Freshly painted a coat of tamarind yellow, 51 South Bridge Road stands out among the row of shop houses with its bright façade. Impressed upon the façade is the unmissable ‘TAK HENG CO. LTD’, accompanied with its associated Chinese characters and descriptors, in a hue of dark brown.
Constructed sometime during the late 1930s, historical records revealed that this building was once the business premises of Chun Chong, a local watch dealership that imported and sold classic timepieces such as the Swiss-made “Election” brand.
In 1939, two European soldiers broke into the shophouse through a window-pane. Making away with six alarm clocks, the thieves later sold them at Change Alley for a small fraction of the original price.
Years later, Tak Heng Co. Ltd took over occupancy of the shophouse during the 1950s. This Chinese import-export firm specialised in the sale of sundry goods, including the iconic “Camel” brand of bottles, jugs, vacuum flasks and food jars.
The historic legacy of Tak Heng Co. Ltd has been preserved—in old photographs and as a physical artefact on the shophouse itself. Although no longer owned by Tak Heng Co. Ltd, the company’s name remains visible, in prominent large block print on the shophouse’s façade.
Its neoclassical façade provides a rare glance into Singapore’s rich cultural past. An eclectic mix of traditional and modern architectural is expressed through its rounded pillars, simple strip delineations and flattened surface.
In 1989, the Urban Redevelopment Authority granted the shophouse conservation status as part of the Boat Quay Conservation Area.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of September 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.