Mount Faber



Mount Faber is located in the Bukit Merah area in the central region of Singapore.1 Standing at 106 m above sea level,2 it was originally known as Telok Blangah Hill. It was renamed Mount Faber in July 1845 after Charles Edward Faber of the Madras Engineers, who built a narrow winding road to the summit for the new signal station and flagstaff.3 Mount Faber was thereafter also referred to as Bukit Bendera (Flag Hill).4 At the top of Mount Faber, a cable car system connects it to the island of Sentosa.5

History
Telok Blangah Hill was identified as Tulloh Blangan Hills in government surveyor John Turnbull Thomson’s 1844 map. The original Telok Blangah Hill and the range of at least seven hills6 spanned the area from Kampong Bahru Road to near Alexandra Road.7 Some of the hills in the area were Mount Washington, Bukit Radin Mas, Bukit Chermin, Berlayer Hill, Bukit Teresa and Bukit Purmei.8 At the foot of this hill range was Temenggong Abdul Rahman’s settlement, which had moved there in 1823 from the south bank of the Singapore River after persuasion by Stamford Raffles.9 By 1824, the Temenggong’s subjects living in the area numbered between 6,000 to 10,000. Over time, 10 village settlements sprang up in the area: Kampong Telok Blangah, Kampong Ulu, Kampong Rochor, Kampong Bahru, Kampong Bukit Mawla, Kampong Radin Mas, Kampong Pahang, Kampong Bukit Kasita, Kampong Jagoh and Kampong Pantai Chermin.10

Mount Faber originally referred to the area between Kampong Bahru Road and Alexander Road. However, the extension of Henderson Road to Telok Blangah Road in the 1970s cut across the original length of Mount Faber. One part remained as the Mount Faber we see today, and the other section became known as Telok Blangah Hill. Alkaff Mansion is situated on Telok Blangah Hill Park at the top of the hill, accessible via Telok Blangah Green.11

Initial developments of Telok Blangah Hill and name change
Plans were made to set up a signal station, flagstaff and observatory on the undeveloped Telok Blangah Hill; in May 1845, it was reported that a road to the top had been constructed for this purpose and that the construction of the signal station was near completion.12 In July that year, the government announced that Telok Blangah Hill would be named Mount Faber, after Charles Edward Faber of the Madras Engineers, who had been responsible for clearing and building the road leading to the summit of the hill. Thomson had estimated in the mid-1850s that Mount Faber was about 300 ft (about 91 m) high.13


Signal station and flagstaff
The signal station and flagstaff, originally located on Blakang Mati (today’s Sentosa), were moved to Mount Faber in 1845.14 The two structures remained at the same location until 1936, when they were moved to another knoll about 274 m to the south.15 On 22 May 1974, their functions were transferred to Jardine Steps at the former World Trade Centre.16

Fort Faber
This defence installation had two emplacements just above the Temenggong Abdul Rahman’s Istana Lama, halfway up Mount Faber, to command the Selat Sinki and the western half of the harbour.17 It was built after the Indian mutiny of 1857 as the Straits government feared a revolt among the Indian sepoys in Singapore.18 In 1861, Fort Faber only had two 13-inch mortars. Two 56-pounder guns were added to the fort in 1867. In 1869, the Straits colony felt that there was little threat of an attack to Singapore, and it was likely that the fort had been disarmed as a result. The decision was reversed in 1878 – 68-pounder guns were made serviceable at three batteries in Singapore, including Mount Faber, as it was observed in a report that the island was vulnerable to war vessels. In 1885, however, Mount Faber ceased to function as a fort.19

Observatory
In September 1903, it was suggested by R. S. Fry, head of the observatory, that the observatory with its time-ball, then situated on Pulau Brani, should be moved to Mount Faber because the accuracy of the standard clocks were impaired by reclamation in the neighbouring areas. This observatory on Mount Faber, in latitude 1 degree 16' 8" north, longitude 103 degrees 49' 24" east, began operation on 1 June 1905.20

