Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

January 2012

Jan 19, 2012

Another poser on Bukit Brown
Will work affect surface run-off and cause floods?

Letter from Tan Wee Cheng

I read with great interest reports about how green cover and rooftop gardens could reduce the impact of surface run-offs that have caused severe flooding in the past two years.

The construction of new malls and condominiums in the vicinity of Orchard Road, Grange Road, River Valley Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road have removed significant green cover in these areas and might have been the cause of the flooding.

I am happy that the authorities are now considering the construction of detention ponds as well as other measures in order to alleviate the situation.

However, I am particularly concerned about the impact of planned development in Bukit Brown, which is a major green space on high ground.

Would the transformation of this area into concrete and steel surfaces lead to similar surface run-offs?

If this is so, we might see significant flooding in the surrounding lower areas such as Bukit Timah, Thomson and Toa Payoh, which would not only result in great inconvenience but also dampen property values.

As a long-time resident and property owner in this area, I hope the authorities would carefully study the environmental impact of such development and disclose the findings to residents in these areas.


ST Forum

Jan 7, 2012

Heritage debate a good sign

By Goh Yi Han

FOR many Singaporeans, the recent debate over what should be done to preserve the Bukit Brown area might have been their introduction to the notion that cemeteries have some kind of heritage value beyond the quirky or offbeat (read: ghost stories and spirits offering 4-D lottery numbers).

But not for me. In secondary school, I joined some schoolmates in designing a tourism package as part of a project for a geography contest. Determined to show an alternative side of Singapore, we settled on promoting tours of cemeteries.

Beyond generic concerns about 'respecting our forebears', you'd be surprised at how much one can learn about this country's culture and history from the final resting places of its people.

A traditional Chinese tombstone usually states the dead person's province of origin. Round pillars on a Muslim grave mean a woman is buried there, and flat ones indicate a man. The Armenian and Jewish quarters of some older cemeteries are a testament to the communities within our society that have come and gone in years past.

We thought we had a sure winner, but we came in second. The reason? The judges felt our idea was not feasible as visitors would not care, or they would be too superstitious to sign up. So you can understand why recent events made me want to turn to anyone and say 'I told you so'.

Vindication aside, I am glad to see how many people are helping to prove those judges wrong. Clearly, more Singaporeans are starting to think about how best to preserve collective memories, whatever the aesthetic merits. They want to have a say, rather than leave the heritage board to decide what is worth keeping and what isn't.

Many of those speaking up seem older - for instance, the Methodist Girls' School alumni working to save the Old School buildings at Mount Sophia. Besides the fact that they were the ones who attended MGS before it moved in 1992, perhaps it is also because they grew up in a landscape that changed rapidly post-independence, erasing many memories of their growing-up years.

In fact, I do wonder if today's young people feel the same way. What significance do we attach to the school where we spent nights cramming for exams? Are we thinking about what we want to have around 50 years later that we can reminisce about with our grandchildren? By the time we decide to do anything, it might be too late.

So whatever the outcome of the debate, at least we are having one. Better sooner than later. If not, the day may come when we have nothing but malls and curiously named condominiums to hang on to - and nobody to blame for it but ourselves.

The writer, 23, is a second-year law student at Columbia University.

Zaobao News, Jan 2, 2012

武吉布朗坟场是一个以乔治·亨利·布朗(George Henry Brown)命名的华人坟场,但大家可知道布朗究竟是何人,他与新加坡早期历史有何渊源,他自己的坟墓设在何处?


