Beauty World



Opened in 1947, Beauty World was a popular market and shopping destination in Singapore during the 1960s. Located at the junction between Upper Bukit Timah Road and Jalan Jurong Kechil, the market comprised over a hundred stalls that sold all kinds of daily necessities such as fresh produce, household items, textiles and stationery. Beauty World was also a venue for getai performances and Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations. In 1962, the market expanded with the addition of the Beauty World Town. After suffering from several bouts of fire, the building was earmarked for redevelopment. Most of the stallholders were later relocated to the newly built Beauty World Centre located opposite its original site.

Da Dong Ya Amusement Park
Prior to the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), the vicinity of Beauty World was rural land occupied by attap houses as well as rubber, mangosteen and pineapple plantations.1 The area was badly destroyed by bombs during the Japanese invasion.2

In the early months of the Japanese Occupation, two Hokchia businessmen, Yuan and Yan, sought permission from the Japanese authorities to run an amusement park.3 It was located at the seventh milestone along Upper Bukit Timah Road, bounded by Chun Tin Road and Jalan Jurong Kechil.4 The entertainment centre was known as Da Dong Ya (大东亚; Greater East Asia), referring to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere imperialist propaganda during the war.5

The park had stages for wayang and getai, a dance hall, coffee parlours, a cinema that screened Japanese and old Chinese films, entertainment for children, food stalls and a large gambling hall.6 The stage was sometimes used by the Japanese for rallies to garner local support for the Japanese government.7 However, most of the patrons visited the park for its food and gambling stalls.8 At the time, gambling, as a form of recreation, was used to divert the people’s attention from the sufferings during the Occupation years. The gambling games offered at the park included fan-tan, dominoes and the popular “12-character lottery”.9 The park operated from 6 pm until 11 pm, and was frequented by locals as well as Japanese soldiers and their families.10 Each entry cost 20 cents in Japanese military yen (commonly known as “banana currency”).11 

Beauty World
After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the amusement park declined in popularity and fell into disrepair.12 The proprietor, Giam Kok Eng, successfully sought permission from the British authorities to convert the amusement park into a market, and the Beauty World Market opened in July 1947.13 The name “Beauty World” was a reference to its prior existence as an amusement park; at the time, a number of entertainment parks were named different “worlds” such as Happy World, New World and Great World.14 

The marketplace was a hotchpotch of zinc and attap shacks, gambling dens, and stalls selling a wide variety of items such as food, textiles, radio and television sets, cosmetics, books, flowers, hardware, sports equipment, antiques, woodcarvings, curios and accessories. The market also had stages for shows.15

In 1962, the market expanded with the addition of Beauty World Town.16 The town had stores selling clothes, shoes, textiles, books, bed linens, household appliances, cosmetics, jewellery, music recordings, sundry, Chinese medicine, and hair styling services among others. In addition, there was a fresh market, which opened till the late afternoon, selling meat, fish and vegetables.17 To represent the interests of the tenants and shopkeepers of the town, the Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Association Singapore was formed on 7 January 1967.18

Beauty World Centre
Beauty World suffered from several bouts of fire, including two major incidents on 20 April 1975 and 7 August 1977.19 Due to the traffic, health, fire, electrical and drainage hazards posed by the park, the government acquired the land for redevelopment in 1975.20 By the mid-’70s, talks had been underway to relocate the tenants and shopkeepers to a nearby site.21 In January 1984, the new Beauty World Centre, a S$45-million residential-cum-retail building, was completed across the road from its old site.22 Most of the tenants and shopkeepers resettled there.23 Next to Beauty World Centre is the privately developed Beauty World Plaza, also a shopping centre-cum-residential development that was completed two years earlier in 1982.24 
 
In 1989, ownership of Beauty World Centre transferred from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to Pidemco Holdings – a newly formed subsidiary company under URA.25 A decade later, Pidemco sold the shopping centre for nearly S$80 million to 194 individual buyers through the Beauty World Centre Merchants Association.26

Beauty World MRT station
On 27 December 2015, the Beauty World MRT station opened as part of the new Downtown Line 2.27 



