Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Order Out of Chaos

As I was received on confirmation booking from NHB's email about Order of Chaos trails of the Old buildings was conducted by a staff from NHB name Joyce and one of volunteers named Ms Jill Wong on 19 June 2011 in the morning at 10am. As I managed to reach at the bus-stop at the entrance of the IT Mall building as early before 10am. The three visiting place are Central Fire Station, Hill Street Police Station and Former Ministry of Labour Building (now as Family & Juvenile Court).
Firstly, I was about to meet Joyce, staff from NHB who conducted the meeting place and trails for participants and myself. There are about 10-12 participants including me and the waiting time for the rest a little late.
Central Fire Station
On the 1st trip is Central Fire Station which stands opposite the bus-stop where I stand and a volunteer tells us about the history of the Central Fire Station and how the Firemen worked through during their ancient times. Members of the public learn more about of the SCDF, the role of functions of the fire stations as well as the capabilities of its firefighters. It was gazetted as one of S'pore's National Monuments in 18 Dec1998.
A watch tower
Short Brief history of Central Fire Station: Built in 1908-09 by the Municipal Council of S'pore, the Central Fire Station was the first headquarters for the fire brigade. This building marked the beginning of the modern fire-fighting services and the change from horse-frawn fire-carts to motorized fire-engines. The Central Fire Station is only in-charge of the CBD and Chinatown area. Year '1909' can be seen on top of this building and it has been 100 years of operations since. Being part of S'pore's early oldest history, Central Fire Station has undergone transformations and stayed relevant throughout the years. The Station's iconic presence in the heart of the city serves as reminder of the key role it plays in keeping S'pore's Central Business District(CBD) safe from fires and other emergencies.
This Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is officially opened by Mr Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Home Affairs on 22 Nov 2001. Visitors to the Heritage Galley can learn about the civil defence's progression in S'pore through the years, with displays of antique fire engines and other firefighting equipment. There are customised interactive stations for a close-up experience of what fire fighters and rescuers go through during a mission.

Above photos: The exit doors and 110 ft watch tower

Above photo: Red & white building built in 1909 (as seen in picture)
The construction of the red and white of the fire station was built in 1909 (as shown in pic)The contruction also prompted a modermisation of the brigade's equipment with motorised fire engines being introduced, which is evident in the carious size of exit doors of the fire station. The station, with its distincitive red and white brick facade, a style described as 'blood and bandages', and also features a 110 ft high watch tower, which was the tallest structure in the city when it was built, providing a vantage from which a 24hr watch could then be kept over the city. It also served as a hose drying tower - a feature in many fire stations. The station was later expanded with a new wing added as well as quarters expanded on land pruchased at the corner of Hill Street and Coleman Street from the Chinese Girls' School which was then moved to Emerald Hill in the 1920s.
Statue of Firefighters
This sculpture (above) is proudly sponsored b the National Fire Prevention Council. In recognition of the fire fighters and rescuers who risk their lives and go beyond the call of duty in protecting and saving lives and property for a safe and secure and Singapore. This sculpture can be seen at the near Galley outside the building on the left.
Do you know that all fire stations across Singapore, except Jurong Islands Fire Station and Changi Fire Station, are opened to the public every Saturday from 9am to 11am as walk-in visitors and no registration is required.

Hill Street Police Station and MICA's entrance
Second trip is Hill Street Police Station (above), the Old Hill Street Police Station building is the site of Singpaore's first jail. and was built in Neo-Classical style which was still fashionable for the public buildings in England in the 1930s. The Neo-Classical style is commonly seen in municipal buildings in S'pore and has features such as symmetry, the use of columns and pediments such as seen over the main entrance of the former Hill Street Police Station.
The building was designed by the PWD when Frank Dorrington Ward was the Government Architect. The six-storey building has a thoroughly Italianate air with its corbelled loggias and balconies, arcades, stuccoed, rusticated surfaces and central courtyards. The building when built, was an imposing structure which was described as 'skyscraper' was in fact the largest structure in Malaya.

Brief history of Old Hill Street Police Station (1934): The Old Hill Street Police Station stands on the site of S'pore's first jail and was site began in the 19th century when the Assembly Rooms of the S'pore Town then, was built and Hill Street Police Station was redeveloped in 1934 as the police station and barracks. During the Japanese Occupation, it was used the holding area for the Japanese secret police, the 'Kempaitai'. After the war, the building once again was used as police station. The Arms and Explosives Branch of the Police Department operated there from 1949 to 1981. The S'pore Government had introduced a housing scheme to accommodate police officers and their families and barrack-like accommodation lost its attraction.
Today the Old Hill Street Police Station Building is occupied by the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, MICA, and is therefore known nowadays as the MICA Building in 2004 (above pic). Also occupying it is the National Arts Council, National Heritage Board and the Media Development Authority that moved into in Apr 2000.

Above photos: The two courtyards
The building featured two open courtyards (now enclosed by a glass roof) and numerous windows that I can't help noticing that opened to the outside and inside of the building as well as the courtyards, giving the rooms in the building a airy and bright feel. Sources says that there are total about 911 windows but according to Ms Jill (volunteer guide) who says that this is not correct and what do you think? Shall we ask the historians who knew about this building or look through at NLB?

The once open-air courtyard of former Hill Street Police Station is now encased by a glass roof. A feature of Frank Dorrington Ward's designed building is the light and airy feel in interiors centilitre and brightened by generous windows which even in the less colourful days of the building, never goes unnoticed.
Last not least, below is the article, extracted from the Straits Times dated back 24 Sept 1890, the outbreak of fire occurred in 'Hocklam Street'.
About 9.30am, a fire began in a house No. 8 Hocklam Street, and a crowd immediately commenced to gather and found that they the pleasure of watching a fire work its own way without let or hindrance. Very soon Chief Inspector Jennings arrived, and pending the arrival of the fire engines did all he could, that is, watched the crowd. At 10 o'clock the fire had obtained complete possession of the house, and the flames lapped round the casements and mounted high into the air illumination the whole town.
The article goes on to describe how the crowd had admired the uniform of the uperinterndent as he watched on horseback as the fire made its progress, with water arriving only an hour after the fire by which time No. 8 & 9 were 'completely gutted' and added that the "organisation did not know where the nearest hydrants were situated" in spite of the "barracks of the Fire Brigade" being "in the same street as, and exactly opposite to, the unt houses".
Former Ministry of Labour
The last trip to Former Ministry of Labour, currently houses the Family & Juvenile Court of the Subordinate Courts of S'pore. This Building stands on the site of the former Chinese Protectorate Building which was established in 1877 to protect and control Chinese immigrants to S'pore. This building has been restored is now used as the Family and Juvenile Court of S'pore.

Above photos: Sign Board and Entrance to FCJC
Short Brief History: Was built as a grand Neo-Classical Building in 1928, the former Ministry of Labour Building is used by the judiciary and has been refurbished in 1930, the building housed the Chinese Protectorate which was set as an intermediary between the government and the Chinese community. Their role was to look after the welfare of the Chinese community, its work involved fighting the exploitation of prostitutes and coolies by their agents, the regulation of Chinese societies, and the control of triads.
In early 1877, the government set up Chinese protectorate and employed William A. Pickering who was the familiar with Chinese cultures and understood the problems of the Chinese community. William was the 1st Chinese protectorate to improve the welfare of the Chinese community and was popular amongst the Chinese. He retired in 1888 after a near-fatal attack by the secret society member. The Chinese Protectorate still functional until the outbreak of WWII and after the war, it was taken over by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and later, Ministry of Labour & Law.
Not long, the former Ministry of Labour was gazetted as the national monument on 27 Feb 1998.
Statue of Family

These sculptural figures, designed in the minimalist style and cast in bronze, represent an ideal family bound together by love, mutual respect, and concern. Intentionally abstract, they transcend racial identities. Each figure stands as an individeual. Together they reflect the harmony and balance of a family unit.
The mother figure, compassionate yet firmly grounded, is bending forward and looking towards her children. The father, slightly more formal, is bending his knees as an accommodation towards the viewpoints of the other family members. The growing boy is close to his father, reflecting the importance of paternal influence is the raising of youth. With his hands in his pockets, the boy appears to be saying. "I'm all right, ma and papa. I'm part of this family." A very cute figure, the little girl with pigtails has her arms raised as she is about to be picked up and hugged as affection is care to the family.
In portraying this family scene at the entrance to the family and Juvenile Court, they are conveying the high regard they place upon protecting family obligations, promoting familial ties and upholding the values restorative justice in their Family and Juvenile justice models.
Well, I have to pen off here and look forward to the next chapter,

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