Mount Faber


Mount Faber, hill, is located in the Bukit Merah area of the Central Region. Telok Blangah Hill was the original name for Mount Faber, and it was renamed Mount Faber in July 1845, in honour of Captain Charles Edward Faber, Madras Engineers, who built a narrow winding road to the summit for the new signal station and flagstaff. The Signal Station and Flagstaff remained on the hill till the early 1970s. At 110 m above sea-level, Mount Faber is Singapore's second highest hill after Bukit Timah Hill. At the top, Cable Car rides connect to the island of Sentosa and offering breath-taking views along the way. 

History
Tulloh Blangan Hills as illustrated in John Turnbull Thomson's 1844 Map, is also seen in a 1920 Singapore Map, and the 1943 Syonanto Map. Telok Blangah Hill and the range of at least seven hills, sprawling Telok Blangah mukim (classic Malay word describing "territory" pertaining to land area; is also an accepted legal term in conveyancing law, meaning "plot of land") covered quite a vast area stretching from Kampong Bharu Road to near Alexandra Road. The hills include names like Bukit Jagoh, Mount Washington, Bukit Radin Mas, Mount or Bukit Chermin, Bukit Berlayer, Bukit Teresa, and Bukit Purmei. Bukit means "hill" in Malay. At the foot on various sections of this hill range, were from 1823, Temenggong Abdul Rahman's settlement, and other village settlements later sprang up, like Kampong Bharu, Kampong Heap Guan San, and further back Bukit Merah. The original part of Henderson Road at Alexandra Road junction to Depot Road, was probably cut when swamps were cleared in the mid-1920s. The extension of Henderson Road at Depot Road to Telok Blangah Road was only constructed in the mid-1970s, and this meant slicing the original length of Telok Blangah Hill/Mount Faber; one part remained as the Mount Faber we see today, and the other section was renamed Telok Blangah Hill with Telok Blangah Hill Park up Telok Blangah Green, on which stands Alkaff Mansion.

The first developments of Telok Blangah Hill and its change of name
Sometime in early 1845, plans were made to set-up a signal station, flagstaff and observatory up the undeveloped Telok Blangah Hill. Led by Captain Faber, Indian convict labourers were employed to clear the overgrowth of flora and the overgrown pineapple plantation of Temenggong Daing Ibrahim (son of Temenggong Abdul Rahman), who lived at the foot of the hill. In July 1845, the government announced that Telok Blangah Hill, also spelt Tulloh Blangah Hill, would in future be named Mount Faber, after Captain Charles Edward Faber, of the Madras Engineers, who cleared and carved a road up to the summit of this hill, for the installation of a signal station and flagstaff. John Turnbull Thomson, the Government Surveyor, in the mid-1850s, had estimated that Mount Faber was about 300 feet high.

Signal Station and Flagstaff
The Singapore Free Press report of 29 May 1845, stated in its editorial column that the Signal Station on Blakan Mati had been moved to Tulloh Blangah Hill. A new flag-staff was erected in May 1851, and within a month, it was struck by lightening and destroyed. This happened before daybreak, and the signal-men had not yet come to work. Another disaster struck on 8 February 1876, and the Singapore Free Press reported that the Signalman's bungalow was destroyed by fire. The Signal Station and Flagstaff was on the hill till the early 1970s. Today two Telecoms transmitting towers are stationed here.

Fort Faber
This defence installation had two emplacements just above the Temmengong Abdul Rahman's Istana Lama, half-way up Mount Faber, to command the Selat Sinki, and the western half of the harbour. The emplacements of two 56 pounder guns and two 13 inch mortars, existed for a long time, as did the granite emplacements laid on the top of Mount Faber for two mortars. Not much other information is available on Fort Faber.

Observatory
In September 1903, it was suggested by Mr. R.S. Fry head of the Observatory, that the Observatory with its time-ball, then situated at Pulau Brani, should be removed to Mount Faber. The Observatory was then built on Mount Faber, in latitude 1 degree 16' 8" North, longitude 103 degrees 49' 24" East, and came into use from 1 June 1905.

