Temple Trustee Chairman congratulating archaeology team on a job well done.
Temple Trustees inspect archaeology findings.
Below: The Archaeology team seeks divine permission to begin excavation work.
Palmer Road Site Report
(v1.4, PDF, 3.46mb, 9th March 2006)
Outlines a brief history, the Archaeological research and findings, further illustrations and maps, and significance of the site.
The present site of Foot Tet Soo Khek Temple on Palmer Road, sits at the foot of remnants of Mount Palmer where a former colonial military fortification (Fort Palmer c.1859-1915) was once sited. The temple is believed to be one of the earliest Chinese immigrant temples established in Singapore and is certainly the oldest Hakka institution on the island. Unverified anecdotal accounts claim the temple to pre-date the arrival of Raffles. The existing structure dates back to the mid 19th century, and the earliest known record of the temple was depicted in a 1844 map as a "Joss House".
19th century maps also indicated that the several village settlements are in the immediate vicinity of the temple. Tanjong Malang and Tanjong Pagar are the southeastern most prominent spits between Keppel Harbor and the main roadway off Singapore town. The channel into Keppel Harbor from the Tanjong Malang promontory has long been employed by local and Southeast Asian vessels prior to the arrive of the British, and it is possible that earlier coastal settlements are located on the former shoreline.
Mount Palmer is not only the home of the Foot Tet Soo Khek Temple (also known as the Wang Hai Da Bo Gong Temple) but also various historical institutions ranging from Fort Palmer, Keramat Habib Nor and Parsee Burial Grounds of the 19th century, to those of a more recent nature, the former Singapore Polytechnic (1954, today Bestway Building) and the Chinese YMCA (c.1956?). Mount Palmer was used for fill in the second reclamation of the Telok Ayer Basin (c.1904-15), and is completely levelled save for a small knoll that still remains at the rear of the temple. This remnant of the hill was part of the Parsee Burial Ground and the earliest historical reference to it is 1828. The burial ground has been exhumed some time in the 20th century prior to 1966.
In July 2005 the trustees of the Foot Tet Soo Khek Temple first approached the archaeology team to explore the possibility of conducting archaeological investigations within the compound and immediate vicinity of the temple. Archaeological investigations were conducted on site from 10th to 27th January 2006. Some interesting finds, includes Japanese and British artifacts from WW2, and the impressive abandoned 19th century Parsee Burial Ground. See report and photo gallery.
The archaeology team is most grateful to the Joint Trustees of the Foot Tet Soo Khek Temple; the Ying Ho Fui Kun Association and the Fong Yun Thai Association for the sponsorship and invitation to conduct archaeological research on the temple’s compound and the Tanjong Malang vicinity. Special thanks to Mr. Chen Po Seng (Ying Fo Fui Kun), Mr. Ng Ching Huei (Singapore History Museum), Dr. Johannes Widodo, Dr. Lai Chee Kien, and Mr. Yeo Kang Shua (Department of Architecture National University of Singapore) for initiating the project; Mr. Wan Meng Hao (Preservation of Monuments Board) for providing the permit to excavate; and to Mr. Lo Fa Hin and staff members of the temple for accommodating and assisting the team on site.