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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21 Responses to “Tay Buan Guan Entrance”


  1. 1 Victor Koo Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Wah LKK, very good investigative work there. You’ll make an outstanding detective.

  2. 2 py Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I marvel at the investigative work that you have done here. By the end of your post, I bought your conclusion that #83 unit is likely the real entrance to Tay Buan Guan.

  3. 3 laokokok Monday, February 4, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Hi Victor and PY,
    Thank you.

  4. 4 laokokok Monday, February 4, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your reply to me by email as you are experiencing problem in accessing my blog due to the router firmware not updated.

    For the benefit of the rest reader, here is his reply;
    “1. The fish aqaurium is on the left arrow of the old photo. The bicycle shop is on the right arrow. The positions correspond to today’s backlane. In other words the new backlane which seems to extend from Joo Chiat Road to Marshall Road is a new construction. In the old days the backlane extended only up to the fish aquarium. To the left of the blue car was the staircase leading to Solid Gold Health Center on the second floor. I remember there was Ivory Health Center at GRTH – what it stands for I only can speculate to be Grand Rubber Trading House owned by Datuk Ng Quee Lam (maybe I am wrong on the name). On the second floor but going up by another staircase (nearer to Onan Road side) was a pools bar operated by my classmate Dennis Foo of St James Power Station around 1978.

    The entry from Onan Road was for cars but people who lived in Joo Chiat also took this short-cut to get to East Coast Road. If you look at the condo today, to the left of the condo main entrance was the big carpark I referred to. The small carpark and TBG supermarket/departmental store is to the right. The demarcation of the fence and the backlane is the same as in the good old days. If I am not wrong it was $1 per entry and then rising to $1.50.”

    Here is the photo;
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2058/2239891369_15613bc34a.jpg?v=0

  5. 5 abalonysg Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Entrance of Tay Buan Guan is not Rumah BeBe but rather is the pet shop.

  6. 6 abalonysg Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Entrance should be the audio shop instead of the doggy shop

  7. 7 Bhakt Yap Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    on the left and right side of the open space wall, there used to be a bank called OUB (overseas union bank) where sing ho hainan chicken rice shop is now and a shop selling kueh-kuehs (i forgotten the name, it could be glory).

  8. 8 Bhakt Yap Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    the entrance of TBG had an indian frame-maker and a cafe. i remember there was an old weighing machine (the long type with a coin slot and the brand was avery) along the passage way.

  9. 9 Cynthia Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    My primary school Toong Chai integrated primary school was near Tay Ban Guan. We used to go there after our cca on Saturday. There was a coffee house (cafe) and supermarket.

  10. 10 Justin Shen Monday, March 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Why don’t I invite the grandson of Tay Ban Guan to join this chat and let him answer some of the questions you have.

  11. 11 Go Giok Moi Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Cynthia, which year did you go to Toong Chai. Nearly my whole family went there. I was there from 1976 – 1980, i think. Cause in 1980 the school closed down. We also used to go to Tay Ban Guan.

  12. 12 MT Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    no grandson of TBG reporting here?

  13. 13 JC Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I used to stay at Onan Road, my mum would bring us to the cafe at TBG for ice-cream on weekends. I miss the place !

  14. 14 手機外殼 Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I have received one concept for your web page. It appears like there are a few cascading stylesheet troubles while launching a number of webpages inside google chrome as well as firefox. It’s operating fine in web explorer. Possibly you can double check this.

  15. 15 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thJYV2BU0cg Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 2:53 am

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Bless you!

  16. 16 jewellery Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Hi there, yes this post is in fact pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it on the topic of blogging.
    thanks.

  17. 17 Roy Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    You really put together a number of outstanding tips with ur article, “Tay Buan Guan Entrance | Times of My Life”.

    I am going to you should be heading back to your webpage in the near future.
    With thanks -Bradford

  18. 18 mt@yahoo.com Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Please continue to remember this icon/heritage and mention this to your younger ones.
    Thank you.

  19. 19 Cynthia Monday, June 15, 2015 at 7:16 am

    I was a student in Toong Chai integrated school from 1967-1972 (English stream). Mr Loh was the Principal. Form teacher was Mr Seow. There were two Mr Yaps (one taught Chinese n the other one taught Science).


  1. 1 Of Joo Chiat and Nostalgia « The Life of Phish Comms Trackback on Monday, June 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm
  2. 2 Google Chrome windows 8 free dwonload Trackback on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm

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