Monday, November 28, 2011


I write so that the story that lives with me, will live with you as well. When a story is told, it's not forgotten; it becomes something else..the memories of who we were, the hope of what we can become. (Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay)

I used to live at this small quiet estate off Hillview Avenue and it holds lots of memories for me.
A major impetus for starting this blog was that people were starting to forget about the estate.
Whenever I ask my siblings if they remember this or that, they'll say no.
Therefore, I am trying to record as much of my own stories before all my grey cells fade away and nobody remembers the estate we all once so loved.

My ties with Princess Elizabeth Estate :
My parents moved into P.E.E. in 1953.
Lived at 126 Princess Anne Hill Singapore 23.
Born in the fifties and spent my entire childhood there.
I have 4 siblings who were all born at P.E.Estate.
Our first telephone number in 1963 was 65232.
Our first TV set bought in 1964 was a Grundig black & white TV.
Studied at Princess Elizabeth Estate School from 1960 to 1965.
Moved out to Fuyong Estate in 1969 but returned to P.E.E after a few years.
Got married at P.E.E. in the early 80s and moved out to Bukit Batok New Town in 1984.
My parents remained at P.E. Estate till 1994 when they relocated to Bukit Gombak.

I will be placing all my articles and archives on Princess Elizabeth Estate in this blog.
Readers are most welcome to contribute old photos and stories and assist with this historical memorabilia. You can click on the side bar for links to the other posts on Princess Elizabeth Estate.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Please leave me a comment, especially if you were an ex-PEE resident.

Important Notice: All articles in this blog is copyrighted and belongs to me. All photos that are used are either mine, in public domain or used with permission. There are a very few where the authorship of the photos cannot be determined and I use them under Fair Use privilege. However, if you do claim them, please email to me and I will either credit you or remove them according to your rights. Under no circumstances, without my permission, can any material and photos from this blog be use in any other manner.

For those who may not be too familiar with commenting on,
please select the NAME/URL in the "Comment as:" option found under the comment box where you type in your comments. Then enter your NAME. Postings under "Anonymous" will not likely to get posted for comment. My email is


  1. Thank you for taking the time to blog the precious histories of Singapore. I recently moved to hillview avenue, and I appreciate learning of its humble beginnings. It gives me more reason to appreciate my surroundings and my home.

    Thank you again.

  2. Thank you for the stories and pictures! We lived in the area in the mid-1970's to 1982 and went to P.E.E.S. These photos bring back such wonderful memories.


  3. Hello david,
    I am happy that you had wonderful memories of those days. Perhaps you could share some of your memories some time. regards.

  4. Hello, I completed Primary 6 in 1967...My name is Josephine Mathew..does anyone remember?

  5. Hello Josephine,
    Yes I do remember you! You lived a blk 23 on the 5th or 6th floor I think.
    We were classmates in PEES as well as in sec sch!

    Do you still have your class photos?

  6. Johar bin AnuarFebruary 06, 2013

    My brother Baharudin told me about your blog when we met recently at our mother's house.

    Our eldest sister Asiah is married to Yusof Rahmat seen in the estate footballer photograph with my other younger brother Mohamad Anuar. Other siblings being sisters, Asnah and Joriah, lived at Princess Elizabeth Estate from 1955, first staying at block 23 and then later whem we got bigger (physically) we moved to block 18.
    Asiah used to work with PA as a kindergarten teacher. She has two children, Maria and Zaihan Mohd Yusof who is a journalist.

    The estate was like a small village or kampung to many of us, Many names mentioned in your blogg are familiar to our family. The fat auntie (nonya gemuk we used to refer her as), her brother in law bisu,(Steven Quah), Tomack (my football coach then), Pamela Hill, Ronald Li, etc, in addition to the other personalities who played active roles in the community.

    Yes there were also many Peranakan and Eurasian families, and other than the English Language, Malay or least Malay terms were widely used especially in describing personalities such as Michael bechak, Richard apek, Robin goblok, Yankee leg and so on.

    I remembered your father, Mr. Tann Yean, and your house at block 21. I used to pass by your house to go down the slope to the Green Bus terminal. There was a big madras thorn tree nearby the terminal hut. I like to climb on the tree and ' rest ' on the spread of branches with class mate Glenn Hogan. Another classmate of ours Ian Hamilton Moss was your upstair neightbour.

    Baharudin has encouraged me to write of what I know about the estate. That I shall try to do, with photograph if possible so that any more can know about the place which we used to call home.

    Maybe I can say, something more about the activities at the estate field, Dairy farm, Singapore Motor Club time trial, etc, name more illuminaries, and that Mr. Raphael Gonzales was not the only mp from the estate.

    Sometimes when my siblings roll back our memories of the estate. Asiah especially, alway say the estate was just like 'Peyton Place'. And I like what my former sister in said recently of the place. .. ' everybody was the same, there were no Chinese, Malay or Indian (or Eurasian I must add).

  7. Lim Wei KhoonFebruary 21, 2013

    I moved into the Hillview estate in 2002, on Jln Remaja. I have heard some stories about Hillview from my dad, about how there used to be a school and bus interchange and hillview was an industrial estate. Also, my row of houses are built on what used to be the septic tanks for hillview! I spent hours reading your blog and it was really interesting! Very happy to read up about the history of my estate!

