Couple share memories of 1960s S'pore

SINGAPORE - Bumboats lining the Singapore River, an opera performance on a side street near Orchard Road, and a shot of Morris Oxford and Morris Cambridge taxis chugging past the Victoria Memorial Hall.

These images detailing life in 1960s Singapore were shot by Mr John Cook and his wife Sheila, who lived in Singapore between 1966 and 1968.

Mr Cook, 73, was a sergeant with the Royal Engineers and was based in Gillman Barracks.

Mrs Cook, 69, had e-mailed The Straits Times in August several photos from a treasure trove of 100 rare images for archiving.

She said: "It would be a shame if they were lost or destroyed as our own children wouldn't value them as much."

The Cooks, who now live in Hampshire, England, have a 42-year-old daughter and a 44-year-old son.

The couple recalled how, with their dog in tow, they would hop into their car and zip around Singapore, armed with a Pentax SLR they had bought at the old Change Alley near Raffles Place.

Said Mr Cook: "I took these photos to record our stay in Singapore so that in the future we could look at them and recall happy memories."

Mrs Cook said she would also go on such outings on her own whenever her husband was posted overseas to places such as north-east Thailand and Terengganu in Malaysia.

They returned to England after Mr Cook was assigned to Brompton Barracks near Chatham in Kent for an 18-month building and civil engineering clerk of works course.

For decades, the images were kept in their original slide form, and could be viewed only with a projector and screen. They were converted and digitised last year.

The Cooks hope that older readers of this newspaper will recognise and remember the locations in the images.

The couple returned to Singapore in 2010 and last year, and what struck Mrs Cook the most were the skyscrapers. When they were living here, she recalled, "the first multistorey flats were being built in Queenstown".

They do not miss the Republic, as the country has "changed beyond recognition".

"But we do have fond memories of our life there in the 1960s... from the climate and local food to the night markets," said Mrs Cook.

This article was first published on December 8, 2014.
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