There was a Chinese kampong (village) located beside the old Princess Elizabeth Estate at the northern end of Hillview Avenue.
According to old records found at St Joseph Church at Bukit Timah, in the closing years of the 19th century, there were some parishioners who lived in the valley between the church and the hill that would be later called Bukit Gombak. This valley was known as the Antonia Valley and had farms and some small gambier and pepper plantations. Thus, this kampong had a longer history than P.E. Estate which was only built in 1952. Princess Elizabeth Estate presumably would have been built over parts of the old kampong.
Though I lived at the ‘modern’ Princess Elizabeth Estate, I can remember this kampong of my youth. It had a large number of typical kampong houses occupied mainly by Chinese families. You can tell the difference between the Chinese houses, which were built on cement foundation, from the Malay houses which tended to be built on stilts. Many of my schoolmates at P.E.E. School lived in this kampong.
Although most of the kampong folks would just be tenants, there were some who had small farm plots on their homestead where they grew vegetables and other crops. Some grew fruits trees like durians and rambutans. I recalled that these farmers would carry their harvest in wicker baskets to the old Princess Elizabeth market to sell in the morning.
There was a large coconut plantation along Lorong Taluki which was the main track that ran from Upper Bukit Road through the kampong to Princess Elizabeth Estate. This unpaved dirt track was the shortcut for residents and was also used by students who studied at Boy’s Town or the Convent at Chestnut Drive.
Just before the KTM railway line at Lorong Taluki, there was a large scrap metal yard. I recalled that as a young boy, my school friends and I would scrounge around the construction sites of Popular Estate being built at that time for scrap copper wire. We would strip the plastic off the wires and sell the copper to this scrap yard. Usually we would get only a few cents but it was enough for us to buy ‘mica’ to make glass string for our kites.
The only time when this kampong made the news was in 1970 when one of the kampong folks discovered a four-legged chicken. The discovery of this quirk of nature was reported in all the local newspapers and for a while the kampong folks basked in their 15 minutes of fame.
|Mrs Wong Yoke Siew with her 4 legged chicken.|
This kampong survived till the late 1970s when the Housing & Development Board acquired the land to build the new HDB Hillview Estate. Part of the old kampong land was also acquired by Ministry of Defence (Mindef) to build their HQ Complex on the Bukit Gombak ridge.
Today, the site of the old kampong, and later Hillview Estate, will be housing the next chapter of occupancy with the rise of The Hillier Condominium, along with the yet unnamed condo complex beside it.
|New condo developments on the old kampong site.|
Related links: The HDB Hillview Estate