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Sep 20, 2010

Great Great World

Entrance to Great World Amusement Park, Singapore
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The treasured photos of the Great World Amusement Park on this blog are "For online reference viewing only" at the courtesy of "National Archives of Singapore" . Known as PICAS - Windows to Our Past Imagery. Please click on the photos to enlarge the images.

Kim Seng Road bridge opposite the Great World. Of course, a bridge needs a river. And that river once upon a time leads to the Singapore River. That river was later land-filled and several blocks of HDB flats were built there. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The emblems on both sides of Kim Seng Bridge.

Great World on right of overhead bridge at Kim Seng Road
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The aerial view of Great World at Kim Seng Road
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Great World Amusement Park at night during the Singapore National Economic Development Fair 1960. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Flamingo Night Club and Restaurant inside Great World Amusement Park c 1976. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Great World Amusement Park at daytime. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Great World Amusement Park at daytime. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Japan Circus at Great World Amusement Park. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Great World Amusement Park in the evening. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

A clothing stall at Great World during the exhibition. Note the hairstyle/dressing fashions of the gentlemen and ladies during the prevailing period of the 1950s.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Visitors at Great World exit gate. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

About three years ago, my generous good blogger friend Lam Chun See published the guest blog "James Seah Remembers Great World" at Good Morning Yesterday" here . Thanks for offering me related blog topic that additional blog space at popular Good Morning Yesterday to share with his readers. Thank you, Chun See.

Looking back to my Great World blog, so many things have changed. Truly, "all conditioned things are impermanent".

During my twenties after I left school and had to attend night school after work to earn a living to support my aged parents at Adult Education Board (known then as "Lembaga"), my wise and kind-intentioned friends encouraged me to "always look forward, don't look back. Keep taking up studies after work and "chiong" (charged in Hokkien meaning keep on learning).

At that time, I had about twenty years to look back to my life then. To think about my youthful energy burning my limited mind power with unlimited knowledge resources I need to learn to improve myself.

So many things for me to recover my memories are now forgotten. I need learn to re-learn, read to re-read, remember, to remind why I cannot stop learning. Many understanding friend now call me "lor sor". I smiled, gently. Gone is my fiery conversation mannerism. Yes, I now just speak gently and softly to communicate. This is good for my health, on doctor's advice. Or rather the wise sage's advice: "Don't quarrel or argue with people. Choke the chattel and save the breath".

In his recent interview by Seth Mydans of The New York Times on September 1, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said: “Let me give you a Chinese proverb “do not judge a man until you’ve closed his coffin. Do not judge a man.” Close the coffin, then decide. Then you assess him. I may still do something foolish before the lid is closed on me.” Minister Mentor is the founding father of a nation who had spent his lifetime together with other founding leaders of Singapore to develop our nation over 45 years. A cosmopolitan city, a little red dot on the map, grew from this tiny place we call home.

I am only a tiny, simple founding father struggling with raising my children of two. Were they like the plants growing in a small garden. Mostly depended on God's nourishment from sunlight and rain, and some food I guess?

My apologies. I digress this blog to express from gardening to the "Great Great World" forthcoming movie title.

Fortunately, there are Internet, Googles, the National Library and now, the National Archives of Singapore are my very helpful "memory aids".

As a case in point, the discovery of several photos of Great World at NAS refreshed my aging memories to update on this blog topic.

Riding the current wave of nostalgia is drama "It's A Great Great World, a visual re-creation of Singapore's legendary 1950s nightspot Great World Amusement Park and all it's glittering glamour.

The informational blog to announce a locally produced movie "The Great Great World" below:

Great World Amusement Park, Singapore (大卋界遊兿場)

Looks like it's going to be a great, great cast for MediaCorp Raintree Pictures' latest all-star family flick.

Called It's A Great Great World, the comedy is set to hit big screens next Chinese New Year, and features a massive ensemble of MediaCorp artistes, including Joanne Peh, Yvonne Lim, Chew Chor Meng, Xiang Yun, Huang Wenyong, Zhang Yao Dong, Kym Ng, Bryan Wong, Chen Shucheng, Gurmit Singh, Zheng Geping, Guo Liang and Dennis Chew.

