A Walk Through The Old Neighbourhood – Serangoon Gardens

Serangoon Gardens was formerly a residential estate for the British (and some Australian and New Zealand) soldiers and airmen, where some of them were based in the nearby RAF (Royal Air Force) Chia Keng Camp, until the early seventies.

The name Serangoon is likely to be derived from burong ranggoon, referring to a species of black and white stork that lives around Sungei Serangoon (formerly called Rangoon River). Satu, or one in Malay, was added to the name, thus becoming Saranggoon. This name was used for a long period of time before it eventually evolved to Serangoon. During the Japanese Occupation, large plots of flower farms were cultivated in this region, leading to the naming of the estate as Serangoon Gardens.

Serangoon Gardens was developed in the early fifties by Steven Charles Macey, a British private developer who also worked as an engineer at RAF. Due to its limited accessibility from other parts of Singapore in its early days, and for the benefits of the residents, Macey sought approval from the Singapore Rural Board to build a recreational clubhouse on a 5.56 acres of land. Completed in 1956, Serangoon Gardens Sports Club was opened exclusively to the residents of Serangoon Gardens at a monthly membership rate of $2.

The clubhouse underwent major changes over the decades. It was renamed as Serangoon Gardens Recreation Club after the British withdrew from Singapore in the early seventies. However, the clubhouse suffered a decline in membership and had difficulty maintaining its facilities due to a lack of funds. In 1981, it was given a makeover under the proposal of Lau Teik Soon, Member of Parliament for Serangoon Gardens, and became the new Serangoon Gardens Country Club.

Due to the historical ties with the British, the network of roads inside Serangoon Gardens, more than 40 of them cramped into this small estate, are mostly named after places in Britain (England, Scotland and Wales):

Serangoon Gardens is fondly known as ang sar lee (红砂厘) by the local Chinese, referring to the red zinc roofs of the houses that once occupied this estate. In the old days, certain parts of Serangoon Gardens were given nicknames such as zhap ji cheng (十二千 or 12,000) and zhap si cheng (十四千 or 14,000), describing the approximate prices of the houses available in their respective areas.

The most prominent landmarks of Serangoon Gardens are perhaps the Serangoon Garden Circus and the popular Chomp Chomp Food Centre (its official name is Serangoon Gardens Food Centre), which serves delicious local delights in BBQ stingray, BBQ chicken wings, satay and Hokkien mee. The area resembles a mini-version of the Newton Cirus and its food centre.

In the sixties, the street hawkers plied their trades at the location opposite where the hawker centre now stands. They were shifted and given stalls to continue their businesses after the new hawker centre was completed in 1972. The origin of the name “Chomp Chomp” is unknown; perhaps it was used to reflect the noise of frenzied eating. Chomp Chomp Food Centre had a major upgrading in 1998 where a new roof was installed.

Serangoon Gardens’ Paramount Theatre (百乐门戏院) was one of the most popular hangouts for the residents in the old days. Located at Maju Avenue, it was built in the late fifties. During that era, movie screenings in Singapore were not held at the same time islandwide. The popular movies were usually screened at the cinemas in the busy city district, such as Capitol, Cathay and Lido. Paramount, being located at the relatively ulu estate, could not compete with the likes of the mighty Shaw, but nevertheless able to provide a series of popular English and Chinese films to their audience.

The decline of the movie industry in the seventies saw part of Paramount Theatre leased out to other retail businesses. Occupying a large 11,700 square feet, NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) opened its fairprice supermarket here in 1974, just a year after its debut at Toa Payoh. By 1983, the cinema of Paramount could no longer survive and had to shut down. DBS (Development Bank of Singapore) set up a branch in the building in 1991, and subsequently, restaurants, cafés, confectioneries and even tuition centers moved in. The building of the former Paramount Theatre was renamed as Serangoon Gardens Village.

Today, the once sleepy neighbourhood is buzzing with life once more. A new mall named myVillage now stands in the site of the old Paramount Theatre (Serangoon Gardens Village), which was demolished in 2009. It is the prized asset of local developer Chye Lee & Sons, whose late father owned the former Paramount Theatre.

