She wanted to know if I had any old photos of Fuyong Estate where Rail Mall is located and where she is presently living.
My biggest surprise when I replied to her was when I realised that she lives in the house that is next to the one where I used to live. She would have been my immediate neighbour had I not moved away! But then, that was years ago, while she just moved in recently. She loves the ambience of the small estate but unfortunately is having some issue with soil movements, perhaps due to the underground MRT tunnels being dug beneath or from some other causes.
She was hoping I might have some photos of the area behind Rail Mall which borders her house.
If you have been to Rail Mall, you would know that there is a service road that runs behind Rail Mall. The road divides the estate from the shopping arcade.
I told her that during my time at Fuyong Estate, there was no road behind those rows of shophouses that would later be converted to become Rail Mall. There was only a footpath wide enough for, believe it or not, the night soil carrier to perform his cleaning operations each day. The service road was created to serve Rail Mall in recent years.
Fuyong Estate was built in the 1950s starting with the row of Worker's Houses fronting Upper Bukit Timah Road.
Being the nearest private housing development to Princess Elizabeth Estate, it was seen as the upmarket neighbourhood to aspire to. It comprised single-storied bungalows, semi-detached houses, a few rows of terrace houses and some doubled-storied semi-detached units. In all, about a hundred houses in the estate.
These were served by several shophouses consisting of provision shops, laundry, hairdressers, charcoal shops, and other sundry shops. These all fronted Upper Bukit Timah Road. The shophouses were converted to Rail Mall in 1995.
Heritage photos of Fuyong Estate taken in the late 1970s.
(From National Library Board's PICAS database)
Fuyong Estate was built by the philanthropist Mr Lee Kong Chian in the mid 1950s. Lee Kong Chian also donated the adjacent land at Fuyong Estate to the Salvation Army for building a children's home called the Lee Kuo Chuan Home for Children. Today this has become the Salvation Army Paisehaven Nursing Home.
The roads within Fuyong Estate are known as Jalan Asas meaning Fundamentals, Jalan Tumpu (Focus), Jalan Siap (Preparedness), Jalan Tekad (Strength and Willpower) & Jalan Uji (Challenge or Test).
When my parents moved from Princess Elizabeth Estate to Fuyong, I was really happy because I had an entire bedroom for myself. This was not possible in our previous small S.I.T. flat. I also vaguely remembered that the house was priced about $7K at that time. Even then this was a princely sum. Recently I read that houses there now sold for over $1m! Maybe we shouldn't have moved away that soon?
|The KTM railway bridge is located beside Chua Eng Say Road beside Fuyong Estate.|
There were also 2 kampongs that grew as an annex to the estate. One was a Malay kampong at Lorong Chamar that was built behind Fuyong on the higher elevation of the hill slopes. The other was a Chinese village that was known as Kampong Chia Eng Say. This was located between Fuyong and the Singapore Granite Quarry. Both these kampongs were demolished and the squatters re-settled by the government years ago.
|An old Chinese kampong house at Chia Eng Say Road.|
Recent photos of Fuyong Estate