My Old Katong Pt.1 – Katong Shopping Centre And Odeon Katong

Let me wish all friends here a Happy 2008 New Year before I begin my first post for this year.

Katong Shopping Centre;

So when was it built? Yes, 35 years ago, opened in 1973, it was one of the nearest shopping centres from my home in Haig Road back then. I loved to visit there during Saturday especially after my NCC Air ECA (now known as CCA) at the Haig Road Camp.

When my dad bought a 5rm flat at Haig Road in the early 70s, I was so happy as it was within walking distance to so many shopping area there like Katong Shopping Centre, City Plaza, Tanjong Katong Complex, Parkway Parade – of course some were built later.

This 35 years old shopping centre used to be full of textiles and shoes shops in the early days. The popular Oriental Emporium was located at one corner occupying 2 floors. It was fun shopping there especially before the Chinese New Year.

Below is how it looked like in 1994;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Now the whole place especially the basement and ground floor, are full of eatery shops. But I must said some of the eateries shops served value for money food. The good old Oriental Emporium, and many textiles and shoes shops were gone… This used to be a good place to know some Tanjong Katong Girls School students haha.

Luckily this old shopping centre still retains its old look and not much of a makeover like most other shopping mall. The main structural change is probably the addition of a lift at the corner near the Haig Road.

This is how it looks now(photo taken Dec 2007);

The eateries at the basement;

Somehow as I’m very much older now, this shopping centre seems to have ‘shrink';

Odeon Katong Shopping Complex;

I wonder how many still remember the old Odeon Katong Theatre (Cinema) here before this Odeon Katong Shopping Complex was built? For how long the old Odeon Katong Theatre was here, I really don’t know. If I will to base on the 1988 Edition of Singapore Street Directory, it was still here in 1988. However the 1998 Edition of the Singapore Street Directory, it shows Odeon Katong Shopping Complex instead. So it must be between 1988 to 1998 that there was a makeover.

This is the old Odeon Katong Theatre in 1960;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Frankly I’m not too sure if there is a mix-up of dates as I recall that in the early 80s, the new Odeon Katong seems to be there already. During the Chinese New Year, I remember I went up to the cinema by escalator to book 3 days advance tickets for a movie. It was a norm to book advance tickets up to 3 days and usually the queue was extremely long during the Chinese New Year period. Haha, maybe I’ve got the years wrong myself….anyway…

Here is the 1994 look of the Odeon Katong Shopping Complex;

And the updated look in 2007 below;

I didn’t realise that the cinemas inside were gone…until I dropped by last month. See what the whole building becomes;

Can’t see…haha…let me tell you: 80% of the building occupied by Cornerstone Community Church! In fact, a number of old cinemas in Singapore have been converted to Church.

Here is the escalator leading to the old Odeon Katong cinema;

There is some changes to the road when the Odeon Katong Shopping Centre was built.

Before the Odeon Katong Shopping Centre was built, the Mugliston Road was terminated before the canal at the Katong Shopping Centre Carpark Entrance;

Now after the Odeon Katong Shopping Complex was built, the Mugliston Rd was extended below the building and joined with the Ean Kiam Place;

I don’t know how long these 2 buildings will last especially the Katong Shopping Centre. Those old buildings surrounding are going and gone one by one…

to be continued in Pt.2

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55 Responses to “My Old Katong Pt.1 – Katong Shopping Centre And Odeon Katong”


  1. 1 Lam Chun See Friday, January 4, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Although Katong area is not my ‘territory’ I do know about the theatres there. I have been to Odeon Katong a couple of times, plus the Roxy and Hollywood. I also been to the bowling alley around Katong Shopping Complex vicinity.

  2. 2 scy Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 5:37 am

    I live around the area from 1984 to 1991. During those years the Katong Odeon cinema was frequently visited. It was still pretty new in 1984. So my guess that the place was probably built one year before. After I left the area, I don’t visit the cinema anymore so I’m not sure when they stop operating. Probably between 1993-94.

  3. 3 Victor Koo Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    As you are aware, I also lived in Haig Road from mid 70s till the early 80s. It is my brother’s flat and his family is still staying there.

