19 July 2009

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, located along Keppel Road, is the port of call for trains heading to and from Singapore. Constructed in 1932, it is the terminus for the West Coast line of the KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) Railway line.

Built in 1932 on reclaimed swampland, the station's inaugural opening was conducted by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith on 3 March 1932. It became the southernmost end of the Malayan Railway, serving the needs of Singapore town, particularly the transport of goods from its harbour. The station became one of the latest of the main terminus along the West Coast Line to be completed and thus had some of several unique designs of its time, both in the mechanics of its system and in the design of the station. Until 18 December 1988, friends and relatives could say their goodbyes at the platform, paying a mere 20 cents.

The station's architectural style is strongly European and said to be influenced by the architect of Finland's Helsinki Station, Eliel Saarinen. The entrance to the station is marked by four towering statues, symbols of Malaya's economic pillars. They are named Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry; each personification holding symbols unique to their character. Just below the eaves of the windows, lionheads stand guard whilst a stately clock marks time in Roman numerals. A large dome raises the roof of the station's lobby. High up a wall in this lobby are the antiquated initials for the Federated Malay States Railway and the FMSR's crests. Colourful mosaic panelling stretching against the rest of the walls, portray Malayan economic scenes of the past: tongkangs by the harbour, tin-mining, bullock carts in rice fields. The mosaic was actually made of coloured rubber through a patented process created by the Singapore Rubber Works. The ticketing counter is made of solid teak and beside it is the Habib Railway Bookstore, established since 1936.

It is the only station along the Malayan Railway which has buffer stops, with this particular set designed by Ransomes & Rapier. The signalling system operated at the railway was inherited from the colonial government and is typical of that used in the United Kingdom. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is one of four major signal cabins along the West Coast line, the others being at Gemas, Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth. The Singapore station has a 24-lever box which is mechanically operated.

The 34 room Station Hotel at Tanjong Pagar Railway is the most recent built of three found in Malayan Railway stations. Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur had their Station Hotels in 1915 and 1910 respectively and all were run by Chinese contractors. Infact, Singapore's Station Hotel manager, Lim Jit Chin, received a Guiness Book of Record for being the second-longest serving hotel manager in the world. Besides the Station Hotel, the Lims also managed the Prairie Express Pub. Compared to the other two principal stations, the Singapore's station hotel is not as attractive as the view faces either the dock roads or a concrete awning. However, in its heydays, the hotel's services were considered equal to that of Raffles Hotel.

By Tan, Bonny written on 2000-02-22
National Library Board Singapore

1 comment:

Timotheus said...

Is Tanjung Pagar Railway Station destined to be demolished, or suffer the ignominious fate of Clifford Pier and be turned into a restaurant accessible only to the rich?