Friday, April 26, 2013

Where was the colonial pre-war Hillview Estate?

Seems like a strange question here on this blog, but I am very sure most of you will not know there was a pre-war Hillview Estate until you have read this article.

Not the HDB-built estate of the 1980s at Hillview Avenue which was also commonly known as Hillview Estate. This was built long after the war.
Is it the private estate centered around Jalan Zamrud and Jalan Intan? Again no, that's called Popular Estate. Princess Elizabeth Estate was also located off Hillview Avenue but it was not the Hillview Estate that was named as such. So where was Hillview Estate?

'Hillview Estate' pre-dated both Princess Elizabeth Estate as well as Hillview Avenue itself.
Hillview Avenue, as we know it, did not exist at that time. That area was all rubber plantations then.
In fact, this Hillview Estate was a pre-war development. I have been searching for this place for a very long time and even though I had a rough idea of where it was, I was also mistaken till recently.

As some of you might know, besides writing these blogs, I also indulge myself as a WW2 enthusiast.
I read all about the war, especially the events in Singapore and do consider myself quite passionate in this aspect. In fact, I can give you a day by day, unit by unit, account of the Japanese invasion during WW2 from the crossing on 8th Feb to the surrender on 15th Feb 1942.

In 1942, Maj-General Gordon Bennett was the commander of all Australian forces in Singapore. He was in charge of the defence for the entire Western Region of Singapore, i.e. Jurong, Choa Chu Kang, Lim Chu Kang, Kranji and Bukit Timah regions. This being the case, he established his divisional army headquarters centrally at Hillview Estate.
This explains its significance and why I had this eagerness to find its location. Also, the fact that it was called 'Hillview' in relation to this blog that I write, which is mainly about the present Hillview area.

Initially, I was misled by some old war records which had sketches marking the wrong location. They gave this at Jurong Road near where today's Signature Park Condominium or the old Lam Soon Cannery was.

Hillview Estate was a large country residence of a British rubber planter. He built a large colonial style house, what today we would call a "Black & White House" at his rubber plantation at Bukit Timah Road. The term Estate was used as in the old tradition of a grand country retreat or 'Estate'

Hillview Estate was located between Margaret Avenue and De Souza Ave, off Jalan Jurong Kechil.
Today, only a very short stretch of De Souza Ave still exists.
Margaret Avenue was expunged decades ago when the kampong there was resettled.
Hillview Estate no longer exists there and was replaced by another housing development on the same site. Access to this present site is now via Upper Bukit Timah View.
You can see De Souza Ave and Margaret Ave marked as tracks in the 1938 map above.

The red lines marks the original roads (tracks) in 1942.

If you are still confused why the above map show Jalan Jurong Kechil as Jurong Road, an old blog article here will explain it all.

Looking across from Jalan Jurong Kechil where Hillview Estate would have been.
De Souza Ave is on the right while Margaret Ave would be at the other end of the football field.

An aerial view 1960 showing Hillview Estate at Bukit Timah.

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