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Jun 22, 2010

A Jungle before the Merlion Claimed One Fullerton?


While the oldies are busy with the quiz on the north bank, I will blog about the Merlion on the other side of the Singapore River. I have blogged about this mythical creature aka 'mascot of Singapore' before, when it was struck by lightning. The topic today is nothing fishy and I promise it will be short.

The Straits Times of May 24, 2010 carries an article about more people signing up to volunteer at museums. Good for NHB, free labour certainly comes easy:

THE training is rigorous, it costs money, takes time and after all that you're not paid for the work.

So who would want to become a docent?

Typically, docents sign up for training that lasts from three to six months depending on the museum, fork out about $500 and commit to guiding tours once a week for a year without pay.

There is this Mr Russell Bresland, a permanent resident who took a local Chinese wife, who became a docent to widen his knowledge about Singapore. Naturally his interest stemmed from listening to 'grandfather stories' from his father-in-law. Why are we surprised the oldies have many stories to tell? Just when we are ready to be wowed by this Caucasian, what he said subsequently caught my attention:

'Now, when I see the Merlion at One Fullerton, I think, this used to be a jungle. When I go to Telok Ayer Street, I think this used to be the waterfront,' said the Australian, chuckling. 'I am now also able to defend the country against critics of Singapore.'

Telok Ayer Street at the waterfront, no dispute about that. But a jungle before the Merlion claimed One Fullerton? Hmm ....

We know before the Merlion shifted to its new location at One Fullerton, it was at this tip of the land next to the sea. For good fengshui, when Esplanade Bridge was built, it was shifted beyond the new bridge, to this tip of the land at One Fullerton. So what lies on the original One Fullerton site?

Source: Amazon.com. This is a good book for the heritage enthusiast. You see Fullerton Building, Anderson Bridge and the slightly curved tip of land on which the future Merlion would be sited - the mouth of the Singapore River.

Too bad you can't see the building suspect in Chun See's quiz, or I would have blogged about the answer just like Victor did.

To go further back in time, we dig out maps from Raffles' Singapore. Using one such map from the 1820s, we compare it to our current street directory. In true Second Shot flavour, I present to you this colourful graphics: look what has changed and what has not.

Singapore River
Source: 2010 map from streetdirectory.com. Esplanade Park (Queen Elizabeth Walk) sits on reclaimed land, as is One Fullerton. Singapore River at Boat Quay looks like a .. err .. stomach. Of historical interest is Rocky Point in the 1820s map where the Singapore Stone was found. The stone is not mythological (you can see its remnant in the National Museum) but the Merlion that sits on the site hundred years later is.

4 comments:

Victor said...

That's very quick on the draw, Icemoon. You came up with this post in very good time. Well done!

So that small strip of land was really a jungle? Hmm... I wonder how many trees were there in it, considering the limited space there.

Icemoon said...

The small strip of land where the Singapore Stone and Merlion once stood could be a jungle.

But he was using the present tense and the article was written in May 2010 - "Now, when I see the Merlion at One Fullerton, I think, this used to be a jungle."

Lam Chun See said...

Victor was even faster. He came up with this post even before other readers have read mine ... on the seme night I believe.

Anonymous said...

I'm more interested where the 'original' rocky point location would have been, where the Singapore Stone was located.

Looking at the 2010 map, and then comparing it to the 1820's one we can see where land has been reclaimed, while the original Rocky point is now under water, dug up to allow for the different flow of the river.

Any historical evidence to back up my theory?