Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Princess Elizabeth Estate School

It goes without saying, a blog on P.E.Estate will never be complete without mentioning our old alma mater, the Princess Elizabeth Estate School. Started in 1955, a whole generation of children, especially those from P.E. Estate, will have enough stories to fill up an entire blog of its own!

My siblings and I all studied at this primary school, the first from 1961 till the last graduated in 1974. I was there from 1962 to 1967.

Whenever I recall those school days, I fondly think of the teachers and events that were a part of my childhood. I remembered my Principal Mr George Catherasoo, who drove his white Volvo and was always dressed in his starched white shirt and pants. My form teachers, Ms Tan Gek Eng, Miss YH Chew, Mrs Lee Siew Choh, Miss LK Goh, Mr Liow Poh Yong and finally the frightening Mr Jimmy Tan Cheng Kwang!  So many tales to recall  about the tuckshop, the school field, and especially all the close friends we had all those years.

My dad also had close ties with the primary school. No, he wasn't a student there but for many years he sat on the school advisory committee and assisted in the development of the school programmes.

The School Advisory Committee. (1979)

I am sure that there are lots of stories just waiting to be told! I hope those reading this will share theirs with all of us. Here are some picture from the later years.

School teaching staff 1979.
Sitting: L-R: Mrs Ng Ko Kim, Md Fadzuli Bajuri, Wendy N Bava, Tan Cheng Kwang, Mrs M Dairianathan, Ooi Kew Ghee, Pakir Maideen (Principal), Mrs Pancharatham, Mr Liow Poh Yong, Mrs R Kannan, R Sittampalam, Ms Kee Bee Leng, Tirlok Singh

Centre: L-R: Cik Alus Zam Zam, Mrs E Cherian, Mrs A mani, Mrs Loi Sok Kiang, Miss Hasiave Abdullah, Miss Teng Tin Wah, Mdm Tan Kah Eng, Mdmd Chan Yuet Sim, Miss Hoon Sow Leng, Miss Rama Devi, Mrs Lim Choon Hui, Mrs Agnes Lim, Mrs Jane Pereira, Mdm Khew Kang Nyong, Mrs K Krishna, Cik Saimah Temon, Miss Brema Shanmugam, Mrs Mary Anne Koh.

Rear: L-R: Mr Jayaseelan, Robert Yeo Hock Seng, Low Chew Poh, Yeo Kian Ho, Ho Kam Loong, Mr Ariffin Sengari, Chua Khoon Kok, Tay Whye Urn, Said Talib, Ismail Ibrahim, Chua Lai Seng.

The School Band c. late 1970s
The Primary 6C class of 1980.
The Primary 1A class of 1960.
Click here for article.
The primary 3A class of 1965
Click here for article

If you were an ex-student or staff from PEES, please leave a comment and share your stories here.

I leave you with an anecdote which I commented on my friend Lam Chun See's Good Morning Yesterday website about my P6 days at PEES. I am sure many of you can relate to it.

 During recess or after school, we P6 boys would always run to the small school field, play hatam bola or shoot arrows using lallang. We would run to the furthest end of the field, jump over the drain and there was an area with lots of tembusu saplings and small trees, like a jungle. 
We would play in that 'jungle' often. The P6, P5 and P4 boys would each have their own special area in that jungle. 
We would sometimes run up the slope above the field retaining wall to the top and look down onto the field and school. The slope was covered with shrubs and we would bash through till we reach the rocky stream at the other end of the field. 
The stream had lots of crabs under the rocks. The rocky stream flowed from Bukit Gombak down the side of the field and was joined by another stream flowing from Lor Kemunchup, they joined and flowed under the bridge that led up the elevated school field.

About 8 years ago, I had a chance to return to the old PEES building. My company was a major Red Cross sponsor and there was a big PR event at the Home for the Disabled. I took the opportunity to visit the school which had then converted the classrooms into wards. 

I wanted to look at the old school field. 
Walked acrossed the tiny 'bridge' and walked up the elevated steps. 
OMG! The field was so tiny. Was this the field we played on? 
Yes it was. The retaining wall was still there, the drain at the end was still there,
but I couldn't believe it. 
It seemed so HUGE when we were pupils then! 

Now when you think about it, the field had hardly contained more than the netball court.
I guess it was all relative when we were small kids.

Here is a picture of the school field taken in 1960 or 1961.
(Courtesy of Anne Duncan Moss, Melbourne Australia)
The slope in the background was part of Bt Gombak and as yet unfenced. The lower portion was the 'jungle' that I mentioned above. Bamboo Grove Park would be built later in the decade on that hill.

