Friday, December 23, 2011

Princess Elizabeth Estate at Clementi? Almost!

In 1947, the news of the upcoming marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip was the most uplifting event given that the region was just recovering from the pains of World War II.

In keeping with the joyous momentum, the colonials decided to make it a big do and to raise funds for the planned celebrations "by subscriptions", as donations were then known as. The Princess Elizabeth Wedding Fund Celebration Committee was formed.

To make it more meaningful for the Princess (no mention of the Prince), they decided to use the fund  partially to commission jewelry as wedding gifts for the royal couple, and that the balance was to be used for social benefits that the Princess would approve of, such as building a tuberculosis hospital. In the end, it was decided that about 200 flats be built to provide housing for the locals as these were in critical need.

It was further decided that the flats would be built in two lots; one in the Municipal, i.e. in the city, and the other in the rural area. Both these housing estates were to be known as Princess Elizabeth Estates. The first of the two lots was settled at Farrer Park, along the old race course road.

The location of the second 'rural' estate was more difficult to determine. Initially, the Municipal Commissioners offered 4.6 acres in the Halesworth Park area for sale to the Celebration Committee. This was initially accepted but objections were raised by nearby residents and the offer was rescinded.

The objections were raised by nearby residents who felt that the presence of low rental homes and low income residents would be out of character for the place where the prestigious Singapore Turf Club laid. The objections came from the other colonials themselves.

The football field at Dunearn Road/Swiss Club Road.
The rejected initial location for Princess Elizabeth Estate.
Halesworth Park was in the Dunearn Road area. Its location is currently where Swiss Club Road joins Dunearn Road and where a football field now lies. In time, a car park was built instead for the old Singapore Turf Club on this site.

The next consideration was at Clementi Road. This was to be beside the Reformatory Boys Home.
The Reformatory Boys Home at Clementi Road, later renamed Gimson Boys Home.
This was the tentative site for the new Princess Elizabeth Estate.
( Gimson Boys Home was renamed Singapore Boys Home after Independence.)
The current SIM University is built on the same location.

However, in 1948, the French Belgian bank, Credit Foncier, donated 12 acres of land at 9-1/4 milestone Bukit Timah to the Wedding Fund. This land was to be used for building the new estate. The following year, the bank donated a further 5 acres for a school to be built on an adjacent site. 

This new location was to be named Princess Elizabeth Park Estate.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this bit of history. PEE School joined a list of schools that were named after the street they were located in but subsequently shifted to elsewhere. Whitley Sec (where my wife taught) and Swiss Cottage are examples that come to mind.