There is confusion over whether the name of this unique neighbourhood is Serangoon Gardens or Serangoon Garden. Some landmarks use the singular version such as Serangoon Garden Circus, Serangoon Garden Way, Serangoon Garden District and Serangoon Garden Secondary School. Others would retain the plural version, as in Serangoon Gardens Post Office and Serangoon Gardens Country Club.

Both singular and plural versions have been used since Serangoon Gardens was first developed in the fifties.

Published: 22 April 2012

Updated: 18 June 2012

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125 Responses to A Walk Through The Old Neighbourhood – Serangoon Gardens

  1. Kecinthia says:

    Wow..Great Job! Thanks for all the hardwork that goes into all these.

    I had been living near serangoon gardens for so many yrs without understanding that is going on there in the past. Had been to the ntuc at the paramount cinema when i was a young gal without even understanding what is wat.

    Thanks for all these good work. Keep it up!

  2. Lau Chiau says:

    The houses in Serangoon Gardens were mainly owned by locals and some were rented to married personnel of the British forces. This is unlike those in RAF Seletar (now Seletar camp).

    Zhap ji cheng is not another nickname for Serangoon Gardens but rather the sector which have Groves in the road name; between Conway Grove to Colchester Grove. $12,000 was the average price of houses in this sector and the land area of each is about 1600 sq ft. The “Drive” sector, Medway to Burghley was referred to as 十四千 as $14,000 was the average price of houses there with the land area of 1800 sq ft.

  3. Awesome! Serangoon Gardens was one of my childhood homes. My grandmother paid $23,000 for a 5000 sq foot bungalow back in the 50s.

  4. Lam Chun See says:

    Growing up in nearby Lor Kinchir, I have many memories of SG. I remember we used to refer to it as Serangoon Gardens, when used alone. When used as an ‘adjective’ it is usually singular, e.g. Serangoon Garden Way.

  5. Len P Rodrigo says:

    There appears to be some curiosity about the name Chomp Chomp given to the food centre by the Serangoon Gardens Circus, and some weird guesses made as to how that food centre got its name. When the CCC Committee of the Serangoon Gardens Consituency decided to site a hawkers centre in that location we were quite certain that many residents and friends would frequent the food court and delight in its delicious and savoury stuff that we know our hawker friends were capable of dishing out. So it was no problem visualising our visitors tucking into their favourite orders like there was no more coming, like bugs bunny chomping his carrots away………..and so, we decided to name our food court Chomp Chomp.
    It is with nostalgic sadness to note that there is no longer the quaint ‘Chomp Chomp’ sign done out of wrought iron and held up by an antiquated post. Ah well, that’s progress. Sad.

    Former MP for Serangoon Gardens

  6. David Smith says:

    My memories of serangoon circulate round the Canberra Bar, The Captains Cabin, the Chinese Emporium and the Yum Yum cafe! I remember buying tropical fish from a stall and 2nd hand books and magazines too! I still remember a pair of Bata Shoes my mother bought me made from latex! Wow talk about sweaty feet! as retirement looms i’ve rekindled an interest in my time in Singers (1967-71) and remember them as perhaps the happiest of my life, I do intend to visit soon!

    Regards and please keep up the good work.

    David Smith

  7. Wow … I am so glad to have visited your site. Thanks very much for the effort. I stayed in Serangoon Gardens when I was one. I still have the house which my dad paid around $12,000 for it back in 1955. The house and Serangoon Gardens brings back so much memories with my brother and 4 sisters growing up there… laterite road and all. It is currently rented out but I do intend to return next year.

    My brother & I spent a lot of time playing and representing the Sports Club in soccer until it was repalced by the current Country Club. If you guys used to see soccer matches then on the field at the club (and the occasional fights), probably my brother and I were playing.

    I have been away from Serangoon Gardens for a good 18 years now but I do have very fond memories there … Serangoon North Primary School, Serangoon Garden Secondary School for ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels before leaving for Australia for Tertairy Education.

    Thanks for the memories …. but Serangoon Gardens …. I’ll be back!

