Stories of Yesteryear: Sands of Time

Explore Singapore’s history through paper documents, oral history interviews, and audiovisual recordings from the collections of the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore.

Explore Singapore’s history through paper documents, oral history interviews, and audiovisual recordings from the collections of the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore.

Ep 1 17th Century Singapore
4 mins

This map of Singapore was drawn by Melaka-born cartographer Erédia, over 200 years before the arrival of the British. The 1604 sketch identifies some familiar place names, including Sunebodo (Sungei Bedok), Tanamera (Tanah Merah), Tanion Ru (Tanjong Rhu), and an island called Blacan Mati (Pulau Blakang Mati or Sentosa).

Ep 1 17th Century Singapore

This map of Singapore was drawn by Melaka-born cartographer Erédia, over 200 years before the arrival of the British. The 1604 sketch identifies some familiar place names, including Sunebodo (Sungei Bedok), Tanamera (Tanah Merah), Tanion Ru (Tanjong Rhu), and an island called Blacan Mati (Pulau Blakang Mati or Sentosa).

Ep 2 Singapore Strait Skirmish
4 mins

Learn about an exciting naval skirmish which occurred off the south-eastern coast of Singapore in 1603. Fought between the Portuguese and the Dutch, it highlights the strategic importance of the Singapore Strait – by connecting the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, the Strait offered access to the lucrative East-West maritime trade routes.

Ep 2 Singapore Strait Skirmish

Learn about an exciting naval skirmish which occurred off the south-eastern coast of Singapore in 1603. Fought between the Portuguese and the Dutch, it highlights the strategic importance of the Singapore Strait – by connecting the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, the Strait offered access to the lucrative East-West maritime trade routes.

Ep 3 Raffles and Early Singapore
4 mins

After establishing a trading base in Singapore in 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles set about garnering political support for the new settlement in the face of opposition from the Dutch and his colleagues in the British East India Company. His letters to Lord Lansdowne, written between 1820 and 1823, give insights into Singapore’s early development, as well as Raffles's private life.

Ep 3 Raffles and Early Singapore

After establishing a trading base in Singapore in 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles set about garnering political support for the new settlement in the face of opposition from the Dutch and his colleagues in the British East India Company. His letters to Lord Lansdowne, written between 1820 and 1823, give insights into Singapore’s early development, as well as Raffles's private life.

Ep 4 The Raffles Regulations
4 mins

Learn about the regulations promulgated by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1823. The Raffles Regulations represent the first attempt by the British to implement a legal code in Singapore. It introduced basic principles of British law into the settlement, whilst respecting local laws and customs.

Ep 4 The Raffles Regulations

Learn about the regulations promulgated by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1823. The Raffles Regulations represent the first attempt by the British to implement a legal code in Singapore. It introduced basic principles of British law into the settlement, whilst respecting local laws and customs.

Ep 5 Singapore's First Newspaper
4 mins

The 'Singapore Chronicle' (later the 'Singapore Chronicle and Commercial Register') was the first newspaper published in Singapore. From 1824 to 1835, it was the only newspaper available in the British settlement. The mercantile community relied on it for government notifications, advertisements, and local and international news.

Ep 5 Singapore's First Newspaper

The 'Singapore Chronicle' (later the 'Singapore Chronicle and Commercial Register') was the first newspaper published in Singapore. From 1824 to 1835, it was the only newspaper available in the British settlement. The mercantile community relied on it for government notifications, advertisements, and local and international news.

Ep 6 Tanjong Pagar Dock Company
4 mins

Singapore’s success as a port was due to a number of factors, including the contributions of early private enterprises such as the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company (TPDC). This 1878 plan shows the extent of the docks, wharves, and ancillary buildings of the TPDC, as it rose to meet the increased demand for port facilities after the opening of the Suez Canal brought an influx of steamships to the region.

Ep 6 Tanjong Pagar Dock Company

Singapore’s success as a port was due to a number of factors, including the contributions of early private enterprises such as the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company (TPDC). This 1878 plan shows the extent of the docks, wharves, and ancillary buildings of the TPDC, as it rose to meet the increased demand for port facilities after the opening of the Suez Canal brought an influx of steamships to the region.

