Explore Singapore! 2011: National Monuments Tour with Mark Lee

Explore Singapore! 2011: National Monuments Tour with Mark Lee.
when: 27 Nov 2011 (Sun), 2.30pm - 4pm.
where: Meeting point - Peranakan Museum.
- Tan Kim Seng Fountain, Cenotaph and Lim Bo Seng Memorial.
- Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, Al-Abrar Mosque, Thian Hock Keng, Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.

I was privileged to be part of this special guided tour, led by Mark Lee (李国煌). Here are the places that he showed us around:

:: Part 1 - Tan Kim Seng Fountain, Cenotaph and Lim Bo Seng Memorial ::

Tan Kim Seng Fountain
Date of construction: 1882
Date of Gazette: 28 December 2010
Address: Esplanade Park, Connaught Drive
Designed by: Andrew Handyside & Co. Britannia Iron Works in Derby, Great Britan

The Tan Kim Seng Fountain is a fine example of a 19th century cast-iron fountain. It represents the Municipal Council’s efforts to commemorate Tan Kim Seng’s contributions towards bettering society. It was unveiled on 19 May 1882 at Battery Road in Fullerton Square by then President of the Municipality, Sir Thomas Scott. Designed by Messrs Andrew Handyside & Co. Britannia Iron Works, the fountain features four Muses in the lower bowl: Calliope holding a book or a writing tablet; Clio holding a scroll; Erato holding a lyre and Melpomene holding a garland. Tan was a supporter of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the President of the principal Chinese temple in Malacca and the leader of the Chinese community in Singapore. His other contributions to society include the building and endowing of the Chinese Free School, known as Chui Eng Si E, in Amoy Street. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=953)

Date of Construction: 1920-1922
Date of Gazette: 28 December 2010
Address: Esplanade Park, Connaught Drive
Designed by: Denis Santry of Swan and MacLaren

The Cenotaph is the first military commemorative structure in Singapore that honours individuals who perished in both the First and Second World Wars. It was initially erected to commemorate the 124 men from the colony of Singapore who never returned from the war in Europe. Then Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Laurence Nunns Guillermard, laid the foundation stone on 15 November 1920 in the presence of then French Premier M Georges Clemenceau. Prince of Wales unveiled the Cenotaph in March 1922. Designed by Denis Santry of Swan and MacLaren, the memorial bears bronze tablets with inscriptions of those who perished during the First World War, with the inscription that reads: “To Our Glorious Dead”. Crowning the roof of the war memorial is a bronze medallion comprising a laurel wreath of victory enclosing the crown, symbolising the Colony of Singapore. The bronze sculpture works on the Cenotaph were done by a well-known Swiss sculptor, Mr. R. Wenings and the Central Engine Works manufactured the bronze castings. After the Second World War (September 1945), a dedication was made on the other side of the Cenotaph, in memory of those who fought and died during the Second World War. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=953)

Lim Bo Seng Memorial
Date of construction: 1953-1954
Date of Gazette: 28 December 2010
Address: Esplanade Park, Connaught Drive
Designed by: Ng Keng Siang

The Lim Bo Seng Memorial is a dedicated tribute to Lim Bo Seng, who died during the Japanese Occupation period in 1944. He was held captive by the Japanese Secret Police in Ipoh after a spy identified him as a member of the resistance army. The Lim Bo Seng Memorial Committee, comprising representatives from the Chung King Government, was established to raise funds for a memorial. Then British Commissioner General for Southeast Asia, Malcolm MacDonald, laid the foundation stone in 1953 and then Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Loewen, Commander-in-Chief of the Far East Land Forces, unveiled the memorial on 29 June 1954. There are four bronze plaques with text in English, Chinese, Tamil and Jawi, illustrating Lim Bo Seng’s life, embedded on the framed mouldings at the base of the memorial. Designed by prominent local architect Ng Keng Siang, the memorial is a significant piece of Chinese National Style architecture and is the only built structure to commemorate an individual who contributed to the war efforts in the Second World War. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=953)