Golden Bell Mansion

The Golden Bell Mansion, located on a hill that was known as Mount Washington, was built in 1909 and completed the following year.21 Originally owned by Straits Chinese Tan Boo Liat (grandson of Tan Kim Ching, and great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng), the house features a left dome resembling a Buddhist stupa.22 On 15 December 1911, Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat Sen stayed the night at the mansion when he arrived in Singapore from Europe, en route to China.23 In February 1912, Sun’s wife, their three daughters and a maid, also stayed there en route from Penang to China.24 After the death of Tan Boo Liat in Shanghai in 1934, the house was sold.25 The house still stands today and is occupied by the Danish Seaman’s Church.26

Mount Faber Park
Opened on 17 January 1965, Mount Faber Park is one of the oldest parks in Singapore. The park covers a land area of 56 ha and has a variety of flora and fauna.27 Mount Faber Park also offers panoramic views of the southwestern coast of Singapore, its surrounding southern islands and the nearby Indonesian archipelago.28 Faber Point is the highest point of the park.29


Singapore Cable Car
Mount Faber is also where one of the Singapore Cable Car stations is located. Launched on 15 February 1974 by then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee, the cable car is a means of getting to Sentosa and was part of efforts to convert the island from its history as a naval base to an island getaway for both tourists and locals. Over the years, the cable car system has been upgraded to allow for a higher passenger capacity and a sky-dining experience.30

The cable car station at Mount Faber underwent a transformation in 2005 to ensure that it remained competitive in the tourism and lifestyle sectors.31 Renamed Jewel Box, the building houses a number of restaurants.32 In 2014, Jewel Box was rebranded as Faber Peak, which now carries a more casual concept.33

Henderson Waves
On 6 November 1989, it was reported in the press that the government planned to construct a suspension bridge linking Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill Park.34 The resultant Henderson Waves and Alexandra Arch were officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 10 May 2008. The 274-metre-long Henderson Waves is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore at 36 m above Henderson Road, connecting Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill. Its distinctive wave-like structure is constructed from seven undulating curved “ribs” that alternately go above and below the bridge deck. The 80-metre Alexandra Arch, on the other hand, goes over Alexandra Road.35 The two bridges provide a seamless walking trail linking the three hills – Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge – which are part of the Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometre trail.36




