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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Feb 28, 2015

Travelling Circus in Town

Since 2002, Singaporeans no longer had the chance to watch travelling circuses in Singapore.

When I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee in the 1950s, the children would be excited and curious whenever the colorful advertising posters were pasted prominently everywhere on the walls ..... "Circus in Town".

This nostalgia blog is curated with the resources from National Archives of Singapore and NewspaperSG of the National Library Board, Singapore with photo credit and acknowledgement.

There were adults in the audience too .....

I remember that I attended a "Circus Brazil" in 1959 when  I was at Delta School.  The circus was located at the Great World Amusement Park in Kim Seng Road, Singapore.

The concession tickets for students are booked through the school at $1.00 or $1.50 (matinee shows in the afternoon) for admission to the circus to watch the "live" performances of elephants, lions, tigers, horses ..... these are not domestic animals which people normally keep as pets.  There were 2 shows each day, one in the afternoon and one at night.

The travelling circuses are located at various parts of Singapore where there were vacant land to be rented for about 2 months.  The "Big Top" were set up and the performing animals were kept in cages outside the tents.

The "Great Royal Circus of India" sailed in a ship to Singapore on 7 July, 1968.  All the animals - lions, tigers, chimpanzees, donkeys, bears, dogs and the ligers (cross between a lion and a tiger) were kept in cages.

Various Travelling Circus in Singapore

Kinoshita Circus in 1956

The "Da Tian Qiu Circus" was formed in 1918 and the owner and aecrobat performers from Johor.

One of the circus performers, Sheum Chang Fu, left "Da Tian Qiu" to form the "Sheums Circus" in 1936.

Sheums Circus at Jalan Toa Payoh, Singapore  c 1965

According to "The Singapore Free Press" published on 22 November, 1926,  the ever popular Harmston's Circus in the east as long as some of the pioneer generation Singaporeans could remember.  Those whose recollection goes so far back will remember the debut of Bob Harmston's circus on the swampy triangular site at the bottom of Fort Canning Hill, where Tank Road Station once located.

There were many performing horses, elephants, tigers and other wild animal acts.  One of the features of a varied programmes presented by dare-devil Jenkins, who mounted on a Harley-Davidson motor-cycle jumped thirty-five feet - a skillful and thrilling feat.

Travelling Circus banned in Singapore in 2002

Some circuses were banned to protect animals and humans.

The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has banned travelling circuses with performing wild animals from entering Singapore effective 1 January, 2002.

AVA had monitored the rate of mishaps and abuse from the use of wild animals in circuses in Singapore several years ago.  In some extreme cases, there have been serious injuries and dealth among trainers and audience members.

Singapore, however, has been accident-free over the past years.  The last circus in town was the Moscow Circus, in June 1998.

"Can you imagine if we have a circus here and one of the tiger leaps at the crowd?"

"But before animal lovers cry foul that the move is more in human interest than for the welfare of animals, the ban does target the abuse and mistreatment of animals by circus owners and trainers," said AVA.

The ban or restrict the use of wild animals in circus acts.  It is in the interest of public safety and animal welfare.  The AVA noted that the cages and containers used to transport and hold animals were unsuitable as permanent housing.

Moreover, training methods used by circuses have not been endorsed by any animal welfare organisation.

Since 2002, Singaporeans will have to go to the Singapore Zoological Gardens and Jurong Bird Park, instead of the circuses,  to see wild animals and birds.

The ban does not apply as the performing animals in these places need not travel, and are trained by a reward system.  In addition, these animals are housed in an environment that are designed to be as close to their natural habitat as possible.

We should not enjoy and have fun as an entertainment at the expense of other living creatures.


Feb 15, 2015

Gas-lighted Street Lamps in Olden Times

View of Orchard Road from the junction of Grange Road  c 1905

The antique-designed street lamp in Orchard Road was lighted with gas by City Council workers.

My blogger friend Lao Kokok posted his "Times Of My Life" well-researched [Kampong Bugis or "火城"] blog  here  to learn more.  Thus I add-on a similar blog topic as a supplement to other stuff to share.

Courtesy of Dr Tan Wee Kiat of ReTRIeVIA .

In 1993, a street-lighting ceremony was held at Clarke Quay to revive the memories of pioneer generation Singaporeans who remember that lamps in the public streets were lighted with gas by the City Council workers when night falls.

The brightly lit and decorated streets of Orchard Road are nowadays electronically and automatically switched on with timers during the Christmas lighting up and other festival events.

Thanks to the resources from newspaperSG of the National Library Board's online eResource.  Archived photos on this blog for credit to the National Archives of Singapore.

Another Municipal Activity.


(Source:  The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 26 October 1926.

It is now over 40 years since gas was first introduced to the public of Singapore and anybody who seeks a little knowledge of things connected with the local gas service cannot fail to be struck, not only by the tremendous advance that has been made since gas was first used here but also by the work that is done at the Municipal plant at Kallang, where millions of cubic feet of gas are now manufactured in a year.

In its early stage of introduction here its use was almost entirely restricted to lighting.  Our roads were brightened up and the residents welcomed the many advantages that gas lighting and, later, cooking, offered them.  Since those days there has been a gradual expansion in the use of gas particularly with regard to industrial purposes and use in the home for cooking and water heating.  The annual production of gas is now 300,000,000 cubic feet against 165,000,000 cubic feet per annum ten years ago.

Everyone knows that gas is manufactured from coal, coke and oil, and at the Works at Kallang all the processes can be seen in operation.  In order to take round a visitor and explain the different stages of gas production, a whole morning would be required, but the visit would prove very interesting.  One gazes in fascination at the huge retorts and the blazing furnaces below and passes from the sweltering heat of these compartments to spotlessly clean rooms where the pressure governing apparatus and the controlling meter are installed.

Location of the former Kallang Gas Works in olden times Singapore.

The Kallang Gas Works  c 1910

Visitors to the former Kallang Gas Works

Minister for Law E W Barker (right) visited Kallang Gas Works on 11 November, 1964

Each process requires careful control as it is now the practice to send out a strictly uniform quality of gas to meet the requirements and adjustments of the apparatus in use in the town.

Surrounding the retorts and furnaces are huge stacks of coal.  Usually about 6,000 tons of coal is kept in stock as reserve.  It is Australian coal and is brought up the Kallang river to the rear of the works in the coal thus stored from becoming over-heated, so the temperature is checked weekly and when it is found that the coal is becoming too hot it is dug out and carbonised.

The coal is mechanically conveyed to the retorts by an endless chain of buckets and deposited into overhead hoppers leading into the retorts which ate externally heated to a temperature of 1250 deg. C.

The By-products

Here the gas and volatile products of carbonisation are driven out of the coal, collected and purified.  The gas being freed from tar, sulphuer and ammonia, is finally pumped into the gas holders for distribution into the mains.  The holders at Kallang and the large one at Kreta Ayer, by reasons of their respective situations, ensure that there is no weakness of distribution to any part of the town.

About 20 per cent of the gas manufactured is made from coke and oil.  In this process coke in a large generator is raised to a white heat by means of turbo-blowers and then steam is blown through the incandescent mass, thus producing a high grade cas, by heating value of which can be varied by the introduction of volatilised oil.  The process is mechanically controlled so that when the coke becomes cooler by the introduction of steam, the steam is cut off and the coke again blown to a high heat.  Some 300,000 cubic feet of gas is manufactured here daily.

Storing the Gas

The storage of the prepared gas presents difficulties which are not generally appreciated.  The gas is pumped into the gas holders which are telescopic and sealed in large tanks under water, the pressure of gas to the town being produced by the actual weight of the holder floating in the tank.  At the outlet of each holder an automatic governor is in operation whereby a constant pressure is maintained.

A queer little machine looking quite out of place next to the big pumping engines, separates the clinkers from the coke which comes out from the furnaces in an unburnt form, and saves about 40 tons of coke a month.

During the process of carbonisation of coal very little of the energy of the coal is lost and it is this efficiency and also the production of valuable bye-products which enables gas, particularly as a source of heating, to be most economical.

The coke from the gas retorts is of a soft free-burning type and is particularly in demand for forge and glass furnace work.  The tar produced is distilled and a good dehydrated tar for road purposes and painting is produced while an excellent wood preservative is also prepared during the distillation

Gas-cooking Popular

There is no longer any doubt that the public of Singapore have learnt to appreciate the economy and other advantages of gas cooking.  This is proved by the demand for gas-cookers on hire during the last year.  Particular attention has been paid to the cleansing of cookers before they are dissembled as the works where there is a special department to deal with them.  The parts are immersed in a bath of boiling caustic soda so that they are rendered entirely free from any possible infection.  Apart from the allurement of a hygenic and clean kitchen and the spick and span appearance given by gas fixtures and fittings, the comfort of a hot bath has resulted in a demand for geysers quite unknown here some two or three years ago.

It is of interest to know that the gas department is quite a self-contained body having its own workshops which are quite a hive of industry.  Thus, in walking round, one is surprised amongst other things to come upon say the construction of lamp posts, which are being made of reinforced concrete and will probably be capable of baffling those motorists who are constantly trying conclusions with street lamp posts.  Very little of what goes on inside the works can be gleaned from an outside view, and there is nothing prepossessing about the place beyond the two large holders and a 90 foot brick chimney but an inside inspection is very full of interest.


Feb 8, 2015

Malam Joget Cha Cha & Dut 2015

An evening of kampong nostalgia for dancing with "live" music for everyone to enjoy! The "Malam Joget Cha Cha & Dut 2015" organised by the Radin Mas Community Centre Malay Activity Executive Committee at the Bukit Merah Central Amphitheatre on Saturday, 7th February 2015. 

The energetic, cheerful young emcee urged everyone to be happy, throw away the stress and just enjoy. Have fun! That was what everyone did and it was an unforgettable, electrifying evening!

The archived photos are shared on this blog with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.


 The veteran joget dancers are seasoned and experienced to teach the younger ones ... generations after generations to keep the Malay cultures, arts and dances alive in multi-cultural Singapore for every Singaporean to carry on joget, the graceful dances.  Enjoy!