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Mar 10, 2020

Royal Charter: From "Town of Singapore" to "City of Singapore" on 22 September, 1951

This blog is inspired by Dr Tan Wee Kiat's latest "Singapore Stamp Stories" blog here .

I haven't heard about 'City Day' in Singapore until this is mentioned in his blog.  Every stamp tells a story.  There are many interesting Singapore stories through stamps which he has written in his books and blogs for everyone; especially the younger generations of Singaporeans to share.

To find out more about 'City Day', I did some help from the National Archives of Singapore and NewspaperSG of the National Library Board.

[Source:  The Singapore Free Press, 20 September 1951]

City Hall, Singapore in 1951

View of arch in front of Supreme Court depicting Singapore's status as a city state.  Photograph was taken during City Day celebration, the day when King George VI conferred the status of city upon the municipality of Singapore.  Date:  22/9/1951.

A booth at Singapore City Day on 22 September, 1951.

Peal of Bells Heralds Birth of Singapore City

By James Peter Chin [Source:  Sunday Standard, 23 September 1951]

Dawn broke over a city of colour, gaiety and joy yesterday (22 September 1951) as Singaporeans in thousands thronged the street making for the Esplanade to see the birth of a city.

At 7.15 a.m., official guests in uniform and national costumes arrayed with medals and decorations began to stream in.  School children from Singapore and Johore were already in their best in their uniforms.  As time moved on, the crowd packed St. Andrew's Road from one end to another nd an air of expectancy prevailed over the whole Padang.

A roll of drums announced the arrival of the Chief Justice, Sir Charles Murray-Aynsley.  Next came the High Commissioner for the Federation, Sir Henry Gurney, followed by the Commissioner-General Mr Malcom MacDonald.
The Trumpets

The Guard of Honour drawn from the S.V.C, M.R.N.V.R., M.A.A.F. and the Police stood to attention whilst the National Anthem was being played.

At exactly 8.10 a.m., the Governor of Singapore, Sir Franklin Gimson, arrived escorted by three A.D.Cs and bearing the Royal Charter.  The National Anthem was again played after which he inspected the Guard of Honour.
R.A.F. planes led by two Vampires dived down in salute.
Sir Franklin Gimson then made a speech after which Sir Charles read the full text of the Royal Charter which was in a red and gold case. 

Following is the text of the Royal Charter which confers the City Status on Singapore:

GEORGE THE SIXTH by the Grace of God of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyong the Seas, King Defender of the Faith to all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting:  
WHEREAS We for diverse good causes and considerations Us therunto moving are graciously pleased to raise the said Town to the rank of a City.  

NOW THEREFORE know ye that We of Our especial grace and favour and mere motion do by this Our Royal Charter will ordain, constitute, declare and appoint that Our said Town shall on the twenty second day of September in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty one and forever thereafter be a City and shall be called and styled THE CITY OF SINGAPORE instead of the Town of Singapore and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a City.  
AND we do further declare and direct that the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore shall thenceforth be one body corporate by the name and style of THE CITY COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE with all such powers and privileges as they would have had as the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore and as if they had been incorporated by the name of the City Council of Singapore.  
AND FURTHER know ye that We trusting in the discretion, fidelity and care of Our trusty and well beloved Sir Franklin Chales Gimson Knight Commander of Our Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George Governor and Commander in Chief Presents unto the said Sir Franklin Charles Gimson full power in Our name to declare and make known Our Pleasure herein 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF We have caused these Our letters to be made Patent Witness Ourself at Westminser the twenty-fourth day of July in the fifteenth year of Our Reign.

By Warrant under the King's Sign Manual.

Mr James Griffiths' Statement Recalled

On July 25 the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. James Griffiths, announced that His Majesty the King had been pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal bearing the date July 24, 1951, to ordain that the town of Singapore should be raised to the status and dignity of a city with effect from September 22, 1951, and should from that date be called and styled "the City of Singapore".  In receiving this honour Singapore become the second town in the British dependencies to be granted

Singapore City Day's Royal Charter enclosed in a beautiful red and gold case lined with green velvet and framed in glass.

He then handed the Charter to the Governor of Singapore who in turn presented it to the President of the Municipal Commission, Mr. T. P. F. McNeice.

As the Municipal President received the Royal Charter there was a fanfare of trumpets by the trumpeters of the 12th Royal Lancers accompanied by the roll of drums.

A burst of hand-clapping greeted the birth of Singapore City.

