Singapore River Night Trail 2017

Banking on the success of the first Singapore River Night Trail conducted in March this year, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has once again partnered with NTU Heritage Club to bring the trail back. This time, the trail was conducted in conjunction with the Architectural Heritage Season (AHS) 2017, which aims to recognise well conserved architectural heritage. Planned and executed by members of the Heritage Guides and Curators (HGC) division, the trail attracted strong interest once again with some members of the public on waitlist after all slots were fully taken up.

Each participant of the trail also received a goodie bag. The bag was a limited-edition tote bag to commemorate AHS 2017, and consisted of AHS 2017 bookmarks, a AHS 2017 brochure, a trail booklet of landmarks along the Singapore River and some simple refreshments. Audio devices which enabled them to hear the guides clearly in the external environment were also provided for the trail.

Commencing at Raffles Place MRT station, participants were first given an introduction to the Singapore River, before they were introduced to Change Alley and Commercial Place, or Raffles Place as known today. Despite the change in the surroundings, pictures on site allowed the participants to have a visualisation of how the area looked like in the past. Heading on to Boat Quay, they were offered a sight of the Singapore River in the evening which was rarely illuminated as there was a night dragon boat race being conducted as part of the Singapore River Festival.

Entering the Fullerton Hotel, participants were treated to a gallery of information of its
predecessor, the General Post Office, and the history of Fort Fullerton. Thereafter,
participants were treated to a night view of the Marina Bay area as our guide explained about the history and interesting facts of the Merlion.

The trail then brought the participants to the newly pedestrianised section of the Anderson Bridge, and were told the gruesome sights that could be observed while crossing the bridge during the Japanese Occupation. Further north, participants remembered the bravery and might of Major-General Lim Bo Seng, while appreciating the beauty of the oriental structure of the Lim Bo Seng War Memorial. Over at the Arts House, the Singapore Writers’ Festival was in full swing, which allowed the participants to appreciate the importance of a change in use for conserved buildings in land scarce Singapore.

As the trail reached Hill Street, the guides introduced the history of two buildings which are related to two important municipal services: Old Hill Street Police Station and Central Fire Station. These 2 buildings were also awarded with the Architectural Heritage Award in 2001 and 2002 respectively. As the participants approached Clarke Quay, the magnificent night life demonstrated how conserved buildings can remain relevant through transformation and adaptation.

Our participants enjoyed the night trail thoroughly and gave us immense support. This was especially so on the second night, where they chose to embark on the trail despite the rain and humid weather. Given that it was a first time for many of the guides, there was definitely room for improvement. We would like to the opportunity to thank all our participants for all the generous encouragement and kind support! We also hope that they have had a better understanding on the history of the area, as well as the importance of urban planning and conservation in allowing us to preserve our heritage for future generations to come.