Does anyone remember Robinsons which I think was near Raffles Place? We all used to shop there and I think that it was very popular with British families. I remember at Christmas, it would be decorated with a giant hoarding showing Father Christmas in his sleigh being pulled by several reindeer. Underneath, in large letters, it said, 'Merry Christmas!' The colour photos shown here were taken by my parents' friends, George and Kit Holden. The first photo shows Robinsons store and the next photo shows the nearby John Little. I
Unfortunately, Robinsons store met with an unhappy ending and the story was carried in the local paper :
Robinson's Inferno kills nine.
21st November 1972.
A pregnant woman was among nine people when a fire razed Robinsons department store in Raffles Place. It was one of the worst fires in Singapore's history.
The fire which started at 9.55am, was believed to have been caused by a short circuit on the first floor of the four-storey building. By the time it was brought under control at 12,20pm, the store, which had occupied the building for decades, had been razed to the ground. Also destroyed were millions of dollars' worth of consumer goods waiting for Christmas shoppers.
The nine who died were mainly store employees, including pregnant salesgirl, Ainon Mohamed Tahir, 21.
Robinsons peon Ibrahim Shahul, who managed to escape, said he smelt burning rubber just before thick smoke and flames came roaring in. 'Then the lights went out. I heard someone shouting in the dark that the lift had stoped and that an expectant mother, a tourist and three others were trapped in it,' he said.
As the fire raged, businesses in Raffles Place were widely affected. The Stock Exchange in Clifford House, Collyer Quay, had to stop trading shortly after 11am. Police Reserve Unit troops and Criminal Investigation Department officers were called into control the crown and keep looters out of the area.Losses were estimated at around $14 million.
After the fire, Robinsons relocated to Orchard Road and today can be found at The Centrepoint Shopping Centre where they moved to in 1983.The Robinson Group nowadays manage John Little, Marks and Spencer, Principles, Trucco, Coast, River Island and Fat Face. It seems a long way from the Department Store in Raffles Place that we all used to love visiting.