    Melvyn Thum

  8. Benjamin Eng says:

    Correction: “Penhurst” is a common misspelling of the street. The correct spelling should be “Penshurst”. :)

  9. Patrick Chan says:

    Airfix model kits and Matchbox, Dr Fernandes Clinic which is now OCBC Bank along Serangoon Garden Way

  10. Peter Eng says:

    This recollection is absolutely delightful. My family moved to SG in the 70s when I was in my teens. We lived there for 10+ years. This move by the family was the best thing that happened to me. I loved getting the know our Scottish neighbors, who were replaced by Australians, etc…

    Before Chomp Chomp, the food was sold along Maju Ave (?).

    There were also two second hand book shops there where I could buy a used book for 50 cents and resell it for 30 cents. These shops opened me to the world of novels.

    Just outside SG was a bicycle shop (in Cheng San Village), just past the provision shop. I had so much fun cycling around the estate and the bicycle shop was an absolute essential to my cycling well-being.

    Anyone has pictures of the places above?

    Hey uncle, thanks for letting me know about it!

  11. Tony E says:

    Enjoyed playing with other the British kids(I remembered the Smiths to our left, Hobbs across the street) in the neighbourhood 1965-69. I always wondered what they studied at school for they didn’t lug a bag of books compared to us Singapore kids. Christmas was an experience as we experienced the kids showing off their presents (toys, bikes etc.) while we made our own kites and played with home made plywood toy guns with a collection of rubber bands and clothes pin to propel the trajectiles.
    There was a supermarket for members of the British, Aussie and NZ military force along the stores where Tip Top is currently located. There was also an English Fish and Chips shop (excellent fish and chips for $1 – a big sum for a piece of fish and chips in those days compared to what you can buy for $1 of hawker food.
    Good Memories…..

    • Susan Milner says:

      Hello Tony E. We have just read your email dated June 2012, you mentioned the Smith and Hobbs family.We are three sisters from the Smith family who lived at 23 Penshurst Place from 1964-1967.We remember the Hobbs family who lived opposite us, they had two sons and a daughter. We have fond memories of our time spent in Singapore. If you happen to read this email, we would be happy to here from you. Kind regards, Susan,Carol and Gillian Nee Smith.

      • Tony E. and Susan Milner, if you are on Facebook, please join us in a group, link below.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

      • Tony Eng says:

        Hello Susan: W0W! A wonderful flash from the past – indeed fond and vivid memories of mine as well. What a pleasant surprise to hear from you – this is incredible that we are able to re-connect this way. I remember us playing “Jacks” just by the fence separating our house, you and your sisters coming over to our house to watching cartoons on our little portable TV and me being over your home and your mom serving e a cold orange drink before your bed time. Our family home is still there on 25 Penshurst Place, practically without change other than a repaved front driveway and the back part of the house extended and covered as the kitchen and dining area as compared to most of the homes in the neighborhood which are all refurbished, extended and a 3rd floor added. As for where you were living on 23 Penshurst Place it has just about been completed with a whole new development of 2 units of houses on the property while as the Hobbs former home has been torned down and in the midst of a rebuild with a pool as I understand from my brothers and sisters who are taking care of my mother. The last time I was there was in Dec 2012 and several times every 2 or 3 years prior to that since moving to SF Bay Area, California in 1989. I am married with a 23 yr old son a19 yr old daughter.
        How are about you, Carol – still remember her cute spectacles :) and Gillian? Would love to catch up if you have time to chat. I can call you, if its OK. What’s your email or phone in England? We can communicate and catch up in more detail that way.
        Warm and Best Regards to you, Carol and Gillian,
        Tony

  12. Cornelius says:

    Correction: Huddington Avenue not HuddingSton Avenue. I live there…

    Kecinthia: I can still remember buying Kacang Puteh from the Thambi outside the Paramount Theatre. It was sold in paper cones fashioned from sheets taken from old telephone directories.

    Mervyn: You were from Serangoon Garden North School? I’m an old boy.

    We used to fight with the boys from Serangoon Garden South School when they crossed the centre-line of the field into our territory.

