Friday, June 21, 2013

Factories around P.E.E (10) - HUME

I can still remember when I was just a wee little kid and coming home from outings with my parents.
In my dad's car, we would look out at the landmarks passing by; and of all those I can recall, one stood out because it meant we were nearing home.
As the car climbed and crested the hill at the 8th mile Bukit Timah Road, we would see a big building with the words H-U-M-E surrounded by large circular pipes.

Located just beside the Ford Factory, Hume was the largest factory complex located within the Hillview Industrial Estate. It occupied a sprawling area stretching more than a kilometre along Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Hume Industries started in Singapore back in 1923 manufacturing concrete pipes. It was then known as Hume Pipe Co and was initially located in Katong. It shifted to the Upper Bukit Timah site in 1942 and was renamed Hume Industries. The company continued expanding and branched into other areas like steel pipes and even gas cylinders. It was a major supplier of pre-stressed concrete structures during the years of economic boom and building in Singapore. Most of the expressway flyovers were built on Hume's concrete beams.

In 1983, Hume Industries had a change of ownership and was renamed Hong Leong Industries.
After Hillview was rezoned as a residential district, the factory and its subsidiaries moved to new premises in Jurong. On its old plot now stands five or six major condominium complexes

Click on picture for enlarged view.

Many residents of Princess Elizabeth Estate worked at Hume. My immediate upstairs neighbour, Mr Moss, was a manager in the Hume factory. The Moss family later moved to Hume Heights which was then exclusive housing for senior Hume expatriates.

I can recall visiting the Moss' home at Hume Heights and walking past these pipes. I had on occasions accompanied their washerwoman there. We had to walk through the front gate and past the factory to reach Hume Heights which was on a hill beside the factories.

Some of you may even recall the HUME sign (picture left) that was at the main gate. It was prominent being about 12m high and was spotlighted at night.

Hume office building.

There was also a very unusual structure at Hume Industries, which many people do not know of.
It once had a windmill within its premises. This was probably used as a turbine generator.
You can see a picture of this windmill at this link.


  1. My dad referred to the Hume factory as "Hume Pipe" and yes, each time when I come back from school, I knew I was "home" when the Green bus passes Hume, then it goes under the railway bridge, turn left and on to Elizabeth Drive.
    I did not know there was a Hume Heights - but I knew there was a block of flats for the Kiwi factory executives - went there once on job week and was chased by a dog!

    Yum Shoen Liang

    1. Hi Shoen Liang,
      Yes most PE residents called Hume as "Hume Pipes" or "Hume Gas" as they manufactured gas cylinders as well at their massive factory plot.
      Hume Heights is still there today. It is now private property but I managed to sneak in a few months ago for a look because it seems some developer is refurbishing the houses there. The houses being rebuilt looks extremely expensive and I believe would be considered GCB - Good Class Bungalows - meaning expensive and exclusive! You might want to go for a sneak view now as it is still under construction. Access by Lorong Sesuai beside the TV transmission Tower on Bukit Batok Hill.

  2. Hi James. These are houses are owned by SLA singapore Land Authority now. They are conservation houses and its rented out to public. Under open tender and on 2 year lease. Yes SLA refurbished the estate and was up for public tender about 1 year ago. It should now be fully leased out. Very nice quiet estate that not many people know.
    I'll be digging out the old chap kor photos I promised.