Thursday, January 26, 2012

The House that vanished at Hillview !

Again at Hillview, there was yet another mystery concerning another house. Coincidently, just like the haunted Hillview Mansion, it was also known as the Green House. This time, the mystery was not that it was haunted, but that the Green House suddenly and completely disappeared overnight!

More precisely, it happened within Princess Elizabeth Estate School  around 1965 or 1966, the date which I have yet to verify. When it happened, it affected a lot of the PEES students. For me it was quite traumatic, the reason which I will explain shortly.

The house was known as TONG LIANG House, aka the Green House.
If you had read my earlier blogs, you might know that in Princess Elizabeth Estate School, all the children were assigned into a different sports team known as a Sports House.
Most students will know of the four houses named Gammon House, Guttas House, Hume House and Kiwi House. Each house had a differentiating color.

However, students who were there before 1965 will know of another house called Tong Liang House.
This was the original Green House. For some inexplicable reason, Tong Liang House disappeared from the radar screen one day when it was announced that there would only be four houses instead of five. Tong Liang House was dropped and all students were re-assigned into a new house.

Which sports house you were re-assigned to depended on your admission number. For this reason I was moved from Guttas House to Kiwi House. It was a traumatic thing for me because Guttas House was the 2nd best in sports, while Kiwi House was always last! It was like being relegated to the bottom of the league! It was depressing to be counted among the 'losers'.

I was reminded of this missing entity by my friend and reader, Brenda Phua. "Do you recall another house called Tong Liang?", she asked after reading my Malayan Guttas blog.

OMG! How could I have missed that!
Of all people, I should have been the one who would remember that fact!
Tong Liang House was named after MY grand uncle, Goh Tong Liang!

My grand uncle, Goh Tong Liang

Goh Tong Liang was a member of the Singapore Legislative Assembly. He was the elected Legislative Assemblyman for Bukit Panjang and was in the 1st Singapore government under Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock in 1955.

Goh Tong Liang was known as the champion of the rural folks and of farmers' causes.
He lived at Chua Chu Kang, was a successful businessman and owned a huge 8 acres rambutan estate.
He was very vocal in parliament and you can read a lot of his speeches in the legislative archives.

Goh Tong Liang was the elder 3rd brother of my grandfather, Goh Tong Siew.
This is a picture of my grandfather with his family. The brothers do look alike.
Goh Tong Liang was the 3rd son, while my grandfather was the 6th son in their family.

I do not know why the school dropped Tong Liang House and re-assigned the green sports colors to Gammon House. Maybe if some ex-PEES sportsmaster like Mr Venugopal, Mr Gabriel Lim or Mr Koshy might happened unto my blog, they can tell us the reason why the Green House of PEES suddenly disappeared!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Factories around P.E.E (5) - Malayan Guttas


As I mentioned in my previous blog, I was taking my visiting sister and nieces around Princess Elizabeth for my sis Jen to show her daughter the old abode. After seeing the old primary school, mention was made of the old sports 'houses'.

All the schoolchildren were divided into 4 sports houses. These 'houses', a typically British tradition of naming sport teams in a school, were Kiwi House, Gammon House, Hume House and Guttas House. The houses were also assigned a color - Kiwi-Blue, Hume-Red, Gammon-Green and Guttas-Yellow.

The Houses were 'adopted' by the major factories located around Princess Elizabeth Estate.
These companies sponsored the purchase of sports equipment for the school when it was set up and the sport houses were named after them in appreciation.

Among the four, I believe fewer would know of The Malayan Guttas Company.
In reality, Malayan Guttas was the biggest processor and supplier of Gutta Percha in the region.
What in the world is Gutta Percha, you ask?
Frankly, even I didn't know what gutta-percha was until many many years later when I was a young working adult!
And I am very sure a lot of you would still not have heard of it till now.

Gutta Percha is a rubber like substance made from sap of the the Palaquim (chiku) tree. The sap on processing became a rubber-like substance that was very pliable and not stiff like vulcanized rubber.
Gutta percha trees were indigenous to the Malay Archipelago. The anglicized word gutta percha comes from the Malay getah perca meaning rubber sap. It was used in place of natural rubber for things like medical gloves, dental fillings and especially for electrical cable insulation.
It was also the secret ingredient for another famous product.

