The idea of setting up a organisation to organise activities for the community emerged among Tiong Bahru’s residents shortly after the war. In July 1948, Lau Yew Hock, a prominent member of the Tiong Bahru community and Secretary of the Singapore Chinese Importers and Exporters Association, proposed the establishment of a community centre. The Singapore Free Press reported on 26 July 1948 that at a meeting held at the Outram Road Church Hall, residents unanimously resolved that “a community centre is most desirable to further the moral, cultural, physical and advancement of the residents of Tiong Bahru”.
An Interim Working Committee was formed and a month later, a blueprint for “a system of local self-government for a mixed community” was prepared for the approval of the residents of Tiong Bahru SIT Estate. Among other things, the Tiong Bahru Community Centre was to be established to “train its members to be useful and responsible citizens by: (a) promoting friendship among themselves, irrespective of race or creed; (b) promoting the physical, intellectual, social and moral development of its members; and (c) teaching or interesting its members in the pursuit of some vocation.”
However, these plans did not take off until a few years later. In July 1951, a community centre building was established at Eu Chin Street at the cost of $20,000 and was officially opened by Duncan Robertson. The Community Centre proved very popular and within six weeks of its opening, 13,000 members had signed up. The Centre was very active, organising regular film shows, weekend dances and entertainment for its members and residents.
Did you know?
The original Tiong Bahru Community Centre at Eu Chin Street in 1951 was in fact a converted stand-alone air-raid shelter. It is still there today.