The Municipal Secretary then read messages of congratulations from the Government of Canada, the Lord Mayors of Norwich, Shefield, Leeds, Oxford, Hendon, Hull, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manila, Quezon, the Mayoreess of Baguio City, the Malayan Agent in London, the Secretary of States for the Colonies, Sir Shenton Thomas, Governor of North Borneo, the High Commissioner, Federation of Malaya, the Municipal Commission in Kuala Lumpur, United States of America, the President of the Annual Conference of the Assoiation of Municipal Corporations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and other public bodies in Singapore and the Federation.

Congratulatory messages were also received from the Mayors of New York, San Francisco and Detroit.

Sir Charles Murray-Aynsley, Sir Henry Gurney, Sir Franklin Gimson, Mr Malcom MacDonald and Mr McNeice stood at the steps of the Municipal Building whilst the National Anthem played for the last time marking the end of a colourful ceremony, long to be remembered in the minds of the present.

A sudden peal of bells from the St. Andrew's Cathedral told the people that a city was born.

The crowd satisfied with the hours of patient waiting began to surge the streets and handshakes were seen everywhere.  With greetings of "we are now real citizens" they entered the Municipal Building to see the Royal Charter.

City's Future in Youths' Hands
By George Rasiah [Sunday Standard, 23 September 1951]

Gimson Presents Charter Amidst Pomp, Splendour

Pomp and heraldry amidst resplendent Oriental setting, marked the presentation of the Royal Charter by the Governor, Sir Franklin Gimson to the President of the Singapore Municipality, Mr T. P. F. McNeice yesterday (22 September 1951), granting Singapore City status.

More than 50,000 people, including the City's leading citizens saw the ceremony, and millions more in Singapore and the Federation listened to the speeches and the fanfare of the trumpets over Radio Malaya's Blue, Red and Green networks.

Bestowing the civic charter as the representative of the King in this Colony, the Governor said:  "This Charter dignifies but does not create a city.  The grant of a Charter has scarcely ever since the earliest days, settled the constitution of a City.
Added the Governor:  "Chartered were frequently granted for the purpose of crystallising rights which already existed.  In fact practices and custom in many cases already delegated to the leading residents of centres of population certain responsibilities, especially for the maintenance of law and order, and the Charters merely conveyed a recognition by His Majesty that the citizens concerned were capable of being entrusted with the discharge of those responsibilities.

"His Majesty, therefore, in graciously granting this Charter of Singapore, has recognised that the leading citizens through the Municipal Commissioners, can and have discharged to His Majesty's satisfaction, the responsibilities entrusted to them.

"His Majesty feels that the welfare of his subjects in Singapore is in capable hands and that their interests can best be promoted by the bestowal of authority on the leading representatives of the people.

Youths' Vow
Continued the Governor:  "This honour conferred on Singapore gives not only a recognition of the past but an opportunity for the future.  The greater the honour the more we will have to live up to.  In accepting this honour, we are all honoured as citizens but we all face a challenge to build a Singapore worthy of its new title.

"Honour and responsibility in a democracy imply greater duties as well as greater rights.

"It is for this reason I welcome the presence here this morning of so many of our younger generation.  They are a reminder to us that it is in them that the City of Singapore will be realised and they will carry away not only a memory of a memorable day and generation the City of Singapore will achieve higher quality of life for her citizens than has ever been achieved by the Town, great as its achievements have been".

Concluded the Governor:  "In the past Singapore has been faced with many difficulties but these difficulties have been overcome.

"Many problems are facing us at the present moment; problems which are not only our own but those of all the democratic world.

"I am confident that the wisdom of Singapore's citizens which in the past has been able to find solutions to her problems, will find solutions for them in the future and Singapore raised to the status of a city will go from strength to strength.

"I am sure we can all invoke with virile and active confidence in the future, its proud motto, all the prouder today:  "MAJULAH SINGAPURA".

A non-denominational service of dedication in the St. Andrew's Cathedral is to be arranged as part of City Day celebrations on September 22.

Foreign consuls in their ceremonial uniforms and trade commissioners will be invited to attend the ceremony of the presentation of the Charter making Singapore a city.

The ceremony of the presentation of the Charter by the Governor, Sir Franklin Gimson will take place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

It will be held in the Municipal building if wet and on the front steps of the Municipal building opposite the Padang if fine.

A military band and Singapore police band will play.
Guests will be on a covered section of the Padang opposite the main entrance of the Municipal building.
Other plans:

THE COAT OF ARMS of the Municipal Commissioners will be displayed on the balcony of the Municipal building, which is to be illuminated at night.

The CHINESE Chamber of Commerce is to be invited to arrange a lantern procession.

The Master Attendant will ask captains of SHIPS in the Harbour to "dress ship."

An appeal is to be made to the public to fly the UNION JACK on the day.

FILM shots of the ceremony, including the presentation of the charter, are to be taken for free shoing in parks.

City of Singapore


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