A bird’s eye view of the Geylang River mouth. c 1980s
Tanjong Rhu Jetty at the river mouth of Geylang River c 1980s.
Looking at Tanjong Rhu in the 1980s, it would have been hard for anyone to imagine that it could look at it today – an attractive and exclusive residential enclave of tastefully designed waterfront condominiums.
Following the previous related blogs, the “memory aids” of selected archived photos with courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) and various sources on the Internet to share on this blog.
Tanjong Rhu was a busy shipbuilding center in the past.
Towards the end of the Japanese occupation, one of the most interesting of shipbuilding experiments took place at Kallang River, mainly Tanjong Rhu.
Transforming a shipyard into a private condominium enclave is a giant step involving architectural planning of the modern buildings and infrastructures over many years.
This massive exercise for the east coast park land reclamation and the construction of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge and expressway.
Tanjong Rhu in the kampong days
The area was formerly known as “Sandy Point”. Tanjong Rhu was the Malay name comes from the casuarina trees, referred to “pokok rhu” in Malay.
Postcard featuring cows roaming Tanjong Rhu beach, with the diving or observation stage of Singapore Swimming Club seen in the background. c 1905
Singapore Swimming Club
Land Reclamation & Construction of Benjamin Sheares Bridge
The above photo of Ms Tan Peck Eng, a generous contributor to NAS, posed with her brother in 1972 before the development of Tanjong Rhu.
Shipbuilding at Tanjong Rhu
Tanjong Rhu has been associated with shipbuilding and repairing small or medium-sized vessels from the early days in Singapore.
Captain Flint, a harbour master, started a boat building and repair company at Tanjong Rhu in 1822.
VIPs and guests at the launching of “W Flint” at Tanjong Rhu. c 1950
Tanjong Rhu Girls School. c 1951
Single-door bus at Tanjong Rhu. c 1956
United Engineers shipyard at Tanjong Rhu 1956
HDB flats at Tanjong Rhu under construction. c 1962
Tanjong Rhu and Mountbatten Road houses under construction. c 1962
Fire at Geylang in 1962
Enche Mahmood Bin Idrus and his wife, victims of fire in Geylang, moving into new flat at Tanjong Rhu in 1962.
Minister for Social Affairs Othman Bin Wok visits the Geylang fire victims at the Tanjong Rhu HDB flats on 5 November, 1963
Tanjong Rhu Industrial Estates in 1960s
Minister of Finance Dr Goh Keng Swee unveils plague at opening of Khong Guan Flour Mill at Tanjong Rhu on 31 March, 1964
Former Bungalows at Tanjong Rhu
As late in the 1980s and 1990s, the water surrounding Tanjong Rhu was polluted with industrial and domestic waste, creating an extremely unpleasant environment.
A massive relocation exercise was then undertaken by the Singapore government to transform Tanjong Rhu into a upmarket, high-end residential area. Reclamation of land along Tanjong Rhu for redevelopment and utilization for better benefits of Singapore.
Today, the best views of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge and Tanjong Rhu have become the iconic symbols of beautiful Singapore from air, land and sea. These photos by our visitors and tourists from all over the world brought home fond nostalgic memories of our little island.
6 thoughts on “Tanjong Rhu in the Past”
Well done! A very well researched piece of work. Raffles designated Tanjong Rhu to be a boat building area. That was why the proliferation of boat and ship building yards. That lead to road names like Jalan Benaan Kapal. Boats that came from Indonesia carried them materials like charcoal, mangrove logs, etc, would get them repaired filled with goods from Singapore before going back. That gave rise to names like Sampan Place, Kampong Arang Road, Twakow Place, Later big shipbuilders like Vosper Thornycroft joined in, Khong Guan Flour Mill was there because of the ease of transportation by sea. These industries gave jobs to villagers around Tanjong Rhu and Kallang Area. Rich people build bungalows along Tanjong Rhu Road for their weekend retreats. Katong Bedok Bus No 72 plied along East Coat road to Tanjong Rhu Road and terminated at Rhu Cross. Following the fires at Gelang Lorong 3, cheap one-roomed flats were built at Kampong Arang to house those people affected. Originally Tanjong Rhu Boys’ and Girls’ Schools were built to cater to the children of Katong – Meyer Road, Mounbatten Road and Tanjong Rhu. With the new housing estate at Kampong Arang demand for places for school going children rose. To cater to Chinese population there, Tanjong Rhu Primary was built. In the 70s, in order to have a better mixed of children between Chinese and English educated, Tanjong Rhu Primary became Tanjong Rhu Integrated School. However, in the 80s, in order to clear the polluted Kallang River, all boat building activities were terminated. Young adults moved out of Tanjong Rhu as they had sought employment and residence elsewhere. The population dwindled. Tanjong Rhu Boys’, Girls, and Integrated schools merged to become Tanjong Primary School. Tanjong Rhu Primary School did not last long. it closed its doors in 1986.
Thank you for sharing collective memories of Tanjong Rhu. Your personal memories and experiences as a teacher at the schools in the area provides additional interesting information and stories to add to the blog comments. Much appreciated.
[…] Remember Singapore: Enter a World of Advertisement in Old Singapore – Thought Moments: Tanjong Rhu in the Past – The Long and Winding Road: A paddle through the Jalan Gemala Nature […]
In my second book “Kampong Chai Chee” I devoted 73 pages on Tanjong Rhu Schools. Get one and read today.
Started my career in marine industry here in 1970 with Robin Shipyard till 73. Then I return again in 1975 to Vosper Thornycroft until company was liquidated in 1986. Remember the road leading to Rhu Cross were flooded when it’s high tide (especially “king” tide). In Robin Shipyard, when high tide we could not go to our toilet, got to go across the road to use the toilet in shophouses. There was an Ice Factory across Vosper, where we can get frozen food from them, as they also were importer of some frozen food. Our lunch would be in one of shophouses across the road, which we named it “Shangri-la” for our “zichar”. There was also a nice wanton noodle in the open-air carpark of Vosper, which is superb. Evening, we would go to one of coffee shop and have our fixed for the day. The hainanese uncle from the shop would regularly roast his coffee beans in front of his shop in the evening with butter etc giving fantastic aroma.
I reside in Tanjong Rhu and my family has a long history in Katong (Onan Road, Joo Chiat, etc). This entry, coupled with the personal experiences encapsulated in the above comments, has certainly been enlightening. Thanks for sharing!