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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Cinematograph

Alhambra & Marlborough Theatres

What is Grand Cinematograph and where was it located?

Grand Cinematograph was the first cinema at Beach Road. Its opening day was on 31 August 1907 with 2 shows daily at 7.30 pm and at 9.30 pm. At that time a cinema was known as a cinematograph. The Japanese Cinematograph was next to be opened at Beach Road and at nearby North Bridge Road the Harima Cinematograph. At the initial stage, the movie shown at the Grand Cinematograph was unsteady and flickering. When the problems were rectified, it proudly advesrtised

Free from Flicker
Absolutely Rock Steady

In 1939, it was the first cinema in Singapore to have air conditioning and patrons watched the show in the luxury of air cooled comfort. Later other cinemas in town had air conditioning installed but not those cinemas in the suburbs which still used ceiling fans for ventilation. I remembered in the second half of 1940s, while enjoying a movie at the Roxy Theatre, the pictures on the cinema screen suddenly went blank. The people in the cinema hall made all sorts of noise and cats' call to show their unhappiness. Soon after the hall was lighted up. In those days, it was common occurences in cinemas. One reason could be due to poor joining of the jointed films. Another reason was due to a frame of the film melted by of the intense heat of the projector light bulb. Fortunately, it did not take long for the show to go on. As an adult I had been playing with a movie camera using 8 mm films and a projector to show the movie. I experienced the same problems as the projectionist in the projector room.

Name changed from Grand Cinematograph to Alhambra

12 October 1907 The Grand Cinematograh changed to
Alhambra Grand Cinematograph

A week later the word Grand was ommited. It was then known as Alhambra Cinematograph

1 November 1907 The Alhambra completely replaced Grand Cinematograph

The Straits Times 14 January 1951

"Face lift for Singapore cinema" and reported "Good news for movie goers in Singapore:
The Old Alhambra, Singapore's oldest theatre is going to have its face lifted. The Alhambra's name when it reopens on Feb 5 will be the New Alhambra and ......................................."
(newspapers' cutting below)

In November 1969, the New Alhambra building was demolished to make way for the present Shaw Tower Beach Road Cineplex.

Singapore's first cinema

Grand Cinematograph

The Straits Times 14 January 1951

The New Alhambra
Picture from National archive

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I am a cyber guide volunteer at Singapore Council of Women Organisation (SCWO) IT HUB since 2000. The IT Hub was set up and managed by volunteers. It trains housewives, retirees and retrenched workers to become IT literate. Membership is opened to the public at a nominal annual fee. The classes are from Monday to Saturday. The original group of volunteers was about twenty with as many men and women. Since then, about two third of the volunteers had left. We recruited new volunteers but almost all are ladies.

Volunteers who started the IT Hub in 2000

Chinese New Year gathering for 'loh hei'.

IT Hub started with desk top computers
My class had more gentlemen than ladies before

Tuitoring the senior citizens

From desk top to lap top computers. Now my class has more ladies than gentlemen

A member was enjoying free hot coffee

'A thorn among the roses' was guided by a lady tutor

Another volunteer tuitor guiding a senior citizen

This is my class. I volunteer my service on a Wednesday only. I have 2 helpers to assist me. As shown in the above pictures most of the learners were senior citizens. They came not only to learn new skill but also to socialise. Internet surfing is good for the elderly as it stimulates their minds. When we first started there were many gentlemen in my class. Today, only a hand full is left. What has happened to the men?

Last month I chatted with a senior citizen (younger than me) in a bus. He was not IT literate, so I encouraged him to come to my class. He agreed as the IT Hub was near his destination (temple) at Waterloo Street. By then, the class had already started by my two helpers. I opened the class room door and ushered him in. When he saw the members were all ladies, he turned back and bolted. I could not believe my eyes. Why?