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The Long Forgotten Anson Road Stadium

I first came to know the existence of the demolished Anson Road Stadium after I read a line from the veteran journalist Godfrey Robert's book "The Malaysia Cup" published back in 1990.

USED TO THINK JBS WAS THE OLDEST
Prior to that, it was always in my opinion that Jalan Besar Stadium was the oldest football stadium in Singapore (even though the old arena used to function as a rugby and hockey venue as well) due to its aged facade which I noticed when I first visited the ground back in the early 1990s before the redevelopment program begun in December 1999.

Big turnouts like this were common at Anson Road Stadium (credit: NLB archive)

Field diagram for listeners tuned in for radio commentary in the old days (credit: NLB archive).  

Recently, when I chanced upon an online article that provides a scribe on the arena, it piqued my interest to find out where exactly was this stadium located in the Tanjong Pagar area.

EXHIBITION VENUE TURNED INTO STADIUM
According to Singapore Infopedia, the plot where the stadium was located was meant to be served as the venue for the 1922 "Malaya-Borneo Exhibition", a regional tradeshow to showcase the achievement of the economic achievements of British Malaya and Borneo.

Following the exhibition, a loan of $25,000 was approved by the Legislative Council to convert the venue into a sports stadium which was completed and officially opened on 19 July 1924 featuring a "Singapore Cup" match between HMS Iroquois and HMS Pegasus.

SHOULD BE THE PRESENT SITE OF SCH
Armed with details given by the above-mentioned online article and old street map sourced from its sister site at "Spatial Discovery", I headed down to Tanjong Pagar to map out where the Anson Road Stadium used to be.

Based on the old map, it is clear that not far from where the stadium was located was the Telok Ayer Basin which in the early days served as a dock for merchant ships to unload their goods.

A rare bird's-eye view of Telok Ayer Basin (credit: NLB archive)

Locations as shown based on information (credit: map from "National Archives of Singapore")
    The Past And The Present of "Telok Ayer Basin" and its surrounding areas.
  • Site (1) is the site where Anson Road Stadium was and it is now the cross junction near the Singapore Conference Hall (SCH).
  • The site (2) was where YMCA Sports Ground once occupied is now part of the AXA Tower.
  • Across (2) is the plot (3) where it used to be Nanyang Chinese Student Sports Field (presently the MAS Building).

    I traced the map using Prince Edward Road and Anson Rd/Robinson Rd as the "anchor points".

Diagonally across it was the YMCA Sports Ground with Nanyang Chinese Student's Sports Field next to it and because of its location near to the port, it wasn't uncommon to see facilities like godowns, quarantine centers within the vicinity.

Years of redevelopment that took place in the area had largely altered the look of Tanjong Pagar and sad to say there is nothing visible like a commemorative marker or signage to indicate the site of the Anson Road Stadium.

Information from the "Singapore Infopedia", however, did mention the site where Singapore Conference Hall is now is next to where the stadium was, as such this could possibly be the only closest indication of the stadium which was once known as the "Wembley of Malaya".

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from sources like NLB online newspapers archives, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 2: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me if there is, thanks)

Comments

  1. Dear Pohui, thanks for the research on write-up on Anson Road Stadium. I found your last map most useful, as I have been trying to figure out the relationship and coordinates of YMCA & Chinese Students Society in the years leading to Fall of Singapore. Did you come across more site maps of these two establishments? eg, did you find images of YMCA and CSS club house, facade, etc? Grateful for your attention. Lee Chor Lin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mr Lee,

      Apologies for the late reply as I was not aware of your message till I checked my comment moderation.

      I randomly came across the map from the NAS site and decided to use it to trace those places mentioned in this blog post.

      Delete

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