on an aeronautical display.

But the most interested and surprised spectators were 60 squatters.  For them, a miracle had happened.  Many of them born at Paya Lebar had had their farms on the airport site.  They were displaced when work on the site began.

Mr Lennox-Boyd spoke of the rapid manner in which Singapore had advanced in air travel.

He said: "When Sir Stamford Raffles first came here, it took three months to come from Britain.  Now ministers in the United Kingdom and Singapore can descend on one another with alarming rapidity.

Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's decision to relocate Paya Lebar Airport

Economic development is often linked with infrastructure development, which means that airports are expected to further the development of the economies of the surrounding regions. Transportation in general affects the development of cities, with air travel having a large stake in both short- and long-distance transportation.  But the economic value created by the industry is more than that. The principal benefits are created for the customer, the passenger or shipper using the air transport service.

In addition, the connections created between cities and markets represent an important infrastructure asset that generates benefits through enabling foreign direct investment, business clusters, specialisation and other spill-over impacts on an economy’s productive capacity. As a whole, the air transport industry has a substantial economic impact, both through its own activities and as an enabler of other industries.

By facilitating tourism and trade, airports and air travel generate economic growth, provide jobs, increase revenues from taxes, and foster the conservation of protected areas. The air transport network facilitates the delivery of emergency and humanitarian aid relief anywhere in the world, and ensures the swift delivery of medical supplies and organs for transplantation.

With the rapid increase of air travellers to Singapore in the 1970s, the runways for Paya Lebar airport was not appropriate for expansion to cater to the arrival of more passengers and cargo in the future.

With the courtesy of the following newspaper articles of below:

A $2b decision that paid off (The Straits Times, 20 August 1965)

Moving the airport from Paya Lebar to Changi took some guts.

It was a bold decision which turned out to be right, said Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Because Singapore Airlines was doing well and the tourists were coming in, the government decided in 1975 to take a gamble.

It scrapped Paya Lebar Airport.  That meant writing off $600 million worth of investment.

The choice was either to build a second runway in Paya Lebar over Sungei Serangoon or move to Changi.

There was no guarantee that the clay under Sungei Serangoon would not sink.  Expansion at Paya Lebar Airport also meant that aircraft would be flying over the city areas.

"We wrote off that $600 million and decided on a $2 billion investment in Changi.  A bold decision, right, of course ..."

MM: Changi Airport must keep growing (The Straits Times, 2 July 2006)

By Ann Chia, Karamjit Kaur

External consultants wanted Paya Lebar expanded.  The Cabinet reluctantly agreed.  Yet Changi Airport was built and went on to garner 250 awards and accolades over its 25-year history.

The man who green-lighted the proposal to relocate the airport from Paya Lebar to Changi revealed last night how this Singapore icon came to be built.

But more important than its history, he said, is the need for it to keep growing.

Said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew:  "The competition for Changi's hub position has grown keener with newer, bigger airports around."

Cost pressures in the form of new aircraft technology and low-cost carriers add to competitive stresses, he warned.

Changi has never been just an airport, but an international gateway introducing visitors to the way Singapore works.

"Changi international recognition is a valuable and visible extension of Singapore's reputation for excellence, for reliability and for dependability," he said.

The Government, for its part, will continue to liberalise its air-service agreements with China, India and Asean nations to boost the growth of local and foreign carriers at Changi.

He applauded the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore for responding to challenges in the aviation sector, noting that it had taken steps last year to keep costs competitive while improving efficiency and service levels.

With him at a dinner last night to celebrate the airport's 25th anniversary at Swissotel The Stamford were some of the 3,500 people who have been at the airport since day one.  They heard him tell the story of the airport's birth.

The initial plan was to expand Paya Lebar.  But Mr Lee disagreed.  Its expansion would be limited by its proximity to the city centre, he said, and the Serangoon River would have to be filled in to accommodate a second runway.  In addition, planes flying over the populated area would add to the noise and air pollution.

Moving to the former British airbase at Changi would mean aircraft approaching the island over the water, he argued.

But external advisers said moving the airport would be costly, especially since $800 million had already been poured into Paya Lebar.

The Cabinet reluctantly agreed to expand Paya Lebar.

But the plan was complicated by the 1973 oil crisis, which led to fewer planes landing at Paya Lebar and made the need for a second runway less pressing.

Taking the opportunity to reconsider the decision, Mr Lee asked then-chairman of the Port of Singapore Authority Howe Yoon Chong to head a team to look into the implication of a move to Changi instead.

The anwer?  Changi could be ready by 1981, at a cost of some $1.5 billion.

"I believed that in the long term, this would be the better option," said Mr Lee.

In 1975, war broke out in Vietnam and he had to decide quickly whether the airport should stick to the 1981 deadline.  He cabled acting prime minister Goh Keng Swee from Washington and told him to proceed as planned.

Changi Airport was ready in July 1981.  In its first year, it handled eight million passengers and 200,000 tonnes of cargo.  Today, it handles four times as many passengers and nine times as much cargo.

Please watch the Changi Airport Terminal 1 video debut 38 years ago.


Apr 16, 2019

Changi Airport Jewel: Not just another mall

Construction of Changi Airport Terminal 1 passenger terminal building in 1978.
Source:  National Archives of Singapore

The open-air carpark at Changi Airport Terminal 1 in 1980s.