    The night watchman for North School, Chin Tong, used to live in a small house behind Serangoon Garden South School. The Indian watchman for Serangoon Garden South School was murdered one night in the school premises as he rested on his bed at the new school library. His wife was in India at that time. It was Chin Tong who discovered the murder the next day. I saw his blood-stained bed…

    There used to be a soccer club for boys called the Actionites Club that operated from Serangoon Garden Sports Club. It was short-lived…

    Pete: Before Chomp Chomp, the food sellers were congregated around the periphery of the Serangoon Garden Circus. The stalls were lit with kerosene pressure lamps. The take-away food were wrapped in huge dried leave (kopi hyok). Some of the old ”hawkers” like the Hokkien Mee, Char Kuay Teow, Carrot Cake and Oyster Omelette (O Luwark) sellers first started selling there.

    Btw, the person who fries the Oyster Omelette in Chomp Chomp is the worker and not the boss. The boss is the one who takes the orders…

    The Hokkien Mee seller stopped operating for a year or two some years back coz he suffered from cancer. That’s what I heard. And he had a son who graduated from USA. His Hokkien Mee is still the best that I\’ve tasted in Singapore, Johor and Batam!

    David: The short-lived Chinese Emporium there was the Leong Soon Huat Emporium. The 2nd-hand book store had no name. We called it the NIB because that’s what they stamp on the books.

    The present big bus stop next to the circus used to be a bus interchange. Can still remember the various buses that were parked there:

    Red – Associated Bus Services
    Green – Singapore Traction Company
    Yellow – United Bus Company
    Blue – Amalgamated Bus Company

    The United Bus Company’s buses were the cleanest as the driver had to sweep the buses and wash the windscreen before proceeding on their next journey. The Singapore Traction Company buses operated Nissan buses that makes hell-of-a-lot of noise. One of their decommissioned Nissan buses was converted into a food-and-drink stall for drivers and conductors at the interchange…

    The bus fare for us school kids in those days was a flat rate of 10cents per trip. We buy tickets from the conductor that comes around…

    I used to play soccer in the car park behind the Paramount Theatre before it was taken over by NTUC Welcome. That was the original name before its present incarnation as NTUC Fairprice…

    • Richard Foo Say Sweng says:

      “We used to fight with the boys from Serangoon Garden South School when they crossed the centre-line of the field into our territory. ”

      True, the boys from both North and South School liked to play hamtam bola during recess time. Bad luck if you have to retrieve the ball if it goes over to the other side!

      There used to be a long jump pit right in the middle of between the two school fields.

      Every time it rained heavily, the school fields would be flooded by waters from the big canal at one side of the field.

      It was fun because when the waters receded we could go to the long ump pit to catch fishes left behind.

  13. TC says:

    I remember as a kid going to Paramount to watch classic cowboy movies eg. For a Few Dollars More starring Clint Eastwood, The Good, Bad and the Ugly, The One Arm Swordsman (starring David Chiang) – frequently these movies were released via weekend Midnight shows to open the season (frontstalls 50cents, backstalls $1 and Circle seats $1.50). Next to Chomp Chomp where the SG sports clubhouse was located, there was an open football/soccer field which I used join a group of local kids taking turns at kicking the ball into a netless goalpost, most of us with our barefoot – couldn’t afford football boots or anything – sometimes I would have my school canvas shoes on. For those who could afford shoes, they were wearing the black canvas studded shoes that were meant for field hockey. Next to Paramount where the Gilano Pizza was located, there used to be a bakery (fresh sliced white bread and french loaves) – freshly baked and delivered by a chinese man on his bicycle to our house – 25 or 30 cents a loaf of sliced bread competing with the Cold Storage brand.

  14. Cornelius says:

    TC: That’s the Serangoon Garden Bakery. It closed down many years back. It’s now reduced to a stall in Serangoon Garden Market bearing the same name:

    http://ieatishootipost.sg/2009/05/serangoon-gardens-bakery-and.html

  15. Cornelius says:

    Update: The Hokkien Mee seller is back in action after his recuperation. I think his name is Ah Hock… Be prepared to wait anywhere from 20-30 minutes if you order on a Saturday.