 一个多月前,武吉布朗坟场迎来一名特殊访客,她正是乔治·布朗的玄孙女乔安娜·布登斯(Joanna Prudence)。她当时正接受本地文史爱好者的访问,谈她对武吉布朗坟场即将受新道路工程影响的感想。

本报记者和她在武吉布朗坟场偶遇后,从她那里了解到布朗家族在新加坡的有趣历史。布朗的第二任妻子艾伦·奈特(Ellen Knight)曾留下一本1859年的日记,非常生动细腻地反映早期英国人在新加坡的生活情景。

从日记中,记者赫然发现,电影《国王与我》中的女主角安娜·雷诺文斯(Anna Leonowens),原来和布朗夫妇关系亲密。她年轻丧夫时、曾经在布朗夫妇的快乐山庄小住疗伤。




按照后者的说法,他在1847年买下汤申路的一大片地(今日武吉布朗坟场),为之取名快乐山庄(Mount Pleasant),在清理荒地森林后,开始种豆蔻。与此同时,他也在桥北路的圣安德烈座堂担任风琴手。

他和第一任妻子海伦(Helen Gertrude)于1851年生下一名男孩小乔治(George William Brown),但海伦三年后便在新加坡病逝。布朗当时已在新加坡成立一家建造马车车厢的公司

在妹妹夏洛特(Charlotte Brown)的穿针引线下,他在1856年娶了艾伦·奈特(Ellen Knight)为续弦。艾伦是在夏洛特的陪伴下,于1855年从英国抵达新加坡。同一年,布朗的豆蔻园因遭虫害而告失败。

布朗和艾伦后来生了三个女儿,其中一名女儿夏洛特(又叫娜丽)正是乔安娜的曾祖母。布朗的三个女儿中,只有夏洛特成婚,丈夫是弗雷德·宾加菲(Fred Benjafield)。他们的女儿露丝(Lucie Benjafield)是乔安娜的祖母。

乔安娜告诉本报,露丝婚后生了四名男孩,其中一人便是她的父亲马克·布登斯(Mark Prudence)。87岁的马克目前住在英国,退休前是一家机械工程公司的董事。





乔治·布朗的第二任妻子艾伦·奈特(Ellen Knight)曾在1859年7月9日,在日记里记载布朗当时所面对的一场官司。原来他在1857年把自己的“酸柑屋号“(The Limehouse)租给人运货到上海,但船航行到印尼泗水便因漏水停航、最后卖掉。



乔治·布朗不仅是货船和园丘主,也是马车建造能手和研发古塔胶(gutta percha)的专家。古塔胶是一种从热带树木取下来的胶液,19世纪中期被用来制作电报线胶套、也用来制造家具、拐杖、首饰等。

为了经营好公司,乔治·布朗把妻舅阿瑟·奈特(Arthur Knight)从英国请到新加坡,奈特1860年抵新后,先在布朗的公司当助理,九年后加入殖民地政府当速写员。







1900年的新加坡指南显示快乐山庄由阿拉伯裔商人亚塞高夫(Syed Mahomed Alsagoff)家族所拥有,他们很可能就是当时的新买主。



乔安娜说,布朗的女儿伊娃、露西、妻舅阿瑟、女婿弗雷德等,后来都葬在目前已挖掘一空的比达达利基督教坟场(Bidadari Cemetery)。

乔治·布朗不仅是货船和园丘主,也是马车建造能手和研发古塔胶(gutta percha)的专家。他在音乐方面很有造诣,他在教堂当风琴手,还擅长演奏钢琴和拉小提琴,家中常有朋友聚在一起演奏音乐。




这本已成了珍贵文物的日记,最常提到的一个真实历史人物,竟然是电影《国王与我》中的女主角安娜·雷诺文斯(Anna Leonowens)。原来安娜是艾伦在新加坡生活时的好朋友。

1859年时,安娜的丈夫汤姆·雷诺文斯(Thomas Leonowens)少校和一些英国军官到山中猎老虎时,因中暑突然离开人世。伤心的安娜被接到快乐山庄与布朗夫妇一起住。艾伦笔下的安娜,因丧夫而非常脆弱,好几次昏厥。她在快乐山庄小住后便搬到“政府山脚”的一间房子,开始以教书为生。但办校计划没有成功,五个月后便关闭。




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