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.

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