Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tien Tor Long

A documentary series was recently broadcasted on Channel New Asia called Days of Disaster.
Last Sunday, March 8, there was an episode titled Megafloods which covered the floods of Singapore over the past few decades.

I was asked to watch this episode by my blogger friend, ex-schooltecher Mr Yeo Hong Eng.
 Yeo Hong Eng is the author of The Little Red Cliff, a book in which he tells of his young days living in rural Bedok.  Hong Eng was featured in the episode in an interview about his days when Bedok was severely flooded in 1954.

During the show, a picture flashed on the screen for about one second but it immediately caught my eye! It had nothing to do with floods but it was shown as an example of industrialisation in Singapore.

The picture they used was the Union Carbide factory at Hillview Road.
Screen capture from Channel News Asia.

Many of the early residents of Princess Elizabeth Estate would be closely associated with this factory as many of them worked there. These include both my father and my mother who were once employed by Union Carbide. I have previously blogged about the factory in an earlier posting here.

People living in the vicinity of Hillview will know the factory as the Eveready battery factory or Tien Tor Long in the local dialect. Tien Tor means battery and Long is factory in Hokkien.

It was a landmark at Upper Bukit Timah in those days because of its tower which can be seen from far away.
At the top of the tower was a huge model of an Eveready Silver battery which was lit up at night and acted as a beacon. It could be seen from far off coming up or down Upper Bukit Timah Road.

In the picture you can spot Princess Elizabeth Estate in the background at the base of Bukit Gombak. The private estate beside it does not seem to have been built yet so I surmise that this picture was taken before 1965. If so, then the factory would have been known as National Carbon and not renamed as Union Carbide yet.

From the angle of this picture, I reckon that it was shot from the top of Fuyong Estate which lies across the main Upper Bukit Timah Road. Most probably from the slope where today the St Francis Methodist School lies.

It is one of the clearest picture I have yet seen of Tien Tor Long.