The film will be helmed by Raintree Pictures' creative director Kelvin Tong.

Set in Singapore's legendary Great World amusement park, the Mandarin and dialect movie will span from the 1940s to present day and tell the stories of a multitude of characters whose lives all revolve around the park, which was also affectionately known in Hokkien "Tua Seh Kai" (大世界).

Said Tong: "Great World occupies a special place in the hearts of many Singaporeans.
It used to be the place where many couples 'pak tor' (dated) or even got married. It is exhilarating to be given the chance to bring Great World back to life."

"This movie symbolises the collective efforts of many who are involved in MediaCorp. As the story unfolds, it will bring back fond memories of Singaporeans, with warmth and laughter," said Raintree Pictures' Managing Director Man Shu Sum.

By Geneieve Loh

Source: TODAY, Friday September 17, 2010.

"MATCHMAKERS MEETUP KOPITIAM AT GREAT WORLD".
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Do you know about the early days matchmakers before the Social Development Unit (SDU), a governmental body which works closely with the community and commercial sectors to foster opportunities for singles to interact in social settings in Singapore?

Find out more about Great World at "Project Neighbourhood" video.



Carbaret Girls at Great World cabaret. Circ 1945
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

I never had the chance during my childhood days as a "street urchin of Bukit Ho Swee", I never had the chance to step into the Flamingo Cabaret or knew about what was going on in the darkened, air-conditioned hall which was patronised only portly businessmen accompanied by beautiful cabaret ladies, as I was told by my neighbor friends.

Game Stalls at Great World. Circ 1953.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The audience watching a Hokkien wayang show.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Another stage performance at Great World.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The plane joyride at the Great World Amusement Park. Circ 1950.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

On a carousal ride at the Great World Amusement Park Circ 1960. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The train ride at the Great World Amusement Park. Circ 1960. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The "Bumper Car Ride" at Great World.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

This is a blog update to my previous guest blogger at Good Morning Yesterday quoted:


I will always remember my first toy race-car ride at Great World one night when I was 12. I bent my mouth so close to the steering wheel of the race-car that when there was a collision with another car, my front teeth was hit.
The bumper car ride shown in the photo above is not similar to the "race-car ride" I mentioned. If any kind soul have a photo like this to share with everyone on this blog, please email it to me for scanning. The original photo DO NOT NEED to send to me. Thank you very much.

The ghost effigy at the Great World "Ghost Train".
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Hahaha...this was mentioned in my previous blog already. So you see the photo now!

The amused ladies after the "Ghost Train" ride. Appears to be commenting and giggled: "Aiyah...not scary one lah! What type of paper ghosts are these?"
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

"Secret of the Spider Beauty" at Great World.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You see, this is the photo from PICAS which triggered my memories of the "Spider Beauty".

I knew the secret five decades ago. Do you know why?

Now I remember. One of the girl who's head was displayed as the "Spider Beauty". I used to find out the secret for free. Admission was ten cents each visitor.

I will still remain this secret forever. To be frank, I couldn't remember how it was exactly done...something to do with mirrors which we learn in science school. That's all I can tell.

She was one of my landlady's daughter, Ah Choo, and she was once my primary school classmate then. The landlady and her husband was running a drink stall selling "starfruit juice". And the ripened starfruits were filled in a huge covered stone jars stored in the community bathroom which was shared by all the tenants and their neighbors.

The "starfruit juice" drink was very popular at 5 cents or 10 cents each glass. Bottled take-away "starfruit juice" was sold at 50 cents each bottle I think.

As I have more regular dreams in my sleep (i.e not day-dreaming) about my childhood days at Great World, I would be pleased to update this blog for your regular visit to find out the answers.

Bloggers from Singapore and elsewhere are invited to let me link your blog on "Great World Amusement Park, Singapore" and will certainly share them these Singapore Memories stories.

Related posts:

This was first published in The Straits Times, Oct 17, 1997 by Kelvin Tong:

"Once, the WORLD was GREAT" .

