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Oct 11, 2009

2nd Shot: CHIJMES from Bras Basah and North Bridge Road Junction

CHIJMES at Bras Basah and North Bridge Road Junction

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.

Tramway

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:
  1. Block A: Caldwell House built in 1842, extended in 1852
  2. Bock F & C: Open Galleries built in middle of 19th century.
  3. Block D: Orphanage built probably between 1860 and 1890.
  4. Block B: Chapel built in 1902-1904.
  5. Block C: Gallery built probably around 1910.
  6. Block E: Dormitory built in the 1950s.
1, 2 and 3 are classical buildings, 4 and 5 are neo-gothic buildings and 6 is a modern building.

We need a map of CHIJMES. Here is one taken by Gerard and I post it here without his permission but I know he won't mind because he is such a magnanimous person.


Only the Chapel (CHIJMES Hall) and Caldwell House are labelled. Our building is 20. From rare glimpse of its photo on the net (Caldwell House and the Chapel are perennial favourites of photographers), I could not tell whether it is neo-gothic or classical or modern. The building is visible in aerial photos from the 1950s.

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'?

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12 comments:

pinto said...

Yup, IIRC, the name was chosen to keep the CHIJ heritage as well as form another 'word', which is pronounced as 'chimes'.

Lame but true. Hmm... maybe search ST archives at one of the libraries?

Adelin Lok said...

It was formerly known as CHIJ - Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus but later renamed to CHIJMES just to sound like 'chimes'. Like that sound classy and atas mah. lol!


and as usual, you always amaze me with your precise 2nd shots. 2004... that was also the year we met right?

Icemoon said...

Thanks to pinto and Adelin for confirming my suspicion.

The chiming place is beckoning me to pay her a visit.

Lam Chun See said...

I am surprised this post does not bring back some memories for our former RI boy; not of the building but the innocent occupants.

Icemoon said...

I have visited the chiming place. More tourist site than heritage site. Block 20 could be the modern dormitory building.

Icemoon said...

> I am surprised this post does not bring back some memories for our former RI boy; not of the building but the innocent occupants.

Former RI boys and one who stayed nearby.

peter said...

Where got chance? Girls already "chop" by SJI. But we more havoc lah; we take Katong Convent.

Visqueraient said...

Pardon my late comment. If I'm not wrong, the MES part stands for Music, Entertainment and Shops. It's stated somewhere on the facade of the building. "music.entertainment.shops" or something like that. =]

I discovered this blog when I was searching for Track 22/Jln Lam San. It's all gated military land now. Keep up the excellent 2nd shots!

Icemoon said...

Thanks Visqueraient for pointing that out! The music and entertainment part is correct but shops? If they mean retail shops, I'm disappointed.

Visqueraient said...

Well, actually, I may be wrong. It's actually "restaurants.bars.shops" on the facade. Most sites say the MES was added to make it sound like 'chimes' but I don't buy that explanation; it's too convenient :/

acronymfinder.com says it's Middle Education School but didn't cite any references. I'll stick to my "music.entertainment.shops" for now cos it makes sense :) It must be somewhere in the building or else I wouldn't have thought of it.. on a map or brochure perhaps?

olive said...

Very cool and informative blog :) I came across it when i was searching for the meaning of CHIJMES :) Hope we could all update this post when we finally knowwhat MES mean :) have a good day!

Icemoon said...

Thanks Olive. Will update when I have more information. What Visqueraient said might be right.