Archive for the 'Shopping N Shops' Category

Bye Bye To Hollywood Theatre And Lion City Hotel Part 2

…continued from Part1.

Sorry for the long delay in the second part of this post.

After 43 years, the Lion City Hotel was gone…Yes, this Lion City Hotel costing $4.2M then was opened in 1968 by the late Dr.Goh Keng Swee, the Minister for Finance. Construction of the hotel started in 1965 at the junction of Tanjong Katong Road and Geylang Road by Wee Thiam Siew Co. Ltd.

C redit : Singapore Press Holding, SPH

It was a 10 storey hotel with 168 fully aircon rooms. It was then near to the Singapore Airport which was at the Paya Lebar then and the city. You will be surprise with the rate then : $30 to $35 for Single Room, $40 to $45 for Double Room, $60 for Family Suite and $90 for Deluxe Room.

Those who had been to the hotel, the shopping complex below was considered an unique feature and one of the largest then. It housed an emporium which sold China products, and there were also a snack-bar, and finance company and bank. There was even a first class restaurant then on the first floor catering both European and Chinese dishes in the evening with a live band playing soft music for dancing. On the ground floor, there was a cocktail lounge too. Maybe many may not be aware that there was even a swimming pool located on one of the floor in the hotel but in the later years, the pool was removed.

It is sad that the Lion City Hotel together with the Hollywood Theatre had to make way for new developments. When you are reading this post, the hotel and it’s surrounding are gone;

Above : Lion City Hotel then

Above : Lion City Hotel going

And the surrounding Hin Hollywood Canteen also disappear;

Above : Then

Above : Gone

So what is left now is probably the Thank You note from their website;

Credit : Lion City Hotel

I remember when I moved in to Haig Road in the 70s, there was the Oriental Emporium on the ground and 1st floor on the Lion City Hotel;

Above 3 Credits : Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, taken in 1994

Oh the McDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken were there too! The KFC was opened in 1982 and you can see their ads looking for helpers for the 20th outlet at Lion City Hotel;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Of course at one time, the 人民百货公司 (People’s Emporium) was there in place of the Oriental Emporium. Only until the later years, it became a furniture showroom and the ground floor with a mixture of shops;

I still preferred the Oriental Emporium as I liked window shopping there after my dinner as they had a more variety of goods.

Some of the shops already moved out during the last few weeks;

The Happy Restaurant (双喜楼) just besides the main entrance to the hotel;

The restaurant was located upstair on the 1st floor;

In fact almost every year during the Chinese New Year, I would still go there to buy the Yu Sheng (鱼生). I also got mix-up and confused with the other similar names of the restaurant nearby – one at the Tanjong Katong Complex, while the other one in Lion City Plaza.

Even my father like the claypot rice in the Lion City Cafe;

I remember there was once Filipino live band playing in this cafe/snack bar;

The Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet was just round the corner;

The main entrance to the Lion City Hotel;

The hotel lobby;

The hotel back entrance;

The ‘sheltered carpark’ of the hotel;

The linkway joining the shopping complex and the hotel;

You can see a spiral staircase joined to it;

You can see the other spiral staircase on the right side partially hidden by the tree;

In the past, I like to walk to the Oriental Emporium via this back entrance;

The aerial view of the Oriental Emporium from the Haig Road flats (I supposed) in 1984;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

I’m trying to get the same aerial view from the top floor of the flat;

The demolishing of the government quarters in 1974 to make way for the Haig Road Hawker Centre and flats. In the background is the Lion City Hotel with the linkway;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Looking at the Hollywood Theatre from the demolished government quarters in 1974;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

When I first look at the above photo, the Hollywood Theatre was not so obvious until I compared it with the below photo;

Distant view of the Lion City Hotel probably from the Sims Avenue or Geylang Road junction;

A 1970 photo of the Lion City Hotel;

Above 2 credits : PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Current View;

1994 view of the hotel from the overhead bridge;

Below is one I took from the overhead bridge in 2011;

What my father wrote;
“A Stumble May Prevent A Fall.”

Bye Bye To Hollywood Theatre And Lion City Hotel Part 1

What’s the link between Hollywood Theatre and Lion City Hotel? Well they are both owned by the late property magnate Mr.Wee Thiam Siew. Mr.Wee Thiam Siew also owned the not too long demolished Seven Storey Hotel. The Seven Storey Hotel was built in 1953, followed by Hollywood Theatre in 1957. The Hollywood Theatre was opened by the cinema magnate late Mr.Loke Wan Tho in 1958.