    When I first moved in the CC (then called bt gombak cc) was still around, with a tennis court full of algae growth. The HDB estate was also still around the the kopitiam had good mixed veg rice! Sadly the entire HDB estate got relocated a year later n was torn down two years after i moved in.

    I didnt have the chance to explore in haunted mansion because my parents were worried that we would bring spirits home. It was then demolished in 04 and then after the landslide the enitre property was levelled and made into terraced grassland. I m really curious to know the real story behind it and will greatly appreciate it if you could send me the story! Thanks!


  8. Hi Uncle James! May I call you that as you're old enough to be my dad!
    I really love your blog! I used to live in Hillview with my parents and siblings too. We lived in the HDB estate which has been demolished. Sadly. My parents decided to move out when the government said they were going to demolish the whole estate. My parents often mentioned that they promised an upgrade or something but never come to pass. Instead, they gave reasons or excuses like our HDB flats were too high(25 storeys)and it post a security threat to MINDEF.

    As a kid, I remember the Castrol factory. It was the time when not a single condominium sprouted out. It was soon converted into one and if I'm not wrong, one of the first condos around. I love Hillview. We are a very closely-knitted community. Everyone knows everyone around. I had friends across all the different blocks. It's where I learnt how to cycle and roller-blade. We know the uncles and aunties in the market, hardware store, salon, econ minimart, hawker centres etc. We all had the same family doctor. We had a market,a hawker centre, coffeeshops and a community centre. I love mooncake festivals where all the kids would go down to play with their candlelit lanterns.

    I moved out when I was P3 or 4 I guess. I missed my neighbours and friends.
    Currently, I'm helping my friend out in his johora surveys. Not until recently did I discover that we have a gem near our old neighbourhood.

    Thanks for sharing all these valuable and priceless memories! I truly appreciate them!

    Reuben(once a Hillview kid) :)

    1. Hi Reuben
      Thanks for visiting my blog and I am glad to share this will all you ex-residents.
      Yeah, sad that they demolished the 2 estates and left the left vacant for all these years.

      I wrote about the displeasure from the Hillview residents regarding the SERS relocation from Hillview.
      Most saw it as being taken for a ride. Promises of upgrading were made due to a certain party trying to gain back the district they lost in the elections. After they won it back, the promises were not fulfilled. Instead the residents were told to pack up and leave. It's in my article about the Hillview HDB estate.

      Do you have any old photos to share? I'd love to put it up here in this blog.

  9. hi James, i really enjoy reading your blog and some of the stories are cut short, including the hill view mansion story. Is it convenient to share it with me privately, i promise i will not share with others as this story is killing me with the suspense. My email is


  10. Hello Kent,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I've given my reasons why I feel I shouldn't continue revealing the reasons why the mansion became haunted and despite that I have received many more requests from readers still curious to know. It wouldn't be fair and would be discourteous of me to those that I have not replied to since.
    But I will one day when the time is right. It will all be reveled as a follow up to the article.


  11. Hi Mr. Tann

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the effort you've put into this blog. I got this blog address from a friend whose mum used to teach at P.E. Estate School.
    My family's roots were also once quite significantly entrenched in Hillview Estate and I have many fond memories of life there.

    My family lived in Princess Elizabeth Estate in the 1950s-mid 1960s. Granny still fondly calls it "the 7th storey flat!". My maternal uncle, Mohandas Menon (DOB: 1951) and mum, Shreelatha Menon (DOB: 1957) went to Princess Elizabeth Estate School.

    My family then moved to Jalan Zamrud just a couple of roads away (and on the same street as Mrs. Kannan!) where they lived from 1996 till 2003. I was also raised at our Jalan Zamrud home went to the then-known Bukit Gombak CC for kindergarten classes, and thereon to Princess Elizabeth Primary School (now in Bukit Batok) from 1991 to 1996, with my sister following suit from 1995 to 2000.

    I showed my uncle ( who now lives in England) this blog and he was so incredibly happy! We had a very long telephone conversation which culminated in a bit of a search for photographs and things. Will scan to you whatever I can find!

    Warmest Regards

    Sangeeta Kumar

    1. Hello Sangeeta,
      Thank you for your really heart warming comments.
      I feel such a wonderful sense of fulfilment and vindication when I read about ex-residents coming here and recalling all their memories from those times. Please do assist to spread the link to all our ex-PEE residents where you can find them. My hope is that everyone, just like you, will share their fond memories here.

      By the way, did your Uncle Menon and your mum used to live at Blk 21 (hse 125A)? Did your uncle play the guitar and your mum the violin when they were living there? I am just asking because if they are the ones, then I know them!

