Singapore's oldest Roman Catholic Church still lying in disrepair

Singapore's oldest Roman Catholic Church still lying in disrepair
PHOTO: The Straits Times

One elderly woman sold her house and donated $1.2 million to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd for its rebuilding project.

An elderly couple donated $3 million.

But the cathedral in Queen Street still needs another $7 million to restore it to its former glory by early next year.

It has been almost two years since the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore closed for repairs that are expected to cost around $40m.

That is according to the church's fund raising magazine, The Good Shepherd - Restoring God's House, now sold at $18.

The publication records the damage and the history behind the cathedral.

Built over 150 years ago in 1847, it was a sorry sight by 2006, noted the magazine.

The Straits Times reported in 2010 that huge cracks, some as long as three metres, had appeared on the walls, floors and pillars of the historic building while the bell tower had begun to tilt precariously.

Problems were first reported nine years ago, when both the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) were involved in construction works in the area.The LTA was constructing the Circle Line, which began in 2002, while SMU was building a new campus around the same time.

Investigations showed that uneven soil settlement beneath the building's foundations had caused the cathedral to shift, according to the magazine.

CRACKS

As a result, cracks and damage became visible, especially on the east facade of the Cathedral, where the altar and bell tower were.

Contractors building Bras Basah MRT station also accidentally demolished a portion of the Cathedral's historic wall in 2002, and this was replaced with poor copies of the original, the magazine reported.

The publication said the LTA and SMU have since paid the church an undisclosed sum in amicable settlements.

Due to insufficient funds and time needed to decide on the plans, the makeover of the building began only on Oct 28, 2013.

The cathedral engaged experts such as architectural firm Architects 61 and engineers to helm the project in 2011.

Gazetted as a national monument in 1973, the Cathedral will be adding a three-storey building with a heritage centre to display historic artefacts of the Catholic Church in Singapore.

Also under construction are a new basement for weekday Masses and a crypt.

The Preservation of Monuments Board has given about $1.5 million towards the project and has helped monitor the restoration work.

The magazine is sold at various Catholic churches around Singapore, and more information can be found on the church's Facebook page.

Those who wish to donate can do so with cheques made payable to Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, with "Restoration Fund" written on the reverse side, and mailed to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, A Queen Street, Singapore 188533.

aqing@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sept 1, 2015.
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