    I used to cycle to Katong and East Coast Park as my good friend stayed in Amber Road. I also often visited the bowling alley on the 7th floor of Katong Shopping Centre. Is it still there?

  4. 4 peter Monday, January 7, 2008 at 6:29 am

    You forgot a well-known “singanture shop” which opened in 1988 until recent times? It outlived the cinema, secondhand car dealers and a book store.

  5. 5 laokokok Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Chun See, the Hollywood now is SS supermarket. Sad to see it in this state…

    SCY, so maybe it was in the early 80s that the Odeon Katong makeover.

    Victor, I’m too engrossed in the food alley below that I’ve totally forgotten about the bowling alley on top! Maybe next time will find out…guess the only access is by lift and not escalator. There are lots of maid agency there now.

    Peter, do you mean the Katong Antique Shop or Post Office?

  6. 6 peter Monday, January 7, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I refer to the shop inside Odeon Cinema Complex.

    There is also another infamous Chinese school next to Hollywood Cinema. It was a hub of Chinese students unrest against the govt in the 1950s. Now it is some CDC.

  7. 7 laokokok Monday, January 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Yes the one besides Hollywood is Yock Eng Sch right? But the shop inside Odeon Cinema….no idea haha.

  8. 8 peter Monday, January 7, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    alamak Laokokok,
    u mean u never step inside and head for second floor?

    Anybody heard about thsi food joint called :Chuck E Cheese at Parkway Parade when it was first opened in 1983? I used to bring my kids there and they enjoyed it very much.

  9. 9 laokokok Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 8:41 am

    If you are talking about Odeon Katong, the place that I head to is the cinema on top. Frankly at that period, eating is not my interest – don’t know why hehe.

    Even now you tell me Chuck E Cheese, I also don’t know what’s that and paisei – never heard of it… Cheese is not my type, you may move it haha.

  10. 10 scy Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Chuck E Cheese is inside the department store, Small World. A popular place with kids. I was still in primary school and in those days, I don’t really get to eat pizza but I really like small world, especially the make your own candy floss machine. Small World moved out of Parkway Parade pretty soon. It occupied 2 or 3 storeys. One of the floor space is now occupied Mark and Spencer. Parkway Parade used to be my favourite place. Now I’m overseas so I don’t get to visit it anymore and I really missed it.

  11. 11 laokokok Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Yes Parkway Parade used to be a good shopping place. But now, if I drive to there – I hate it! Parking is always full…

  12. 12 peter Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks SCY for reminding me the exact location. I knew it was at some small corner somewhere in parkway Parade.

    Although Chuck E Cheese sold pizza, I too joined-in n gretaly enjoyed the place because they had plenty of entertainment. You buy some food and then find a table. U sat there and watch the puppets and the flags waving each time they play a song.

  13. 13 daddyto3 Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Can you do a post on Hotel New World some day? That would be very interesting. It was a MEGA catastrophe then.

    Thanks!

  14. 14 laokokok Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Will do Daddyto3. Already archive some photos and documents. BTW Happy New Year to you and your family.

  15. 15 scy Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 2:11 am

    While we are on the topic of parkway parade, does anyone remember the open air play ground at level 7? You need to take the lift to level 6 car park and then walk up a flight of stairs. That was one of my favourite play ground. The place was closed years later, with plans of building cinema at that location but it never happen.

    Here is a trivia on Katong Shopping Center. There is an air-conditioned food court at the basement corner. It used to be a coffee house before it became a food court in 1985. Can anyone remember the name of the coffee house?

  16. 16 laokokok Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Hi SCY,
    Not many ppl know what coffee house means…haha…to the younger generation, they may thought it’s kopitiam. Now you mentioned it, yah, what’s that name of the coffee house???

    As for parkway parade, I kinda miss that peppermint park lounge/ pub at the top level. That’s the one with live band playing…

  17. 17 Easterner Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Hello, I think the Black and White photo is not Odean-Katong that you are talking about. It is a cinema opposite the Katong Laksa which(I forgot the name also), the cinema has been torn down long time ago. I remember I caught the earlier Hui Brothers movies from that cinema.

  18. 18 Easterner Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Anyone here remember Tay Ban Guan supermarket which was quite popular at Katong?