  12. Hi Mr. Tann,

    My uncle did play the guitar, and the violin incidentally! but mum did dance and veena (an indian string instrument). I will check with her as to whether she learned the violin at any point in time.
    I will also get back to you on the block number!
    Slight correction in my earlier post - we were at Jalan Zamrud from 1966 to 2003, not 1996 :)

    1. Did your uncle stayed at Blk 23... A former RTS News reader?..

    2. Hi there! Yes, he was a newsreader whilst at uni. Hv to check on the block 23 with my gran and get back to you tho! Did you know him personally? Im sure he wld be very happy to hear from u :)

  13. Hello! Chanced upon this blog as I attempted to search for maps of hillview in the 90s.
    Really very touched to have found this! Although this is mainly for PEES n I was only born in 1985.
    Totally agree with Reuben, I had friends in different blocks everyone knew everyone and we all had the same family doctor!
    I went to kindergarten in the CC there and stayed at Blk 6 with my aunt.
    Anyone happened to have more pix/map of hillview in the 90s?


  14. Hi James, you have done much work in terms of research and it had helped me to better understand the rich history behind the Bukit Batok/ Bukit Timah area. I'm interested in Singapore's WWII history and through you, I've learnt much. Appreciate the amount of effort that you have put in. Always looking forward to more of your stories and would be glad to have tea or even do a walk with you.

    Best Regards

    Adrian Phuah

  15. I lived in Blk 3 since I was 3 years old. Born in1975. Both my sister and I attended school at PA for ou kindergarten and P E E S.
    I remember teacher Asiah very well. She is my first school teacher.
    The mamak shop, the tikam2 shop, the house that sells air batu malaysia. We used to collect boxes and use it as sleigh to go down the hill at the corner of Blk 3. The gardener of the estate school once caught and killed a big snake at our school assembly area. We even have like a mini zoo in school. A huge cage with peacocks and some other animal I can't recall. My mom used to do part time cleaning for a Japanese family who lived in a big house further up from the school. She'll take me smtimes.
    None more love can be

  16. Hi James, great job!
    My aunt stayed just a few houses away from Hillview Mansion and I wasn't even aware of the story behind.
    My husband's clan has been staying around this area for 2-3 generations. My mother-in-law's father even owned the timber factory that was once diagonally across Junction 10, where the HDB blocks are.
    Keep up with the good work! Thanks.

  17. During my time P5 and P6 in Wei Sin Public Sch,at the junction of Old Jurong Road and Hillview Ave,I often walked along Hillview Ave to PEE for two reasons:book rental and tropical fish.
    There was a row of shops,among them were a book rental shop and an aquarium.By placing a mere $2 as deposit and 50 cents as rental,I could rent a book for a week.My first fish tank was a plastic one bought from the aquarium.I remember carrying it home to Jurong Track 4 via Old Jurong Road.There were numerous visits during those two years renting books and buying fish-rearing related items.
    Then when I attended secondary school in 1979,the place was completely forgotten.
    In 1990 June,I did some jogging before my ICT.From Jurong East I jogged along Bukit Batok Ave 1,Bukit Batok East Ave 6,Old Jurong Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road.I then turned into one of the side tracks,jogged along the railway and ended up somehow in PE!.At the hawker centre,I had fried bee hoon for 60 cents and a big mug of soy drink for 50 cents.The estate was bustling.
    Fast forward year 2002/3,I was there again because I learnt that there was a big jogging field under Mindef.I purposely jogged there!Is one side of it the hill and the Mindef building?There was also a condominium somewhere near the field.I walked around and discovered a tennis court at the community centre.Strange?
    Then the next one year or two,I happened to know a Chinese physician by the sir name of Xu.I visited him a few times till the day when almost everyone of his block had already moved out.He gave me his new address,on the slope next to Gombak MRT.That times PEE looked deserted with all the shops and hawker centre already closed.

  18. hi, i was once a P.E.E student till the school moved to Bukit Batok. i stayed with my grandma, uncles and aunties at blk 7 clarence walk. i missed Hillview a lot.

  19. Hi James.

    I'm researching on war memorials in Singapore. In your post on Bukit Batok Hill (, there's a photo, near the end, of an Allied memorial erected behind the Syonan Chureito. If so, is it the same memorial as this one:

    And may I know the source of the photo (as I haven't come across this photo anywhere else)?

    Look forward to your response. Feel free to email me at if you prefer.

    Thank you,

  20. Yes the picture in the article and the memorial in the NAS archive is the same memorial, called the Allied Memorial which was behind the Syonan Chureito.

    1. Hi James. Enjoyed your blog. Do you recall how many people the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Hillview employed?

    2. No, I can't recall. It was simply too long ago.

  21. hello!
    I grew up in Hillview from birth till the enbloc and really miss the place! Enjoyed reading your blog but perhaps I have missed some of the things:
    1) Possible to share the story about how the mansion became haunted?
    would love to know what happened as it was the mystery of it that we were all so intrigued by when we were kids.
    my email is

    2) I remember at the back of the HDB estate, there was a large open air carpark that we would play badminton at, and in the longkangs sliding down, catching guppies/tadpoles. There was also this strange house made of wooden slabs that was located at the back of that slope, right at the bushes. Did you remember that? We were always very curious about it, but nobody really dare to go into the house, which I believe had someone living in it at that time. We would take turns, to run up as near as possible to the house, and then run down the slope as fast as our little legs would carry us.

    Oh fun times!