Stamford Canal was in the limelight recently for the wrong reason. A blocked culvert at its Orchard section caused an unprecedented flooding in the area, the most serious in 26 years since 1984. The waterway that begins its life somewhere in Tanglin and ends when water is discharged into Marina Barrage is one hell of a beast but we are not here today to help the ministries pass the buck.
Before Stamford Canal was covered over for the pedestrian mall in City Hall and Orchard, it was exposed and rather unsightly in the cityscape. Just imagine Rochor Canal running alongside Raffles City, War Memorial Park and the shopping centres along Orchard Road. I remember the Rochor one stinks at the pedestrian crossing outside Sim Lim Square and let us not assume its Stamford cousin was any cleaner. Bowled over by their success in turning waterway into walkway, the government has became even more creative by covering at least one canal to become a park connector. Just check out Alexandra Canal Linear Park opposite Stirling Road.
At Raffles Institution, Stamford Canal divided the school compound from Stamford Road, but that was no obstacle to some of the more resourceful students. In the cover photo, we see a make-shift bridge built by boy scouts to cross the canal. According to Peter, even normal students used the bridge - as a shortcut to catch the 11am movie at Capitol Cinema. An illegal dash across Stamford Road would have avoided the fierce school bull-dog. Who is the bull-dog? I am guessing they are prefects stationed at the gates to stop unauthorised pupils from leaving the compound before dismissal time.
Anybody knows the story of the bridge? Why was it built, who gave the permission and its eventual fate. Let's hope nobody fell into the water in his haste to cross the bridge.
With the acute realization that the canal flows under the walkway, I can better appreciate the space between the station exit and the shopping mall. Perhaps some of us used to wonder why they did not build the exit closer to the mall.
Left and Right: The exit at City Hall Station and Raffles City separated by the invisible Stamford Canal under the walkway.
The recent flood in Orchard also answered the question why station exits are raised above the walkway. You can see the steps before the escalator in my photo. Last time we took them for granted. Now we know they are raised as a preventive measure against flooding.