I’ll blog on Hollywood Theatre in Part 1 and Lion City Hotel in Part 2.

I remember whenever I drove past the Thiam Siew Ave, my mother would point to me the corner house nearer to Haig Road and said “See, that was the Hollywood Theatre boss’ house”. At that time, I thought that it must be some rumours from the wet market aunties spread to her; but when I’m researching for this topic, I think it might be true. Just a few streets away from the Hollywood Theatre and Lion City Hotel, along the Haig Road, you can find Thiam Siew Avenue. It was named after Mr.Wee Thiam Siew in 1939. It was originally known as Thiam Siew Road. In 1940, he proposed to the Municipal Commissoner to have it renamed as an Avenue so that the properties value will increased. Probably I’ll blog on Mr.Wee Thiam Siew in the near future.

The opening of Hollywood Theatre in 1958;

Hollywood Theatre in 1958;

Above 2 credits : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

And how it looks like now in 2011;

Of course you cannot find the name Hollywood Theatre on the building itself anymore as it is now Sheng Siong Supermarket. Surprisingly the only place where you can find the full name “Hollywood Theatre” is at the fence of the power generator besides the theatre, in the Lion City Hotel carpark just in front of the KFC;

When I was still in the army, I would like to watch a movie (mainly Mandarin shows) in this Hollywood Theatre as it was cheaper with my 11B (soldier’s identity card).  Of course at times there were rats running across the feet while watching the show. And if it’s a night show, there were some food and drink stalls in front of the theatre in its early years. With the introduction of multiplex and the increased in movie ticket price, this theatre screened its last show in end of June 1995. You will be surprised to know that this typical Chinese theatre last movie was a French show “Le Parfum d’Yvonne”.

Hollywood Theatre in 1994, just a year before its last show;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

Same view in 2011;

A rather deserted theatre, as view from the overhead bridge in 1994;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

After 17 years (2011), the 2 trees in front of the theatre have grown much bigger;

I’ve not seen the escalator moving so far. The overhead bridge linking City Plaza to the front of Hollywood Theatre;

The carpark entrance, turning right after entry to the theatre; turning left to the Lion City Hotel;

There are more parking spaces at the side of the theatre. On the left is the previous Yock Eng High School, now become CDAC;

The Hollywood Theatre almost turned into a multiplex if not for a fail negotiation between the owner and Eng Wah Organisation for a longer lease. At that time, the owner was only willing to lease it out on a 2 to 3 years basis, thus in 1995, the City Harvest Churh settled down at this venue;

Credit : City-News

The old theatre stage still remained. Many of the new multiplex cinemas are without such stage;

Credit : Quiet Confidence, Em

It was said that Siew Fung Fung and Fong Bo Bo once performed here on this stage during its heyday. Even when it was being used as a supermarket, they still retained the stage. Somehow, the City Harvest Church ended her lease in 2001 and Sheng Siong Supermarket took over from then till now 31 Aug 2011;

Besides the Hin Hollywood Canteen, construction already going on, think it’s for a substation by SP Powerassets;

The back of the theatre facing the Hin Hollywood Canteen;

The carpark exit booth (behind the white car). Very troublesome, have to wait for your change. In the past, this was 2-way (out/in);

Behind the theatre is the Hin Hollywood canteen that I called Hollywood coffee shop;

There are already many bloggers blogging on this coffee shop, so I will not elaborate on this eatery. Frankly having stay here for so many years, I don’t find the food here fantastic. Somehow after the Mediacorps showed the documentary on this coffee shop, many people flocked to it before it was demolished;

Before I end the Part 1, below is the excerpt from the Mediacorps documentary on the Hin Hollywood Canteen;

Credits : Mediacorps, PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

I’ll blog on the Lion City Hotel in Part 2.

What my father wrote;
“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

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

…cont’d from Part 1

In part 1, I talked about the existence of railway track to the establishment of Cold Storage Depot in Orchard Road.

Cold Storage acquired a few shops at the corner of Orchard Road and Cuppage Road, which is today’s The Centrepoint. Subsequently around 1919, their first retail outlet was opened. To the oldies like Philip, Peter or Chun See, the most memorable should be the Cold Storage’s Magnolia Milk Bars in the 50s.  

Below photo shows how the Cold Storage looked like in 1956;

Here is another photo of the same location but Centrepoint in its place in 1980s;

Credit : Above 2 photos – National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

See the changes in 2004 below;

Credit : Robert Steiner

The old Cold Storage building has undergone many ‘physical’ changes way before 1983. Let’s take a look at some of the changes of the building itself.

