Working Class Girl in Singapore in the late 1960s

Our Adventure Begins

My husband in his Tropical Uniform
My husband in his Tropical Uniform | Source
I am on the right as you look at the photo just 20 years old at the beginning of my adventure
I am on the right as you look at the photo just 20 years old at the beginning of my adventure | Source

The adventure begins

In March1967 I got married to my husband Malcolm who was a Petty Officer in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. Just three and a half months later Malcolm and I flew out to Singapore on a married accompanied posting.

When Malcolm told me that he had been posted to Singapore and that it was a married accompanied post I was delighted that I wasn’t going to be separated from my new husband so soon after we got married.

However, I wasn’t particularly excited because although I had heard of Singapore I hadn’t got a clue where it was, or how different my life would be when I went to live there.

Malcolm had to show me where Singapore was on a map I do not know where I thought that it was but I didn’t think that it was in the Far East nor did I think that it would be so far away and so exotic.

I was a young woman of 20 whose only experience of traveling abroad at that time was a two week European package holiday bus tour taking in seven countries in fourteen days.

Up to this point I had never been anywhere in an aeroplane and now here I was preparing to fly more than 9000 miles in a plane that was going to be in the air for a total of twenty seven hours.

This journey was to result in my life changing in ways that I could have never dreamed of and of course, I changed along with it.

Tony's Home and Family

I am standing outside our first house which is on Jalan Labu Ayer roughly translated I think means Water Melon Road
I am standing outside our first house which is on Jalan Labu Ayer roughly translated I think means Water Melon Road | Source
Tony Linda and their daughter Michelle outside their home on Jalan Labu Ayer. My husband was replacing Tony
Tony Linda and their daughter Michelle outside their home on Jalan Labu Ayer. My husband was replacing Tony | Source

Met at the Airport

We landed at Paya Lebar Airport in the early hours of the morning it was still dark and I was extremely glad to have my feet planted firmly back on solid ground at last. It had been a horrendous journey that included engine failures and electrical storms it was a real baptism of fire.

As the doors of the aeroplane opened and we exited the plane I breathed the warm moist air of Singapore for the first time. There was a rich smell of damp vegetation and the sound of insects both very strange and foreign to me.

Tony the man my husband was here to replace met us at the airport. Tony drove us to his home where we stayed until his family left for the UK a few weeks later. My husband not only took over Tony’s position at Kranji Wireless Station but we took on their home as our own.

Our first house was on Jalan Labu Ayer a road of privately owned houses not a Naval letting so most of the residents on our road were Singaporean residents. Only the house opposite had another service family in it they were to become firm friends and were very helpful and supportive to us.

Jahor Bahru and our new home

The causeway linking Jahor Bahru and Singapore
The causeway linking Jahor Bahru and Singapore
Our new home aon the Dragon Garden Estate just off the Jalan Pasir Plengi in Jahor Bahru
Our new home aon the Dragon Garden Estate just off the Jalan Pasir Plengi in Jahor Bahru | Source

A Move to Dragon Gardens Estate

After living at Jalan Labu Ayer for a few months our friends and neighbours from across the road found a newly built house fully furnished and at only two-thirds the cost of the rent in their present house. They decided to save money and move.

Their new place was in Jahor Bahruin Malaysia, which is joined to the Island of Singapore via the Causeway. They told us that there was a vacant house just a few doors down from theirs on the new estate and because it was much cheaper and nicer than the ours on Jalan Labu Ayer, we decided to move too.

The new estate was called DragonGardens and the building of these new homes was a work in progress when we moved in. We were the first people to occupy this newly built house and we loved it. The building of this estate was on going and continued even after we completed our tour of duty in 1969.

Most of the people on the Estate were British servicemen and their families in fact I cannot think of anyone on the estate that was not British. There were only about twenty-five houses on the estate at that time so everyone knew everyone and our social lives were full and rich.

The place and life I left behind

My brother standing on the street outside the house where I grew up
My brother standing on the street outside the house where I grew up | Source
Me standing outside the back of the home I grew up in the window to the left is ours the one to the right belongs to next door.
Me standing outside the back of the home I grew up in the window to the left is ours the one to the right belongs to next door. | Source

From the old life

Living in the Far East was so different from the way I lived back in England in 1967 and nothing I had done in the past prepared me for those differences.