Author
Gracie Lee



References
1.
Singapore Beauty World Town Shopkeepers’ Association. (1979). The Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Assn. Singapore 12th anniversary souvenir magazine 1967–1978. Singapore: Author, p. 101. (Call no.: RSING 381.45658870095957 SIN); Lim, I. (1971, September 7). The changing face of Bukit Timah. New Nation, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2.
Singapore Beauty World Town Shopkeepers’ Association. (1979). The Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Assn. Singapore 12th anniversary souvenir magazine 1967–1978. Singapore: Author, p. 101. (Call no.: RSING 381.45658870095957 SIN)
3.
Tan, N. P. T. (2007). Bukit Timah: A heritage trail. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 TAN-[TRA]); Singapore Beauty World Town Shopkeepers’ Association. (1979). The Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Assn. Singapore 12th anniversary souvenir magazine 1967–1978. Singapore: Author, p. 101. (Call no.: RSING 381.45658870095957 SIN)
4.
Zhu, M. X., Yi, B. J., & Xiong, J. H. (1984, January 8). 美世界的沧桑史. 《联合早报》 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 7; Bukit Timah’s new complexes. (1985, March 21). Singapore Monitor, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5.
Holden, P. (2004). At home in the worlds: Community and consumption in urban Singapore. In R. Bishop, J. Phillips & W. W. Yeo (Eds.), Beyond description: Singapore space historicity. London: Routledge, pp. 79, 87. (Call no.: RSING 307.1216095957 BEY)
6.
Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1985, March 8). Oral history interview with Tan Wah Meng [Transcript of recording no. 000306/17/16, p. 197]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Zhu, M. X., Yi, B. J., & Xiong, J. H. (1984, January 8). 美世界的沧桑史. 《联合早报》 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7.
Goh, L. L. (Interviewer). (2008). Oral history interview with Tan Ngiap Mong [Transcript of recording no.: 000282/07/03, p. 72]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
8.
Chua, K. S. (Interviewer). (1981, August 21). Oral history interview with Lim Chok Fui [Transcript of recording no.: 000100/07/03, p. 39]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
9.
Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1985, March 8). Oral history interview with Tan Wah Meng. [Transcript of recording no. 000306/17/16, p. 197]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
10.
Goh, L.L. (Interviewer). (1983, July 3). Oral history interview with Tan Ngiap Mong [Transcript of recording no.: 000282/7/6, pp. 77–78]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
11.
Singapore Beauty World Town Shopkeepers’ Association. (1979). The Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Assn. Singapore 12th anniversary souvenir magazine 1967–1978. Singapore: Author, p. 101. (Call no.: RSING 381.45658870095957 SIN)
12.
Tan, N. P. T. (2007). Bukit Timah: A heritage trail. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 TAN-[TRA])
13.
Zhu, M. X., Yi, B. J., & Xiong, J. H. (1984, January 8). 美世界的沧桑史. 《联合早报》 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan, N. P. T. (2007). Bukit Timah: A heritage trail. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 TAN-[TRA])
14.
Tan, N. P. T. (2007). Bukit Timah: A heritage trail. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 TAN - [TRA])
15.
50 best kept secrets in Bukit Timah: An insider’s guide. (2005). Singapore: Epigram, p. 47. (Call no.: RSING 307.76095957 FIF)
16.
Tan, N. P. T. (2007). Bukit Timah: A heritage trail. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 TAN-[TRA])
17.
Yap, S. (1977, May 5). End of this world. New Nation, pp. 10–11; Yap, S. (1977, May 5). We don’t want to be split up, say the stallholders. New Nation, pp. 10–11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18.
Singapore Beauty World Town Shopkeepers' Association. (1979). The Beauty World Town Shopkeeper Assn. Singapore 12th anniversary souvenir magazine 1967–1978. Singapore: Author, p. 102. (Call no.: RSING 381.45658870095957 SIN)
19. Kutty, N. G. (1975, April 21). $200,000 loss as 9 shops go up in flames. The Straits Times, p. 13; $400,000 loss in Beauty World fire. (1977, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20.
Shop owners and hawkers move into new centre. (1984, January 2). The Straits Times, p. 8; Teo, L. H. (1984, January 1). URA hopes the new building will keep the atmosphere. The StraitsTimes, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21.
Lim, S. (1977, 5 May) End of this world. New Nation, p. 10-11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22.
Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1984). Annual report 1983–1984. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 7. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957091 URASAR-[AR]); Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1983). Annual report 1982–1983. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 22. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957091 URASAR-[AR])
23.
Shop owners and hawkers move into new centre. (1984, January 2). The Straits Times, p. 8; Teo, L. H. (1984, January 1). URA hopes the new building will keep the atmosphere. The StraitsTimes, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24.
Page 32 advertisements column 7. (1982, November 24). The Straits Times, p. 32; Sam, J. (1983, December 11). Farewell, Beauty World. Singapore Monitor, p. 45; Chiapoco, J. (2006, July 8). Reawakening a sleeping Beauty. Today, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25.
50 best kept secrets in Bukit Timah: An insider’s guide. (2005). Singapore: Epigram for Bukit Timah Constituency, p. 47. (Call no.: RSING 307.76095957 FIF)
26.
Pidemco Land sells Beauty World Centre for S$80m. (1998, June 4). The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 50 best kept secrets in Bukit Timah: An insider's guide. (2005). Singapore: Epigram, p. 47. (Call no.: RSING 307.76095957 FIF)
27. Koh, X. H. & Zhaki Abdullah. (2016, January 20). Eatery boom near Beauty World station with Downtown Line 2. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.



Further resources
Business still slow at Beauty World, say resettled shopkeepers. (1984, February 22). Singapore Monitor, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tseng, C. (1984, May 8). Beauty World’s final days. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Trade and industry
Markets--Singapore
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Retail and wholesale
Commerce and Industry>>Trade
Amusement parks--Singapore

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