Archive for July 30th, 2007

Kampong Bugis or 火城

When you mention 火城 in the past, most people will know you were talking about Kampong Bugis or Kallang Junction. Specifically 火城 referred to Kampong Bugis instead of Kallang Junction. But why named it 火城 (Fire City – direct translation)? It’s probably due to the installation of the Gas Work at the Kallang Juction or Kampong Bugis.

So when Kallang Gas Work started? Maybe 1861, take a look here. Maybe it’s easier to know the Kallang Gas Works ceased operation on 23 Mar 1998. This big blue cylinder is really a landmark at Kallang. Most people will know of it’s existence in the past.

Let’s take an aerial view of this blue cylinder from an old photo;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

This was how it looked in 1961. Take note of the surrounding buildings and landmarks.

Take a look at this very old street directory;

Credit : Singapore Street Directory, Chief Surveyor

The Gasworks was shown clearly on the map. Below is another old street directory showing the Gasworks location and it’s surrounding;

Credit : Singapore Street Directory 1976 edition, Chief Surveyor

So what memories did it bring back for me?

1. Chicken shops at Kallang Junction

These are the row of shophouses located along the Kallang Road near the junction of Crawford Street shown number 2 in the above map. There were a couple of shops selling chicken and eggs. I remember my godmother and godsister brought me there to buy those eggs that were about to hatch. They used to check it by holding the egg against a light bulb. The popular coffee shop was a much later event.

2. Kwong Fook Chinese School

This was a local Chinese School where my father once studied there. Its premises were now occupied by the Tai Pei Buddhist Centre;

3. Old houses along Kallang Road

These were the old houses located along Kallang Road towards the Gasworks before the Hindu Temple shown on the left below;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

4. Hindu Temple and Trespass Sign

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

The familiar red white stripes on the side wall of this Hindu temple is another landmark just before the Kallang Gasworks along Kallang Road or Kampong Bugis. This Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple was built just after the gasworks were established.

Also you will find this no trespass sign if you pass by that place at that time;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

To others, the Kallang Gasworks may made them recall the 1964 Racial Riots;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

So what is left behind now? Here is how the Kallang Junction looks like in 2005;

Photo credit : Wikipedia

See the blue cylinder was gone (above photo). What you can see now is the remains of one of the gasholder located at the Car Park of Kampong Bugis;

Map credit : Mighty Minds, Singapore Street Directory

See how this gas holder looked like in 1900;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

The other remains are the hardware used in Gasworks incorporated into this Spirit of Kallang Sculpture;

Photo Credit : Nusantara.com

You will find this sculpture on the left if you are driving along Crawford Street towards Beach Road.

And this is how the place looks like now in 2007;


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