In England I was just an ordinary working class girl with a nine to five clerical job. I worked in the Head Office of Boots the Chemist and I was paid a wage not a salary.

I left this job at the age of twenty to go to Singapore when I left I was earning about £10 a week before stoppages.

As you can imagine the princely sum of £10 a week didn't leave much over once the bills had been paid.

This sum of £10 was the adult wage for a female office clerk at that time so even if I had stayed on there were no more wage increases to look forward to.

In 1967 at Boots each year you got an increases in pay on your birthday until you reached the age of 21 from then on your wage was pretty much fixed.

My life consisted pretty much of getting up going to work coming home cooking cleaning eating watching a bit of TV going to bed and then doing the same all over again the next day.

I was content with my life at that time as it was already better than I expected it to be and I loved my job.

Little did I know that Singapore was to change everything and in ways that I could not have begun to imagine.

My New House

This is me out side of my house
This is me out side of my house | Source

My New Life

I had come from a small terraced house that had no bathroom and an outside toilet to a large semi detached house with two bathrooms and a room down stairs for the servant to sleep in that had its own entrance and its own shower and toilet. It was a different world, with indoor plumbing and servant’s quarters.

Now here I was 20 years old living the life of a lady of leisure in another country with a servant to do all my washing ironing and cleaning.

To say this was a culture shock is an understatement and that I suppose is where I should have started this hub.

This hub is in the process of being updated

Hopefully I will get more hits now the title has been changed and more has been added and hopefully the next hub on this subject will be a lot more interesting.

Other Working Class Based Hubs

If you enjoyed this hub I have put links to some of my other hubs that deal with similar material below.

All these Hubs have the common theme of coming from a Working Class perspective which differs quite a lot from that of the Middle Class and which has virtually nothing in common with the Upper Class perspective.

There is one period in modern times when all three classes had experiences in common and that was during the second world war.

I hope that enjoyed your foray into Working Class England if you did please leave a comment perhaps some feed back or if I didn't cover what you were looking for let me know and perhaps I can do another hub about that,

Other Working Class Based Hubs

  • Working Class Life in the 1930s The 1930s in England was a time when the Government rode roughshod over the already impoverished working class.

  • Working Class life in the 1950’s – Train Sets and Train Spotting Trains featured in our childhood not just as a means of transport for taking us on holiday but also in our playtimes too.
  • Working Class life in the 1940’s and 1950´s Britain ~ Train Travel ...When I was growing up in the late forties early fifties one of the things that stand out in my memory is the old steam trains, of course they weren’t the old steam trains back then they were just trains. Like most working class people back then we didn’t own a car and the only means of transport my father ever owned was a bicycle, which he would use to cycle to work.

  • Working Class Life in the 1940s & 50s When I look back on my childhood the late 1940s and into the 1950s it seems almost like it happened in another world. In a way it did because so many things have changed since then that if I were magically plucked up from that time and brought here to 2009 it would be easy to imagine that I had been transported by aliens to another planet rather than just another time.
  • Working Class Life in the 1940’s Working Class life in the 1940’s was a time of great change mostly brought about by the fact that war had been declared on September 3rd 1939. The way most people got this news in September 1939 was via the radio more usually called the wireless.
  • A Victorian Woman of Substance ...she was born Annie Shingla in 1895 while Queen Victoria was still on the throne and she married my granddad William Johnson somewhere before 1919 when my mum was born.
  • Stay at Home Mom or Working Mom? The choice of a Working Class Mum I was a stay at home mum in the seventies, before the birth of my first child I had suffered three miscarriages. Although I don’t think that was a particular factor in my decision to be a stay at home mum it certainly made me even more aware of how precious the life of my child was.
  • Stay at Home Mom or Working Mom? The choice of a Working Class Mum part Two ..The seventies, was the time into which my children were born, it was a time when women were being bombarded with all sorts of new ideas that challenged the traditional role of women in the home and workplace.
  • Stay at Home Mom or Working Mom? The choice of a Working Class Mum part three ... I think that this final hub has given me the most joy and it is the one that I haven’t had to write. I wrote an email to my daughter telling her about TamCor’s three questions and I asked her if she would answer the final question for me so that I could write this final hub.
  • A 1950s Working Class Mum's Answer to Children Biting ..My mum Jeanie was one in a million she was born in 1919 the eldest of ten children, and you could tell right away she was used to being obeyed. In many ways Jeanie was no different from many of the mothers of that time but is some areas she had some novel ideas.
  • Working Class Girl in Singapore in the late 1960s ...In March1967 I got married to my husband Malcolm who was a Petty Officer in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. Just three and a half months later Malcolm got a married accompanied posting to Singapore. I had heard of Singapore but I hadn’t a clue where it was, so Malcolm had to show me where it was on a map.

