|This spiral staircase was taken in 2005, belonging to the Baba House at Neil Road before renovation took place. Ever wondered why staircases need to be spiral? Well, they are space savers -- and they are supposed to give defenders an edge over right-handed intruders wielding swords and rushing up the staircase. Their right-hand movements would be hampered by the way the spiral staircases are structured. In Singapore, spiral staircases made their appearances in the 1920s and according to Ghetto Singapore, Heritages and Places, they were for night soil carriers to collect the buckets from different households (on each floor) from the backlane, without entering the premises. So, they were for a very practical reason -- other than a means of fire escape.|
|The spiral staircase of the old Baba House (before renovation)|
led to a small courtyard.
|View from a spiral staircase.|
My old primary school friend used to live in one of those shophouses with her mother and younger brother. She became the top girl the moment she started school. But I got to know her only in primary six when I was good enough to be in her class! I have heard of her fame even when I was in primary 4. Her mother was fantastic in knitting sweaters and scarves -- aided only by a hand-operated machine that I remember, had combs with wool interwoven among their long teeth. She only need to move the combs and the wool would form into patterns and get longer and longer. Until this day, I am not sure how that machine works. My friend was very good at knitting too, besides her studies. (I think she went into medicine after her A levels.)
I visited her quite often and we would enact scenes from Enid Blyton's Famous Five or Secret Seven. We would pretend to sneak out of the house, using the spiral staircase -- and into the backlane -- out on another secret mission.
And each time we visited, the boss would give us trinkets -- pendants and chains made from plastic. One was in the shape of a one-inch square, with a picture of a windmill. The surface was gritted and gave the illusion of the windmill blades moving. On the back of this pendant was an advertisement for Bobo pills.
Each time I see spiral staircases, I have only good memories.
|Back of the row of buildings between the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) near MacDonald House at Orchard Road. Taken from Handy Road. Pic: May 2013.|
|Spiral staircases at a backlane off Geylang Lorong 6, near Oxley Hotel.|
|The row of shophouses at Geylang Lor 6, from the front.|
|Old spiral staircases just don't look good in blue and red...the attempt to jazz them up only adds to the sleaze factor. That's just my opinion, of course.|
|The quaint spiral staircase at the end of this lane survives -- not sure for how long.|
|Spiral staircase at the back of a row of houses along Lavender Street.|
|Glimpse of two spiral staircases -- one at the white house on the left and the other belongs to the house behind the tree. Picture taken from Veerasamy Road, Feb, 2014.|