The Adelphi Hotel
Speaking of prewar Singapore, here's a picture of the Adelphi Hotel on Coleman Street, one of Singapore's big 3 hotels in the 1900s, along with the Raffles, which of course still stands, and the Hotel de l'Europe, which is now our present Supreme Court building. The Adelphi was acquired by Arathoon Sarkies and Eleazar Johannes in 1903 - adding to the Armenian domination of the hotel industry then - and I'm trying to figure out when it was torn down. (There's a reference to the Adelphi still being around in 1962, since that's when the Singapore Contract Bridge Association was formed.)
One thing a little web sleuthing led me to learn was that the Adelphi was the site of a simultaneous chess exhibition by grandmaster Alexander Alekhine back in 1933:
For four hours, Dr. Alexander Alekhine, the world’s chess champion, battled against 25 members of the Singapore Chess Club at the Adelphi Hotel yesterday, and in winning all the games demonstrated that uncanny skills which enabled him to beat Capablanca for the world’s title in 1927. (The Straits Times, Feb 27, 1933 - cited in Olimpiu Urcan's excellent article on Alekhine's chess exhibitions in Singapore in ChessCafe.com)Alekhine would return a month later and do a blindfolded simultaneous exhibition, in which he won 9 of the 10 games he played. Cor blimey, as they say. The Urcan article also gives a good sense of prewar Singapore as a roaring little corner of Asia, with occasional visits by celebs - Fairbanks and Pickford, Chaplin, Will Rogers, and the like.
On a more sober note, the Adelphi also gets mentioned in this diary entry from 1942, from a couple - Nobby and Annie Clark - who managed to make it out just before the Fall of Singapore.
Feb. 7th. Shelling and bombing all day, nervous of staying in the bungalows it is on the northern slopes of Fort Canning (Military Headquarters) and will be in line of attack... Stayed all day in the lounge of the Adelphi Hotel where we helped ourselves to food cooked by the Swiss chef, the waiters having fled. Drove to the General Hospital trying to locate M. B. wards and corridors and verandahs were crowded with military and civilian wounded and dead. The doctors and nurses doing a wonderful job but all worn out by work and anxiety. (Link)There's some personal interest here in figuring out the history of this place - my office today is in the Adelphi building that replaced the hotel, and I used to go to school up the road, at what was then the Anglo-Chinese Primary School and is now the National Archives. So I've seen this part of town for countless years in my life, but I'd never thought to look into the history of this particular spot. Glad I did.
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