Archive for January, 2008

Tay Buan Guan Entrance

There seems to be some confusion regarding my previous post on Tay Buan Guan…regarding it’s entrance haha. My fellow blogger friend Peter has emailed me too that Rumah Bebe doesn’t seem to be the Tay Buan Guan entrance that fits the black and white photo I posted;

Photo Credit : Portrait of Places

So it’s the current Rumah Bebe shop the real entrance to Tay Buan Guan? If it’s not, then many sources have been wrong…

Let’s investigate!

1. First take a look at the URA Walking Guide;

Photo Credit : Oceanskies79

In the guide, it said;

Check out the origins of the former Tay Buan Guan Katong Shopping Centre
• Former Tay Buan Guan Shop, now Rumah Bebe, 113 East Coast Road, Tel: 6247 8781

The faint TBG print on the shopfront of 113 East Coast Road is the only sign of its once bustling former occupant, the Tay Buan Guan shop. The Tay Buan Guan department store grew from this humble shophouse to a multi-storey shopping centre located to the rear of East Coast Road, and was one of Singapore’s best-loved shopping hubs. …
…This shophouse is now known as Rumah Bebe (Bebe’s House), a Peranakan arts and crafts…..”

My Point : This unit number may be the first Tay Buan Guan shop along East Coast Road that the late Mr.Tay started. From this first shop (unit 113), it grew bigger.

2. Now let’s check the National Library Board, Singapore Infopedia;

- Early History
…Then he rented a shophouse and opened the first Tay Buan Guan shop, a provision shop in Pennefather Road. … But after the war ended, he returned to his business with a renewed vigour, opening three shops on East Coast Road. The shops presumably did well as in 1948, he was able to purchase a piece of land bound by East Coast Road, Joo Chiat Road and Fowlie Road. He built the Tay Buan Guan Supermarket on that piece of land, the first department store in the east. …

- Description
The Tay Buan Guan Supermarket had a Chinese emporium, a costume jewellery shop and a pharmacy within its premises. … The Chinese emporium was called the Singapura Emporium Limited and it occupied the first floor of the 4-storey building. …

- Later Developments
The Tay Buan Guan Supermarket was made up of 13 freehold shophouses, some 2-storeys high, located at 83-119 (odd numbers) East Coast Road.

My Point : There may be 3 shops at East Coast Road. Tay Buan Guan Supermarket was 4 storey high.

3. When I do a Google Search with Tay Buan Guan Adress, I was pointed to 83A East Coast Road.

The link shows the map by Singapore Street Directory. Note the address is 83A and not 113. Unit 83 now is occupied by Greentown Audio Video (SONY products) and unit 113 is occupied by Rumah Bebe. So is Greentown Audio Video the real entrance to Tay Buan Guan Supermarket (the old photo)?

My Point : So the official address of Tay Buan Guan may be 83A East Coast Road instead of 113 East Coast Road. But why 83A and not 83. Usually ‘A’ refers to the staircase entrance to upstair unit.

4. Again when you Google Search East Coast Road, the National Library Board, Singapore Infopedia shows;

Description
Katong area
Popular landmarks in the 1950s and 1960s include Katong’s first supermarket, Tay Buan Guan Building and cinemas like Odeon, Palace and Roxy. …The Tay Buan Guan shopping centre were torn down in 2001 to make way for a condominium project.”

My Point : So part of the properties owned by Tay Buan Guan were torn down to build a condominium. If I can find the condo, that must be part of Tay Buan Guan too. Oh no, so how big is Tay Buan Guan? Yes, unit 83 to 119!

5. Another blogger, Katong Gal, blogged about Tay Buan Guan too.

“…Tay Buan Guan (also called TBG) was situated just behind the row of shophouses on East Coast Road which continues into Joo Chiat Road; it could be reached through three of the shophouses. One of these shophouses was a confectionary. … The other two shophouses had different uses – can’t remember exactly what but I do recall that for some years one was used as a thoroughfare into the main East Coast Road. Near the entrance to this particular building was a games arcade. …

My Point : So there may be 2 or 3 entrance to Tay Buan Guan. One is via the carpark or the backlane. And these backlane or carpark may housed one of the Tay Buan Guan shops. The other may be via the front shophouse like unit 83 or unit 113.

6. Now what Peter said in his email;

“…You see I used to park my car in TBG carpark. There were 2 carpsk, the big faced the back of the bank, this small carpark was closer to ths supermarket. Separating the carpark from the row of shops was a lane and a fence.

…There were two ways to get to East Coast Road. One was through TBG Shop (“Katong Shopping Center”) where there was an Indian framemaker called Adi. The other was through a small lane sandwiched between two buildings. I usually took the side lane to get to the former Hong Kong Noddle House (enter by back door) and the Asia Commercial Bank (later became 101 Beauty and Health Center, a massage joint). All this while I thot the side lane was beside Katong Bakery; which was not the case. In fact the side lane was beside the bank (right of bdlg) which is now Sing Ho Hainanese Chicken Rice. The cobbler sat outstide the Katong Bakery. …”

My Point : So this confirm that there was another entrance via the carpark and lane behind. There is a small lane between two blocks of building. Like what Peter said, that 113 unit (Rumah Bebe) may be used as an office by Tay Buan Guan.

So I make a trip down to view from behind. Before that let’s take a look at the map provided by Singapore Street Directory;

I went in via the Onan Road and hope to find the old carpark there. But as confirmed by the above sources, the carpark was not there and part of the Tay Buan Guan properties were gone and made way for the Malvern Springs Condo;
Then I went via to the backlane via the side lane between the 2 blocks of building as mentioned by Peter;
Above Photo provided by Peter.
I took a look at the #113 Rumah Bebe back, but it was not as high as the #83 Greentown Audio Video. Let’s take a look at the back view of this #83 unit;
The Katong Bakery is just a few units from this #83 old Tay Buan Guan unit. The Katong Bakery is extended all the way back as seen in this back lane view;
Now if we take a second look at the first black and white photo of the Tay Buan Guan in this post (at the top), I noticed that both pillars at the entrance were ‘slanted’ or at an angle. It’s not like the rest where it’s right angle. This coincide with the ‘slanted’ pillars of the #83 Greentown Audio Video too;
The #113 Rumah Bebe pillars are not ‘slanted’. So from all the above points, the chances of the black and white Tay Buan Guan photo matches the #83 unit are higher.
Also please take note of the flooring pattern of the old Tay Buan Guan photo matches that of the #83 one (stripes type).
Below is a photo of the old carpark at Tay Buan Guan;
Photo Credit : National Heritage Board, Joo Chiat CCC


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