My Old Katong Final Pt.- Other Lost Landmarks

The other lost landmarks of Katong were located at the Heart of Katong – from Katong Shopping Centre to Still Road. I will just emphasize on the 4 main icons of Katong – Katong Bakery House, Tay Buan Guan, Joo Chiat Police Station and Katong People’s Complex . You can see the map below;

With the old names gone and new names over its place, it’s rather difficult to find them if you are not a regular at Katong. Even I am having trouble to locate the old TBG (Tay Buan Guan).

Katong Bakery House aka Red House Bakery

How I missed the fragrance when walking past this bakery shop. When it was there, I don’t seem so keen to pop in as it was rather old fashion and crowded. That was many many years ago when I was still in my 20s.

Located at 75 East Coast Road, the eye-catching red colored building has been an icon or landmark of Katong for many years.

It was around for 78 years since 1925 to 2003. It finally came to stop when it was deemed unsafe by the authority. It is said that Katong Bakery was the first to bake a 3-tier western wedding cakes in Singapore around 1920s. This bakery was famous for its curry puff too but I’ve yet to try it before…

So take a look of it in the past;

Photo Credit : Portrait of Places

And now how it looks (taken on 11 Jan 2008);

A subsidiary of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), is the legal owner of the property. So it’s currently undergoing restoration works and will it be an office unit or school or remain as a F&B outlet, let’s cross our fingers. Glad to know that this icon has been conserved by the authority.

Click here to learn more about this Red House Bakery.

Tay Buan Guan Supermarket

It was probably the first supermarket in the East set up in 1948 by Mr. Tay Leck Teck. Its business was badly affected by the newer shopping area nearby like Parkway Parade, and it finally wound up after 52 years in 2000.

Photo Credit : Portrait of Places

If you see the above photo, besides the name Tay Buan Guan, it also has the name Katong Shopping Centre.

It housed a Chinese emporium called Singapura Emporium, a pharmacy and a costume jewellery shop. This emporium occupied the 1st floor of the 4-storey building. The ground floor and 2nd floor were other departmental stores, while the 3rd floor was roof garden. The ground floor where the supermarket located also had a milk bar.

Click here to learn more about Tay Buan Guan Supermarket.

The TBG was located at 113 East Coast Road, on the same stretch as the Red House Bakery. Though I’ve walked past this TBG many times, but I’ve only been to inside only a couple of times, shame right?

So what has it becomes now? It has turned into a shop called “Rumah Bebe”, a Peranakan Heritage Home;

But is the structure still the same from afar;

Doesn’t look quite the same right? Though there is a year 1928 on the front, but how can we confirm that it was previously the TBG building? Let’s examine some ‘tell-tale’ signs left behind;

There are 2 TBG logos left behind on the 2 side pillars. The rest of the wall tiles and floor tiles, I’m not too sure if they are from the past;

The trishaw above seems to be part of the shop decoration. Now that the TBG was gone, I yearn to go in…are you like me haha?

Joo Chiat Police Station

Of course it’s one of those places that I don’t wish to go in. I have walked past it and also parked my car on the side road besides it when I wanted to visit that DBS bank there. The DBS bank was located at this GRTH No.66 Building;

On the left of this side road, is the old Joo Chiat Police Station now called the Katong Village or Hong Kong Tea House;

Take a look below when it was still a police station;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

So how old is this Joo Chiat Police Station building? Probably as old as the TBG building, about 80 years old. So when did this police station cease to be one? Maybe in 1980s if I’m not wrong.

Katong People’s Complex

Before I end this Old Katong episode, do you know what comes before Katong Mall?

Many may have forgotten the former Katong People’s Complex (not to be confused with People’s Park Complex though same developer) – the shopping complex with steel structure and gigantic pipes at the exterior. Some said the pipes constituted to the bad fengshui. Built in 1983 and aka ‘prison with pipes’ back then, the building was struggling with poor business and in 1994, a woman was shot by an unknown gunman.

Now take a look at this Katong People’s Complex in 1990;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singaore, PICAS

Then what’s on this site before Katong People’s Complex? If you take a look at the 1970s Singapore Street Directory, you may find that it’s actually a market before this complex! This market was previously from the now Hock Ann Eating House site. Where is this market now…somehow it has now shifted to Marine Parade.

