New World Amusement Park

Singapore, Singapore

New World Amusement Park

The New World Amusement Park (Chinese: 新世界) was the first of three amusement parks, along with Great World (estd. early 1930s) and Gay World (estd. 1936), that wooed Malaya and Singapore night crowds from the 1920s to the 1960s. New World was a prominent landmark along Jalan Besar, in modern-day Kallang planing area, as it occupied a large area of 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2) in size. Before the arrival of televisions and radios, it attracted people from all walks of life from labourers to Europeans with its exciting attractions such as striptease, cabaret girls, opera shows and boxing matches during its heyday. Of all the artistes and athletes who have performed at the New World through the years, four have left a lasting impression – striptease queen Rose Chan, wrestler King Kong, strongman Mat Tarzan, and boxer Felix Boy. With the advent of shopping centres, discos and, particularly, television in the ensuing decades, the park business gradually became poor, and it was finally closed for good after being sold to a property developer for redevelopment in 1987.

New World was set up on 1 August 1923 by two Straits Chinese brothers, Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock under the company Ong Sam Leong Ltd. In the 1930s, the Shaw Organisation expanded their leisure business with a 50% joint venture with Ong Sam Leong Ltd. Shaw eventually bought out their partner and owned both the New World and the Great World at Kim Seng Road. Admission fee was only 10-cent per entry but visitors had to pay separately for its various entertainment programmes and hawker stalls within. Advertising itself as the "pioneer amusement park in Malaya", New World had a huge fairground for all walks of life; couples would go to the park for evening strolls, housewives frequented the food and diverse stalls, men would hop from the barber shops to the nightclubs, while families piled into the cinemas and onto fairground rides like ferris wheels and carousels where two of its rides, the Ghost Train and Dodg'em were crowd-pullers. In 1934, Dato Roland St. John Braddell, who was born in Singapore and served as Municipal Commissioner (1914—1929) wrote:

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