The man in white on the left is Mr Venugoplan, Sportsmaster of PEES.
Miss Pat Ortega is the lady teacher standing on the right side.

Related blogs:
History of our Primary School
Princess Elizabeth Estate School in 1979
The School Crests
The 1st School Magazine 1962
School 60th Anniversary


  1. The Teacher that i most ermm! hate, Mr Tan, teaches me math..history too if my memory
    didn't fail me.But i love remembering those days.
    Thank You My Friend For The Memories. Thank You.

  2. I totally disliked that man, Mr Jimmy Tan. He caused me a number of tummy aches due to fear. How awful to be afraid to go to school. How they let people like that teach I don't know. I wouldn't even begin to tell how he ridiculed and punished the kids! No encouragement at all .... teaching with fear is not teaching at all. Many many years later when I met him again in of all places, church - St Mary of the Angels, I was already a mother with children and I thanked God that he'd never be my childrens' teacher. He looked such a sad man at that point that I just felt sorry for him.

  3. Actually, Mr Jimmy Tan was really good with Math. He taught us some simple rules on multiplication and it stuck with me till now. Most useful. Also, for P6 pre-PSLE revision, he also taught us to do a simple quick logic check so that we would know whether we were on the right track. I hope to pass that to my kids when they do PSLE.

  4. I received a number of emails asking to identify some of the teachers in the photo above. So I have now listed the names of all the teachers n the photo above.

    1. Ms Brema is my co-form teacher now

  5. Hi James, really appreciate your effort in putting up all the photos. Saw my pics in Pr 5A as well as in the Band. Feel kind of sad...those were the days... Anyway during that time i dislike Ms Hoon/Mrs Ho the most. Yes her nails and her red lipsticks. Favorite is Mrs Kannan and Mrs Koh.

    1. Ismail FaridApril 13, 2012

      I was in the band from 1972-1976. I remember when we got those yellow and green uniforms - I was excited like heck. Whoever you are, I might know you. I was the Drum Major from 1975-1976.

  6. Were you in the class of 6C 1980? The girl on 2nd row 4th from the right was my childhood playmate & I've lost contact with her. Her name is Alice Lim Kwee Lang.

  7. Hello Anonymous. No I was not in the class of 1980, hee hee. I was i the class of 1967 ! Long before you were born. Thanks for visiting my blog and if you or any of your ex PEE friends have some photos or stories to share, please send it t me and I'll post it into my blog. Who knows you might be able to make contact with Alice Lim again here!

  8. Then you might know some of my siblings as 5 of them are around your age and i am the only one born in the '60s. Do u also remember the rubber trees behind the field where we like to pick up the runner seeds and play with it. The short ice cream man uncle and the indian drinks stall selling the pineapple drinks which i really missed too.
    I am really curious how come you know so much of the history.
    It is so interesting to read your blog & was worried if you might take it down as I don't have the time to go through all at the moment. I really treasure them. Thanks for the sharing.

  9. Hello Anon. (leave a name?)
    No, I won't be taking down this blog. I am hoping more ex-PEE residents and ex pupils of PEES will come in and share more stories about their times there.
    Who are your siblings? If they were around my time, very likely I might know them as well as I also have 4 siblings attending school at the same time there. Did you live at PEE? Which address, if you did?

    I do recall the short Magnolia ice cream man who had to stand on his bottle crates to reach into his ice cream freezer. My parents ensured that my siblings and I had a bottle of fresh milk each day from him, so each recess we collected a bottle from him and had our daily milk drink. It was a small bottle with a foil cap that you peeled off. I think it cost 10 cts a bottle at that time and the large bottle was 15 cts.

    I remember Mr Samy the Indian drinks man with his spectacles and curly hair. He would sell his pineapple drinks in glasses and would prepare a lot of them ready during recess.

    The other stalls in the tick shop were the Malay lady selling fried bee hoon (mee siam), mee goreng and goreng pisang. Next to her in the middle was the yong tau foo stall which was run by my classmate's mother. Then there was the Chinese lady who sold kueh and finally the sweets stall from the Indian man, beside the wall. Oh what memories!

    When we were pupils there, the tuckshop seemed so big but actually there were only about 6 long tables with long wooden benches there, if I remember correctly, or was it 8?

