From Railway Track To The Centrepoint (Part 1 of 2)

I just got my key when they first opened in 1983. I mean my 21 years old ‘key’ when Centrepoint first opened in 1983 at Orchard Road. Many of us have witnessed the changes of the landscape occuppied by Centrepoint over the years. Even Centrepoint itself have undergone major ‘facelift’ throughout all these years.

When I was young and still staying with my godparents, I seldom visit the Orchard Road area except for the occassional Sunday Tim Sum at Peking Restaurant. I started going to Orchard Road was when I owned my first car (a Ford Laser 1.3 then) but Centrepoint was the area I would avoid. I disliked the turning to the carpark and so I usually ended up at Plaza Singapura (my favourite).

To be frank, I don’t visit The Centrepoint that ofen even until now. Let us now take a look at the changing landscape at Centrepoint. Take a look at this map, from the book “Federated Malay States Railways, 1921”;

Credit : Federated Malay States Railway, Cornell University Library.

From the above map, we can only see that the railway passed through Orchard Road, and this was shown in many of the old postcards and photos as well.

The above postcard (not dated) shows the elevated railway track above Orchard Road near the Emerald Hill. Now take a look at the bottom postcard showing the same place without the railway track;

Credit : Above 2 postcards, Singapore Philatelic Museum

Now take a look at another postcard below with the train on the track;

It is said that when the train crosses above, the pedestrians will come to a standstill as the Chinese believed that it will bring bad luck if the train crossed above your head. Anyway from the above postcard, can you tell where is the current Centrepoint located (left or right side of the postcard)?

Below is another view of the same location in 1989 (of course Centrepoint was already built then);

Cold Storage acquired a few shophouses in Orchard Road in 1917 and this was probably known as Cold Storage Depot then.  So is the railway track still there when Cold Storage was at Orchard Road? Let’s take a look at another old map from the book “An official guide to eastern Asia v.5”;

Credit : Cornell University Library.

From the above map, we can see clearly where the Cold Storage Depot was and the railway track. This was probably in 1920s, and Cold Storage took over the buildings around 1917 – so it tally. Below is another photo in 1913 showing the railway track at Orchard Road;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You can take a look at the below photo (probably from the 60s) and the Cold Storage was already there (on the left, building with flag poles on top);

Credit : Singas, Mr. Terry Goodyer

Note : You can also see this photo and the current year photo in Icemoon’s blog.

to be cont’d in Part 2


What my father wrote;

16 Responses to “From Railway Track To The Centrepoint (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. 1 Icemoon Monday, November 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Can’t wait for part 2!!

    By the way, one of the old images is flipped, has anybody noticed? I’m referring to this: “The above postcard (not dated) shows the elevated railway track above Orchard Road near the Emerald Hill”.

    The clearing on the left is actually Orchard Road market, the site of OG Orchard. You can recognize its distinctive fence (those poles). Cold Storage is behind the tree. Amazingly the three storey shophouse on the right survives in the 1960s photo. Orientate yourself and you realize the photo is flipped.

  2. 2 laokokok Monday, November 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Actually the only clue I’ve is the railway pole. If you compared it to the other photos showing the railway pole, this one is on the wrong side. Anyway, I’m still not too sure until you reaffirm it, hehe.

  3. 3 Lam Chun See Monday, November 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    How come suddenly everyone seems to be blogging about Orchard Rd and Centre Point? I do have quite a lot of memories to share about this place becos of my time at NPB as well as bringing my kids to see the Xmas light-up. You will recall that CP always won the top prize.

  4. 4 Lam Chun See Monday, November 9, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Maybe Icemoon can throw some light. Lately my pc is very slow. But when I come to LKK’s blog, it slows to a crawl and almost like hung-up?

  5. 5 laokokok Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Probably Christmas is coming.

  6. 6 laokokok Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I’m aware of the slow loading time. I’ll make some improvement on it in my next post. Let me know if the slow loading still exists.

  7. 7 Kimology Friday, November 13, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Yes, I remember the Pavillion, a school mate’s uncle own some kind of Western restaurant there. Would be nice to have a good view of the old Cold Storage and its coffee house. Maybe your Part 2? Also the Koek Road Market and stalls. A friend lived in one of those houses on Koek Road, I believe they are still around. I used to work at NPB when the construction of Centerepoint was going on, real nightmare walking from to work then. Looking forward to read the rest.

  8. 8 laokokok Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for the suggestion Kimology. Probably I would do a post on Cold Storage itself in future.

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    Do you have any video of that? I’d want to find out some additional information.

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