Experience 1950s Chinatown

The Chinatown Heritage Centre is the gateway for all visitors to trace the footsteps of Singapore's early pioneers and discover the personal stories of people who made Chinatown their home.

Living Eight by Eight

Visitors will get to step into the humble homes of Chinatown's early residents, rebuilt with the memories of many who had lived, worked and grown up in such cubicles. These small 'eight by eight' living quarters were simply furnished and every object tells a story, providing an insight into their struggles and sacrifices, aspirations and disappointments, love and joy.

physician

PHYSICIAN'S FAMILY

A physician and his family lived here. From this cubicle, the physician ran his practice. His patients were usually not well-to-do, and the physician was known to treat poor people for free .

MAJIE

MAJIE

This cubicle was shared by four majie, women from Shun Tak, Guangdong, who had taken vows of celibacy. The majie usually worked as domestic servants and housekeepers.

family of eight

FAMILY OF EIGHT

This cubicle packed a family of eight: a factory worker father, seamstress mother and their six children. This tiny space was home, study space and 'playground' to the children .

 

CLOG MAKER

CLOG MAKER

An itinerant clog maker, who plied his trade in the five-foot-way, and his family lived here. This cubicle was also his 'workshop' when business was brisk and orders aplenty.

CARPENTER

CARPENTER

A newly married couple - a carpenter and his wife - lived in this cubicle, their home to set up a young family. The carpenter kept his tool kit close by for urgent assignments.

HAWKER

HAWKER

The hawker and her family lived here. She would prepare her food for peddling in the shared kitchen, rising before dawn so as not to inconvenience her neighbours.

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TAILOR

This cubicle was occupied by the tailor and his family. The older children would sleep on the floor while younger ones slept on the wooden bed shared by their parents.

APPRENTICES

APPRENTICES

The tailor's apprentices lived here. If the cubicle was too full, they would have slept in the workshop, atop the benches. Some of them were only teenagers when they began their two-year apprenticeship.

SAMSUI WOMEN

SAMSUI WOMEN

Occupied by four Samsui women, 'Samsui' referring to the Guangdong district they came from, this cubicle was where they rested after a hard day's work at construction sites or factories.

TRISHAW RIDER

TRISHAW RIDER

A number of coolies lived here, one of them a trishaw rider. Most of them worked in shifts, occupying the beds in turns. The trishaw rider was the only one with a permanent bed.