  • Bonfire Night in a Working Class area in the 1950’s ...Each November the fifth in England we remember the foiled plot of Guy Fawkes who plotted to blow up Parliament and the King. Fortunately this plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes was arrested before he could put a match to the gunpowder that he had secreted below the Houses of Parliament.

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Comments 12 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

OMG..that was great!! Swatting a monitor lizard on the nose.. I am a fan!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Wow Candie I am honoured that you have taken the time out to read something that I have written. Thank you for your kind words and for your visit both are a great encouragement to me.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Hi i went to Singapore in Aug 67, wernt they called "chit chats" ( the lizards) and I think my mum must have felt the same when she had an amah- we live near Choeng Pang and then in the base- happy days growing up in a totally different world of plenty


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Caseworker, yes you are right we called them chit chats. We first arrived in June 1967 we lived just outside Serangoon and my husband was stationed at Kranji Wireless Station. It was a wonderful time for us as newly weds, we had a marvelous two years there and I didn't really want to go back home to the UK.


Christi 6 years ago

I have read all your hubs......I think they are awesome. I find it facinating to see how life was like in the early years. Thanks for taking the time and effort to

share all these wonderful experiences with us.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Christi, it is my pleasure to share these memories with you, and I am glad that you enjoyed reading them. Thank you for your kind comments I really appreciate them.


Gladys Buttle 5 years ago

Thanks Maggs224 I have really enjoyed reading your hubs.

You don't realise what you thought you had forgotten till you go down memory lane. We have a lot in common, I was born a northern girl in 1946 in the city of Hull, East Yorkshire.

The one hub I was hopping you had done was the time from leaving school till getting married. Keep up the good work.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Gladys, thanks for your lovely comments they are much appreciated. It is really good to know what are the areas that people find interesting. I have not given much thought to the period between leaving school and getting married. Your comments have given me something to reflect upon. Who knows this maybe the theme of my next working class based hub. Maggs


NotSoPerfect profile image

NotSoPerfect 5 years ago from United States

I'm really glad I stumbled upon your hub (I'd written a hub on my home, Singapore and I saw your hub on the side of the page and decided to click on it). This was such a fun read! Singapore must have been so different in the 70s! We've grown so much as a nation. Thanks for writing this! Voting up and interesting!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi NSP, I am so pleased that someone local to Singapore has enjoyed reading this hub. It seemed a young vibrant country when I was there with a young Lee Kuan Yew as its Prime Minister.

He was such a dynamic and charasmatic man who had big visions for making Singapore a modern society and an ecnomic force to be reckoned with.

Looking at Singapore today it looks like he exceeded even his hopes and expectations.

Living in Singapore and later Johore Bahru was a wonderful experience. Memories of that time wonderful time still give me pleasure today.

It was a totally different culture to the one I grew up in and being out there enriched my life tremendously I am so grateful that I had that time in Singapore.

When it was time for us to return to the UK neither my husband nor I wanted to go back, if we had been given a choice we would have stayed in Singapore lol...

Thank you so much for your very kind comments they made my day :)


siva prasanna krishnan 4 years ago

Hi

i stumbled upon your blog and i am glad that i did. My father was a civilian in the British army and he worked in Kranji and later in Alexandria. I lived in Johore Bahru and my neighbours were all British servicemen and their families.

some time ago i started writing about my memories of those days. we kept in touch with some of them for a while and then lost contact.

That was an era that was exciting for us as i am sure it was for the foreigners who were posted there.

http://prasannakrishnanspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/12...

You stated that you lived in Johore Bahru. Where in JB did you live?

regards

prasanna


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Prasanna I lived just off Jalan Pasir Plengi on the Dragon Gardens Estate, but I can't find it marked on the map now, I think they changed its name to something else.

Before that we lived in Singapore on Jalan Labu Ayer which was not far from Serangoon.

I have been to your blog and I am enjoying it very much thank you for the link :D

regards

Maggie

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