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Nostalgic photos of S’pore donated by French photographer show how much life has changed

Blast from the past.

Joshua Lee | March 16, 01:27 pm

Every now and then, photos of old Singapore resurface and provide us with a window into a bygone era.

This latest blast from the past comes courtesy of French photography enthusiast Paul Piollet.

The 84-year-old recently donated 441 coloured slides of Singapore taken during the 1970s to 1990s.

According to the Straits Times (ST), Piollet was based in Singapore and Indonesia when he was working in the oil industry in those years. In his free time, Piollet ventured into the streets and snapped images of local architecture, culture, and people.

The images were reportedly taken with a Pentax camera, using Kodachrome 35mm film.

Piollet also occasionally took buses into Singapore’s “countryside” — areas like Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands, where he explored kampongs.

Because Piollet’s images were taken during a time when photography was not common, they are important clues as to what life was like back then.

Here are some of Piollet’s photos:

These two images below depict children playing along a five-foot way on Aug. 20, 1971:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.
Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

An audience watches wayang or opera at Chin Nam Street on Nov. 21, 1971. The street no longer exists today. It would be between where the Treasury/ Funan IT Mall sits today:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

Opera shows were often times the only form of large scale entertainment for people back then. This image below is dated Nov. 16, 1971:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

Below, a couple of girls sit along Nankin Street reading on June 15, 1982. This street has been pedestrianised today to become part of China Square Central:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

This was Kampong Arang in Feb. 1982. This kampong used to be situated near the Geylang River:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

This was an open-air market located along Chin Hin Street. Chin Hin Street no longer exists. It used to be located near where Furama Hotel stands today. The image is dated Sep. 29, 1982:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

Dated May 28, 1972, this image below depicts residents of Kampong Woodleigh. Kampong Woodleigh was named after the Woodleigh Waterworks, a pumping station that took the British 10 years to construct:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

This below is Pandan Crescent on Nov. 25, 1994.

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

This image of a provision shop was taken on Aug. 20, 1971:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

A group of children pose in from of a Gemmill Lane store on March 19, 1977. Gemmill Lane still exists today — it is located near Telok Ayer MRT Station:

Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

The National Heritage Board is still digitalising all of Piollet’s slides and is exploring ways to make the entire collection available online for members of the public to enjoy.

Meanwhile, Piollet previously donated 182 photos to the National Archives. The public can access them via Archives Online:

French photographer in his 80s donates 182 of his old photos of 1970s S’pore street life

For more blasts from the past:

Rare old photos of S’pore capture 1960s life, including sale of exotic meats

Someone just put up a set of 32 personal old photos of 1970s S’pore & they are nostalgic

These photos from the 1980s show how much S’pore has changed

Top images from the Paul Piollet Collection, courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

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