Archive for March, 2008



Beach Road Pt.2- Shaw Tower Revisit

…cont’d from Beach Road Pt.1 – NCO Club

I must admit that I’ve very poor sense of direction and not only that, I’m always confused with Shaw Tower, Shaw House, Shaw Centre and Shaw Plaza…

Ok for this post of course, I’m sure Shaw Tower is the one at Beach Road!

Built in 1974 at Beach Road, this was probably one of the tallest building there in the 70s. 3 things I remembered very well about this Shaw Tower;

- The steep slope leading into the building car park.

I’ve so far parked inside this tower less than 5 times and I don’t wish to try that again. In the past, I usually used manual gear cars so it was rather difficult to do clutch control.

- The 2 cinemas inside : Prince and Jade.

Seen quite a number of movies at Prince than Jade. Think both the Jade and Prince were opened in 1977. Prince is the bigger cinema and both are located on different floors and parts of the building. Later they have Prince 1 and 2, Jade 1 and 2 too. Read more here. It’s still around now;

- The 2 gift shops.

The Jade Gift Shop still around;

Used to go there to buy those items like belts, lighter, pen, etc..with brand like Dunhill, Cartier, Gucci, etc. Not too sure where is the other gift shop now but the Jade Gift Shop still around though what they sell now may be different from the past.

- The mobile disco (probably named Disco World) setup by a ex-poly grad.

This shop is no longer there now as the mobile disco popularity in the 70s and 80s was gone.

I think I’ve not been to this Shaw Tower for at least many years or maybe 2 decades. Yes, the last time I been to inside was probably in the late 80s. I don’t know why last Saturday when I drove past there, suddenly I felt the urge to take a walk inside. Of course I didn’t park inside the building but opposite (the public car park).

I am surprised that it’s no longer the same Shaw Tower that I’m familiar with. The crowd I used to see in the past also no longer there. At least found some old photos of Beach Road framed up along a passage way;

Besides some old photos of Beach Road, there are some interesting ‘gems’ on display.

A Punch Card Machine used by the employees to show time in and out (top left);

Below shows a blue cash register and a film cutter on the right;

Below shows some old cinema tickets;

Portriat of Rumme Shaw;

Credits : Above all – Shaw Organisation

Let us take a look at the Shaw Tower in the 1988 Street Directory;

Credit : Chief Surveyor, Singapore Government

Now take a look at the early 70s Street Directory just before the Shaw Tower was built;

You can see that the whole building was not there yet in the early 70s and the 2 old cinemas – New Alhambra Cinema and Marlborough Cinema were demolished.

So is Shaw Tower built on the same location where the 2 old cinemas – New Alhambra and Marlborough Cinemas were? If we take a look at the 50s city map below, we can get the answer;

Credit : Shell, Singapore Government Survey Department

So it’s actually sited on both cinemas but more towards Marlborough Cinema. Note there was a side road besides Marlborough Cinema in the 50s!

The New Alhambra Cinema was built in 1907 and later, the cinema was bought over by Cathay Organization and was renamed as Gala Theatre. Another cinema, Malborough Cinema, was constructed beside it.

Below is how the Alhambra Cinema looked like;

Photo Credit : Shaw Organisation

Alhambra Cinema was nicknamed “Hai Kee” (by the sea) due to its proximity to the sea. This theatre was one of the pioneer cinema halls in the early 1930s. The Alhambra became the first Singapore cinema to have air conditioning.

Below shows both the Alhambra and Marlborough Cinemas on the right;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

So when was your last visit to Shaw Tower?


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