The second shot was taken in 2004, proof that my hobby predated the blog. It was memorable shooting from the hedge along Raffles Arcade, with vehicles coming in my direction. I was able to align the steeple of CHIJMES Chapel with the roof of the foreground building, so this second shot is one of my most satisfying to date.
Some orientation. This is where Bras Basah and North Bridge Road meet, along with three landmarks - CHIJMES, Raffles City and Raffles Arcade. In the old photo, the walled compound on the left would be Raffles Institution. In the background, you can see the steeple of Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
From visual clues, I think the old photo was taken first quarter of 20th century. You can see the double track tramway along Bras Basah Road. While steam trams existed from 1885, the tramway along Bras Basah Road only existed with the introduction of electric trams from 1905-1927. More information can be found in F.W.York's book Singapore - A History of its Trams, Trolleybuses and Buses 1880s to 1960s.
But an illustration in York's book makes it kind of confusing. Both tramways bend right, not left like in the old photo, at Brash Basah and North Bridge Road junction. At High Street-North Bridge Road junction, the left tramway bends left which resembles what is seen in the old photo (too bad it is a different junction). I've reproduced them below.
Another visual clue is the CHIJMES building fronting Bras Basah Road which is missing in the old photo. Now, here is where dry and boring history suddenly becomes interesting - if we know its construction date, we can deduce when the photo was taken. Admittedly deduction by tramways alone can be misleading as there are no trams in the photo and those could be remnant tracks.
Dates are readily available from the official CHIJMES website:
- Block A: Caldwell House built in 1842, extended in 1852
- Bock F & C: Open Galleries built in middle of 19th century.
- Block D: Orphanage built probably between 1860 and 1890.
- Block B: Chapel built in 1902-1904.
- Block C: Gallery built probably around 1910.
- Block E: Dormitory built in the 1950s.
We need a map of CHIJMES. Here is one taken by Gerard
Dear readers, do you know when was building 20 constructed?
Here is another question, albeit a bit lame. What does CHIJMES stand for? We know CHIJ stands for Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus but what about MES? Was it added to make the name sound like 'chimes'?