:: Part 2 - Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, Al-Abrar Mosque, Thian Hock Keng, Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre ::

Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church
Date of Construction: 1924
Date of Gazette: 23 March 1989
Address: 235 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068656
Architect: Swan and McLaren

The origins of this church of the Hokkien Chinese may be traced to a rented shophouse in Japan Street (now Boon Tat Street). In 1913, the church had already bought what was to be its present site, a piece of land at the junction of Telok Ayer Street and Cecil Street. But construction work did not follow at once, and services were held under a tent which soon collapsed. A chapel of wood and corrugated iron was then erected but this too was soon filled to capacity. It was not until 1924-25 that the large and permanent building that you see today was built. The well known Chinese evangelist, John Sung preached here in 1935. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=202)

Al-Abrar Mosque
Date of Construction: 1850-1855
Date of Gazette: 19 November 1974
Address: 192 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068635

The alternative name for this mosque is Kuchu Palli, which is a Tamil term meaning the “hut mosque”. This indicates the humble beginnings of the mosque in the early 19th century. The brick and plaster building was not built until 1850-55. The mosque is discernible in an 1856 painting by Percy Carpenter entitled “Telok Ayer as seen from Mount Wallich”. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=180)

Thian Hock Keng
Date of Construction: 1839-1842 (Thian Hock Keng), 1849 (Chung Wen Pagoda), 1913 (Chong Hock Pavilion)
Date of Gazette: 28 June 1973
Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068613

Situated at the site of a joss house where immigrants from China to Singapore offered thanks for a safe voyage, the temple was built between 1839-1842. Historical data relating to the founding of the temple, and the list of donors were inscribed on several plaques inside the main courtyard to the right and left of the main entrance. Tan Tock Seng was the biggest donor, and the Hokkien Association was initially based at the temple. Tan Tock Seng’s son, Tan Kim Ching, inherited his father’s mantle as head of the Hokkien Association. One of his duties was to register Hokkien marriages at his office within the temple precincts. The pillars of iron wood and granite and the carved stonework used for this temple were imported from China at a handsome expense. The chief deity, Ma-Cho-Po or Goddess of the Seafarers, was brought from Fukien Province and enshrined here in 1840. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=169)

Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre
Date of Construction: 1827-1830
Date of Gazette: 19 November 1974
Address: 140 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068604

This shrine built between 1827-1830 to the memory of a holy man, Shahul Hamid of Nagore, but it contains no bodily relic of him. It is fascinating for its combination of Palladian features on the street level with the Islamic balustrade above. There is also a Nagore Durgha shrine located in Chulia Street, Penang. This suggests that the pioneers of this community in both Singapore and Penang meant to build replicas of the original shrine in Negapatam, South India, to commemorate in the places they ventured out to as expatriates and sojourners. (source: http://www.pmb.sg/?page_id=178)

At the end of the tour, we were given these items:

Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) umbrella.
"Monuments - Our Standing History."

"Already Famous" 《一泡而红》 movie tickets.

Thanks for the wonderful opportunity, I Love Museums! It was an enriching and informative learning experience, with awesome guide - Mr. Mark Lee.

Look out for the next Explore Singapore! 2011 event:
It's A Great Great Weekend at ACM!
where: Asian Civilisations Museum
when: Saturday, 3 Dec 2011, 6pm – 9pm
* 6pm – Fun activities, 8pm – Movie screening
Free admission to galleries from 6pm – 11pm
Free admission

Pack your picnic baskets, and take a trip to the past at the Asian Civilisations Museum! Enjoy the local blockbuster, "It's A Great Great World" under the stars! Set in the 1940s, the movie follows a multitude of characters who had lived, worked, played, and fell in love at Singapore's legendary amusement park, Great World. Don't miss our latest exhibition, "Patterns of Trade: Indian Textiles for Export, 1400 – 1900", and other fun activities. Look forward to a special programme featuring Mark Lee and Suhaimi Yusof!


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