Ep 7 Seletar Rubber Estates Limited
4 mins

Demand for rubber, especially from the growing automobile industry, led to a boom in commercial rubber production in early 20th century Malaya and Singapore. It was against this backdrop that the Seletar Rubber Estates Limited was established. This collection of business documents and letters offers a look into the highs and lows of the company.

Ep 7 Seletar Rubber Estates Limited

Demand for rubber, especially from the growing automobile industry, led to a boom in commercial rubber production in early 20th century Malaya and Singapore. It was against this backdrop that the Seletar Rubber Estates Limited was established. This collection of business documents and letters offers a look into the highs and lows of the company.

Ep 8 City Hall and the Civic District
26 mins

Learn more about the Municipal Building (later City Hall), which was completed in 1929 to house the offices of the British colonial government. Together with surrounding landmarks like the former Supreme Court, the building has borne witness to some of the most pivotal moments in Singapore’s history.

Ep 8 City Hall and the Civic District

Learn more about the Municipal Building (later City Hall), which was completed in 1929 to house the offices of the British colonial government. Together with surrounding landmarks like the former Supreme Court, the building has borne witness to some of the most pivotal moments in Singapore’s history.

Ep 9 Kallang Airport
4 mins

Opened in 1937, Kallang Airport was Singapore’s first purpose-built civil airport. Before the airport could be built, acres of mangrove swamp had to be reclaimed in the Kallang Basin area. Listen to Lee Liang Hye’s account of crocodiles in the swamps, seaplanes, and the airport’s unique runway which intersected Mountbatten Road.

Ep 9 Kallang Airport

Opened in 1937, Kallang Airport was Singapore’s first purpose-built civil airport. Before the airport could be built, acres of mangrove swamp had to be reclaimed in the Kallang Basin area. Listen to Lee Liang Hye’s account of crocodiles in the swamps, seaplanes, and the airport’s unique runway which intersected Mountbatten Road.

Ep 10 Japanese Occupation
6 mins

The British surrender of Singapore on 15 February 1942 led to three-and-a-half years of Japanese occupation. In this oral history interview, war heroine Elizabeth Choy shares her experiences from when the first bombs fell on Singapore in December 1941, to the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Ep 10 Japanese Occupation

The British surrender of Singapore on 15 February 1942 led to three-and-a-half years of Japanese occupation. In this oral history interview, war heroine Elizabeth Choy shares her experiences from when the first bombs fell on Singapore in December 1941, to the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Ep 11 Japanese and British Military Administrations
4 mins

Find out about the proclamations of Japanese and British military administrations, which bookended the Japanese Occupation and represent the turbulent periods during the Second World War when Singapore came under military rule.

Ep 11 Japanese and British Military Administrations

Find out about the proclamations of Japanese and British military administrations, which bookended the Japanese Occupation and represent the turbulent periods during the Second World War when Singapore came under military rule.

Ep 12 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
3 mins

The 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated with much fanfare in Singapore. Watch rare footage of the day and night parades, as Vincent Gabriel recounts the sights and sounds of the elaborate floats, decorations, and festivities which marked this momentous occasion.

Ep 12 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

The 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated with much fanfare in Singapore. Watch rare footage of the day and night parades, as Vincent Gabriel recounts the sights and sounds of the elaborate floats, decorations, and festivities which marked this momentous occasion.

Ep 13 The Rendel Constitution
5 mins

Discover the background and aftermath of the Rendel Constitution of 1955, which laid the groundwork for the end of the colonial era in Singapore, and the island’s eventual achievement of internal self-government.

Ep 13 The Rendel Constitution

Discover the background and aftermath of the Rendel Constitution of 1955, which laid the groundwork for the end of the colonial era in Singapore, and the island’s eventual achievement of internal self-government.