    Remember the stalls selling one of the best Malay food in Singapore, that used to line the street opposite the Botanical Gardens beside the Gleneagles Hospital? They shifted to Serangoon Garden Market…

  16. Cornelius says:

    Correction: Ang Sar Lee (红砂厘) means red ZINC roof in Hokkien because of the many red zinc roof houses that dotted the place…

    • Cher says:

      I lived in SG, Burghley Drive from 1956 to 1974. I would like to contact some of school mates from convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel,(1960 to 1968). I have fond memories of the rubber estate. The sound of rubber seeds exploding like champagne bottle being uncorked is still ringing in my ears.
      Cher

      • Jennifer (nee Pereira) says:

        Cher, please join us on Facebook where we share memories and photos of Serangoon Gardens

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

      • Jennifer (nee Pereira) says:

        Hi Cher,Its Jennifer, I was in Cooling Close convent from 1960 to 1963 Pr 3 – 6 and would love to hear from you. My maiden name was Pereira

      • Rob Wiltshire says:

        Hi Cher ,Dad was a chef in Australian Army …We completed several tours in Singapore ..spent a lot of time in the rubber estates trying to find the cobras ..Cheers Rob Wiltshire

      • Geraldine Lim says:

        I would like to reply to the comment by Cher but can’t locate it through the “reply”. Here is the link to the FB group I created for the school she was referring to, Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Thank-you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2408237586/ Geri

        Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 00:39:49 +0000 To: guehkim@hotmail.com

      • Rob Wiltshire says:

        Hi Lesley ,dad was a chef in the Australian army and we did three tours of duty in Singapore …three years rotation ..dad ended up with the department of supply and worked at the Sth Pole …Mawson /Casey …a slight change from the tropics ….My time in Singapore and Burghley drive was between 1954 and 1966….spent a lot of time in the rubber estates at the back of the house …what number Burghley drive were you ?…Rob Wiltshire

  17. Cornelius says:

    There used to be a Garden Bookstore at the corner in the same row as the present OCBC. The owner shifted to a shop in Khatib. I bumped into her twice in her present shop…

    • Melvyn THUM Cheong Meng says:

      Yes…I am from Serangoon Garden North Primary School and later Serangoon Garden Secondary…formerly Lichfield Secondary School… I think. Yes, the rivalry was there but was fun. Remember they used to have British Military Excercises and the landing of helicopters blew away! When the field between the two primary schools was flooded … We played soccer polo! LOL! I remembered I was canned by Ms Baruch (Indian Principal) when I trespassed during the military Excercises.

  18. Cornelius says:

    Melvyn: You must be my senior. During my time, Mrs Selveratnam was the principal.

    We used to fly kites during the recess and some it it would get stuck on the roof where there’s a weather vane with an ornamental rooster.

    When the torrential rains cascaded down in sheets, the area next to the big canal would flood providing us with an instant swimming pool…

    Serangoon Garden North School was later taken over by Serangoon Garden South School. Now both has been swallowed up by the French International School just across the canal… French educational colonization… :)

  19. Cornelius Pang K.P. says:

    Can still recall many of the names of my Primary 6A classmates from Serangoon Garden North School in 1972:

    Form Teacher: Miss Mabel Oo. Mrs. Mabel Wong, when she got married. She looks like an Eurasian with very sharp features.

    BOYS
    – Teo Guan Joo
    – Chan Hui
    – Tan Chao Hsiung (Still living in Braemar Drive, Serangoon Gardens)
    – Fong Ban Lee (Used to live in Kensington Park Road. Used to work with Sumitomo)
    – Tay Joo Kiat
    – Neo Cheng Heng (Became a ballet dancer)
    – Ng Kay Yong
    – Parathaman s/o Ganapathi (My best friend. Used to live in Jalan Kelulut)
    – Lim Tiong Hu
    – Khamis bin Khidi (Used to live in Blk 126 Toa Payoh Lor 1)
    – Boey Chee Cheong (Used to live in Porchester Avenue)
    – Tan Wee Loi (Was with LTA)
    – Chan Soon San
    – Yang Ting Jong (?)

