July 16, 2013

No.1 & 2 Blacksmith Road, Sibu (1928 - 2013)

1928 was a black year for Sibu. It saw a huge fire which razed the wooden shops of Sibu which were lining the Lembangan River, a distributary of the Rajang.

However, soon a few rows of concrete two story shops were built on Island Road, Old Street, Channel Road making a T shaped little town.

Very few documents have been left for us to read nowadays about the earliest days of Sibu from 1862 to 1963. A good way of checking Sibu history would be perhaps the Sarawak Gazette and James Hoover's Journals.

Rev Ling Kai Cheng also left a short documentation of his times in Sibu.

According to oral history, this No.1 Blacksmith shop lot was first built by the Wong Family which was made up of two brothers, Wong Heng Kwong and Wong Lung Kwong. Thus the shop was called Nang Kwong. The Tiong Kung Ping Family had a small share of the shop lot, the family being cousins with the Wongs. The second shop was solely owned by the elderly Tiong King Sing (not the YB Ting) and his son Tiong Kung Ping family from 1928 until the Japanese Occupation. But it was later sold to pay tax during the Japanese Occupation and to raise funds for the family's other investments in Bintangor.

Nang Kwong was a gathering point for many Foochows who came from the surrounding villages along the Rajang. It was a convenient meeting place as many of the villagers with good connections used No.1 Blacksmith Road as their postal address. Mails from China for them could be picked up here. In fact many wedding invitation cards were left here to be collected by the villagers.

Those Foochow villagers and townies who wished to attend a wedding feast or dinner at Hock Chu Leu would pass by Nang Kwong and  might even stand outside on the five foot way to exchange views and news.

The rich and famous must have found this shop front a very happening place in those by gone days. There were two little businesses in the front portion of the lot, but at the back was a guns and ammunition shop owned by the Lee fmily.

Firemen trying to put down the fire of Blacksmith Road on 15.7.2013

One of  Towkay Wong Heng Kwong's sons was a photographer. Hence part of the upstairs was a photo studio. We all called him affectionately by his pet name, Ah Ngiu. The famous and popular photographer had a fairly good following. *

As primary school students we loved to hang out this corner shop because we could watch people going to Wan Hin to buy Kong Bian and to see the Post Man collect letters from the red and round Colonial post box. It was also quite safe to leave our locked bicycles in front of Nang Kwong. After the shop was sold in the 1980's, different businesses were started, and folded..

Dr Ding Siew Hua's first clinic was established in this shop lot when he came to start his business in Sibu. His wife was an aunt of mine from the Lau side. His business was very good and for many years no one was allowed to place their bicycles here. However, the days of bicycles also came to an end. Sibu started having more cars and more motor bikes. So the five foot way was clear of bicycles by social and economic development of Sibu!!

Blacksmith Road was never the same again after the 1980's

* Those of you who would like a page of history , do check my next posting. I have a very old telephone directory left by my father from the 1960's for Blacksmith Road...May be you will like to rekindle your grandfather's days from some of the names....


Anonymous said...

was there a cinema there (called Lidu?) that was burnt in the 70s or 80s?

Stenographer said...

Lido was on the second block, opposite row. I tried to find the telephone no. of the cinema but could not. However when I was young, I never did have to call the cinema for a booking of seats. We crushed into each other, pushed each other and finally put our hand into the box office and bought the tickets.

there was not queue in those early days.

Anonymous said...

any one left with the cinema ticket of those days? the most popular one for the kids during my time was 50-cent 9ngu geok de)

Ensurai said...

May be some one with a good Sibu Scrap Book ...I used to have a box with Sibu memorabilia e,g, Sound of Music booklet, Carousel Song Sheets, photos of bicycles, now gone already.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Lido, what a co-incident! My late father used to work for Lido cinema, after it burned down, my dad was jobless then we moved into our ancestor's home on Blacksmith where we had stayed there for six generations until the recent inferno that destroyed our home to smoke. We are so thankful that our family members who lived there were able to escape the blast unharmed! What a bittersweet memory of Jalan Blacksmith!

Ensurai said...

Sorry to hear that. I hope you are all ok, in spite of the fright. Sorry to hear about your dad losing his job. My cousin in law, (Mrs. Lau) used to be in charge of ticket selling in the Lido cinema.

I have lovely memories of Blacksmith Road, as I used to hang out at the Dr. Chiu Nai Ding Clinic and the Hock Liong Hin Cafe when young with GRandpa. When older, of course, I was a girl who never missed movies together with grandma during the weekends... Hope all is well with your family.

Ensurai said...

Do you know the Tiong family who helped with Lido and Rex Cinema? I am not very sure of the real facts but Uncle Tiong Chew Tai had a very successful family of one famous doctor and one famous engineer. We love and respect that family very much.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...