The Historians

Monday, March 9, 2015

#14 FORT CANNING


Our first stop at Fort Canning Park; Catching our breath
It wouldn't be a complete Heritage Trail if we were to miss out on our nations most significant historical site; Fort Canning Park! After embarking on a splendid trail from Bugis to Waterloo street to Bras Basah, our group is all ready to conquer the forbidden hill and experience for ourselves what this monumental historical site has in store for us! Join me on a tour, as I lead our group in this interesting expedition!



Before the commencement of our self-guided Fort Canning trail, we had our minds set on approximately 8 prominent historical 'check-points' that we would like to explore and know more about with regards to its history. They are: Fort Canning Green, Raffles House, The Battle Box, Fort Canning Lighthouse, Sally ports, The Fort, The Fort Canning Service Reservoir and last but not least The Keramat (King's Tomb)!


Serious in the classroom; Serious with learning outside.



An Interesting Discovery; History Archaeology at Fort Canning!


The History Archaeological site at Fort Canning wasn't one of the 'check-points' we had planned for the trail but it was indeed a very enthralling discovery for our group! What we found out about this site: Archaeological research at Fort Canning begin in 1984, sponsored by the Royal Dutch Shell. Till date, archaeological research at Fort Canning has found over 30,000 artifacts dating from the 14th-century. Most were discovered in an undisturbed layer of soil between 50 and 100 cm beneath the modern surface of the ground.  


Our first checkpoint; A huge disappointment!
Our first checkpoint, Fort Canning Green turned out to be such a huge disappointment when we realized that the entire place was closed for restoration and renovation! What we found out about this site: Fort Canning Green formerly known as the Fort Canning Cemetery was the first burial ground for Europeans in Singapore. The grounds encompassed two cemetery sites, in which the first site was used from 1819 to 1822, and the second from 1822 to 1865. In the year 1865, the Fort Canning Cemetery was closed and was eventually converted into a park.  



Our Second Checkpoint; Keramat The King's Tomb.
In all due respect to King Iskandar Shah!

The second checkpoint that we stepped foot on was actually the most sacred place on the forbidden hill; Keramat of King Iskandar Shah! What we found out about this site: The Keramat was believed to be the tomb of the last of the five kings Iskandar Shah, a king of Temasek dating all the way back to the 14th century. Back in the 1819s, Malays would refused to ascend the hill for fear of disturbing the dead!


                               The Historians Team Spirit!

                                 Whilst in our search for the next historical checkpoint!

                                Seating right outside Our Third Checkpoint; The Battlebox!

As we walked along, the third checkpoint that we set foot on was none other than the Battle box! But unfortunately, our luck seems pretty bad today in which many of the historical sites that we would like to explore are either closed for restoration or renovation works. What we found out about this site: The Battle Box also known as the Fort Canning Bunker was built in 1936 to serve the Headquarters of the British Strategic Command as the nerve-center for British Military Operations in the Far East during wwII. It was this exact venue that Lieutenant General Percival and the allied forces made the decision to surrender to the invading Japanese forces on 15 February 1942.







Right after the Battle Box, our group manage to set foot on one of the Sally ports found within Fort Canning Park! What we found out about this site: The Sally Ports were constructed in the year 1936 to allow military personnel to enter or exit the fort undetected. 'Sally' refers to the act of a sudden exit, usually by the defenders of the fort against the attacking enemies. There were at least 3 sally ports at Fort Canning, but only one remained. The other two, one located at the northwestern side of the hill and another near Hill street, could not be found.


Our Fourth Checkpoint; Sally Ports!
           

                                        Our Fifth Checkpoint; Sir Stamford Raffles House!


As we continued to venture within the huge Fort Canning Park, we actually found the house which once belongs to our founder Sir Stamford Raffles! What we found out about this site: Raffles built his house on Government hill on his third and last visit to Singapore in which in the year 1823, he wrote a special letter to William Marsden "We have lately built a small bungalow on Singapore Hill where, though the height is inconsiderable, we find a great difference in climate. Nothing can be made more interesting and beautiful than the view from this spot. The tombs of the Malay Kings are close at hand, and I have settled that if it is my fate to die here I shall take my place among them." 





 Our Sixth Checkpoint; The Fort!

We conquered The Fort!

                                                How do we get back down to the ground level??



In our very last and final checkpoint for our Fort Canning and Heritage Trail, we managed to discover yet another interesting historical site; The Fort! We were very much amazed at how The old Fort was still accessible to the public in which we discovered a secret narrow staircase that brought us right to the top of the Fortress! Climbing up the narrow stairs was easy... but it turned out to be extremely challenging for our group to get back to ground level as the stairs seemed to be much more narrower and steeper!! What we found out about this site: The Fort was actually the remains of the Fortress in which it was used by the British for attack and defense purposes during World War II. The fort  had seven 68-pounder guns, two 13- inch mortars and some 14 - pounder cannonades. A cannon was fired 3 times a day in colonial times to help inform British soldiers of the hour.







 WE ARE FINALLY DONE!!!


                                                           VICTORY JUMP AFTER A LONG DAY!!!



A very happy victorious jump from our group after a very tiring yet enjoyable time spent together on this Heritage Trail Blog Journey! We have certainly gained much deeper insights with regards to the history of the different historical sites of early Singapore ranging from Bugis to Waterloo Street to Bras Basar and lastly the Fort Canning Park! P.s We make a great team! Hip Hip Hooray!


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