Changi Airport Jewel:  Not just another mall

Complex is meant to be the iconic centrepiece for Singapore air hub.

Article by Karamjit Kaur in The Straits Times on 6 December, 2014,

What started as an urgent but mundane need to expand Terminal 1 will now end in a Jewel - Changi Airport's hoped-for iconic centrepiece to wow travellers and enhance the air hub's attractiveness when completed by 2018.

Merely to expand the terminal would have been a wasted opportunity, said the Chief Executive Officer of Changi Airport Group, Mr Lee Seow Hiang, at the ground-breaking for the retail cum airport complex.

"To address the capacity bottle-neck, we could have just pushed out T1 and built a multi-storey carpark over it.  But we felt we could do so much more.  We had a chance, for the first time, to hub the three terminals together."

And so the decision was made to raze T1's open-air carpark and construct in it's place a five-storey high complex with five basement levels which would link all three passenger terminals.

T1 would also be upgraded and expanded in the $1.7 billion project.

Explaining at length, for the first time, the rationale and thinking behind the project, Mr Lee, who is also chairman of Jewel Changi Airport Development, a joint venture beween Changi Airport Group and CapitaMalls Asia, admitted questions had been asked about the project.

Was this a vanity showpiece?  In the light of manpower constraints in Singapore, why build another retail mall?  Was the airport getting distracted from its core business of aviation?

"This question of purpose is not a trivial one," he said, stressing that the first driving force behind the project was the growing capacity constraints at T1.

Having decided that the terminal must expand and more should be done with the piece of land, the decision was made to build a complex with close to 70 percent of the total gross floor area of about 134,000 sq m set aside for retail with about 300 shops.

Yes, Singapore has about 150 malls but many serve local communities with only a handful that are strong enough to capture the attention of tourists, Mr Lee said.

Jewel, which will be funded and operated by the new joint venture firm with CapitaMalls Asia, plans to be different, he said, thought the retail mix has not been finalised.

Throwing his weight behind the project, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who was the chief guest at yesterday's event, said: "We are operating in a dynamic and increasingly competitive environment.
Passengers today are spoilt for choice as air hubs around the world actively pursue new ways to boost their appeal as destinations and as transit points."

Jetstar Asia's Chief Executive Officer Bara Pasupathi agreed, noting the development of Jewel would "better serve the sophisticated taste of travellers in the region".

Renowned architect Moshe Safdie, 76, the man behind Marina Bay Sands who is leading the design team for Jewel, has big dreams for the project.

Mr Safdie, who also attended the ground-breaking, said: "I would like to think that in four years, people outside Singapore will say to their friends, 'When you go to Singapore and land at Changi, don't dare to leave the airport before you visit Jewel'.  Or better still, perhaps say 'You must fly to Singapore or travel to Singapore because you've got to see that Jewel."

Changi Airport’s new T1 carpark, situated within Jewel Changi Airport (Jewel), will open on 20 November 2018. The carpark is part of the ongoing T1 expansion works, which commenced in March 2015 in conjunction with the Jewel development.

The latest attraction at the Jewel Changi Airport to watch the videos here  and here .

At 135,700 sqm in size, Jewel offers a range of offerings including airport facilities, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail and dining offerings as well as a hotel, all under one roof.

Please watch The Making of Jewel Changi Airport here .

Creating a mythical garden was the inspiration of the world famous architect Moshe Safdie.
Memories of Changi Airport Terminal 1

Kids love to watch real aeroplanes (not toy ones) at the waving gallery of Singapore's Changi Airport in 1986 as the aeroplanes take-off and landing at the airport runways.

It was fun and exciting to watch these aeroplanes so small from a distance in the sky and how they become bigger when landed at the airport.

Our airport is among the busiest in the world with every few minutes for aeroplanes to arrive and depart to serve the international passengers.  It has consistently been rated the world's preferred airport by frequent travellers and readers of influential and popular publications.

The airport was my kids' favorite place for weekend outings ..... to watch the aeroplanes, roving around the spacious places in airconditioned comfort, funstuff like riding on a trishaw, foodies for kids and of course, ice-cream at Swensons :)

Travelling in a trishaw is fun for children to remember their childhood memories. 

The 2 photos taken at Changi Airport Terminal 1 in the 1980s of a trishaw, displayed by the Singapore Promotion Board which was a favorite among kids for taking the photos.

A&W All American Food in Singapore

The 'Great Root Bear' is the popular mascot for A & W Root Beer.  It was first used in 1974 Canadian A & W, and was adopted by the American chain, the Great Root Bear's role as mascot.  In the above photos, my 2-year-old daughter was nervous when carried by the Great Root Bear in 1982.

The taste of nostalgia lures snaking queues of A&W fans to Jewel Changi Airport. 

A&W - which stands for Allen and Wright - made its debut in Singapore in 1966 at Dunearn Road, and the first A&W drive-through opened in 1970 at Bukit Timah Road.

The fast-food joint's hamburgers, hot dogs and root beer soon became popular among Singaporeans and it is believed its success helped pave the way for other fast-food establishments to set up shop in Singapore, including McDonald's (1979), Kentucky Fried Chicken (1977) and Burger King (1982)/

However, by 2003, A&W faced stiff competition from its competitors and shuttered its remaining outlets.

With the opening of Jewel Changi Airport, however, the well-loved chain is back with an 80-seater outlet, which will be open 24-hours a day.