Having to bid farewell to another old friend?

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Heritage, Stories

By Jerome Lim, 24 May 2010.

It was with sadness that I read the news about the impending closure of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in July next year, which was announced today. It has very much been a part of the Singapore that I grew up loving, one that I first became acquainted with on the makan trails that may parents led us on from the heights of Mount Faber. What the news release does not say is whether the station which has served for so long, providing many of us, including myself, with many memories of adventures on the railway to the Federation or Malaya as we may have referred to to it back then, will have to go, as both Malaysia, which owns the station and the railway land, and Singapore seek to jointly redevelop the parcels of land around the railway.

The entrance to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station with the four pillars of Malaya’s economy, Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry.

Transport, one of the four pillars.

The distinctive architectural style of the station hails from an era when European railway travel was at its height, as it is said to have been influenced by the architect behind Finland’s Helsinki Station. The station has stood as a landmark in the area since 1932, has survived much of the renewal that has swept through Tanjong Pagar, as up till now, the Malaysia government has resisted the many attempts by the Singapore government to persuade it to redevelop the railway land and the land on which the station stands. The station features four large statues on the four pillars at its entrance, each symbolising one of the then Malaya’s four economic pillars. The top of each of the pillars also bears one of the letters in the initials, FMSR, which stand for the Federated Malay States Railway, as it was known then.  The station has a very airy lobby which features batik styled mosaic mural panels which depict scenes around Malaya, which are reminiscent of the style of batik paintings that were once popular in Singapore and Malaysia.

The airy lobby features batik styled mosaic murals depicting scenes of Malayan life.

Moasic mural panels in the lobby.

Close up with a scene showing coconut plucking.

Close up of the mosaic panel depicting farmers planting padi in a padi field.

I have in my life passed through the lobby and the gates to the platform many times, and have many fond memories of the station as well as of the many railway journeys I had made to and from the station. I have also many fond memories of listening for the sound of the whistle and watching the comings and goings of trains from the vantage point of my aunt’s flat in Spottiswoode Park, each Lunar New Year’s eve where my extended family would gather for our reunion dinner. With the news, it would not be very long when the platforms that would come to life with the arrival and departure of the trains several times a day, would be left silent, as would the magnificent building that fronts the platforms. It may yet be a vain hope, but I do hope that the building is preserved in some form, not just for memories sake, but because it has for so long been so much a part of  the Tanjong Pagar area, and with the loss over the years of the many buildings we had come to associate with the area, it is one of the last remaining bits of heritage we have left in Tanjong Pagar.

The train platforms will soon fall silent.

A station clock on the exterior of the building.

A reminder of the romantic days of rail travel that the station served.

The timetable.

Hopefully the view of Singapore from what is technically a part of Malaysia will survive the relocation of the train station to Woodlands.

The Star’s news release earlier today on the imminent shift of the station to Woodlands.

KTM Tg Pagar station will move to Woodlands in S’pore July 1, 2011

SINGAPORE: KTM Tanjung Pagar station will move to Woodlands in Singapore on July 1 next year, say Malaysian and Singaporean leaders.

The KTM land issue has bogged down ties in the past with both sides playing hardball diplomacy and having their own interpretations of the Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990, on the terms of development and status of the KTM land that expands from Woodlands in the north to Tanjung Pagar in the south of Singapore.

Under the POA, Malaysia and Singapore, among other things, agreed that the KTM railway station be moved from Tanjung Pagar to a location to be decided later.

However, over the years, negotiations stalled after both sides failed to agree on where the new location should be in Singapore.

Source credit: The Long and Winding Road

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