The chiku tree was a source of gutta percha
Besides being the major processor and supplier of this raw gutta percha, the Malayan Guttas Company was more famous for another product it manufactured at Hillview Avenue.
This was the Wrigley Chewing Gum.
Older residents at P.E.E. would only know the factory as 'the chewing gum factory'.

Gutta percha was the major component of chewing gum.
It was the inedible sticky stuff that you chewed on and when spat out caused all sorts of disgusting sticky situations!
This factory at Hillview Avenue supplied Wrigley worldwide the substance to make chewing gum.

Of course, we all know of the infamous 1992 Singapore ban on chewing gum.
But by this time, gutta percha was no longer used in chewing gum in favour of other chemically made substances. This led to the factory land being sold to property developers eventually after the area was rezoned. I guess it was fortuitous for the parent  company as they made a nice profit from the land sale.
The parent company of Malayan Guttas Ltd at Hillview was the Wrigley Company of USA.

Today, on the site of the former Malayan Guttas factory sits the Hillington Green and Summerhill condominiums.

postscript: 10 Feb 2012.
I found an old archive photo of the Malayan Guttas factory.

The Malayan Guttas factory at Hillview Avenue.
Over the years. the row of Casuarina trees grew to full height about 15m and a the distinguishing landmark.

Haunted Hillview Mansion Revisited

My nieces were visiting from the US this week. Their mom, my sis Jen, had migrated to Texas more than 25 years ago and this was one of those rare returns specially for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

As a special treat I took them to visit the old Princess Elizabeth site and the nearby haunted Hillview Mansion locations. The view from the Hillview Mansion site is still spectacular.

Mom telling Elizabeth, "Our home stood there beside the school.."
My niece was thrilled to learn her mom used to stay on a street that bears her name!

Related links:
The Haunted House at Hillview

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yet another condo project at Hillview

Not surprisingly, another plot of land is being offered along Hillview Avenue for condominium development, as announced by the URA today.

This 1.2ha plot sits between the new 'Hillier' project and the Mindef land right at the far north end of Hillview Avenue. The location would be where Blks 10-14 of the old HDB Hillview Estate used to be situated.

The design for the new development would only be known in March 2012. I hope to keep you updated.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photos from ex-residents (1) - Brenda Low.

Brenda Low was my neighbour who lived a few houses away from me. She now resides in Australia.
Here are some treasures she sent me. Thanks so much Brenda.

These were taken when we were kids (duh, it's obvious isn't it?)
She thinks it was actually taken at my home and not hers, but we're not too sure about that.
The other photo is from her Primary One days at PEES.
We are still working on trying to identify all of them.
If you recognise anyone, we'd be most pleased to hear from you.

L-R, Back row: Leong Chee Hong, June Moss, Brenda Phua, Steph, Anne Moss, Junior, James
Middle row: Betty, Indira, Siew Quen, Freda Wee, Debbie
Front: Bu Jong, Sau Kin, Joanne, Janet,  Yuh Mei

Miss Pat Ortega's Primary One Class of 1960.

L-R: Back row.  Lee Ki Fu, Wong Chin Yau, Baharuddin, ------, -------, -------, Jamilah, Elaine Yau, Prikpal Kaur, Anne Moss,, ------, Brenda Phua, Chua Sok Yong

Centre row:     Lee Heng, Ernest Wee, Faridah, Lilian Lim (red riding hood), Kamalan (grandma), Pat Ortega (teacher sitting), James Ong (wolf), Choo Chuan Cheng (woodcutter), --------, --------, Johari Ali,

Front:   ------, Zubaidha, Santwant Kaur, Donald, Alex Bulner, Chen Ming Yong.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hillview Industrial Estate

Hillview Avenue is better known today as one of the premier condominium belts in Singapore.
There are at least 25 condominium developments already completed with more on the way.
Yet, prior to 1993, the entire area was full of factories and bustling with lorries and workers.
There were as many factories then as there are condominiums now.

The Hillview Industrial Estate was a light industries zone which bloomed during the post independence days. The Economic Development Board, then headed by Mr Hon Sui Sin, had earmarked Hillview and encouraged companies to set up there. Many were attracted by the incentives and thus we had Cycle and Carriage, Metal Containers, Camel Paint, Lam Soon Oil, Cerebos, Yakult, Singapore Ceramics, Zuellig Animal Feedmill and many others setting up shop along that shady stretch.