In the 70s, there was an extension to the building added as shown below;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

See the pedestrian crossing just outside the Cold Storage building in 1977;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Is the above crossing still there? Haha, I guess you know the answer! You can see the second photo on top or the one below (80s);

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

How many of us are aware of the name changed from just Centrepoint (先得坊) or Centrepoint Shopping Centre to The Centrepoint? But which come first – Centrepoint or Centrepoint Shopping Centre? I’m not sure but I think they are used interchangeably. Take a look at the following photos;

This one was probably in the 80s when Centrepoint was opened:

Credit : Natonal Archives of Singapore, PICAS

See the side wall was named as just “Centrepoint”.

In 2004, you can see the wall changed to “Centrepoint Shopping Centre”;

Credit : Robert Steiner

You can also see the same name in this book titled “Portrait of Places”, which I think maybe in the 90s;

Credit : Portrait of Places

Now in 2009, the name is The Centrepoint. The name was changed to The Centrepoint in 2006;

We can see that even though in the 80s, the side wall and the front of the building was named just “Centrepoint”, the entrance to the building was “Centrepoint Shopping Centre”;

This one dated 1989;

And this one dated 1990;

Above 2 photos credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

So I think they are used interchangeably before the name changed to The Centrepoint.

The Centrepoint has 6 floors and featured a wide variety of tenants which include Robinsons, Marks and Spencer and the Dairy Farm Group which operates the 7-11, Cold Storage outlets in the mall. In fact, most of the time I usually end up shopping in Robinson only.

Credit : Taken by Terence Ong in 2006

So which is your favourite shops in The Centrepoint? When was your last visit to Centrepoint? Oh I have not been there for a long time…

Apology Note : I would like to apologise to those that have been spammed by my email system recently. I’ve checked and rectified with anti-virus software and if it still happen, pls let me know. Sorry once again.

What my father wrote;

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;

Shops That Gone With The Wind

One of my favourite past time is shopping…yeh not many men like doing that especially with their wives or families. Me too, I love shopping alone during the weekdays as it is less crowded.

Sad to say that many of my favourite shopping hunts were gone with the wind – no longer around…here are just a handful of them.

Emporium Holding:

They had many outlets like the current NTUC, and I love the one near to my house at Haig Road. I could just popped in anytime I like and strolled and browsed around. Really missed that shop.

Safe Superstore;

Most guys in the past who had been in the army will know of this SAFE Superstore as it’s a store for them. A lot of civil servant or army guys like to shop there as they could pay by instalment for large value items. I preferred going to the one at Sims Drive as it was bigger.


I think this BIG store was a replacement of SAFE Superstore, correct me if I’m wrong. I had only been to the BIG store at the World Trade Centre (now call Harbour Front) a few times before it was gone.


I believed this was many people favourites especially the ladies. I remembered how grand it was when it was first launched in Singapore.

In year 2000, the SOGO Japan faced financial crisis due to its property investment and Singapore SOGO was affected. The space once occuppied by SOGO at Raffles City now becomes Robinson.

I wonder how many of you still have these old shops’ price tags or warranty cards?

Sorry : Terribly sorry for MIA (missing in action) for almost a month I think…so what happen? Did some ‘minor’ renovation (I thought putting back a wall between 2 rooms was minor renovation) and didn’t expect that it took almost 2 weeks. After that took me another 1 week plus to unpack. As one of the rooms need to redo the flooring and put back the cement brick wall, we had to stay at Downtown East chalet for 3 days 2 nights followed by another 2 nights at another hotel. So the desktop computer had somehow missing among the many boxes and took my days to unpack…finally 95% of the things are settled now and I can start blogging.

Also I would like to thank for all your support and my blog “Times Of My Life” is one of the finalists in Best Individual Blog 2009 – Singapore Blogs Award 2009. You may vote for my blog at here. Thank you.

C.K.Tang 詩家董

When I read about the recent news article “Kidney-for-sale: CK Tang chairman charged with 3 counts” on 10 Jul 2008, Straits Times, I couldn’t believe my eyes. CK Tang’s chairman Tang Wee Sung, 55, was charged in court with trying to buy a kidney from a living donor, for which he was willing to pay $300,000 to a middleman to procure it.

Mr Tang Wee Sung is the second son of the late Mr Tang Choon Keng, founder of Tangs department store. He joined the Company in 1975, at the age of 22. The late Mr. C.K. Tang died at the ripe age of 99 on 3 Sep 2000.

