Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More football teams of the 60s.

Football was the one sport that galvanised our estate back in the 60s and 70s.
Blessed with a free and open regulation size football pitch within the estate, several teams were formed from ad-hoc to almost semi-pro status. In those days it was all amateur football but then our estate teams had managed to make a name for themselves winning national and constituency competitions.

Unfortunately for me, football was not in my blood and my only contacts with it was as an evening spectator when all the 'small boys' would gather around the field to watch and pick balls that roll to our sidelines.

But I can recall the Union Carbide team who had their regular training on the pitch after work.
My dad worked at Union Carbide and thus I came to meet people like Quah Kim Choon (one of the Quah family) and Mahat Ambu, Singapore's centre-forward at that time. These two big names were enough to draw crowds to watch their training.

I am at a loss with the number of teams formed or even the team names they call themselves by, so if anyone remembers, please drop me a line in the comments below.

Aswan, whose family lived beside the football pitch, had just sent me 2 photos of some teams that played back in the 60s.
In the first photo, I can identify Glen Hogan in the striped jersey. This would then date the photo to the mid-60s. If you can identify anyone else, please share with us here.

Thanks to Udin Anwar for identifying all the footballers.
This team was called the ASAS FOOTBALL CLUB.

Links to other articles about our estate footballers:

Monday, July 20, 2015

The lost hills around Hillview.

I was just sharing with a nostalgia group on Facebook on the topic of lost hills in the Singapore city. Right in the city long ago were some small hills named Mount Wallich, Mount Erskine and Mount Palmer. These hills are no longer there, having been levelled and the earth dumped into the sea for land reclamation.

While sharing my thoughts about those lost hills, I recalled recently the incredulous looks from some young school children who had invited me to take them on a tour of the Jurong and Bukit Batok areas as part of their National Education programme.

I had done four tours with four different primary schools and each time the kids all had that same unbelieving look. They just can't visualise the area being full of hills in the past!

Since Singapore's Independence, the routine construction method seemed to be 'level everything and begin anew'. The country now seems to be so flat and connected that a whole generation has now grown up not knowing the difficulties of moving around these hills to get from place to place.

When I was growing up in Princess Elizabeth Estate in the 1960s, the furthest we could go along Hillview Ave was just beyond today's Hillview Villas where the track ended. Beyond this was the hills into Jurong and the farm area. It was not only hilly but forested in many parts.

Recently I came across this photo on the net and remembered I had the same copy from my days working at the Church of St Mary of the Angels.

This is a picture of the hill top, where today the Church of St Mary of the Angels is located. It was taken in 1957. The man is Fr Virgil Mennon who built the original church.
Right at the back on the top right is Bukit Gombak. Gombak II was another hill that was part of Bukit Gombak. The private housing estates of Chu Lin and Jalan Remaja would be later built on this smaller hill.

What is interesting to note is that between Gombak II and the church foreground, the hills have all been levelled and today the flats of Bukit Batok New Town are built there. The hills are completely gone !

The old Jurong Road (9m.s.) ran across the picture just beyond the church boundary 10m below the clump of large trees in the valley.
It would be only later around 1960 that Hillview Avenue would be connected to Jurong Road here (somewhere to the right of the picture).

So when I was telling the children about how the soldiers during the war had to climb over hills after hills to escape the Japanese army advancing through Jurong, I usually can see bewildered faces.
They just can't imagine that it took hours to cross Bukit Gombak to get to Bukit Batok, today a 5 minute drive by car.

From this aerial photo map of the Bukit Batok battle area, you can actually see how hilly the area used to be; the lumps and bumps in the photo.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bukit Gombak - The oldest region of Singapore Island.

There has been a lot of new developments around the old Hillview area these few years past. There's the upcoming Hillview MRT Station, the new HillV2 mall and of course more condominiums. Apart from the old primary school building, now reincarnated as the United Medicare Nursing Home, nothing structural was left of our old Princess Elizabeth Estate. The land where it once sat on is now flattened and levelled and presumably waiting for new developments.

But did you know that our old estate sat on land that is the oldest piece of rock found in Singapore geologically? Surprised? It sat on what is called the Gombak Norite which is between 250 to 500 million years old.

If you look up Google Earth and see the continental shelf of South East Asia, you can see a flat area out at sea running from China near Hainan Island going down south along the Vietnam coast, across to Borneo and then south to Java and then following the coast up along Sumatra toward Myanmar.

Eons ago, it was believed that this entire region (excluding the Philippines, Suluwesi and the islands west) was all above sea level and the region was called in geology/geography as Sundaland.

Over the ages, tectonic and other geological forces created the mountains and countries and the melting ice age water made the sea level rise within Sundaland.

Five hundred million years ago, in the area which was to become Singapore Island, a small bulge known as the Gombak Norite arose.
(Norite is a type of rock like granite and is also found at Ponggol end and on Pulau Ubin.)

Another 250 million years would pass again before geological forces pushed up what is now known as the Bukit Timah Granite. Together these 2 rock formations would form the backbone of what would become Singapore Island.

Surrounding this central core, alluvial soil accumulated over the millennia and eventually shaped the island. Alluvial soil meant it was deposited by rivers and it is believed by geologists that the rivers that created the land was what is now the Straits of Malacca and the Singapore Straits before the sea level rose as a result of the melting ice. Interesting theory.

Princess Elizabeth Estate was built directly over this dome of norite rock and many ex-residents will remember the block of flats that they used to live in was built mostly with little foundation as it sat on the bedrock itself.

Photo of the old SIT Princess Elizabeth Estate with Bukit Gombak at its rear.

Addendum: August 2015.

I found this Youtube presentation which is an excellent explanation of the Sundaland flooding.
This was extracted from the blog "Atlantis in Java Sea" by Dhani Irwanto.