Golden Bell Mansion
The Golden Bell Mansion, with a left dome resembling a Buddhist stupa, built in 1909, in its time a splendid residence owned by Straits Chinese Tan Boo Liat (grandson of Tan Kim Ching, and great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng). According to Song Ong Siang, on 15 December 1911, Chinese revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat Sen, stayed the night here, in Singapore, immediately after his arrival from Europe. In February 1912, Dr. Sun's wife, three daughters and their maid, also stayed here en route from Penang to China. After the death of Tan Boo Liat in Shanghai in 1934, the house was sold. The house, today occupied by the Danish Seaman's Mission, still stands in Pender Road, on the mid-levels of Mount Faber, on the part of the hill which was once known as Mount Washington.

Mount Faber Scenic Park
The natural tranquility and luscious greenery of this scenic park enables visitors to enjoy views of the spectacular towering skyline of Singapore's Central Business District and Keppel Harbour. Tourists also come for the panaromic view of the south-west coast of Singapore, Singapore's surrounding southern islands, and the nearby Indonesian archipelago. Opened in 1964, and developed on the theme "A Scenic Ridge Park in the Tropics", the park is now a frequent haunt for nature-lovers, fitness fanatics, and naturally tourist. The later come for rides on Singapore's Cable Car (opened in 15 February, 1974) from Mt. Faber Cable Car Station which links the island of Sentosa. The well-landscaped park also has a Marina Deck, with a section for 'theme parties' on the hill.

Faber Point
Another excellent lookout point sits atop the peak of Mount Faber Scenic Park - Faber Point, from where the most stunning view of Singapore's modern skyscraper skyline can be seen. A walk up and around this circular, platform, gives visitors mural views of Singapore's colourful history on copper-tooled mural panels. A Merlion Sculpture, Singapore's mythical and Tourism symbol is also represented on this peak.

Future Plans for Mount Faber-Telok Blangah Hill Bridge
On 6 November 1989, it was announced in the Straits Times and Business Times, of the Government's plans to construct a 140 m long and 4 m wide suspension bridge linking Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. Estimated to cost $5m, the approximately 27 m, about nine-storey high "Mount Faber-Telok Blangah Hill Bridge", will be built across Henderson Road at Telok Blangah Green. In future nature-lovers will be able to jog or walk from Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill when Singapore's tallest "pedestrian suspension bridge" is built to link these two parks.



Author
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References 
Bogaars, G. (1956). The Tanjong Pagar Dock Company 1864-1905 (pp. 78, 79, 249) [Microfilm: NL 10999]. Singapore: G.P.O.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.51BOG)

Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (pp. 430-431, 573). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)

Bukit Merah: From a hilly kampong to a modern town (pp. 7, 12, 13, 24). (1996). Singapore: Federal.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUK)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 353). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW)

Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 380, 481). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE)

Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (pp. 146-147). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)


Further Readings
Lee, E. (1991). The British as Rulers Governing Multiracial Singapore 1867-1914 (plate 18). Singapore: Singapore University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57022)

Lee, K. L. (1988). The Singapore house 1819-1942 (pp. 130. 131, 203). Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE)

Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore. (p. 473). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON)

$5m pedestrian bridge to link Mt Faber, Telok Blangah Hill [Microfilm NL 16861]. (1989, November 6). The Straits Times, p. 13.

Plans for a 140-metre Mt Faber-Telok Blangah Hill bridge [Microfilm NL 16864]. (1989, November 6). Business Times, p. 1.

Minutes of Legislative Council [Microfilm No. NL 1101]. (4 June 1872). 



The information in this article is valid as at 2001 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
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Recreation>>Places of Interest
Mountains--Singapore
Parks--Singapore
Historic parks--Singapore
Singapore--History--1819-1867
Sports, recreation and travel>>Travel>>Asia>>Southeast Asia
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment

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