Ep 14 1957 Citizenship Ordinance
4 mins

In this oral history interview, Lim Joo Hock explains the process for people to register as Singaporeans, following the passing of the 1957 Citizenship Ordinance. By the end of the nationwide drive, over 300,000 Singaporean citizens had been registered.

Ep 14 1957 Citizenship Ordinance

In this oral history interview, Lim Joo Hock explains the process for people to register as Singaporeans, following the passing of the 1957 Citizenship Ordinance. By the end of the nationwide drive, over 300,000 Singaporean citizens had been registered.

Ep 15 National Loyalty Week
3 mins

National Loyalty Week kicked off on 3 December 1959 with the installation of Yusof Ishak as Singapore’s first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara, and the unveiling of the state symbols on the steps of City Hall. Listen to an extract from Yusof Ishak’s speech, and the first mass singing of the new state anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’ on this historic day.

Ep 15 National Loyalty Week

National Loyalty Week kicked off on 3 December 1959 with the installation of Yusof Ishak as Singapore’s first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara, and the unveiling of the state symbols on the steps of City Hall. Listen to an extract from Yusof Ishak’s speech, and the first mass singing of the new state anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’ on this historic day.

Ep 16 Housing the Nation
15 mins

By the 1960s, Singapore had one of the highest birth rates in the world. This film, produced for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1964, shows the challenges faced in rehousing the population against competing land demands for commercial, industrial, and agricultural use. Follow the process from town planning to construction and completion of the first HDB flats and estates.

Ep 16 Housing the Nation

By the 1960s, Singapore had one of the highest birth rates in the world. This film, produced for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1964, shows the challenges faced in rehousing the population against competing land demands for commercial, industrial, and agricultural use. Follow the process from town planning to construction and completion of the first HDB flats and estates.

Ep 17 National Library
1 min

The National Library was a popular spot for Singaporeans in the 1960s, offering access to materials in Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and English. As the country's demographics shifted, branch libraries and mobile services were introduced to meet the needs of an increasingly suburban and literate population.

Ep 17 National Library

The National Library was a popular spot for Singaporeans in the 1960s, offering access to materials in Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and English. As the country's demographics shifted, branch libraries and mobile services were introduced to meet the needs of an increasingly suburban and literate population.

Ep 18 Women's Charter
4 mins

The Women’s Charter was passed in 1961 and provides for the fundamental rights for women, such as ownership of properties, equal status in a marriage, and fair treatment during a divorce. Despite these benefits, Seow Peck Leng, former president of the Singapore Women’s Association, recounts some of the difficulties faced in garnering support from women at the time.

Ep 18 Women's Charter

The Women’s Charter was passed in 1961 and provides for the fundamental rights for women, such as ownership of properties, equal status in a marriage, and fair treatment during a divorce. Despite these benefits, Seow Peck Leng, former president of the Singapore Women’s Association, recounts some of the difficulties faced in garnering support from women at the time.

Ep 19 1962 National Referendum
5 mins

This Ministry of Culture film reel reminds Singaporeans to vote in the National Referendum on 1 September 1962. It details each of the three alternatives available to voters on the mode and manner of merger between Singapore and the Federation of Malaya.

Ep 19 1962 National Referendum

This Ministry of Culture film reel reminds Singaporeans to vote in the National Referendum on 1 September 1962. It details each of the three alternatives available to voters on the mode and manner of merger between Singapore and the Federation of Malaya.

Ep 20 Merger with Malaysia
4 mins

Explore the Proclamation of Malaysia, and the Proclamation of Singapore Joining Malaysia – two documents which capture the optimism, hopes and aspirations of the future at the point of Singapore’s historic merger with Malaysia in 1963.

Ep 20 Merger with Malaysia

Explore the Proclamation of Malaysia, and the Proclamation of Singapore Joining Malaysia – two documents which capture the optimism, hopes and aspirations of the future at the point of Singapore’s historic merger with Malaysia in 1963.

Additional Information

Stories of Yesteryear: Sands of Time S1
Released2022
Genresarts and heritage, documentary, info-ed
Seasons1
Parental guidance advised for young children