I remember when I was still staying with my Godparents place at Beatty Road, in the 60s and 70s, C.K. Tang was commonly known as 詩家董百貨公司. You may read more about how C.K.Tang started in Singapore here.

Below are the summary of it;

– 1923, Mr. C.K.Tang came to Singapore. He started off as a door-to-door salesman and would hired a rickshaw to put his pair of tin trunk which probably still around now (but no photo of it shown so far). He was later known as the “Tin Trunk Man” or “Curio King”. His products then were just hand-made Swatow lace, emboidery and linen.

– 1932, 9 years after he came to Singapore, he saved enough to set up his first store on the first floor of a building in River Valley Road. His initial capital was only $3000!

– 1940, he built an edifice probably named after his father Mr. Tang Gan Urn “Gainurn Building”. This was located at the corner of Jalan Mohamad Sultan and River Valley Road. I know that a buidling by the same name “Gainurn Building” is still around there and it’s near to the UE Square but whether it’s the same building, I don’t know. I’ve not taken a look at the building now, but here is how it looked like in the 40s;

Credit :

Credit : Photo taken by Victor Koo. Gainurn Bldg in 2008. As mentioned by Victor, note the pillars of both bldg.

Credit : Google

– 1958, he bought a 1,351sq.m. piece of land at the corner of Orchard Road and Scotts Road at a price of $10,000. Though this site faced the then Tai Shang Ting cementary, he believed it had commercial value.

Below shows the aerial view and photo of the original CK Tang store at Orchard Road in the 50s;

Credit : Editions Didier Millet, Over Singapore 50 Years Ago, by Brenda Yeoh and Theresa Wong.

Below shows the late Mr. CK Tang at his new building in Orchard (1958);

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

It was not so smooth sailing for CK Tang after opening at this Orchard Road site. In 1960 it was closed due to problems with trade unions but reopened the following year. Below shows the labour strike at CK Tang in 1960;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

A few months before the above strike in 1960, Mr. Tang was kidnapped by four armed thugs, but was freed unharmed within 84 hours after the family reportedly paid S$150,000 in ransom. I really respect his “never give up” attitude.

And this is how it looked like in 1962;

The green tiled roof and facade was said to be modelled after the China’s Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. I find resemblance to the old OCBC bank building near the Singapore River then;

Credit :

– 1982, the old green tiled roof building was demolished to make way for expansion – a 33 storey Dynasty Hotel (now renamed as Singapore Marriott Hotel) and the Tangs shopping complex (now Tang Plaza).

Credit :

You can see that the new complex still retained the same green-tiled roof pattern, but of course I don’t think it is the “recycled” green roof from the old building. So did the late Mr. CK Tang retain anything from the old building? Maybe yes, I thought, probably that pair of stone lion outside the building;

But how many stone lions are there? Is the above pair the same old pair, I don’t know….see for yourself the below photo in 1983 when the lions were placed at the footpath during the construction of the new complex;

Credit : National Archives Of Singapore, PICAS

Hope that all these stone lions can bring good luck to their owners.

How many still remember the fire at Tangs in 2006 December?

Credit : pigaholicling

Oh, there is one thing that was memorable about CK Tang – it was probably the only major shopping centre that did not operate on Sunday until 1996! That was to allow his family and his Christian staff to attend church on Sundays.

Shopping in the Past – Cortina, President… (Part 2)

I’m not too sure how many are familiar with shopping centres like 总统大厦 and 高登 (President Shopping Centre and Cortina Departmental Store).

President Shopping Centre (now known as Serangoon Plaza) was a rather popular shopping centre for those staying nearby like me. I bought my first badminton racket there. I remember there was a coffee house or snack bar (this 2 terms are no longer used nowadays) there and my godbrother used to order “7-up Float” or “Banana Split” for me. Behind this President Shopping Centre was the President Merlin Hotel (now New Park Hotel). Anyone knows why this shopping mall called “President”?

The other one was Cortina Departmental Store located in Colombo Court (the new Supreme Court);

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

Above shown how the Colombo Court looked like in the 1980s. In the 70s, my godbrother bought me my first long pants there at Cortina.

Of course, in it was also the popular Northern Palace Restaurant. Sad to see that the building had to go to make way for the new Supreme Court;

Photo Credit : RafflesCity of Skyscrapercity forum.

Above shown the new Supreme Court still under construction in 2005.


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April 2020