STEPHEN SCOURFIELD explores two Singapore hotels with a difference
Clifford Pier was Singapore’s equivalent to New York’s Ellis Island.
Between 1933 and 2006, hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived here seeking a new life in Singapore.
Except, as one immigrant who arrived after a five-day voyage from India in the 1950s, says: “Unlike Ellis Island, newcomers could not spot a Statue of Liberty ... there was the multi-storeyed Cathay Building that stood out distinctly on the horizon.”
And this was where seafarers entered the city, passing through customs and immigration.
Before Marina Bay was built, Clifford Pier, on Collyer Quay, sat on the ocean, at the mouth of the Singapore River.
It bustled with traders, daily commuters from the islands around Singapore, dignitaries and immigrants. It was the key landing and departure point for all sea travellers to and from Singapore, who poured through to Change Alley bazaar, with its money changers and cheap goods.
To some older Singaporeans, Clifford Pier, named for Governor Sir Hugh Charles Clifford, is still also known as the Red Lamp Pier, because they remember the red oil lamp hung there to guide seafarers.
There’s a hint to all of this on the back wall of The Clifford Pier restaurant, which sits waterside between the epic Fullerton Hotel Singapore, which opened in 1928, and Fullerton Bay Hotel, opened in 2010.
For on the back wall there’s a plaque which says “Public Access: Accessible at All Times”. Anyone can walk from the pier into Singapore, just as they always have.
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