Read more about Katong;

- Katong History

- Rediscover Katong/ Joo Chiat

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36 Responses to “My Old Katong Final Pt.- Other Lost Landmarks”


  1. 1 peter Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Lao,

    Are my eyes playing tricks?

    The old photo of TBG (the one 3 people outside, one man looking inside) was the one which they demolished and not the same as the Rumah Bebe. I think the Tay family own some of the old shophouses. Even Katong Baby and Child Clinic (now moved further up East Coast Road) comes from a rich landed class who own several shophouses in that area. Have you tried Nallur Road – you see one Manor House owned by Katong baby and Child Clinic family.

    In your old photo, the Indian framemaker was the nearest shop to East Coast Road. Then you walk through an alley where you see on your life a bicycle shop and in front the Honky Tong Lounge. ON your right was the fish aquarium. Betwen Honky Tong Lounge and the fish acquarium was the open-air carpark which sits behind the Katong Bakery (Katong Bakery is not Red House Bakery although painted red. Red House Bakery is at the corner of Victoria Street and Bras Basah Road where the Carlton Hotel now stands).

  2. 2 laokokok Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    HI Peter,
    I did have my doubts when I looked at the external structure of Rumah Bebe compared to TBG. But when I looked at the copy of Rediscover Joo Chiat/Katong from URA (think Victor has a copy too) or link to;

    http://www.ura.gov.sg/publications/walking_maps/images/wmKatong-Book.pdf

    You may see a map with the legend at the second last page. It stated down as No.11: Former Tay Buan Guan shop, now Rumah Bebe.

    It may be true as our architects are very good in partial demolishing works while retaining some of the heritage pillars around…

    Here is the detail of TBG;

    http://infopedia.nlb.gov.sg/articles/SIP_613_2005-01-28.html

    You are right, they have properties from No.83 (now the pet shop I think) to No.119. So when you look at the external structure, they do look different from the past.

    As for the Katong Bakery, yes the real Red House Bakery was not at Katong but that was what the Katong Bakery commonly known over there.

  3. 3 peter Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    OK now I got my angle correct. Yes they changed the facade of the “TBG shop” to keep in line with the rest of the Pernakan houses.

    The TBG you refer as the supermarket and department store was not in this “TBG shop”. The entrance to the supermarket/department store would have been to the left of the Katong Bakery because I remember there was a shortcut between TBG and Katong Bakery to a small backlane facing the TBG carpark. A cobbler used to keep his stall just in front of the Katong Bakery.

  4. 4 peter Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Lao
    I got one old photo of “TBG Shop”. Yes it was 2.5 storeys high, sticking out like a sore thumb because the rest were Pernakan houses and “TBG Shop” was tiled with mosaic.

    The Eurasian community loved ot hangout at Hong Kong Lounge in the ealry 1980s but today I am not sure where they hangout. Could it be at Mel’s Place?

  5. 5 peter Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Lao
    Much apologies for typo error. It should be Honky Tong Lounge and not Hong Kong Lounge.

  6. 6 Jack Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I remember the photo frame shop. I never knew about Tay Buan Guang until I see this blog.

    Now I think back and recalled that you can actually walk through the corridor beside the photo frame shop. There’s a parking lot and a supermarket beside that lot. So that’s Tay Buang Guang!

    I was there once, I remember now. I waited in the car while my dad went in to buy something.

  7. 7 tan wee kiat Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Hi! Laokokok,
    A few weeks back we (Peter, Victor, Chun See and me) had lunch (Chun See’s treat) at the Katong Village (old Katong Police Station) across the road from Rumah Bebe/TBG.

    Peter and I live in the East Coast area while Victor is a Saturday afternoon Katong foreign-talent immigrant (Katong is where he can be found on Saturday pm). If you have time on a Saturday afternoon to “ka kok” (Hokien for talking coc* and drink coffee), let me know.
    Regards,
    tan wee kiat

    http://retrievia.wordpress.com

    ————

  8. 8 peter Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:34 am

    The entrance to the TBG Supermarket and later to Honky Tong Lounge, Solid Gold Health Center, Indian framemaker, fish acquarium, bicycle shop and carpark was through #83 East Coast Road. #83 is now the SONY showroom. The external facade is still the same except the back is now sealed up with a concrete wall to form a shop-unit.

    #113 Rumah Bebe was the old TBG admin office and not the supermarket entrance.