Author

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References
1. Pearson Education Asia. (2002). Longman atlas: Singapore and the world. Singapore: Pearson Education Asia, pp. 26–27. (Call no.: RSING q912.5957PEA); Singapore Land Authority. (2016). OneMap. Retrieved 2016, August 12 from OneMap website: https://www.onemap.sg/index.html
2. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 12. Available via PublicationSG.
3. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 147. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Mulliner, K., & The-Mulliner, L. (1991). Historical dictionary of Singapore. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, p. 179. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 MUL-[HIS])
4. Ibrahim Tahir (Ed.). (2013). A village remembered: Kampong Radin Mas, 1800s–1973. Singapore: OPUS Editorial Private Limited, p. 30. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 VIL-[HIS])
5. Van, A. (2015). Explore Singapore. Singapore: APA Publications, p. 192. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 ES); Rogerson, M. (2009). In Singapore: 60 fabulous adventures in the city. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 150. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 ROG-[TRA])
6. National Archives of Singapore. (1844, April 3). Plan of Singapore Town and adjoining districts from actual survey by John Turnbull Thomson, governor surveyor [Survey Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
7. Bukit Merah: From a hilly kampong to a modern town. (1996). Singapore: Federal, pp. 7–13. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUK-[HIS])
8. National Library of Singapore. (1932). Singapore [Survey Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; Survey Department, Singapore. (1931). Singapore Improvement Trust – Telok Blangah [Survey Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; Survey Department, Singapore. (c.1950). Map of Singapore Town [Survey Map]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
9. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 146. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Ibrahim Tahir. (Ed.). (2013). A village remembered: Kampong Radin Mas, 1800s–1973. Singapore: OPUS Editorial Private Limited, p. 27. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 VIL-[HIS])
10. Ibrahim Tahir. (Ed.). (2013). A village remembered: Kampong Radin Mas, 1800s–1973. Singapore: OPUS Editorial Private Limited, pp. 28–29. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 VIL-[HIS])
11. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore cable car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 21. Available via PublicationSG; National Parks Board (2016). Map of Telok Blangah Hill Park. Retrieved 2016, August 15 from National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/telok-blangah-hill-park
12. The Free Press. (1845, May 29). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 431, 573. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
14. Page 1 advertisements column 1. (1845, July 31). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 1; The Free Press. (1845, May 29).  The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 2; Untitled. (1845, August 5). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Mount Faber Signal Station moves. (1936, January 19). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 16. Available via PublicationSG.
16. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, pp. 16, 23. Available via PublicationSG; Terminus for ferries to open. (1978, August 18). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 380. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
18. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, p. 260. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Mulliner, K., & The-Mulliner, L. (1991). Historical dictionary of Singapore. Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, p. 179. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 MUL-[HIS])
19. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore 1275 to 1971. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 91, 93, 97, 104, 338. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET)
20. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 481. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 12. Available via PublicationSG.
21. Zachariah, N. A. (2015, November 7). Belle of Pender Road. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Lee, K. L. (2015). The Singapore house 1819–1942. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions; National Library Board, pp. 130, 203. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE)
22. Lee, K. L. (2015). The Singapore house 1819–1942. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions; National Library Board, pp. 130, 203. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE)
23. Dr Sun Yat Sen. (1911, December 18). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Lee, E. (1991). The British as rulers governing multiracial Singapore 1867–1914. Singapore: Singapore University Press, plate 18. (Call no.: RSING 959.57022)
25. Lee, K. L. (2015). The Singapore house 1819–1942. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions; National Library Board, p. 203. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE)
26. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 24. Available via PublicationSG; Zachariah, N. A (2015, November 7). Belle of Pender Road. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
27. National Parks Board. (2016, June 28). Mount Faber Park. Retrieved from 2016, August 16 National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/mount-faber-park
28. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 353. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
29. Rogerson, M. (2009). In Singapore: 60 fabulous adventures in the city. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 269. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 ROG-[TRA])
30. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, pp. 28, 43–46. Available via PublicationSG.
31. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 54. Available via PublicationSG.
32. Ng, M. F. C. (2012). A ride to remember: The story of Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. Singapore: Mount Faber Leisure Group, p. 58. Available via PublicationSG; Van, A. (2015). Explore Singapore. Singapore: APA Publications, p. 192. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 ES); Rogerson, M. (2009). In Singapore: 60 fabulous adventures in the city. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 150. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 ROG -[TRA])
33. Mount Faber Lesiure Group Pte Ltd. (2014, May 6). Unveiling Mount Faber’s new brand concept – Faber Peak Singapore [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from Faber Peak Singapore website: http://www.faberpeaksingapore.com/images/pressroom/MFLG_Unveiling%20Mount%20Fabers%20New%20Brand%20Concept%20-%20Faber%20Peak%20Singapore.pdf
34. Koh, B. S. (1989, November 6). $5 m pedestrian bridge to link Mt Faber, Telok Blangah Hill. The Straits Times, p. 13; Plans for a 140-metre Mt Faber-Telok Blangah Hill bridge. (1989, November 6). The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Teo, C. W. (2008, May 11). Two new bridges = a 9km scenic walk. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. National Parks Board. (2016, June 28). The Southern Ridges. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/the-southern-ridges



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
Recreation>>Places of Interest
Historic parks--Singapore
Sports, recreation and travel>>Travel>>Asia>>Southeast Asia
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment
Singapore--History--1819-1867
Parks--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Streets and Places
Mountains--Singapore
Places of interest