However, the history of Hillview as an industrial zone goes further back to the post WWII days.
A British investment company called the Colonial Development Corporation bought 53 acres of land from the colonial government with the intention to set up pre-fabricated factories to be rented out or sold.
Thus, the Colonial Industrial Estate at Bukit Timah was born. It was named ".. at Bukit Timah" as they were also developing another estate at Redhill.

The Bukit Timah site was chosen as it already had a few major companies operating in the same area. These were Ford Motor Company, National Carbon (later renamed Union Carbide) and Hume Industries.
While these three were located out along Bukit Timah Road, the first factory within Hillview Avenue itself was the Malayan Textile Mills. This was followed soon by the Central Oil Refinery, the Hong Kong Rope Company, Davar & Co producing ceramic tiles, Siglap Development Co producing edible oil and Kiwi Polish Company.

The Kiwi Polish Company in 1953
The Hong Kong Rope Manufacturing Co.
Built at the junction of Hillview Road/Hillview Ave.
The roundabout (bottom right) is still in existence today.
Upper Bukit Timah Road is seen at the top.
Castrol Singapore was later built over the same plot.

The original intention was to create 2 acre plots with 'ready-to-use' factory buildings. However, some factories took bigger plots. The Malayan Textile Mill  took 9 acres, The Hongkong Rope Co took 8 acres.
Most of the other factories were built on the original 2 acres mukims.
It is interesting to note that todays' condominiums are mostly built on the same 2 acre plots.

How big is 2 acres? It's just over 8000 square metres.
If you are living in Hillview now, or can visualise the condos, 2 acres is, for example, The Lanai (being built), Hillvista, Chantilly Rise, Century Mansion, Meralodge. These were all built on the original 2 acre factory plots.

Hillview Heights occupies the ex-Union Carbide site.
Hillington Green was built on the former Malayan Guttas Co. and International Spinning Mills' land. Glendale Park/Hillview Park occupies what was once the HongKong Rope company's land, later used by Castrol Singapore.
Hillvista rose from the old Central Oil Refinery (later TACAM House Ind Building).
Chantilly Rise is where the Kiwi Polish Company was.
Hillbrooks occupies what was once Camel Paint and Metal Containers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Garbage disposal men with PHD

The daily rubbish collection was done by the Malay men who lived at the Artisan Quarters at P.E.E.
I can always recall the smell from the garbage bins that were collected from each block every other day.
The rubbish collectors were all with the PHD (Public Health Dept), today's Ministry of Environment.

They went around with a special trolley which required two men to work together to push the 4 bins around the estate. The garbage bins were always painted black and were made of metal.

Flats in Blocks 17 to 24 all had rubbish chutes from the kitchen to the ground floor.
I am not sure how the garbage was collected at the Artisan Quarters.
(Were the bins left outside the back door? maybe someone can recall that part)

The worst thing about the rubbish chutes were that they were perpetually infested with cockroaches.
It was never ever fumigated as far as I can recall. It was a really bad unhygienic situation as lots of cockroaches would crawl out into the house and lodge in the kitchen areas. Yucks!

I lived on the ground floor which was worse as there were no such things as plastic bags in those days. Every thing as it was went straight down the chute and many a times would splatter all over the dustbin area making a mess on the ground level. It was cockroach paradise!

I remembered these same rubbish disposal men would also cut the grass as part of the duties.
It was all manual grass cutting in those days. They had a special stick shaped like a golf club which they would swing in circles cutting the grass with an attached metal blade. Ever so often they had to stop to re-sharpen the blade with a sharpening stone they always carried in their back pockets.

Here is a picture from the National Archives showing the implement that was used then.
Picture is from 1947 but the tools were still the same in the 1960s!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The friars of Hillview.

Friars are men who live spiritual lives in a religious community. You may be more familiar with the term 'monks'. The difference between a monk and a friar is that a monk is normally cloistered within a monastery, whereas a friar does his missionary work outside amongst the people.

St Francis of Assisi started the Franciscan Friars order in Italy more than 800 years ago.
Perhaps the only friars you may have heard of are Friar Tuck associated with Robin Hood, or Friar Lawrence from Shakespeares' Romeo and Juliet?

Friars, besides evangelizing by example,  do work amongst the community in whichever field they may be needed. There are friars who are medically trained, educators, administrators, lawyers and some running church parishes.

