Thursday, December 22, 2011

Factories around P.E.Estate (1)

The Hillview/ Upper Bukit Timah Road district had a few prominent factories right from the early days.
Most famous of which would be the Ford Motors Factory on the eastern slope of Bukit Batok.
The Old Ford Motors Factory goes down in Singapore history as the place where Lt-Gen Arthur Percival surrendered Singapore to the Japanese during World War II.

Industrial unrest at Ford Motors in the 1960s

After World War II and into the 1950s, the area around the Ford factory became known as the "Colonial Industrial Estate at Bukit Timah". Gradually, more factories were built up in the surrounding area. Joining the already established companies like Hume Pty Ltd and Ford Motors were Union Carbide, Gammon Malaya Ltd, Amoy Canning, Singapore Magnolia Co, Malayan Guttas, Malayan Textiles, Hong Kong Rope Co. and Kiwi Polish (M) Ltd.

Hume Pipes Pty Ltd, later renamed Hume Industries Ltd
Hume factory along Upper Bukit Timah.  Far right Union Carbide
After Singapore's Independence in 1965, the area was aggressively promoted as a light industrial area and factories were encouraged to set up in the new Hillview Industrial Estate. The government pushed for industrialisation with the urgent need to create more jobs for the population. Hillview Avenue was extended to join up with Jurong Road at the other end.

Companies setting up included Castrol, Singapore Ceramics Ltd, International Spinning Mills, Cerebos, Yakult, Lam Soon Oil, Camel Paints, Metal Containers Ltd, Central Oil Refinery and Snow White Laundry amongst others.
Flatted factories were also set up within the bigger warehouse complexes like Lam Soon Industrial Building, Kelwaram House, and Hillview House.
Cycle & Carriage Industries Ltd set up Singapore's 2nd car assembly plant at Hillview together with a centralized Service Centre for Mercedes Benz in an adjoining plot of land.
In 1993, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) rezoned the Hillview area from an Industrial Zone to a Residential Zone under the Singapore Master Plan. Companies in the area had to relocate or redevelop their land into residential properties.

Today, except for the Ford Motors Factory, which was conserved as a heritage site, and some warehouses along Hillview Ave, the rest of the factories have been replaced by condominium developments.
Lam Soon Industrial Building (left) amidst the condominiums at Hillview Avenue.
The remaining warehouses will have to move out by 2014 as gazetted under the URA Master Plan.
The last of these warehouse complexes are the Lam Soon Industrial Building, Kelwaram Hillview and Hillview House. It might interest you to know that McDonalds had their warehouse at Hillview House before moving to their own premises at Pandan Loop.

In a future blog, I will talk about Cycle and Carriage at Hillview as I once worked there.


  1. Hi James. I blogged about Ford Motors Factory here. Thought your readers might be interested. I also did some training at Lam Soon Warehouse in the 1990s. I conducted some training for L&M construction company. I also did some training for a company called Triremis that operated MacDonalds warehouse before they built their new factory at Pandan Loop. But I can't remember where it was. Not Hillview area I think.

  2. HI Chun See.
    I read yr blog on Ford Motors and I can really relate to it 'cos I met those Ford Motors guys on their test runs while I was doing mine. We always took a break at the summit of Bukit Batok cos the car park was usually empty and we could get out to check the cars for any problems safely there.
    McDonalds had their dry goods warehouse at Hillview House and their Cold Store at Jurong Fishery Port when they first started out. That was many years before Triremis took over the total logistics for McDonalds. I know this 'cos after leaving Cycle & Carriage I worked as a cargo insurance assessor and McDonalds was one of our clients and we had to inspect all their containers during unstuffing. This was before they had their own warehouse.

  3. I think the old Triremis that I visited - before they built their own plant - was also at Pandan Loop.