  9. 9 laokokok Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:54 am

    HI Wee Kiat,
    Welcome and nice to see you here. Didn’t know you guys are the ‘patronage’ of Katong. Definitely will meet up one of these days.

  10. 10 laokokok Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Hi Peter,
    And on the left of Sony showroom, is the pet shop right? The Katong bakery is just a few steps away.

  11. 11 robert Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Does anyone remember Lau’s Acadia?

    I remember buying some records from a record store there in the 1970s.

    Are the haunted stories true?

  12. 13 peek-a-boo Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Hello everyone.My name is Jean.What a tearful walk down memory lane this blog has been for me.I grew up in Katong in the 70s.We lived nearby to St.Pats school.Robert yes I remember Lau’s Arcadia.We used to go and eat ice cream at a Coffee House there and for the air con.It was considered chic and a treat at the time LOL.I remember those haunted stories too but never really knew if they were true or not.I was more afraid of the Pontianak hiding behind banana trees LOL!This blog seems a few months out dated so I’m probably writing this in the air but thanks Laokokok.Sigh!I miss those happy and carefree days in my Katong.When the Gov reclaimed the land behind our house sadly everything changed and a certain innocence was lost.Forever.I don’t knock the Flats of course.Housing was urgently needed at the time but it did kill that certain seaside charm Katong had.Have a nice day everyone.

  13. 14 Ellen Tay Monday, September 29, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Hey,

    I’m a student Production Designer looking for an authentic-looking, or more traditional coffeeshop in Katong for a short film shoot to showcase some of the ‘good-olds’ in Singapore. I’m really touched when I view this site, seeing how well you guys seem to know Katong. Please do recommend me if there’s a good place for such shoot.

    Thanks everyone!

    Ellen

  14. 15 laokokok Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Hi Ellen,
    I’m not too sure of any extreme old coffee shops there at Katong, but if you stroll along the main road there are a few rather old ones. These are usually located at the corners.

  15. 16 hcl Friday, October 24, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Anyone remember the curry puff stall at the junction of ceylon road where the katong laksa stall is now? It was run by a hainanese couple n they made the best curry puff ever!! Can still remember the taste n aroma after all these years.. I really miss them. Also miss the custard puff, cream horn n choc cake at red house. Remember buying bread there when I was very young.. the uncle would tell me to go to the back n take those that just came out of the oven.. I used to stay opposite joo chiat police station. Remember looking at the police thru the binoculars from my room window.. Those good old days..wish can turn back the clock..

  16. 17 peek-a-boo Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Yes I certainly do remember the curry puffs there!So hot they used to scorch my hands and sizzle my tongue but they were delicious.However we prefered our cakes from Chin Mee Chin next to Katong Church.OMG I still have the taste of their yummy cream and curry puffs in my mouth.Sigh!

  17. 18 laokokok Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 7:17 am

    I’m wondering if Chin Mee Chin still carrying on their business? They don’t seem to open for business all the time. Any idea?

  18. 19 peek-a-boo Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 5:50 am

    I haven’t been back in Years. I do hope someone has info on the existence of Chin Mee Chin. My mother used to get her clothes altered at a women’s tailor shop just in front of it.Forgot its name. And not far away from Katong church there was the chic Boston Tailor. Not within our means but my brother longed to get a suit made there.

  19. 20 hcl Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Chin Mee Chin IS still in business. Just went there this morning. Bought custard puff, 80cents each, so ex.. Also bought the curry puff from marine parade hawker centre. Still $1 and very delicious but nothing can beat or even come close to those from the stall that is no more. Glad that Jean still remembers that stall!!

  20. 21 Siew Min Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I recall there was a coffee house on the ground floor of TBG and I used to look forward to my occasional treat of a “double scoop” chocolate ice cream.

    And the first shop on the 2nd floor of the shopping center (when you climb up the stairs)toy shop.

    Brings back such wonderful memories.

  21. 22 peek-a-boo Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Yes Siew Min I remember it too.I think it was called Wonderland or Fancyland or TBG Coffee House perhaps.My mother sometimes treated us to Banana Splits there.On the second floor there was an Indian book store and the famous Max Record shop where we gave lists of our favourite songs and Max would tape it all in cassette tapes.

  22. 24 Siew Min Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Hi peek-a-boo,

    Wonderland or TBG Coffee Houses does sound familiar but I don’t think it was called FancyLand !

