Various European communities contributed to early Singapore

Various European communities contributed to early Singapore
French construction firm Brossard and Mopin built the three-storey art deco, neo-classical Tanjong Pagar Railway Station shown above.

The Europeans have left an indelible mark on Singapore's landscape since the 1800s, erecting majestic structures that have become national monuments, but it seems that few people are aware of this.

Ms Daniele Weiler, 64, the author of a book about the French in Singapore, shared little-known facts about the contributions of the French to Singapore at a talk yesterday, as part of this year's Singapore HeritageFest.

She said: "Singapore is a cosmopolitan city with a multi-ethnic background. Since 1819, different communities have been coming to Singapore. Some of them settled down, others stayed for just a few years... The French are just one of them."

For instance, French construction firm Brossard and Mopin built the three-storey art deco, neo-classical Tanjong Pagar Railway Station between 1929 and 1932.

French priests set up schools such as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, as well as churches, like the 172-year-old Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Queen Street.

The German community was also roped in to share about its role in Singapore.

Retired managing director Dieter Gumpert, 73, held a talk on the same day.

"Among other things, (the talk) can help correct misconceptions that the British were the main foreign community which helped to develop Singapore," he said.

For instance, he noted that it was the Germans who erected what is now the Goodwood Park Hotel in 1900.

In 1861, they purchased a piece of land at then 7 Scotts Road, which was originally part of a nutmeg plantation. They used the land for the 1856 Teutonia Club, the oldest nationality club to be established here.

The building was the venue of stage performances and social gatherings in the past.

Prince Heinrich of Prussia, the younger brother of the German Kaiser, William II, visited in 1880 and 1898.

The Armenians built the first Christian church in the eastern Orient in 1835, at 60 Hill Street.

As part of HeritageFest, it was opened to the public for tours on May 9 and 10.


This article was first published on May 18, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.