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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 16, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Public Toilets

Public toilet at Chulia Street in 1970

Where to look for public toilets in Singapore in the early days?

One public toilet I remember as a child in 1950 when my mother brought me to visit my grandmother at Phillip Street, Singapore.  It was located near the former OCBC Building and the present United Overseas Bank Head Office. The toilet was demolished many years ago.

The above archived photos of  the public toilet at Chulia Street (as with other photos on this blog with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore with acknowledgement and thanks).

This blog topic was triggered by my memories in the young days that whenever I went to town with my mother to look for toilet, I said to her in Hokkien, "gua ai pang jeoh" (I need to pass urine). She would just say "khi long kow pang jeoh"  (go and pass urine in the longkang).  I had to rush to the nearest drain to pass water ("perte d'urine" in French), This may be impolite or no manners to speak in this way. But it was a 6 year-old child talking to her mother in 1953 just like that in Hokkien ; )

The drain at the Chulia Street would most likely lead to the nearby Singapore River.  I remember the Chulia Street public toilet was located beside a bus terminus of  Hock Lee bus number 4 which ply between Tiong Bahru Road and Chulia Street.

The Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus at Tiong Bahru  c1956
 In the olden days, the public toilets were used free of charge.

Do we know how the "Limbo Rock Dance" was invented?

In 1963, Chubby Checker, the man who made the Twist famous released a song called “Limbo Rock”.

A guy installed a pay toilet to recoup some of his lost business and invented the "Limbo Rock Dance", as somebody said.

Lets take a look at some public toilets in town and the kampongs in the 1960s  as shown on this blog.

Public toilet at Clarke Quay c1970
On the left of the photo a public toilet in the market place c1965
A toilet in the kampong in 1980 "Please do not throw too much"...
A toilet at Kampong Melayu in 1985 to be under urban development

A kampong toilet at Punggol farm house in 1988
Another kampong toilet at Punggol farm house in 1988
Photo of a kampong toilet with the "nightsoil carrier " using the bucket system in Singapore in the 1950s.



Blogger Philip Chew said...

I remember there was an underground public toilet at Raffles Place in the 50s.

September 16, 2012 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger FL said...

Hi, James, thank indeed for the photo of the public toilet at Chulia Street. During the late sixties, when I started working, I used to take Hock Lee Bus to the terminal at Chulia Street on the way to office.I recall using this toilet before. Of course, toilets those years were bucket system ! There was no such thing as today's water flushing system or auto-sensors.People of our earlier generation had to bear with the smell of bucket system ! We didn't complain as public health standard was like that then !

September 16, 2012 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you FL to reinforce my memories of Chulia Street in the 1960s. I remember the Hock Lee bus terminus vividly it was the only bus no. 4 which I took from Tiong Bahru Rd to the Singapore River and Boat Quay areas to capture the memories of this civic district.

I did not dare to roam to other places in Singapore and would then not know how to go home to Bukit Ho Swee ;)

Yep, the public toilet at Chulia St was using the 'bucket system' and the stench was terrible...esp on hot days and the buckets were not cleared by the 'night-soil carriers'. Those were the days of the public toilets in Singapore in the past.

September 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger seraphicallyfree said...

Hello, i was just doing some research about Singapore's past and came across your blog. Really interesting stuff!! so much that people can learn from about our past than what is taught in school!
thanks for sharing all this info! :)


January 21, 2015 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great post. I have read an interesting post about western tourists' encounter with public toilets in Singapore. You should check it out too.

September 12, 2017 at 12:36 PM  

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