Heritage in the local heartland neighbourhoods of Singapore, thanks to Our SG Heritage Plan, National Heritage Board’s (NHB) Street Corner Heritage Galleries of Singapore scheme brings the spotlight to our community heritage that played a part in everyday Singapore community spaces, playing a part in our heritage, history and culture growth over the decades.
Starting a business is not easy, maintaining and sustaining a business is even much tougher than starting. Doing it for more than 30 years, that’s no mean feat at all. NHB’s Street Corner Heritage Galleries scheme identify local businesses with at least 30 years of history in selected precincts to co-create “mini museums”. This is a win-win situation for all parties, helping and growing local community heritage, history and culture, revitalising the local neighbourhood through local street/community heritage spaces. For the local business owners, all these would help to instil a stronger sense of ownership and legacy passed down from their forefathers, passing them on to the future generations.
Street Corner Heritage Galleries kickstarted from 10th March 2020 with five local businesses within the Balestier precinct. They are:
639 Balestier Road
342 Balestier Road
Sweetlands Confectionary and Bakery
10 Kim Keat Lane
328 Balestier Road
Lim Kay Khee Optical and Contact Lens Centre
330 Balestier Road
I would like to thank, Mr Alvin Tan, Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Community), National Heritage Board, for the invitation to join their media session, we visited Leong Fatt Tau San Piah and Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice. At the front of their shop, there is a cabinet showcasing their respective artefacts, documents, photographs, history and heritage for customers/visitors to their shop. Hearing their heart warming stories and history of their business, we were able to understand more in-depth of their heritage showcase that meant something special to them.
From their founding stories, struggles, challenges over the decades running and maintaining their business, a legacy as well, there were also stories of regular customers returning back to them for a taste of the food that they grew up eating and enjoying, along with their children. Such intangible heartwarming real life stories are priceless, they are part of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage that we need to protect, preserve, pay it forward and pass it on, to our future generations.
Have a chat with them if the opportunity arises, I reckon they would more than happy to share more about their rich history and stories. All of our local street corner heritage deserves more recognition and awareness in a fast changing international cosmopolitan Singapore.
Street corner heritage galleries of Singapore, represent an integral part of #OurSGHeritage, expanding into the local communities and beyond the museums. From my own documentation and coverage of old places, trade skills, NHB street corner heritage galleries are really wonderful initiatives to expand local community history, heritage and culture, supporting them through their stories, preserving, allowing them to continue their legacy, to pay it forward and pass it on to the next few generations of Singapore.
How can I plan a heritage exploration trail of Street Corner Heritage Galleries in the Balestier precinct?
This is my personal humble suggestion, start off at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall at 12 Tai Gin Road, get to know more about this heritage institution in the Balestier precinct, followed by learning more about the Balestier Precinct. Next up, go on the Balestier Heritage Trail, remember to visit the Street Corner Heritage Galleries in this precinct! That’s probably going to be a bit of walking, do wear comfortable shoes and drink lots of water. Save your tummy space for tasting local delights along your Balestier Heritage Trail exploration!
NHB Street Corner Heritage Galleries kickstarted in the Balestier precinct in March 2020, this scheme will soon expand into four other precincts – Kampong Gelam, Little India, Kreta Ayer/Chinatown and Geylang Serai by 2022. I look forward to the announcements of the street corner heritage galleries in the other precincts!
Our Singapore heritage has now gone beyond the museums, into the local communities, for some of us, they have been an integral part of our life growing up in Singapore. We all can play a part, no matter how big or small, to help preserve, support, pay it forward and pass it on, our rich local Singapore heritage, history and culture, for our future generations of Singapore and beyond.