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Pastimes

Did you know that kite-fighting used to be a common leisure activity? People would gather in wide open spaces, especially during the weekends, and the skies would be dotted with colourful kites of all shapes and sizes. Thrilling battles were fought as these kites soared, seeking to cut the strings of another, with defeated kites fluttering to the ground. Children would then race to retrieve the fallen kites for themselves.

Besides kite-fighting, locals used to enjoy simpler things such as visits to the beach, trips to the cinema (complete with kacang putih), gossiping with neighbours over mahjong, or a day out at Happy World amusement park.

Check out this curated selection of photos, audiovisual content and oral history extracts to find out more.

Oral History Interviews

1. Oral History Interview with Richard Tan Swee Guan, Former Director of Dance Circle Studios
Acc No. 2108

Playing mahjong and chee kee with neighbours and friends to pass the time

2. Oral History Interview with Aloysius Leo De Conceicao, Former Bank Officer at Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation
Acc No. 2057

Kite-flying and kite-fighting

3. Oral History Interview with Chan Chong Beng, Chairman of Goodrich Global Pte Ltd
Acc No. 3186

Open-air cinemas and getting allowance for movie titbits

Audiovisual Recordings

1. Traditional Games Of Singapore
Acc No. 2017019188
Mediacorp Pte Ltd, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Traditional games Singaporeans used to play during their childhood.

2. English for You: Aminah’s Hobby
Acc No. 2006001243
Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS), courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Stamp collecting as a hobby. Features stamps about animals, people and early days of Singapore.

3. Vincent And Kenneth 2 years
Acc No. 2005000395
Charles Ong Cheng Yam Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

A silent film showing children playing by the beach and the pool. These were popular places to visit for an enjoyable time with friends and family.

4. No. 14: 1969 - Going Places
Acc No. 2005000386
Charles Ong Cheng Yam Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

A silent film showing scenes of Wonderland Amusement Park where many families used to go during special occasions and holidays.

Photographs

Happy World

1. Located between Mountbatten and Geylang roads, Happy World was one of the three amusement parks built in Singapore before World War Two. It offered a mix of eastern and western forms of affordable entertainment including cabaret, operas, movies and sports matches.
RAFSA Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Kite-flying

2. Once upon the kampung days in the 1960s, kite-flying was a favourite pastime among children, usually boys.
Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Skipping ropes

3. Back to basics - skipping ropes in yesteryears were made of simply rubber bands. But they served the same purpose as skipping ropes that we see today, which comes in an assortment of materials and colours. This photograph features a girl with her skipping rope in 1980.
Ronni Pinsler Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore