The Historians

Monday, March 9, 2015

#7 Waterloo street - Stamford Arts Centre

After we are done exploring Bugis area, it was now my turn to lead our team around Waterloo Street. To ensure that the trip remain a fruitful and enriching one, I had done some research prior to the day of the trail on my assigned locations so as not to short change any of my group members.

My group members patiently listen as I share my research with them under the hot sun! 

Before I proceed on with the areas we visited along Waterloo street, let me give you a short background of Waterloo street. Did you know, that the street was not previously called Waterloo Street?!

The street was originally known as Church street, named after Thomas Church a resident councillor. However due to confusion with another Church street located near Raffles Place, in 1858, its name was replaced to Waterloo Street. t]The name was chosen in commemoration of the Waterloo Battle fought in 1815 with Duke of Wellington who claimed victory over the French.
Waterloo Battle in 1815
I definitely had no idea about this!. I find it interesting and enriching that many of the streets name in Singapore had their own story to tell and it is a pity that the current generation (including me I guess hehe) lack the exposure to the history of these places as we are missing out a lot on our history.

Waterloo Street begins from Stamford Road and ends around Bencoolen Link. There are a number of religious landmarks that are planted along the street, namely Sri Krishna Temple, Kwa Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and Maghain Aboth Synagogue reflecting the multicultural community that once reside in this area.

Aside from the religious landmarks Waterloo Street has become home to many art organisations that we will look further into later on.

First up was Stamford Arts Centre!

Us in front of Stamford Arts Centre
Striking red window grills of Stamford Arts Centre 

From the outside, Stamford Arts Centre may appear to be just an old plain building, but do not be fooled by its exterior as this building which was built it the 1920s by the Japanese is rich with history. The building which originally served as a Japanese school has ben occupied by many other schools, including Gang Eng Seng School and Stamford Girls' School. The building was later named as Stamford Arts Centre in 1988 housing a variety of Chinese and Indian art and cultural groups.

List of courses conducted by one of the group

Letter box belonging to the different art organisation

Another group photo with the rather plain building before we leave
It was rather quiet when we visited this place except for a few cultural dance groups rehearsing their dance moves. There were not many visitors as the place was meant solely dance groups practise.  When you take a walk around the building, you will be able to see how this place has been preserved since the Japanese occupation time even though the walls may have been repainted. There were still elements of Japanese architecture that one can easily identify with. It would be interesting if  one of the rooms could be made into an exhibition or showroom showcasing the history of the building to give us a feel of what it was like back then.  

That's all for this post, in the next post we explore two other sites; Sculpture Square and SCWO that also contributes to the historical and cultural development of Waterloo Street.

- Khairunnisa

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