There is a group of Franciscan friars living in the Hillview area at a community house called a friary.
They have friaries located both at Bukit Batok East as well as Chestnut Drive .

Their presence in Singapore started in 1958.
It came about when the Vatican realized that communism was a serious threat to society in Asia with the rise of Communist China. The Vatican decided to  establish a Studium Sociologicum, or social center, with the purpose of writing and propagating anti-communist literature to counter this threat. The task was given to the Franciscan friars to set up this center in Singapore. And so a small group of international chinese scholars, amongst them Irish, Italians, American and Taiwanese were sent here to begin their work of countering communism.  They set up their Social Center called St Anthony Friary at 8-3/4ms Old Jurong Road. When the threat of communism diminished somewhat in later years, the Social Center was moved to Taiwan.

The Archbishop of Singapore wanted to keep the Franciscan presence in Singapore and offered the Franciscans a new task of running a parish community instead. And so in 1970, the Franciscan Order sent friars from Australia to Singapore to establish a new parish church community at Bukit Batok. This was named the Parish of St Mary of the Angels and was based at the original St Anthony Friary. In time, the parish grew from a few rural Catholic families to today's congregation of around 7,000. They are still served by the Franciscan Friars today.

The Church of St Mary of the Angels at Bukit Batok East.

In a forthcoming blog, I will highlight the work of some friars and you may be surprised that a saint may have walked amongst you !

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lelong nights at P.E.Estate

Lelong is a Malay word roughly translated as an auction or clearance sale. But for those of us who grew up in the late 1960s or 70s, lelong would be the exciting night market or 'pasar malam' that came to our housing estate once a week.

At Princess Elizabeth, Wednesday nights were lelong nights. Starting around 7.30pm in the evening it operated until the crowd dwindled. It was held just outside the community centre along the footpath between the bus terminus and the football field.

In those days, when shopping malls were unheard of, when going to town was an excursion you made only once in a while, the pasar malam was the big event when the 'shops' came to you!
The Wednesday lelong at P.E.E. was small in comparison with those at nearby Beauty World or the Friday night pasar malam at Bukit Panjang, but still to us residents it was the high point of the week.

Housewives could get their kitchenware, pots and pans and ready made cheap clothing. Strangely, I always remember that the cloth seller was ever the most popular and he sold lots of striped pyjamas material. Housewives at that time were all sewing their own clothes, especially for their children.

Then there were the ever popular food vendors. The satay, the rojak, the kachang puteh man, the bread seller, the char kway teow lady and not forgetting our favorite Magnolia Ice Cream man on his motorbike sidecar.

This would be how it looked like at that time.

Today's pasar malams are organized differently from the past. Now, most are professionally organized and space rented to vendors who try to maximise their sales by running the stall for weeks and often for the entire day. Perhaps only the layout of the wares is reminiscent of the old days.

A typical pasar malam today. 

In those days, the stalls were make shift, though I presume the usual vendors would occupy the same space each week.  New vendors simply set  up their stall at the end of the existing stretch. Some simply laid their wares on top of tarpaulin on the floor.

The stalls would be lighted up with kerosene or spirit pressure lamps. I really never knew how these hurricane lamps worked but the filament net 'bulb' always fascinated me. I wondered how that glowing piece that looked like a tiny beehive could give off light and yet not burn.

Lighting up with kerosene lamps.

One thing I am very sure of is that todays generation, and in fact those born after the 1980s, would not have known of another light source that the vendors used. This was the carbide lamp.
I remembered that the kachang puteh man, the Magnolia ice cream man and the bread seller used carbide lamps for their illumination. The rest used the kerosene lamps.

The carbide lamp worked by chemical reaction and gives off a blue light.
Water on contact with Calcium Carbide produces Acetylene gas.
The gas is lit at the outlet tip which produces light like an acetylene torch.

The carbide lamps were strange things. It gave off a strong burning smell and the flame hissed like a blowtorch. It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. To make it burn brighter, they would simply add more water into the lamp!