    I do remember the Indian Book Store too. Think it was on the left row of shops. I don’t recall Max Records but the name is quite familiar and they may have shifted to Katong Shopping Center after TBG closed.

    There was also a Supermarket behind the coffee house and an Aquarium on a little island near the entrance of the car park IIRC.

    On the subject of recording songs on cassette tapes. Yes, this was something many of us did and we have to spend time looking at the various albums in the shops and trying to recall them before writing them onto our little lists.

    I was just sharing with my daughter how times have changed as they now have MP3 players and can listen to and download songs off the internet.

    Something I could never have imagined all those years ago ….

  23. 25 peek-a-boo Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Yes Laokokok even having a milkshake was expensive and it was only a rare payday adventure or birthday treat to go to one of those ‘classy’ Coffee Houses.That’s what made it memorable.

    Siew Min I do remember that Supermarket at the side of TBG in front of the carpark.One of the first in the country I believe but mostly rich people shopped there,not us.Frozen foods like Birds Eye products were considered classy buys at the time LOL!
    Coming back to Wonderland upon reflection I now believe it was a Coffee House next to Roxy Theater and not at TBG.And Fancyland was a little Coffee House in front of Lau’s Arcadia.
    I think what we all appreciated most if we were lucky to go to these places was the air con.

  24. 26 Lawrence Monday, June 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    What is the ‘ghost’ story about Lau’s Arcadia? I have heard that there was a story on this but no one could tell me anything about it. Anyone know any leads?

  25. 27 Sian Monday, June 29, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Have left a comment about my time in Katong / Singapore on “About Me” page, but in addition, does anyone remember a hotel in the area called the Coq D’Or?

  26. 28 Nerissa Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

    hello, i’m doing my final year project and i’d like to use the red house bakery as my site. do you guys happen to know anything about it, or where i can find pictures of its interior and a detailed history or it? thank you

  27. 29 June Juan-Pogue Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hi,

    I happened to chanced upon your blog and was dreaming and reminiscing the past. I was also born in 1962 at KK Hospital at 7.30pm, hahaha…do you think us as babies before would have been in the same babies unit? :)

    Katong was my favorite hangout for pastries and cakes, etc, the other place was Mont D’or, at Ngee Ann Building and the branch at Queenstown. I wonder what has happened to the one at Queenstown? Cuz I know the one at Ngee Ann became Takashimaya Shopping Mall:)

    I love their hainanese Ah Kor style of pastry puff curry puff, their thick chuncky almond “biscuits” aka cookies. And their eclairs were heavenly!!!!! Do you know whether the Ah Kors who were bakers at the Queenstown branch, opened another place? Possibly, my hunch they may be long retired from their baking trade.

    I have not been to Singapore for so many years, since I left back in April 2002 to live in the US. My family and I planned to visit my parents, relatives and kakis in October 2009. I bet alot of things have changed? And getting more expensive?

    Wow, Singapore already 44 years young…lol HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SINGAPORE! *waves*

    I wanted to let you know that your blog is interesting and I would like to link it to my blogsite, hope that is ok with you?
    Love the nostalgic pics…tugging my heart strings…my favorites years have always been, the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

    God bless you!

    Sincerely,
    JP Pogue aka Cheena Bukit

  28. 30 laokokok Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:35 am

    HI JP Pogue,
    Glad you like my blog and pls go ahead to link my blog. Hope you enjoy your stay in Singapore in your next visit.

  29. 31 Adeline Khoo Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

    In regards to the pic “The DBS bank was located at this GRTH No.66 Building” – There was a popular Wonderland Restaurant on the 2nd storey, and we used to go there when I was like between 4 to 5 years old and that was like more than 35 years ago! Yummy Chinese food!

  30. 32 Cara Friday, September 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Hi. This is a wonderful walk down memory lane. I studied in St Hilda’s and i can safely say that Katong was my second home for more than a decade.

    I remember the curry puff at Ceylon Road. Used to be the standard snack that we will buy before hopping on the bus to go home from school. Other food memories include 2 storey chicken rice shop, fruit store where my fave drink was pineapple syrup drink with pineapple chunks, rojak prepared by a tall and skinny man and of course the laksa too. Not forgetting the mama side store where I use to buy my tidbits.

    And yes, Max Records was at Katong Shopping Centre. I did my tape recording purchase there.

