I was not even in my teens when the housing projects at Bamboo Grove Park and Popular estate began. This was located a stone's throw from my house beside the old Princess Elizabeth Estate School.
In the mid 1960s, I recalled how the earth moving machinery and tractors were brought in to flatten and shape the entire area. I watched them create the terraces by moving tons of earth out of the hill slope. The man-made terraces would eventually become the future Jalan Zamrud and Jalan Intan. The very top of the hill was levelled over a broad expanse. This would later be the Dermawan and Gumilang areas.
For us young schoolboys, it was exciting because more 'playground' was opening up, with lots of adventures ahead. Children, especially the boys, were always out playing. There was no indoor entertainment like watching TV then, and this new 'playground' was better than any theme park for us.
It seems so foolhardy today but back then we were playing right within the construction zone with wild abandon. We climbed the hills as it was being build up, we ran beside the tractors and earth moving machines as though it was part of our games! As long as we didn't get in the way of the workers, we were tolerated.
The hills where Popular Estate and Bamboo Grove further beyond were leveled at the same time. This was a huge land area that stretched to the end of the then Hillview Avenue. The development ended beside the Cycle and Carriage factory fence.
Even on rainy days, we would still play up on the hills which were nothing but mud after all the earth works. Where water collected in large ponds, we had our swimming pools! The unobstructed cleared land was ideal for flying kites, and in the evenings, large groups of men would climb to the top of the clearing and compete with their layang layangs (kites).
I am sure parents today would throw a fit if they knew their children were playing like we did in those days.
The entire Princess Elizabeth, Bamboo Grove and Popular Estates sits on what is essentially a geologic granite dome called the Bukit Timah Granite and Gombak Norite. It was said that there was no requirement for building foundations for P.E. Estate as all the apartment blocks sat on solid rock.
Often, earth moving works were halted on encountering outcrops of solid granite and they had to do a lot of blasting with dynamite to level the area.
One of the games we schoolboys played was collecting 'diamonds'. The area was littered with tailings of granite, and among these tailings we would find lots of crystals and quartz pieces - our diamonds! We would find lots of it especially after the blasting or after the heavy rains had washed the granite outcrops clean. We would find all sorts of shapes and imagine them to be tin soldiers in our games. Really large ones were brought to school where our science teachers would keep them on display.
Something most P.E.E. residents then will remember were the huge granite boulders which were unearthed in the hills. These were so large that they had to be blasted into smaller pieces for removal. There were several boulders which became local attractions.
The only one I know who has pictures of those boulders is my friend Benda in Perth. She will send it as soon as she can find time to go through her photo collection. Return to this blog in future and you may see the boulders sometime later.