Sadly, as Singapore progressed, the pasar malam started to see its own demise. Hawkers were chased off the streets by the authorities and vendors were encouraged to take up HDB shops. As people become more affluent as well, they started to shun pasar malam as 'low class' and preferred the new 'shopping centres' being developed everywhere. By the end of the 1970s, the lelong at P.EE. was but a skeleton of its glory days in the 60s.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Haunted House at Hillview

Hillview Avenue has its fair share of notoriety when it comes to the paranormal.
The so called Hillview Mansion was infamous for being haunted.
For years, it was an open secret spoken only in hush hush tones around the neighbourhood.
But it was well known amongst those who had an interest in things of the other dimension.

The Hillview Mansion was located at the highest point of habitation allowed on Bukit Gombak.
Its commanding panoramic view stretched from Bukit Panjang right across to Clementi.
It was also variously called the Green House, or sometimes The Blue House (as it had a blue roof). It would be the dream house of any self respecting multi-millionaire and would probably be the most expensive house in that area of upscale millionaire neighbours.

But alas, the mansion was never completed.
Construction abruptly stopped in mid project and the building was abandoned from then on.

Location of the Hillview Mansion at Jalan Dermawan
Click on map to enlarge.

The land is unoccupied to this day.
The Hillview Mansion was located right at the end of Jalan Dermawan. It would have been the highest house on the hill. Beyond that was the boundary to the restricted ' trespassers will be shot '  Mindef land.

Why was it abandoned after more than half the building was completed?
My favorite rumour is that of the death of the mistress who was to occupy the house.
Seems she died when she 'felled' from the unfinished balcony during an inspection of the construction works. Just google 'Hillview Mansion' and you can read all the conspiracy theories there.

Here are some of the pictures of the abandoned haunted house before its total demolition.

The gates to the abandoned Hillview Mansion
See the magnificent million dollar view in the background.

Banshee cries, wailings, glowing globs and lights have all been reported over the years coming from the site. The plot is securely locked and protected with spikes and barb wire to prevent people from accessing the ground. Why is this so? What is the purpose of such extreme methods to lock people out even till now?

The house remained abandoned since the mid 1980s. It was was finally demolished sometime in the early 2000s, but the land has not been redeveloped since. The site still attract paranormal hunters to this day.

In December 2006, a massive landslide occurred at the very spot where the old house stood.
Gossips of the wrath of the spirits spread like wildfire amongst residents of the nearby estates.
After the land was stabilised following the landslide, it happened almost immediately again in 2007! A greater massive landslide occurred over the very same slope where the house used to stand. This time even damaging the private houses adjacent to the plot of land. It confirmed the hearsay to all the neighbours that the land would never allow anything to be built on it.
Mindef covered the land with tarpaulin and compensated the affected neighbours.
Today the scars of that landslide can still be seen.
The land has since been turfed over.

If you are one of those paranormal hunters, stop here!
Do not read further, as I am about to reveal a bit of the secret of the Hillview Mansion!

The name 'Hillview Mansion' was attributed to the abandoned dwelling by paranormal followers.
It never had a name at all.

The 'Hillview Mansion' was originally owned by Mr Chua Boon Peng, Chairman of Cycle & Carriage Industries Ltd. The company owned large plots of land in the Hillview area. Land which have been developed into condominium projects namely Meralodge, Merawoods, Montrosa and Hillview Villas which sits on the former car assembly factory site.

The plot at Jalan Dermawan was bought by Chua Boon Peng to build a private home. The Feng Shui was perfect for a home. In the 1970s, he paid a whopping $7m for that plot of land. An amount that was unheard of in those days.

Coincidentally, I worked for Cycle & Carriage in the late 70s, while a cousin was a long time secretary at C&C. To that, I was very familiar with the inside story of why the project had to be  abandoned suddenly. It's a very sad tale.

However, in order not to spoil too much for any paranormal hunters who may be reading this, I will not reveal the reason why the house was abandoned midway through construction.  The mystery should remain a mystery...

For those of you who might be curious to know the story behind the haunting of the mansion, please click here.

Related links:
The burial of the Hillview Mansion
Hillview landslide
Update Oct2019: Why the House was abandoned

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Places around P.E.E. (3) - Dairy Farm

The area now called Dairy Farm is best known for the new Nature Park developed and launched by NParks in 2009. Dairy Farm is also the location of several upscale condominiums located just beyond Hillview Avenue.

