Historic railway stations to be kept for future generations
In view of their deep historical significance and to protect physical reminders of our rich heritage, the Singapore government will be keeping both the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the Bukit Timah Railway Station. The Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) is gazetting the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as a National Monument, while the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is gazetting the Bukit Timah Railway Station as a conserved building.
At their Retreat on 24 May 2010, the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia announced in their Joint Statement that the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) station would be relocated from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) by 1 July 2011. Both Leaders also agreed that the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station Passenger Terminal building would be conserved given its historical significance and the old Bukit Timah Railway Station building at Blackmore Drive could also be conserved.
With the relocation of KTMB station from Tanjong Pagar to WTCP by 1 July 2011, both the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the Bukit Timah Railway Station will then cease to operate as KTMB railway facilities.
Completed in the early 1930s, the KTMB railway line with its accompanying stations was a vital mode of transport for passengers and goods travelling between Singapore, mainland Malaya and Thailand following the Causeway’s opening in 1924. This marked the beginning of the heydays of rail as a means of goods transport, communications and travel. The stations played a crucial role in Singapore’s economic development, enabling the transport of key commodities such as tin and rubber from across the Malayan Peninsular for export internationally. Please refer to Annex A for more details on the railway line and the two railway stations.
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
In particular, the landmark Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, a terminus for the railway line, stood out for its grand facade influenced by both the Neo-Classical and Art-Deco schools of architecture. It is fronted by four larger-than-life statues that individually represented the four economic pillars contributing to Malaya’s wealth – commerce, agriculture, transport and industry. Other significant architectural features of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station include its 72-foot high barrel-vault roof over the central waiting hall and the large tiled wall murals depicting scenes from Malaya. In the past, when railway travelling was considered a luxury, this station gave a sense of elegance and grandeur.
Said Ms Jean Wee, Director of the PMB: “With the Causeway linking Singapore to Malaysia, the KTMB railway established itself as the only means of locomotive transportation between the two countries for nearly 80 years. The gazette of the railway line’s terminus, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, recognises the uniqueness of the structure and its existence as the key operational railway station in Singapore. It will continue to be a landmark even in its adaptive re-use, to reflect the nature and strength of ties between both countries as well as amongst its people.”
The gazette of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station brings the current number of Singapore’s National Monuments to 64. Please refer to Annex B for the full list of National Monuments.
Bukit Timah Railway Station
The Bukit Timah Railway Station near King Albert’s Park was one of the smaller stations built to serve the suburban parts of Singapore. The simple brick building with an open sided waiting hall is the only remaining station of this group. An endearing local landmark, this single storey building follows the style of the traditional small town stations that were common in the United Kingdom and Malaya in the 1930s.
Mr Ler Seng Ann, Group Director (Conservation & Development Services) in URA, notes that key buildings and structures relating to Singapore’s role as a transport hub form part of the collective social memory of Singaporeans. “The URA’s Conservation Programme was set up to keep these physical reminders of our built heritage. Under this award-winning programme, we have already conserved the Clifford Pier and the former Kallang Airport which were Singapore’s historic gateways for sea and international air travel respectively in their heydays. Once the key historic structures for rail travel are conserved, it will complete the story of our transport history,” he adds.
Please refer to URA’s website at http://www.ura.gov.sg/conservation/mod2.htm for a listing of conserved buildings in Singapore.