My Memories Of Geylang Serai – Singapura Cinema

This Singapura Cinema was there when my family first shifted in to the flats at Haig Road in the mid 70s. I’m wondering when was this cinema built. During one of my post in my other blog “Images Of Singapore”, Philip Chew told me that the Singapura Cinema was previously known as Taj Cinema.

Finally found one photo of the Taj Cinema in 1963;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

How it looks like now in 2008 from slightly the same view;

Below shows the artist’s impression of the Geylang Serai Redevelopment Plan probably in the 60s;

Credit : National Archives, Singapore 1986. From book : Geylang Serai – Down Memory Lane.

And this is how the aerial view looks now in 2008 with the rebuilding of the 5 blocks;

Do you still remember the bus station before the Block 2 was built?

Credit : Chief Surveyor, Survey Department, Ministry of Law. 1988 Singapore Street Directory.

The name Singapura Cinema sounds so “National” and big like Plaza Singapura. Probably the name “Singapura” is a bit misleading here for this cinema. It is neither big nor grand but still, it’s an icon of Geylang Serai.

When the government redeveloped Geylang Serai in the 60s, the first phase of flats was completed in 1965. The government added facilities like mosque, a theatre and a vocational institute to meet the needs of the residents there. That theatre was the Taj Theatre or Cinema.

A check at the National Archives show building plans were submitted by Shaw for the Taj Cinema in 1965 to be built at Jalan Turi / Changi Road.  The Taj Cinema was a prominent landmark there and was renowned for showing Malay classics or Hindustani movies with Malay subtitles. Too bad there isn’t any photos showing the Taj Cinema in the 60s.

In the 70s, saw the emergence of cinemas like the Singapura , President, Savoy, Liberty, Republic, Woodlands and Changi. Singapura in Geyang Serai (probably renamed from Taj Cinema at this time) still showed Malay, Tamil and Hindustani films.

Below shows the aerial view photo of the Singapura Cinema probably taken in the 70s from the Block 1;

Credit : Kampong Ubi CCC, From book : The Heart Of Geylang Serai.

The spiral staircase can only be visible from the back view. This is how the back view of the Singapura Cinema look like now in 2008;

I remember there used to be a McDonald outlet at this cinema some years back when the cinema was not in operation as shown below;

Credit : Kampong Ubi CCC, From book : The Heart Of Geylang Serai.

Now the cinema was not in operation for quite some time and the McDonald outlet was gone too. There is an eatery, a PUB/KTC outlet and some other shops;

Luckily the Singapura Cinema was left untouched during the recent SER (Selective En-Bloc from Block 1 to 5) on this part of Geylang Serai, else we will have one less heritage icon.

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41 Responses to “My Memories Of Geylang Serai – Singapura Cinema”


  1. 1 Victor Koo Friday, September 26, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    As you know, I used to stay in Blk 5 Haig Road in the mid-70s too. I am familiar with cinemas around that area like Hollywood (in Haig Road), Galaxy Theatre (near Onan Road), Odeon Katong (in East Coast Road), Queen’s Theatre (in Lorong 42 Geylang) and of course Singapura (in Changi Road). I remember having seen movies before in the first three.

    Out of these 5 old theatres, only 2 are left standing now and none are still operating as a cinema. Honestly speaking, I don’t think they will be there for very much longer. If I am lucky to live long enough, I probably might have unpleasant experience of seeing them go in my lifetime.

    • 2 Joseph Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      There is 1 more cinema, you have missed out – Lily theatre (behind Joo Chiat Complex, near to present Joo Chiat Hotel)

      It is open-air cinema, closes in 80s, with only evening shows. The price of ticket before it shut its doors is only 50 cents.

      When it rains, we have to take shelter at the side, which is cover by zinc sheet. It no money to watch gambar, can stay outside to “listen” free movies.

  2. 3 Lam Chun See Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Surprisingly, I don’t even know about this cinema. Do they show Malay films mostly.

  3. 4 laokokok Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Yes Victor, Hollywood and Galaxy were my favourites as they were extremely near.

    Chun See, yes they showed Malay films.

  4. 5 Philip Chew Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Galaxy Cinema or Theatre had two previous names. Before WWII it was known a Appolo Theatre. After the war, the name changed to Garrick Theatre and finally Galaxy.
    At Geylang Serai, there was a trolley bus terminus between Changi Road the old Geylang Serai market. Later it became Changi Bus terminus. The bus service was from the terminus to Capital Theatre. Another service was from the terminus to Changi Village.

  5. 6 laokokok Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the valuable infos Philip. The Changi Bus terminal you referred to above is it the current Changi Bus terminal area just outside that hotel?

  6. 7 Philip Chew Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    It was on Changi Road itself nearby the current terminal. The bus coming from Geylang Serai simply made a U-turn and parked by the roadside. There were very few buses then.

  7. 8 icemoon Sunday, October 12, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Eh, I’m quite confused now.

    I think Philip Chew was talking about a Changi Bus terminus between Changi Road and the old Geylang Serai market, serving Capital Theatre and Changi Village. So if you want to go Changi Beach after a movie at Capital, you change service at this Changi Bus terminus?