The Wallace Education Centre at the Dairy Farm Nature Park

The locale is called Dairy Farm simply due to the fact that the entire area was formerly a real dairy farm (duh?).  In 1929, Singapore Cold Storage Ltd bought 28 hectares (about 70 acres) of land That were former gambir farms and converted it into a dairy. The purpose was to provide milk for the local market. They imported Friesian cows from the Netherlands and Australia for this venture. Up till then, local milk was of an inferior and unsterile quality. Dairy Farm brought in new technology and modern methods of milking.

The dairy farm was vast and I could remember that it spread all the way over to the back of the Chestnut Drive area. You had a panoramic view of rolling pastures and you could see herds of cows all over the pasture on most of the days. This was back in the 1960s and 70s as I can recall,  this was where many PEES schoolboys used to play at times. This was part of our kampong area.

I had a teacher called Miss Ng who lived within the Dairy Farm premises at Dairy Farm Crescent. She was our Cubs troop leader and we used to visit her home together with another teacher, Mr Peter Sundra. Mr Sundra seemed to us at that time to be very close to Miss Ng!  Hmm, I wonder if anything developed beyond that?  Miss Ng would take us on walks around the dairy farm as she was very familiar with the place.

This was how it looked like during my childhood days.

The milking shed is today refurbished as the Wallace Education Centre.

At that time, Dairy Farm Road was just a track that led from Upper Bukit Timah Road. The only portion that was paved headed not to Dairy Farm but to the Dairy Farm Quarry located nearby.  In fact, I can remember that the track was gated by the PWD (Public Works Dept) who ran the quarry operations, I believe. Entry was restricted to the quarry and you could only use the track to walk towards Dairy Farm.

Older residents will also recall the Malayan Gammon Company located at the junction. They produced concrete pipes and you couldn't actually see the Dairy Farm from Bukit Timah Road as it was blocked from view by the Gammon factory.

Here is a video I made in 2009 just after the opening of the Wallace Education Centre at Dairy Farm Nature Trail.

Related links:
Alfred Russel Wallace

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Places around P.E.E. (2) - St Joseph Church, Bukit Timah

For a small estate of 200 households, there was an exceptionally large proportion of Catholics living at Princess Elizabeth Estate. Most of them attended the nearby St Joseph Church. It was usual to either walk to church through the Lorong Taluki kampong or by bus to the Salvation Army bus stop at Hillview Road and walk the short distance to church.

St Joseph Church, re-built by Fr Teng in 1965.
For administrative purposes, the Catholic church is divided into dioceses, each run by a bishop, and further sub-divided into parishes for easy administration. So the parish priest would be the one you may be most familiar with as he tends to the area where you lived.

P.E. Estate came under the domain of St Joseph Church at Upper Bukit Timah Road. The parish priest at that time was a dominating larger than life figure called Fr Joachim Teng. With his booming voice, he sent shivers through many parishioners and really scared the hell out of a lot them! (In the process I guess saving them for heaven).  Children ran away at his sight. Yet Fr Teng tended his flock zealously, going round his parish that once stretched from Jurong to Woodlands. Older parishioners will recall him riding his British Matchless motorbike in his cassock!

Fr Teng was renowned as a church builder. He is credited with building St Francis of Assisi at Boon Lay, St Anthony at Mandai, St Stephen at Aljunied, and of course, the re-building of St Joseph at Bukit Timah.
For all his efforts, the government awarded him the Public Service Star. Fr Teng died in 1984.

Fr Joachim Teng

St Joseph Church at Bukit Timah has a long and illustrious history. It was built in 1846 by French missionaries to tend to the rural catholic population.  St Joseph used to own huge plots of land around the church at the Chestnut/Cashew area. Boys Town & the CHIJ convent were all built on land previously own by St Joseph Church. It was also one of the few churches that had its own cemetery by the church.

I had blogged once before about St Joseph (article here). The famous explorer and naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace also used St Joseph Church as his base in his early research into natural evolution (see this article here)

St Joseph Church. c.1905.

My earliest recollection of St Joseph as a child around 6 or 7 years, was of the doric columns and the huge  statue of St Joseph at the door way. At the main door there were two giant clam shells which was used to hold holy water. I recall playing on the stone steps leading up to church. They were covered with moss wherever there was a joint or crack. One scary thing for a child was being told that the graves of the early parish priests were buried in the aisle of the church. We were always afraid of stepping over their grave stones!

