Jun 6, 2011

2nd Shot: Oh, so that was the Si Pai Por Post Office

Sepoy Lines Post Office

When yg read that I work at Si Pai Por now, he suggested I do a second shot of the demolished Si Pai Por Post Office. He did not reveal its location, neither was I aware of this historical landmark. My only clue lies in the archives, a color photo taken around 1969 showing the colonial two storey building. I stared hard for clues and was reminded of something I saw the other day.

The other day, resting between sips after lunch, a wall across the road from New Bridge Road Bus Terminal caught my eyes. Since the land behind was empty, the wall was probably remnant of a fence parapet. Wow, that got to be some heritage! I was intrigued as to what used to lie behind.

Behind New Bridge Road Bus Terminal
What used to lie behind the heritage wall? Photo taken behind the bus terminal at New Bridge Road.

Later, what I saw in the old photo of Si Pai Por Post Office triggered this memory: the Y-intersection, townhouses and what looks like a Everton Park housing block hinted to me the post office was located at the place I saw the heritage wall. Gotcha!

Or not. After I did a site survey, checked the angles and took a second shot (see very first photo), I realized the mysterious wall did not belong to the post office. I missed by a small margin. The post office was located just next door and to my pleasant surprise, I could still find the fence parapet and steps leading to the former post office compound.

What used to lie here
Since this was not the Si Pai Por Post Office, what could have been behind the wall last time?

The two compounds share an adjoining fence with a pillar marking their boundary. Today if you were to walk along the pedestrian path, you would see this scary sight (don't say I never warn you) of a tentacle-like shoot from a tree twisting around and penetrating through the pillar, which looks like it could disintegrate if the shoot squeezes harder. Ouch!

On the post office side, the hedges block the fence parapet and steps from the pedestrian's view. I do not know why the authorities have these plants senselessly covering up our heritage, certainly the compound has no lack of plants. In fact it is so shady that on that day I saw a few people - presumably foreign labours - enjoying what nature has to offer.

Entrance to Sepoy Lines Post Office
The steps leading to the former Si Pai Por Post Office lie behind these hedges.

Entrance to Sepoy Lines Post Office
Heritage steps leading to the Si Pai Por Post Office, looking towards New Bridge Road. Here is another one looking towards Kampong Bahru Road.

The Si Pai Por Post Office was established in 1921 as a district post office and savings bank. I do not know when the colonial building was constructed. The savings bank was POSB, established in 1877 by the British government as a part of the Postal Services Department. It became a statutory board in  1975 after it was hived off from the post office. In June 1979, a daylight robbery (literally!) was committed that made it to the news:

In one of the slickest hold-ups committed here recently, the POSB branch was robbed just before noon of $1732. The gunman chose a moment during a heavypour, when he was the only customer, to strike.

Sadly with the closing down of the Si Pai Por Post Office (when did it happen?), there is not a single POSB/DBS branch in Si Pai Por today. Everytime I uses the branch locator on the bank website, it tells me the nearest branch is at Tanjong Pagar Plaza.

Sepoy Lines Post Office
Former grounds of the Si Pai Por Post Office. What are your memories of the place?


Visqueraient said...

Great work on the 2nd shot! I wonder what's with the practice of leaving steps, fences etc behind after demolishing old buildings? Seems like a feeble attempt at heritage to me. But it helps in identifying location, no doubt.

Icemoon said...

Visqueraient, I guess they were too lazy to remove the steps and fences. A project tender to demolish them with the building would cost more, haha.

I'm peeved about the hedges. What purpose do these plants serve?

Jinghui said...

I was studying in Gan Eng Seng School from 1990 to 1993 at Raeburn Park, very near to this landmark.

First hand memories were old HDB blocks (where the CID building is standing now) and I recalled an old house (if my memories serve me well?) at the point you were discussing here.

Love reading through your posts!


alternatve said...

Aha, I've seen the old steps and walls before but never knew what they were for, thank you for the explanations and photos.

I was in the area to take photos of another heritage building closer to my heart, the Former Fairfield Methodist Girls School (the descendent of which I am an alumni of). The building lies at the rearward side of the Police Cantonment Complex.

I wonder, why demolish a heritage building and then leave the land to fallow? Maybe someone decided not to pay for the renovation, deciding that demolition would be far more cost effective and clear the way for another condo project? Hmm


Icemoon said...

Hi Jinghui, thanks! Ooh, if you mean the CID building as in the Police Complex, that means Fairfield Methodist was very near the HDB blocks too?

The old house would be another colonial type building. It could be police quarters.

Icemoon said...

Samuel, love FMGS the first time I saw it. Will blog about it next time.

The land belongs to the SLA today. As to why a heritage building was demolished, I concur with you. Clear first and decide later. What a pity.

alternatve said...


The FMGS building isn't in the best of shape; last I saw, the paint, although new, was crumbling and the CID building was sttached to it like a leech. Be careful when you're taking photos, a few teachers of mine got questioned when they wanted to take photos of the building for the heritage room; the CID take a dim view on photos of their installations.

There's a row of lovely restored Nonya 2 story houses opposite and an old church, St Matthews nearby as well, quite a heritage area.


Icemoon said...

Thanks Samuel for the advice. I remember seeing security camera(s) near the FMGS building. The CID building is well guarded, I even saw guards at the side of the building.

I saw the heritage signboard outside the FMGS building. Your teachers must have shot the building at point blank range. Are the police so stupid to think a photo reconnaissance would be conducted so close to the building?