NHB launches scheme to celebrate stories of heritage businesses in Chinatown

The scheme, called Street Corner Heritage Galleries, will feature 11 mini-museums representing 11 heritage businesses in Chinatown.

Ernest Cheng

Has an unhealthy obsession with iced lemon tea.

Published: 15 September 2022, 6:15 PM

Looking to celebrate and document the rich experiences of heritage businesses in Chinatown, the National Heritage Board (NHB) launched Street Corner Heritage Galleries: Chinatown on Thursday (Sep 15).

The scheme involves NHB working closely with interested owners of heritage businesses with at least 30 years of history to co-curate and co-create “mini-museums” at their premises. These showcase the history of their businesses and trades, complemented by historical documents, photographs and artefacts.

Street Corner Heritage Galleries: Chinatown will feature 11 heritage businesses in the precinct – Eu Yan Sang, Chop Wah On, Spring Court Restaurant, Mei Heong Yuen, On Cheong Jewellery, Tin Sing Goldsmiths, Kim Poh Hong Goldsmith, Bee Cheng Hiang, Lim Chee Guan, Tong Heng and Pek Sin Choon.

One of the more notable inclusions on the list include bak kwa store Bee Cheng Hiang, an iconic brand in Chinatown that has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a roadside stall in the 1930s. 


Although they have grown into a multinational company, Bee Cheng Hiang still keeps to its traditional production methods, such as spreading meat slices on bamboo trays by hand. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


Another is Kim Poh Hong Goldsmith, founded by Tan Eng Geok, a silversmith that came to Singapore from China in 1938.


The brand is being run by the third generation of the Tan family today, having crafted and sold jewellery for generations of customers over the past 80 years, according to NHB. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


Street Corner Heritage Galleries is part of NHB’s ongoing efforts under Our Heritage Plan to strengthen partnerships with communities, as well as raise awareness of and foster a deeper appreciation for Singapore’s everyday heritage spaces. 

The three-year pilot scheme was first launched in the Balestier precinct in March 2020, followed by the Kampong Gelam and Little India precincts over the next two years. The scheme will subsequently be rolled out to the Geylang Serai precinct in 2023.

The scheme also provides curatorial support in terms of research and content development, in addition to helping heritage businesses fund initiatives like talks, tours and workshops.

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