In all, 4 persons were killed, nearly a hundred injured, and more than 16,000 people lost their homes and possessions.
Was I in any way involved in the 1961 fire?
In 1961, I was studying in Victoria School and was already a very active scout.
Unk Dicko, together with other members of our Scout Troop -the 6th Arrow, did our part by helping out at some of the relief centres set up for the victims of the fire. More than 16,000 people were made homeless. And they needed food, blankets, clothes to help them in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
We helped in the distribution of these items, beside other duties, at the centres.
James had sent me an invitation by email to join him, together with Peter Chan who is another avid guest blogger and Loh Kah Seng , a history researcher/lecturer. The date was 28th September 2010..nothing special except to James. He was born on that day 62 years ago and at the spot indicated by a red dot on the map.
For a more personal account, please check out his blogpost ( Blog To Express ) HERE. It has many photos from the past about Bt Ho Swee and the Fire too.
The map that was prepared by James for our Walk down Memory lane
The view as I stepped out of Tiong Bahru MRT station
We had fixed our meeting up place at Tiong Bahru MRT station at 5 pm.
I arrived by MRT at about 4.45 pm and had time to wander around. It was
the first time I'd been to that station. Everything looked so 'foreign' and strange to me. This is because that locality is not where I grew up in. I knew the place in the mid 60's when my work took me there. The entire area has been one huge transformation, so modernised that it is very difficult for 'outsiders' like me to be able to distinguish between present and past...in the things that I saw all around me. Of course some things hardly changed like the General Hospital location, former Institute of Health and some other buildings pointed out to me.
The other 3 friends all had some roots in this neighbourhood as you shall see.
Another view from outside Tiong Bahru MRT station
The 3 former kampong boys..Peter, Kah Seng and James
As we ambled along at a leisurely pace, we would all stop to look closely at the buildings we passed by. Here is this building called 'Equation'.