The church was already at that time getting old and run down. This church that I attended as a child was actually the second St Joseph church building that was erected in 1905 to replace the original wooden building.  Fr Teng initiated the 3rd re-building of a new St Joseph in 1963 and was completed in 1965.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Catholic practices, the Catholic Church is 'universal'. It is the same church wherever you go. It has the same beliefs, the same rituals and the same dogmas whether you are in Singapore, Australia, Africa or anywhere. Your 'membership' comes with your faith and baptism. Catholics may attend any church in the world and the only difference may be the vernacular.

A dilemma arose for Catholics in Princess Elizabeth Estate in the early 1970s when another Catholic Church was built at the other end of Hillview Ave on Old Jurong Road. That will be in another blog....

Related posts: History of St Joseph Church Bukit Timah
                       The cemetery at St Joseph Church

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Places around P.E.E. (1) - The Salvation Army Home

At the junction of Hillview Road with Upper Bukit Timah Road, and directly across the Standard Chartered Bank, is a modern edifice called Praisehaven run by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army building "Praisehaven"
In the 1970s, I lived at the neighboring Fuyong Estate for a few years after relocating from Princess Elizabeth Estate. At the time, the Salvation Army was running a Nursery Home for Children called the Lee Kuo Chuan Home for Children.

Lee Kuo Chuan was the father of the philanthropist Lee Kong Chian who donated the land to the Salvation Army for setting up the Home in 1951. I can recall the old Home was a single story building that always seemed to be painted in shades of yellow or orange. It was built on the hill slope and had a well manicured terraced field in front, and it was always this field of green with its royal palm trees that you notice first as you passed it.

The Home was for abandoned or disadvantaged children and my parents would always threatened to send my siblings and myself there whenever we were naughty.
Inmates at the Lee Kuo Chuan Home.
The original building was a single storey building.

In my teens years, as student in secondary school, I came into direct contact with the Home as a member of the schools' Interact Club. The club had 'adopted' the Home as part of our social outreach, and we volunteered our time to the Lee Kuo Chuan Home. We would troop down to the Home each Friday afternoon and were at the disposal of the matron, whom I remembered was a Dutch captain. She had a very friendly matronly look in her white uniform with red epaulettes. 

For some reason, we were always given the task of painting the place. It seems every time we went there, we would be painting a wall or the fence or some furniture.  

After I left school, I continued to pass by the Home as a shortcut ran beside the Home from Fuyong Estate to the bus stop in front of the Home. In time, I noticed that the Salvation Army had switched from running the Children's Home to a Home for the aged and elderly.

The present building was built some time in the 90s but I am not aware of the actual period. 
The Salvation Army also runs a Thrift Shop there now.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Factories around P.E.E. (4) - Amoy Canning Corpn

Amoy Canning Corpn was built in 1951 at the 8ms. Upper Bukit Timah Road. It was considered to be at the southern end sector of the 'Colonial Industrial Estate'. Across the road was the Singapore Cold Storage Magnolia Factory.

I do not know much about this factory, only that I used to pass it everyday on my way to school in those days. The factory started off processing soya sauce but its most famous product was the 'Green Spot' orange drink.

In fact, the most prominent thing about this factory was a giant replica of the Green Spot bottle facing Upper Bukit Timah Road. Travelers going down the road cannot fail to notice this landmark. It was astute advertising even in those days! The bottle was on a revolving platform and that made it stand out even more.

Amoy Canning with its giant revolving Green Spot bottle 

Taken in 1993.  Sadly, Green Spot was no longer produced by then.
Amoy Canning Corp was located opposite the junction of today's Old Jurong Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road, next to the former Bukit Timah Fire Station.  Springdale Condominium now sits on its former site.

Upper Bukit Timah Road. Building is the Hock Soon Ind Warehouse
located next to the Amoy Canning factory.

The former Chinese kampong originally called Kg Quarry
and later Yuasa Barracks was down the road from Hock Soon Warehouse.
Beside Amoy Canning was a former rubber factory but this was later replaced by the Hock Soon Industrial Warehouse. I remembered that Kah Motors had one of its Honda showroom at Hock Soon Warehouse.
Further down was a Chinese kampong originally called Kg Quarry but later known as Yuasa Barracks.
Today, this entire stretch has been completely replaced by condominium developments.

An old advertisement by Amoy Canning Corp.