  10. Ismail FaridApril 13, 2012

    Mr. Tann,
    Thank you for putting our school on the web. I was in PEES from 1971-1976 and most of my years there were good ones,well, almost. I was never a really studious individual and I felt the wrath of Mrs. Kannan most of my last year there. Ms.Kee Bee Ling was my band teacher, and so wonderful at it, Mr. Tan, well, he was my math teacher at one time but I did not have a run in with him. Mr. Ooi was my favourite and Miss Hoon......boy was she HOT!!! My childhood friend, Vincent Lim, sent me this link. In fact, his mom was my form teacher in P5. I teach orchestra here in Winfield, Kansas. We have about 230 kids in our program, of course spread between 5 ensembles, but in some of my kids, especially boys, I see myself when I was their age - playful and being annoying at times. To all my past PEES teachers: if I had made your lives miserable....do forgive me. I am an educator and appreciate all you folks. My visit to Singapore last summer did not give me the time to visit, so keep this site going.

  11. Ismail FaridApril 13, 2012

    BTW Mr.Tann, my mom was on the Advisory board together with your dad. Her picture is next to his.

  12. James, this is an amazing effort to maintain such heritage. Sadly, other bits of S'pore history from the perspectives of fellow Singapore residents are not well documented. We have to learn from our history and not repeat mistakes from the past when 'history repeat itself'.
    I remember Mr Tan CK well. Yes he has a harsh method of teaching/punishment - I remembered he using the cane - but his maths teaching was good for me.

  13. AnonymousMay 21, 2013

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog and couldn't stop reading since. I was in PEES from 1971-1975. From primary 1A to primary 6A. Any of my ex-classmates who happen to read this, you can email me at suraini@nus.edu.sg
    James, thanks for the memories. I truly felt that I've been sucked into a time tunnel.

  14. Suraini, you may be interested to know that a large number of ex-PEES students are in a Facebook group called "Princess Elizabeth Estate School" . Pls join in and I'm sure you'll find some of your ex-classmates there.

  15. I was in Primary 1C in 1964 and in Primary 6A in 1969. From the 1979 picture, I remember my P4 form teacher Mr Tirlok Singh - he taught me the meaning of multiracial society, showed us how to tie a turban - there is this small cliff on the school field and we used sit there with Mr Singh after some PE and chat. One day he untied his turban and showed us how it is tied, showed us the "needle" that he used to tug his hair inside etc. He did many things to help build self confidence, like getting me to take part in 100 feet dash (Gammon House), play soccer (I was the goalkeeper) for the House. etc.

    I also remember Mr Sittampalam. He would come to school in Mrs Lee Siew Choh's yellow Ford Anglia - huge man to squeeze into a small car. Mr G Cathersoo's Volvo has the license plate S5005. Sometimes it is parked under the school porch but mostly opposite the Principal's office. He came across as stern man but found out later that he is really nice. I can still remember his desk in the principal's office when for some reason, I was asked to go there one day.

    Mr Ariffin taught my sister. And I think he took me Bahasa Kebangsaan for a year - can't remember if it was him or another Malay teacher.

    My Primary 1 teacher was Ms Elizabeth, my Pri 2 teacher was Ms Betsy Lee.

    I remember one day we had to recite the National Pledge. It was unfortunate that I have lost the small cards containing the National Pledge and the National Anthem that all of us were given then - a real piece of history. As a prefect I was sometimes given the task of raising and lowering the Singapore flag during school assembly time. I remember once - I think it was a Saturday because it was not a school assembly. Either it was me or someone else - but we gave a strong tug and the flag came fluttering down, string and all!

    Yum SL

  16. AnonymousMay 22, 2013

    Correction. I was there from 1970 to 1975. Suraini

  17. Hi,I was born there in PEES and studied there from 1970-1975 a lot of things that I will never forget...till today I will never forget PEE & PEES...Aziz Lohman

  18. Hi, Its nice to see some memorable pictures of my teachers. I was from 1979 - 1983. My Teachers were, Mrs Kannan, Mdm Lim, Ms Brema, Mrs Ho.

  19. Hi I was from 1973 to 1979, yes i had some terrible experience with Mr Tan. He used to teach us math and yes he was very harsh and used to cane and pull the boys by the ear up in the air. I remember fearing to go to school as he would use a cane on me and the girls as well.if he wasn't that fierce I would have excelled better in school. Really very terrified to go to school because of him. I wanted to visit him at some stage and telling him how I felt since I am an adult now and dont have to fear anyone but, unfortunately and sadly he is no longer around.though I disliked him then but I feel sorry for him now. Too late now.

  20. I would appreciate if future postings to these comments would include your name instead of being anonymous. I tend to not publish comments from 'Anonymous' - he has had a lot to say already ha ha.
    You can add your name to the part that asks for 'Name/URL'