    Got a school mate whose family owned TBG. Very down to earth family. But by then, Parkway Parade was the IN place to go after Katong Shopping Centre.

    Katong People’s Complex never made it as the The Next Place to be in. But I know that they revamped the place before and named it Katong Mall. Used to bring my kids there for some kids activity while I shop at cold Storage.

    Recently it has gone thru another revamp and now is called 112 Katong. How I know this? Because I was checking out a employment website and chanced upon this job fair recruiting for staff to work in 112 Katong – http://www.e2i.com.sg/events/job_fairs/112katong/ and got curious about the changes with Katong.

    And lo and behold I found this blog.

    Did you know that our ex President Nathan resided in Ceylon Road too? Very near the Indian temple.

    Had good memories here and Katong will always have a place in my heart.

    Cheers everyone.

    Cara

    • 33 Lee Huey Ching Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Cara

      So happy to chance upon your post! Feels like I have found a long lost friend simply because you used to study at St Hilda’s! I, too spent 10 years there:)

      Also pleased that one more person remember the curry puff stall at Ceylon Rd..

      Today is a Wonderful day!!
      hcl

  31. 34 mohan Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I just came across this blog site today.. it reminded me of the days before the sea was reclaimed. When i see Roxy theater i remember my dad’s retail store – “Lucky Star” opposite the Roxy. Its was 59 East Coast road – now turned into another katong laxsa store. I was young growing along the streets of katong – ceylon road, marshall road, joo chiat road. HDB housing were still a concept, so we used to live renting a place for a couple of years and then move again. But we were always in the vicinity. School used to be Seraya Primary – which was at the back alley where St Hilda’s was . Had to pass the Sri Vinayagar temple everyday – so paid my respects tot he gods and then headed on to school. My friends were all kinds then – we were Indians, Malays, Chinese, Peranakans, Eurasians.. never was there any talk of color or creed – just friendship. Played chaptay, gasing (top), kuti2, chang kuda, etc when we were not in school. Parents used to give us a trashing when we were playing too much..but it was all fun. Behind the red bakery was a house that had 2 fierce dogs.. we used to run when they chased us down the alley. Life was so sedate and fun. On Sundays we would hang out at on of the friends homes (Ceylon road) – to watch English football and then play football on Saturdays.
    Tay Buan Guan came and that was like wow for us when we had the first super market. We loved to hang out there to cool down with the air conditioned atmosphere of food and western tradition shopping. Above Tay Buan Guan used to be a departmental store… it was fun looking at the sales reps there and the kind of things they used to sell.
    Behind the shops along east coast just along ceylon road and marshall road, there used to be food stalls selling hokkien mee, soup kambing, etc..Teh tarek was the best ever.
    My friends were Bob, Eddie, William, Saukat, Yakat, Brian, Alen, who i recall some of them. There used to be shops like Bata, Adbul Rahiman (selling toys), Min Tong (Laundary), Provision shop, Smart Tailor, Red bakery, 2 Indian Muslim shops along our shops.
    My dad used to get the Indian muslim shop workers to teach me tamil – but i could not cope. So i got switched to Malay. My principal in Seraya was Mrs Yusof – who used to be coming to our shop for tailoring her clothes too. My dad was also a tailor, retailer, and my sis and i used to help my parents run the store when we were free.
    When our store got sold, we were really sad. We used to stay next to Roxy Cinema – a place called “wonderland” – next to Joo Chiat Police station. We could see the sea from the back balcony.
    When the sea was reclaimed and HDB housing came about – that was the demise of Katong. No one cared how it looked. Today – i am extremely sad that Katong has its Red Bakery – cordoned off with planks and that no one is allowed to do anything for it/to it. It would be a great Cafe place for young and old (esp old who can reminisce the good old days). The joo chiat police station has become a nuisance of a place there with electronics and god knows what. Now 112 is up and it has become worse.

    I remember the workers in Red Bakery those days and how they got old..
    I guess we don’t know how to take care of our old…..

    warmest wishes
    mohan

  32. 35 sonnyliew Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    It looks like there are plans to tear down the old joo chiat police HQ and replace it with a hotel. I’ve written to the heritage society about this, I hope steps can be taken to stop this madness

  33. 36 jc Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I remember TBG and the tinned food. And Red House was my favourite place for inhaling smells coming from the bakery. Shopping and hopping around Katong when I was little is something I won’t ever forget.


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