Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A street called Clarence Dale

In the National Archives of Singapore, there is an old dusty pile of documents marked S.I.T 1067/51.
In it is a section called "Naming & Renumbering of Roads within Princess Elizabeth Estate".
It contains pretty mundane official correspondences and notes from various government departments during the construction of Princess Elizabeth Estate in 1951.
However, some quite interesting trivia can be found if you spent some time, like I did, going through this historical document.

There was only one road that led to Princess Elizabeth Estate in 1951 when construction started.
Hillview Road was already in existence and stretched from the junction at Bukit Timah Road 9-1/2ms, pass the National Carbon (Eveready) factory and ended at the gate to Malayan Guttas factory.

During the building of Princess Elizabeth Estate, the road was extended from the end at Malayan Guttas for a further 1/2 mile straight down. In between this new stretch, a branch road was created that led directly into the new estate.

In view of the donation of the land made by the French Belgian bank, Credit Foncier Far East, the SIT offered the privilege of naming these 2 new roads to the donors. However, Credit Foncier bank declined the offer to name the roads. The SIT planning dept then set about naming the roads.

They proposed that the new road connecting to Hillview Road be called Princess Elizabeth Estate Road and the branch road to be called Princess Elizabeth Drive.
Strangely, they also proposed naming the pathways inside the estate that ran in front of the blocks of flats. This was most unusual as these were not roads or streets but merely footpaths from one block to the other, albeit, forming a network of footpaths within the estate itself.

They proposed the following names for these footpaths.
Elizabeth Hill, at the hilltop of the estate boundary,
Elizabeth Rise, the slope from the plain to the hillside.
Elizabeth Green, surrounding the football pitch, and
Clarence Dale, at the 'bottom' of the estate.

The proposal for these names were sent to the Singapore Rural Board which was the authority with regards to naming of places in the rural districts of Singapore.

The Rural Board rejected the proposed names for the estate. The reason being that the names were too similar and that it would lead to confusion for the people, especially since the estate was meant for the 'lower classes of locals'.

While the main roads retained the proposed names of Princess Elizabeth Estate Road  and Princess Elizabeth Drive,  the names of the internal footpaths were changed to the following:-

Elizabeth Hill became Princess Anne Hill,
Elizabeth Rise became Prince Charles Rise,
Elizabeth Green became Philip Walk, and
Clarence Dale became Clarence Walk.

After occupation of the estate began in 1952, Princess Elizabeth Estate Road was re-named as Hillview Avenue. This was done as it was planned that the new road would eventually lead to the upcoming Colonial Industrial Estate. Hillview Avenue was extended to start at the circus with Hillview Road.

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