    The description is technically correct. Changi Road only exists between Joo Chiat and Siglap today, there is no “Changi Road” in Changi. The current bus terminal in Changi is not Changi Bus terminal but Changi Village Bus terminal. There is also no bus terminal at Geylang Serai today.

    Or am I mistaken?

  8. 9 Philip Chew Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Thanks icemoon for the clarification.

  9. 10 laokokok Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Thanks Philip and Icemoon. Is that the terminal shown on the above Artist’s Impression map? That is the Changi Road.

  10. 11 Philip Chew Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Yes. The drive way between block 3 and Singapura cinema.

  11. 12 Philip Chew Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 11:10 am

    sorry, I got the wrong map. The artist’s Impression map is also correct. It is Changi Road that has been widened.

  12. 13 icemoon Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Now comes the interesting part (for me). Was there a trolley bus service to Changi Village? Wah, then they have to lay the overhead wires all the way there??

  13. 14 laokokok Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Thanks Philip, finally I know where.

  14. 15 Philip Chew Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 8:40 am

    No trolley bus service to Changi Village.

  15. 16 Alex Tan Monday, November 24, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I was browsing for Geylang Serai history when i took upon
    your blog. very interesting and memories-filling article.

    Used to stay in bedok, where my mum will bring me to
    joo chiat complex apply for passport, and till now
    only left me with vague impression of Geylang Serai.
    This vague impression consists of very buzzling streets,
    messy and many cars and motorcycles parked all over the place.

    Lastly, am proud and glad I managed to get a unit at the
    presently BTO project at Geyland Serai, which should be
    ready by end 2010 or 2011.

    Thumbs up for this article.

  16. 17 laokokok Friday, November 28, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Hi Alex,
    Welcome to this blog. I believed the BTO unit at Geylang Serai must be very costly now.

  17. 18 Andy Young Friday, January 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Hi,

    I used to wander around Geylang Serai in the sixties, way before, and was actually looking for a photograph of the GARRICK Cinema. Couldn’t find one.

    Thanks for the photographs you took. They are really gems as these will live in our memories.

    I have a blog at: singapore60smusic.blogspot.com

    Please visit it anytime and leave a comment.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  18. 19 Andy Young Friday, January 9, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Yes, sorry. The Garrick became The Galaxy during later years.
    Andy

  19. 20 Mohd radzi abdul jalil Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Dear all,

    My father worked in Spore and his a chairman of kg ubi community centre in 1980s (Abdul Jalil Bahari) till 1992. Every school holiday i , my brother and sister, will spend our holidays in Spore…. Geylang Serai was very popular among malaysian during 70 and 80 ….

    I miss my friends … if im not mistaken my fathers address was 51 E, Block 1, Jln Pasar Baru… Spore..hmm and at 6 floor…

    Hope u can get me in touch with my friends.. i looking for Senin abdullah whom stayed at 4 floor.. Sharifah Syaznaz Syed Albar (her sister worked with SBC). 5 floor…

    Im now 47 years old.. i wish i can come to spore with my families and show to them where i used to hang up.. Hope Marine pArade still a jogging spot… Peninsula Plaza.. etc..

    Spore will always in my heart… one day i will come again to visit my sister grave yard 9 pass away 1987)and my brother grave yard ( pass away when at age 2 month)

    tq.. wish u have block 1 flat photo’s …

  20. 21 laokokok Friday, April 17, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Hope you can find your old friends Jalil.

  21. 22 BaitiBadarudin Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hi,
    I’ve also jumped on to the nostagia blogging bandwagon. Trying to verify the name of the cinema between the bread factory and Jalan Eunos Primary School in the sixties. Was it Central? Would appreciate too if I could get hold of street maps and images of Kaki Bukit and Central in the fifties and sixties.
    Thanks much,
    Baiti

    • 23 Joseph Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Yes, you are right. It is called Central Cinema.

      I stayed directly opposite in a shophouse at no. 7 Jalay Sayur during my primary school days. There are roti prata stall and many malay food stalls, selling ayam soto, etc. in front of the cinema.

      Also, I looked forward for every Thursday evening’s pasar malam. There is a wet market nearby too.

      Most stalls were relocated to Eunos Crescent and Haig Road markets, to make way for development of Ubi HDB estate.

      My father still keep the old photo of the cinema and his shop.

  22. 27 Abdul Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Yes, Baiti and Joseph. It New Central Theatre. I was fm Jalan Eunos primary school. Really miss those good old days…

  23. 28 Mokhtar Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Radzi,
    I used to live at 21G, Block 2, Jalan Pasar Baru. I really miss Geylang Serai. I spent almost half of my life in Geylang. My father used to work at Pulau Bukom. My early school life at Telok Kurau East School and my secondary school at Tun Sri Lanang Secondary School, St. Patrick’s School and Upper Serangoon Technical School (2 yrs). Now I lived and work in Pahang, Malaysia. I can’t remember your father but I know kg ubi community centre was @ block 2. I really missed my friends, my football team, we used to play @ Dunman school field. Where are u now Radzi? I’m trying to find the people that used to reside @ Geylanf flats…

  24. 29 takalah Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Hi to all who had memory of Taj /Singapura cinema. Sad to say that the building is no more there.


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