Tiong Bahru Market looked like this in the 1980s when it was called Seng Poh Road Market

Back in the day, butchers and poultry sellers could hang their meat out without refrigeration.

By Belmont Lay | March 7, 2016

Now here’s something to take you back in time.

The following photos in this article — which was published on Tiong Bahru Estate Facebook page in 2011 but are suddenly trending again — shows Seng Poh Road Market. It was a wet market in Singapore that existed at the exact location where the current Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre is situated.

This super old school market was officially opened on Jan. 21, 1951, and was touted by the Municipal Commission then as the most up-to-date market in Singapore for having white mosaic flooring.

It was a simple wooden structure with zinc pitched roofs that was set up to cater to the community and people from surrounding Bukit Merah and Henderson estates, as Singapore experienced a population boom after World War II.

When it first opened, the market had a row of stalls selling fish and pork and another row selling fruits and vegetables. An additional row sold cooked food.

Little changed at the market over the next 50-odd years, although the roof was replaced.

Many of the cooked food stallholders had formerly been itinerant hawkers or had moved there from nearby coffee shops.

While the roof and walls kept stallholders and customers away from the elements, it was hot and stuffy.

The market was said to remind one of Hongkong, where it was hot, dirty and crammed with perspiring housewives, gesticulating stallholders and rapid-fire Cantonese as the main lingua franca.

You could find all types of goods there, from umbrellas, towels and cute embroidered pyjamas for little girls, georgette blouses for women, to joss-sticks, fresh meat, fish, eggs, mountains of fresh fruit, huge watermelons slung in string bags, to dried and canned goods, and the freshest and most colourful selection of cut flowers.

In 2004, Seng Poh Road Market was shut down for a complete rebuild over a two-year period.

Stallholders were relocated to a temporary market at Kim Pong Road.

In 2006, it reopened as a two-storey building and was renamed Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre.

The new building was constructed at a cost of $16.8 million.

Today, the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre’s ground floor consists of over 250 wet market and retail stalls hawking fresh meat, dried goods and ornamental fish.

The second level is the hawker food centre where there are over 1,400 seats and 83 food units laid out in an open triangular shape.

Check out how the people in Singapore used to go about their daily marketing and the lively organic community setting that you don’t see very often these days:

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All photos via Tiong Bahru Estate Facebook page

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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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