  19. 20 peter Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Tay Buan Guan – came here in 1967 to buy a tube of shuttle cocks. First time in my life to ever won lucky draw. We got a 3 seater,two single seaters and a marble table top cofee table. The prize was worth S$2K. Tay Buan Guan occupied all 2 floors. Ground floor was a supermarket, the first in east coast area for locals. In the 1980s Tay Buan Guan became a sleazy joint – there was a something “Solid Gold Health Canter”, a pool bar at one corner of the second floor and Honky Tong Pub next to the staircase.

    Parkway Parade – 7th floor. there was an open-air children’s playground. Used to hangout at Peppermint Park when it was first opened in 1983 by my schoolmate. I think this was the first pub where no dancing (because govt banned discos then) but a live band to entertain the audience. There were 2 levels at Peppermint Park – unfortunately already married so cannot hangout longer with the friends….. Later Peppermint Park expanded to the former Singapore Handicraft Center as Aquarius.

    Has anybody wonder why katong girls more “jude” than other places in Singapore?

  20. 21 peter Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Who can remember a good cobbler outside Tay Buan Guan?

    There was also an Indian framemaker, a fish aquarium and a biccyle shop inside the Tay Buan Guan complex in the 1980s.

  21. 22 laokokok Friday, January 11, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Hi Easterner,
    That black and white photo was Odeon Katong. If you enlarge the words, you can see the name. The other 2 theatres which were opposite to Odeon Katong along the same East Coast Rd were Palace and Roxy.

  22. 23 katherine ng Friday, January 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog very much. It brings back fond memories of olden Singapore. I grew up in the East Coast area and I remember fondly Katong Shopping Centre, Ocean Theatre, Tay Buan Guan, Bedok Camp just to mention a few. I used to go for my facial and haircut at Charlotte on the 2nd floor rear left hand side of KSC. I wonder if anybody even remember Charlotte. The owners (2 ladies) later migrated to Canada. That was in late 70’s or early 80’s. I myself migrated to California. Anyway, thanks for your blog. Keep up the good work !

  23. 24 peter Friday, January 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Laokokok

    U got any information about Ocean Cinema? It ran third-hand Chinese shows until mid-70s, then it became a food court for a while. Now it is gone. It is somewhere i n Siglap.

  24. 25 scy Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 8:58 am

    The coffee house mentioned has a European sounding name, De Castle.
    Nobody use the term coffee house anymore? What are such places called now? Cafe?

  25. 26 Jack Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Thanks for bringing back my memories…

  26. 27 Jack Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Anyone remember the computer shops at Katong Shopping Center? 2nd floor at the corners. Copy games $1 if you use your own diskette. $2 if you use theirs.

    Photostated game manuals VS photostated game manuals with colored cover pages around $3 to $5 each.

    Spent hours in that place.

  27. 28 laokokok Monday, January 14, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Hi SCY, yes not many called these places coffee house nowadays. In fact I think the business model is also rather different from the past. They are probably just known by their names.

    Hey Jack, you are right about the Katong Shopping Centre. Haha, not so sure if these shops still doing it or still around…

  28. 29 laokokok Monday, January 14, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Hi Peter, I don’t think so I’ve the infos on Ocean Cinema at Upp East Coast. That cinema was rather isolated and quite a distance from my house.

  29. 30 laokokok Monday, January 14, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Hi Katherine. Welcome here and hope you enjoy reading the blog here. Do drop by again.

  30. 31 scy Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Jack, I remember those shops. In those days, they have a folder with the list of software available. You order what you want at the counter and wait for them to copy the software for you. Before there were cyber cafe, these shops also rent out computer for kids to play. I think the most popular game at that time was Romance of the Three Kingdoms. You can always see kids in school uniform crowding in front of the terminal playing games.

  31. 32 katherine ng Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    laokoko – Sure, I am a fan of your blog and Lam Chun See’s too. I will be visiting

  32. 33 Jack Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Oh yes scy. Most will be playing bandit king from ancient china or romance. Some of them smoke when they play and the whole place stink.

