Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

January 2012

TODAY VOICES
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.

http://www.todayonline.com/Voices/EDC120119-0000039/Another-poser-on-Bukit-Brown

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
 谢燕燕 

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?


 
这是乔治·亨利·布朗留给后人的唯一照片,小女孩是他的其中一名女儿。


 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。

55岁的乔安娜·布登斯是乔治·亨利·布朗的第五代玄孙女,虽然年代久远,这名在英国一所女校当兼职教师的后人却对170多年前的家族史做过不少研究,有深入认识。

乔安娜告诉本报,她14年前曾到新加坡生活一段时日,之后经常到访,每次来到新加坡,都会趁机多认识家族史,而她对新加坡、对祖先住过的武吉布朗坟场有深厚感情。

有关乔治·布朗何时到新加坡,目前有两种说法,一是说他1842年便从印度加尔各答途经槟城来到新加坡,另一说法是他在1846年才抵达新加坡。

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
 
乔治·布朗的玄孙女乔安娜·布登斯上星期六访问武吉布朗坟场后,向本报绘述了布朗家族的有趣历史。(蔡家增摄)
妹妹穿针引线下再娶

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。

乔安娜小时候就知道祖母露丝是在新加坡出世的,因为祖母每次用餐时、总会念念不忘芒果、榴槤等热带水果,另外,她能讲一点马来话和华语,家中还有不少中国古董。

据乔安娜说,她祖母是在二战前夕,举家迁回英国。布朗家族来自英国的多塞特郡(Dorset)。

布朗多才多艺

再说回乔治·布朗,他除了种植豆蔻、建造马车,也是新加坡最早的一名船主,一度拥有三艘往返于东南亚和上海、日本的货船。

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。

当时的船长把货物转到另一艘船前、先把一部分白米和糖卖掉,用来支付停泊、储藏和重新装运的费用,结果遭货物主人起诉。

艾伦也常在日记里提到丈夫为了监督船只装卸货物而忙到很晚才回家。另外,他们和一些船长交往甚密,经常上船访友和用餐。

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。

乔治·布朗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,家中经常有朋友聚在一起演奏音乐。

艾伦在日记里也谈到乔治购买新钢琴,把旧钢琴卖给友人的事。

布朗开垦快乐山庄时,先种植豆蔻但告失败。多年以后,他改种木薯,还用机器把木薯制成食品。

不幸的是,他1881年9月在操控机器时发生意外,还因此失去左手臂。为了疗伤,他决定到槟城去,却在1882年10月5日与世长辞,享年63岁,遗体被葬在槟城一个基督教坟场内。墓碑说他是“新加坡长久居民”。

他去世后不久,《海峡时报》在1883年1月刊登了一则快乐山庄求售广告,说这个山庄占地140英亩、有三栋大房子,附设马车生产间、木薯厂、抽水站、大水槽等。

广告还说山庄以种植木薯为主,但还有大量果树,包括椰子、芒果、榴槤、可可、咖啡等。

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。

乔治·亨利·布朗在槟城一个基督教坟场的墓碑,说明他是“新加坡的长久居民”。这张照片摄于2009年。


在卖掉快乐山庄后,布朗的遗孀艾伦·奈特和三名女儿,连同她的兄弟阿瑟·奈特一起搬到基里尼路,后来再搬到里峇峇利路的“绿草谷”(Grassdale)。

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。

安娜与快乐山庄

150多年前的快乐山庄(今日武吉布朗),周围是浓密森林,经常有老虎、山猪、鼠鹿、蛇等野生动物出没,有时还会碰上大毒蝎、大蜈蚣等。

艾伦·奈特1859年的日记里,便记录着园丘里的男生,捉到蟒蛇、竹叶青,或者在屋后杀死大蝎子,活捉7寸长大蜈蚣等事。

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。

在安娜刚丧夫的悲痛日子里,艾伦几乎是每隔几天便去看望按娜。安娜是在1862年经陈金钟推荐,到泰国王室担任小王子们的英文老师。她的这部分故事被拍成电影后,让她成为“名人”。

艾伦的日记是认识一个半世纪以前、新加坡社会的珍贵史料。日记中提到新总督加文纳的上任,她和布朗一起去拜会新总督夫人,也谈到1859年11月12日,新加坡和雅加达(当时称Batavia)之间开始铺设电报用的海底电缆。乔安娜说,她祖母露丝一生搬家27次,每次搬家都会抱住那几袋旧照片和旧日记,视之为珍宝。她日后会考虑把旧文物捐给新加坡档案馆。

布朗的长女伊娃·布朗摄于早期的新加坡。

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