The Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) today unveiled the Bukit Brown Wayfinder – Singapore’s first self-guided heritage trail in a cemetery – at Bukit Brown Cemetery.
The launch of this self-guided trail will allow heritage enthusiasts to explore accessible parts of Bukit Brown on their own. Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, officiated at the launch of the trail.
The Wayfinder heritage trail facilitates self-discovery of the rich history, culture, traditions and personal stories unique to Bukit Brown. The trail features on-site signage of 25 tombs supported by route directional markers and information panels for visitors.
It is complemented by a downloadable online booklet which expands on the history, habitat and heritage of the municipal cemetery for the Chinese which was opened in 1922 and closed for burials in 1973. (Download booklet here)
(Photo - Singapore Heritage Society)
“The Wayfinder was conceived by SHS to support and sustain continued interest in Bukit Brown from the general public and requests especially from educational institutions and community groups for guided walks from the volunteers on the ground, popularly known as ‘Brownies’”, said Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee, President of SHS.
He added, “Wayfinder serves as an introduction to Singapore’s history and heritage both before and after independence in a tangible way through the tombstones, and covers our colonial past, our place in maritime trade, stories from the diaspora and Singapore under Japanese occupation, in short our place in regional and global political, economic and social history.”
The Wayfinder draws primarily on community sources from the ground particularly the work of independent researchers on material culture and family archives of descendants of some of the featured tombs.
The launch programme featured a special recitation of a pantun inspired by the Wayfinder, by Chan Eng Thai, who has composed and documented extensively, this unique form of poetry with the Peranakan community. The pantun is a form of traditional Malay poetry which is characterised by a four-line rhyming format and rich imagery.
The Wayfinder trail was developed by the SHS, in conjunction with funding support from the Ministry of National Development (MND) and National Heritage Board (NHB). In developing the walking trail, the SHS consulted extensively with various agencies under the multi-agency work group chaired by MND.
In particular, advice of the National Parks Board (NParks) was sought. SHS is also grateful for the support on the ground given by the community in their contributions of time, effort and content.