    First they started with folders. Then someone thought of packing those disks with manuals into clear bags and added a manual with colored cover pages. A game like King’s Quest V with 10 disks cost around $20.

    When CDs took over diskettes, those shopped disappeared and for a few years, there were more than a handful of shops selling pirated games on CDs. haha

  33. 34 Damien Monday, January 21, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Glad i found this blog, i m too from katong in the 80s. Was staying at Haig road fairdrive and studying at Dunman sec during my time there.

  34. 35 fangyi Monday, January 21, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    hi,

    happen to see ur blog thru some online search.
    i m currently doing a project on Katong Shopping Center,can i get some pictures on the Katong Shopping Center?

  35. 36 laokokok Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 7:15 am

    HI Fangyi,
    Pls go ahead if they are my photos.

  36. 37 farah Friday, February 8, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    i happened to see this while doing research. im doing a project on shopping b4 shpping centres were built. cn u tell me hw u shopped b4 shopping centres were built n when was the first shopping centre built?
    pls reply as soon as possible
    sorry for any inconvenence

  37. 38 laokokok Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Anyone can help Farah on here project?

  38. 41 b sim Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Ah, a wonderful post! A very old Katong kid here – I stayed & schooled within the vicinity from the mid-80s to the early 90s. For a time, I lived in the apartments above the cinema.

    Hope I’m not too late to attempt an answer… Peter, I think the “signature shop” of Odeon Katong you refer to is none other than the Chinese comics bookstore which then relocated to Katong Shopping Centre next door… and boy, I have heard so many rumours about that manhua (wink, wink) bookstore before its move! That place was a significant influence on the formative years of many, indeed.

    Who can forget the wonderful computer shops at KSC! Their heydays were from 1987 to 1993, methinks. For better or worse, I got into the Computing industry because of many hours of computer “appreciation” at those places @ $2 per hour. Ah.. RT3K, Bandit Kings, Nobunaga’s Ambition..

    Basic Computers & KSC Hardwarehouse were really cool places to hang out at!

  39. 43 AD Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 5:40 am

    哦。。ODEON KATONG 是我的家!:)

  40. 44 peek-a-boo Monday, January 12, 2009 at 2:04 am

    What a relief to see Katong Shopping Center still hanging in there!
    Some of us KC girls secretly hung out there Saturday afternoons after ECA.I can still picture myself at the bus stop in front of the entrance steps nervous that my mother or nosey Aunties would catch me with my boyfriend from St.Pat’s LOL!

    I’m surprised to see here that Odean Theatre is now a Shopping Center.Another one!Good grief I’m really out of touch as I haven’t been back to S’pore in over 20 years.

    Nice pictures!

  41. 45 adder Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Anybody remember the name of that fast food joint at odeon back in the 80s? For the life of me, I just can’t recall it.. Even though I frequented it like every week back then..

  42. 46 jeeves Monday, March 2, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Peter, I remember Ocean cinema at Siglap. The site now houses Starbucks and Gelare. I believe it ran till the mid-to-late 80s, cos I somehow remember watching Gremlins there! Haha..

  43. 47 East End Boy Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Is it true that Katong Shopping Centre has gone en bloc? And the new owners are going to transform it into a modern mall?

  44. 48 Loretta aka The Bakerwoman Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I remembered there were many shoe shops in the late 70’s….my mum would brg me to Katong Shopping Ctr to buy my CNY shoes….several textile shops…..

    After shopping, we’ll head to the Red House bakery to buy the tarts and bread! A few units away, we would buy some nonya kuehs for tea time…..

    Yeah, I remembered Katong Shopping Ctr was the favourite hangouts for St Pats, KC and St Hilda’s students ;)

  45. 49 Hari Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Katong has lost some of it niceness today guys. Too much evidence of vice in the area in my humble opinion. i hope someday the old spirit will return.

  46. 50 Sony lim Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    When I was a kid in the 1950’s (about 7 yrs old then) my mom used to take me to the movies at Roxy and the Oden, after that we would go to have ice cream at the Cold Storage store and at times at the Oasis ice cream place. Good memories.

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  1. 1 Katong – Ji Bao Eating House (吉宝小吃) at Odean Katong Building | Papa cooks Trackback on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 10:17 am

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