However, I am not sure whether its a namesake of Kelvin Tong as the Director of this same movie and the writer the same person though;

NLB Infopedia Talk by Marsita Omar, National Library Board Singapore
written on June 8, 2006 here .

Updated the "THREE 'WORLDS' OF AMUSEMENTS" exhibition organised by National Library Board at 11th Level, National Library Building (Lee Kong Chien Reference Library) in June, 2001.

GREAT WORLD

Great World started its life at Kim Seng Road a few years after the opening of New World. Business was bland and the owner, Lee Choon Seng, sold it to Shaw Brothers and New World's Ong Peng Hock in 1941. Subsequently, it was owned soley by Shaw Brothers.

During the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), it was transformed into a prison for Australian POWs who were later transferred to shacks behind the park to make space for other activities such as gambling.

Cultural shows made a comeback after the Occupation. Chinese operas and revues attracted flocks of people. The rubber boom of the 1950s brought more prosperity and business, and Shaw upgraded the park extensively. Stalls were spruced up; carnival rides including the carousal and ferris wheel were installed. The famous Ghost Train became synonymous with the park. Great World was also home to four cinema halls: Canton, Atlantic, Sky and Globe. The Sky's premiere in 1958, which coincided with the park's grand re-opening, was graced by the late movie star Elizabeth Taylor.

(Above and below) Elizabeth Taylor in Singapore c 1957. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

In the 1960s, the popularity of amusement parks waned and Great World closed in 1964 although its cinemas and restaurants continued until 1978. The site is now occupied by Great World City, a complex comprising a shopping mall, offices and apartments.

This year, the amusement park came to life again, on the silver screen and at Sengkang, with a movie directed by Kevin Tong, It's a Great, Great World.



Courtesy of GreatWorld2011 Uploaded on Dec 13, 2010. Produced by MediaCorp Raintree Pictures,

It's A Great Great World is set in Singapore's legendary amusement park Great World, which was also affectionately known in Hokkien as Tua Seh Kai or 大世界. Spanning the 1940s to the present day, the film tells the stories of a multitude of characters who lived, worked, played, sang, danced and fell in love in Great World.

Featuring an ensemble of MediaCorp artistes, the family comedy will star Joanne Peh, Yvonne Lim, Chew Chor Meng, Xiang Yun, Huang Wenyong, Zhang Zhen Huan, Zhang Yao Dong, Ng Hui, Paige Chua, Ben Yeo, Kym Ng, Bryan Wong, Chen Shucheng, Gurmit Singh, Zheng Geping, Apple Hong, Guo Liang and Dennis Chew. Familiar comedy names, such as Henry Thia and Marcus Chin, as well as artistes from Hong Kong and Taiwan will also be appearing in It's A Great Great World.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Ivan Chew said...

I think as we grow older, we reserve the right to have nostalgic reminiscences, i.e. being "lor sor" LOL

September 20, 2010 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger unk Dicko said...

This post has certainly rekindled my own "memory" about Great World and the other 2 worlds...New World and Happy World.
All of us kids can hardly forget visiting such "worlds" with our parents, uncles or aunties. They represented a world of fun,music, excitement and fantasy...plus lots of food, goodies and cheap stuff.
My late father brought me there before when I was little. So, can't recall much of Great World.
But Happy World was a place I knew far better! Much later, New World.

September 20, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Andy Young* said...

It was really great, Great World. I never forget the neon lights from Sky Cinema.

September 22, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for your inputs -

Ivan: To become "lor sor" is a privilege. You're still a long way to "lorsorness", pls don't rush it ;)

unk Dicko: The Great, New, Happy Worlds were our best "Kids Worlds" during our kids days...unforgettable!

Andy: Share your great memories of Great World. Whenever darkness at the sky above Bukit Ho Swee kampung was beamed with the search lights from Great World during those young days...happiness and excitement was filled with our childish hearts with love. Cheers!

September 23, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

James. Thanks for unearthing those photos. Helps me to recall those wonderful childhood days. For me of course, I enjoyed these same attractions at the New World and not Great World. My memories of Great World were more of the two cinemas Sky and ,,,, Oh dear what was the other one ... Roxy?

I remember watching a terribly boring movie movie titled Catch 22 there. Totally lost on the plot. Possibly fell asleep. But it starred my favourite singer Art Garfunkel in one of his rare movie roles. The other memorable movie I saw there was The Graduate. I enjoyed the Simon and Garfunkel Songs more than the movie. I still listen to my S&F greatest hits when I am at the pc.

"And here's to you Mrs Robinson ..."

September 23, 2010 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger FL said...

Thank you indeed for those wonderful photos of the former Great World Amusement Park (GWAP). When we were very young, our parents would bring us there, especially during CNY times to have funs, games,joy rides, movies,etc. I remember our family "took cover" at GWAP to avoid the noise from the fire crackers during the annual "chap goh meh" at our hometown and on the streets all over Singapore in the sixties. When I grew older, I used to go to watch movies very often at the GWAP's cinemas (Canton, Atlantis, Sky & Globe). Thanks for the memories.

September 25, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger |!QuAn!| said...

Hi,

My friend and I are students from NUS, Faculty of Arts and Social Science. We are thinking of doing a research on the memories of Singapore, with the Great World Amusement Park as a case study.

Your blog entry has provided us with a lot of useful information. Thanks for sharing!

Would it be possible for us to interview you and your friends to get more information about the Park as well as the impetus behind writing such entries about the past?

You can contact me at u0702796@nus.edu.sg

September 26, 2010 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger |!QuAn!| said...

Hi,

My friend and I are students from NUS, Faculty of Arts and Social Science. We are thinking of doing a research on the memories of Singapore, with the Great World Amusement Park as a case study.

Your blog entry has provided us with a lot of useful information. Thanks for sharing!

Would it be possible for us to interview you and your friends to get more information about the Park as well as the impetus behind writing such entries about the past?

You can contact me at u0702796@nus.edu.sg

September 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Chun See,

The forthcoming "Great GREAT WORLD" movie will launch a series of cellulid memories of the childhood days of Singaporeans...starting with Great
World and followed by New World, Happy World.

There's another little known world "Beauty World" in Singapore but not an amusement park though. Those who grew up in Bukit Timah/Jurong/Bukit Panjang areas will be familiar with "Beauty World". The early batch of NSmen for training at SAFRA will ring a bell...a local musical "Beauty World" by Dick Lee. Memories galore...keep them going!

September 29, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for sharing childhood memories of Great World,FL.

Let the happy memories alive to share with posterity and inter-generational bonding.

We were young once upon a time...and we had a childhood fun place. It doesn't matter that place and time are different ways to enjoy our childhood days.

Cheers!

September 29, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks !QuAn! for the consent and clearance from his project lecturers to post the blog comments.

The nostalgic memories of a common place like Great World to share everyone. Everyone has a different story to remember during a childhood experience at an amusement park.

Pls contact the project team directly to the email indicated and help to contribute our "memory aids" for a meaningful project to keep our Singapore memories alive.

September 29, 2010 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

About all these new productions about the old Spore, I am not too optimistic. So far those that I have seen are quite disappointing. I wish they will just give us a documentary style presentation and skip the artistic treatment.

Anyway next week Icemoon and I are attending the When Nations Remember conference. We will get the chance to listen from the experience of other countries. Looking forward to learning something from them. Maybe I will blog about it.

October 8, 2010 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Dear Mr James,

I'm Pauline from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (Diploma in Arts Business Management Year 1). I would like to seek your permission to use your photos of Great World as a reference for our exhibition. Our exhibition, held by the NAC, is called "The people exhibition" and the theme is "I want to remember". We will be showcasing the photo in Woodlands Regional Library in February 2011. If you have any enquires about our program I would be glad to answer them. Hope to hear from you soon.

Do reply me via email : fon.pau@live.com.sg

Regards,
Pauline

January 12, 2011 at 5:38 PM  

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