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Jan 15, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Wet Market

The Farrer Road Market & Hawker Centre opened in 1976.

The hawker centre at Blk 7 Empress Road comprises 40 cooked food stalls and 72 market stalls and renamed as Empress Road Market & Food Centre.

In the past before the supermarkets became popular in the heartlands, the Singaporeans do their marketing at the wet markets.

A wet market is generally a fresh food market commonly found in Asian countries. Some of the common names include "cultural markets", "traditional markets", "Gaai Si", "Gaai See" (commonly used in Hong Kong). The term "wet market" comes from the extensive use of water in the markets. The water is used to wash the floors, keep the fruits and vegetables fresh, and keep fish and shellfish alive.

When I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee in the 1960s, the villagers did their daily marketing at the corner below the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) building at the junction of Beo Crescent and Havelock Road.

Whenever my mother need more marketing stuff especially during the Chinese New Year festivals, she brought me along as a porter to the wet market at Havelock Road or the roadside hawkers in Chinatown to help her to carry the goodies stuff home.

Locations of a few wet markets in Singapore

Wet market along the road in Chinatown c 1964.

A row of shophouses at Dickson Hill, off South Bridge Road. Street stalls from a small wet market in 1983.

Upper Serangoon Market

Chia Keng Market

Jalan Eunos Market

The Tekka Market (Photos above and below).

Tekka Market c 1982

Tekka Market c 1982

Tekka Market c 1984

Boon Lay Market

Lim Tua Tow Market c 1986

Marsiling Market c 1998

The Old Kallang Airport Market was converted into the Old Airport Food Centre in 1983.

Roadside markets in Singapore in the past

The roadside markets found in the main road, lanes and alleys of Chinatown, Queens Street, Tanjong Pagar in the 1960s were unlicensed hawkers which were registered by the Ministry of Environment (now National Environment Agency) for a cleaner and improved environment.


Licensing of Hawkers

Licensing of hawkers by Singapore City Council at Havelock Road Licensing Centre in 1952 (Photos above and below)

Balloting of hawker stalls at Bukit Ho Swee in 1966.

Registered hawkers balloting for hawker stalls at Bukit Ho Swee, 1966. A new Hawkers Code was implemented in 1966 for licensing and controlling hawkers. Since then, street hawkers were progressively relocated into markets and shophouses with running water, electricity and proper refuse disposal facilities. They also had to comply with minimum public health requirements and empty all refuse at proper public refuse bins. Food and drink hawkers were tested for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera.

Fruit Stalls and Shops - Then

Fruit stall at Orchard Road Market in 1974.

Fruit Stalls and Shops - Now



Miscellaneous Products - Then


Miscellaneous Products - Now



Fishes and Seafood - Then


Fishes and Seafood - Now


Fishes and Seafood - Different Place, Different Ways

"Flying fish" to deliver to the customers.

What the fish...that guy kissed the fish's mouth. Yucks!

Pike Place Fish "showtime" for the customers to have fun and enjoy at the Pike Place Fish website.

The fish and seafood stalls at wet markets in Singapore then and now, are very different from the ways done at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, United States of America.

Meat - Then

A lady at a meat stall in 1957.

Meat - Now

Note that the meat in the stall must be covered in plastic lid now for hygienic and safety purposes.

Vegetables stalls - Then


Vegetables stalls - Now


Hawker Food Centre

Breakfast at a backlane at Chinatown in 1983.

>Food stalls alongside the roadside market in Chinatown c 1983.

Food Stalls located within the markets - Now.


Playground beside market and hawker centre

The young child waiting to go to the playground to play after Mummy has completed her marketing at the market.

This blog is "under construction and progress". We are seeking your contributions and Singapore memories on "Ways Done in the Past - Wet Market" with little bits and pieces which you remember and relevant old photos on wet markets to share at irememberSG on Facebook and as an active Memory Corps member at Singapore Memory Project to revive the memories of everyone. Thank you.

Please note that photos with "For online reference - viewing only" watermark are posted with courtesy photo credit of National Archives of Singapore.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I used to live just across the road @ Blk 5 :(

January 15, 2012 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you Chun See. Please tell more on this wet market in your neighbourhood in the early days before Farrer Road market was changed to Empress Road market.

January 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

At that time, I not married yet so seldom go to wet market. But my father was a patient of the clinic at the end of Block 8; and we often used the POSB ATM at the other end. Of course at that time, there was no multi-storey car park. Across the road; facing the market, was a kampong called Lorong Jodoh. All the condos had not been built yet. I blogged about this area here.

January 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger dashing hongeng said...

I posted a blog on Chai Chee Open Air Wet Market in the 50s, 60s and early 70s. My parents were selling vegetables there. When it rained, it was horrendous. The whole market ground was slosh with grime,mud, sludge etc. Cockroaches, rats, and other vermins were flushed out from their hidng places. Everybody had their slippers squashed on the soft mud and pants rolled up high. Things unimaginable happened.

January 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

BTW. The prawn hor fun in the LHS stall in 4th photo from bottom is very nice. Like the gravy.

January 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for sharing the "prawn hor fun" at LHS, Chun See.

Although this is not a 'foodies blog' to rate and recommend food stalls on some blogs to readers, I had my personal tasting experience at the stall's 水饺麵 for breakfast at Ah Wing's Wanton Mee at Blk 7, Empress Road # 01-108 (詠記麵家) recently. The prawn is fresh and the gravy tasty.

January 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM  

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