16 November 2010

Kallang Gas Works [Demolished]

The Kallang Gas Works was built in 1862 to supply the first piped gas in Singapore to enable street lighting. Since it's opening, the gas works was under 24 hr surveillance, guarded by Ghurkhas around the clock.

Aerial view, 1960s
Photo credit: Tan Siak Kuan & NLB

It was given the Hokkien nickname huay sia or "fire city" due to superstitious fears that it might just blow up, therefore creating the aforementioned "fire city".

Riot police stationed outside
Kallang Gasworks after reports of fighting around the area during the Racial Riots (1964)
Photo credit: National Arcives, PICAS

There were altogether four tanks which were operated in the Kallang Gas Works. Tanks Nos. 1 and 2 were built with the original plant in 1862 and were in use until they were demolished in 1957. Tank No.3 was built before 1900 whilst Tank No. 4 was built between 1908 to 1909. Over the years, piped gas had became more important as fuel for cooking and water heating, particularly with rapid housing development in the 1960s and 1970s. Its original function for gas lighting faded as electricity took over street lighting in 1906 and the last gas lamp disappeared in 1956.

The Singapore Gas Company serviced primarily street lighting, until 1901 when the Municipal Commissioners took over its responsibilities. From 1901 to 1930, coal carbonizing plants were installed and used until 1958 when the gas works was converted to use oil gasification. Small boats carrying coal could be seen along Rochor River back then. There was also a big tall gate for the coal to be transported into the Gas Works.

Information Source: http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_750_2005-01-11.htm

Editor's Note: The following photos were taken by our team member, Krisgage, in 1998. Several photos have been tinted yellow with age over the past twelve years. Back then, digi-cams were pratically non existent and this scintillating collection was captured using only a film camera. Hence, we did a little work on the photos, desaturating them into monochrome and enhancing their contrast. The result does the photos much more justice, showing Krisgage's keen eye for great angles and catching shadows in his shots. This also marks one of the earliest industrial Urbex works done by a local urban explorer. Photos are only available for viewing at Krisgage's Kallang Gas Work Flickr album.

"Here are some photos taken in 24th April 1998, after my secondary school sports day.

That day, the sports day ended early and I was wondering where to go. Suddenly, an idea came to me. I read on the paper that the Kallang Gas Works was closed down in March, therefore it would be a good opportunity for me to take a look and have it documented for posterity.

Luckily, I brought my film camera along and had quite a number of empty exposures left. When I was there, I went to the friendly Indian security guard and asked for permission to enter the Gas Works. He agreed, probably seeing me standing there in my school uniform, thinking that I must be doing this documentation for my school project."

In addition, there is actually another Gas Works that I know of. It used to be located at Tanglin Halt, where my classmate stays, near the Ford car showroom and the old Van Houten chocolate factory.

This is a photo of the former Gas Works' main gate I took recently, a piece of evidence of its existence in the past. For more information and photos of the Gas Works at Tanglin Halt, please visit this great blog : http://2ndshot.blogspot.com/2009/07/2nd-shot-pub-gas-tank-at-tanglin-halt.html

For Krisgage's original article on the Kallang Gas Works, please visit :


Article and photos copyright of Christopher "Krisgage" Lee.

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