Sunday, July 08, 2007

Incredible English S. Withers & Co Safe IN SMI

This English “S. Withers & Co.” safe, believed to be more than 80 years old, has been crane-lifted to the ground floor, waiting to be placed at a permanent spot within the school. Originally placed at the corridor facing the Brothers' quarters and outside the school chapel, the safe was believed to have been used by the Japanese officials to keep important documents and valuable items. When they left, the safe was emptied before it was used by Brother Paul, Brother Vincent and other Brother directors to keep important school papers.

S.Withers Company, the maker of the safe, was founded in 1855 in West Bromwich, England, a town near Birmingham. The company was in business up to the 1960’s and remained a family owned and operated up to its close. Withers was a prolific producer of safes. A distinctive trademark is included on the safe.

Check out Incredible English “S. Withers & Co.” Safe . The SMI safe looks similar, only that the one on sale has been refurbished and restored. Not sure what Brother Matthew, as a custodian, will do to ensure the posterity of the decades-old safe.


KinTung said...

This is what called as one of the 'originality' of the school, which should be preserved and maintained.
Traditions had been passed down generation by generation till today.
As what I had been stressed on in my previous comment, each and every parts of the school has its own stories and histories.
But, it's a sad thing that, this safe was placed at the field under the hot sun and rain since the past 10 days.
A number of my former schoolmates had been asking why it was placed at there. For a show ? For a display ?
And yet this just a safe, and if no one has the initiative to keep it well as a historical item and maintain it, I wonder who will strengthen and pass down our strong Michaelian Spirit and Tradition to the young generations.

I do not want our traditions to run out, because I do not believe that formal indoctrination, or pure rationality, or simple mutation of our contemporaries, can replace traditions. Traditions are the wisdom of the race; they are the only sure instruments of moral instruction.

Traditions live and leave, practices veer and vary, and rituals wax and wane, but the Michaelian Spirit, the tradition and spirit of insight, the rational belief, lasts and lasts -- "ever gaining, ever winning."

Wong Kin Tung
5SC2 2004 , USA1 2006
Member of St.Michael's Institution Alumni Association Klang Valley

harrneak said...

This safe has been in the school since Brother Patrick's era. The safe was originally in the Director's room before being moved to the corridors next to the chapel. This must have been done when the Brothers Quarters was turned to classrooms. During the Japanese occupation, the Seal of Royal Decree was kept in this very safe. Upon liberation, the British Army came to school and removed it from this very safe. It was thereafter used by all the Brother Directors till the retirement of Brother Vincent in 1988. It must have been used by the Brothers till 1993, as it was at their official Quaters till they moved to the LaSalle Center. The safe have served 5 Directors - Bro Patrick, Bro Denis, Bro Pius, Bro U Paul (2 terms) & Bro Vincent (2 terms). In short, it have served SMI for more than 50 years.

I was talking to Bro Matthew and he has already identified a place for it. It will be place opposite the Chubb safe- under the granite staircase. This is an ideal place as the Chubb Safe also has heritage values. The door was placed by the Japanese Millitary and was used to store their important documents here. The place is now being prepared and once completed, this safe will be safely placed here.

Me and many other Michaelians would like to see that this safe is moved in to its rightfull place at the earliest. Delays will cause it to rust and rot.

The Michaelian spirit is still very strong at SMI and young Michaelians are groomed daily to follow the rich tradition and spirit.

Harneak Singh
Form 5A3, 1980.
OMA Secretary 2006/2007.

Alex said...

It's going to be 1 year after the completion of the SMI Roof changing but the " Incredible English S. Withers & Co Safe' have no been given a safe place. What had happen to the promised SMI Gallery and the opening back of the school chapel? The room below the counseling room which was said to be the SMI Gallery is in a bit sad condition, why nothing have been done till now? Why don't the chapel be used by the Michaelian Catholic Society on Friday or other day to have gathering & masses? PLEASE DO SOMETHING BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!!!

palohchai 'n' littlecicak said...

It would be good if the safe is refurbished and placed nicely where ppl can admire it. Such relic of SMI should never be forgotten and should be cherished by the michaelians. The last time i saw the safe, it was sadly placed at one corner and I don't think the students are appreciating it. Should this safe is in Spore, I think the Spore gov would have long placed it in the museum.

By the way, I think SMI should really come up with a gallery not only displaying the SMI stories but also relics of SMI found in the school. Perhaps the Heritage club of SMI could be the caretaker of the gallery under guidance of Bro Matthew.

Wong Weng Yew
Class of 2001 USS3