    GIRLS
    – Alice Eappen
    – Chan Siok Meng (Married to a pastor)
    – Lee Siew Tian
    – Chia Siew Heok (The last time I met her, she was a cashier with Metro)
    – Ng Siew Ngo
    – Tay Siew Geok
    – Cheong Siew Chin (Her family owned a laundry shop in Maju Avenue. Then she shifted to Depot Road)
    – Neo Kim Noi (She was a flight stewardess with SIA)
    – Soh Dun Dee (Used to live in Kensington Park Road)
    – Neo Chee Peng (She worked in Hour Glass selling watches when I last spoke to her)
    – Julie Sim (She was a book keeper the last time I spoke to her)
    – Toh Keng Gin

    Primary 5 (1971)
    – Adeline Bay (A Malaysian. She was in my class only in Primary 5)

    Primary 1 (1967)
    – Lum (or Lam) Mun Teng (She has a distinguishing mole on her arm. A very brilliant girl).

    If you are one of them or knows them, can get in touch with me at funnycorn@hotmail.com

    • Neo Cheng Heng says:

      Hi Cornelius,
      Good day! This is Neo Cheng Heng here, the ex-professional dancer and currently a professional dance teacher. I am sure you still remember me. I think we met several years ago! How long was that i honestly can’t remembered.
      Anyhow, here to let you know i am currently in Singapore for summer vacation and shall be leaving on the 25th August. You may reach me at 9467 2800 for meeting up to catch up where we left off. How about that?
      Until than! All the best!

      Regards
      Cheng Heng

  20. Peter Dunlop author "Street names of Singapore" says:

    Thank you Lau Chiau. Despite apparently being developed by a Brit it was not British Military Quarters, the style is quite different. Medway Park is a bit later but you can see the common design thread there with the earlier quarters. I like the lack of fences between the houses, none of the quarters had fences in those days. Not all married military personnel were entitled to quarters for their families, especially NCO’s and some of the quarters were not as spacious and were flats and not gardens. The developer and local owners may have spotted a niche market. Interestingly one of the pictures shows to European women with their children The wheeled vehicle does not seem to be a pram, it looks more like a home made “go cart”. We got the wheels for mine at Sungei Road. The names are quite eclectic but I believe that deeper research will show that they all have a common thread of an old castle or perhaps big house or defended place.

  21. Peter Dunlop author "Street names of Singapore" says:

    PS, the land was originally part of the Sembawang Rubber Estate

  22. Peter ghouse says:

    What a ride down memory lane. My Poh- poh’s house in crow hurst drive holds fond memories including a British family who rented the house next door.they were party animals who partied on till the early,early hours of the morning. When at last my aunty could not take it any more and all requests failed, she got the most powerful amplifier and record player she could get and placed the speakers over the fence. After the Cliff Richard and Beatles records were shut down, she gave them about half an hour to fall asleep, then turned on at full blast the Chinese wayang crash boom bang concert. Peace did come to roost needless to say.

  23. What a great walk down memory lane. I lived on Worthing Road from 1955 to 1976 and attended the Convent at Cooling Close. Great memories of Ang Sar Lee!

  24. Yeong Tu says:

    I was trying to do an assignment for my daughter (P2) about a old place that I remember. I decided to look up Serangoon Gardens South School and I found this website. After going through this site, it brought back so much memories from my childhood to an adult. I can still remember all the transitions to the current Serangoon Gardens.
    I lived around Serangoon Gardens, around Jalan Pacheli, when I was born till primary 2 before we were forced to move to make way for road leading from now Lorong Chuan to Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 ( towards CTE ) ( Exact current location should be Golden Rise ). My Dad brought a house along Tavistock Avenue where I lived ( Dad, Mum and 3 brothers ) for a another 22 years ( 1978 ~ 2000 ).
    Attended Serangoon Gardens South School. I recalled having seen North School having a funny rule of everyone “freezing” when end of recess bell is rang, and resuming when another bell is rung. I thought that was quite fun.
    I still can remember talking bus rides from the interchange at the Circus before it was shifted and converted to a carpark. I still have very fond memories of the place.

  25. Felix Cheong says:

    There used to be a burger joint “Buddy’s”??? In the ’70s where Gaurdian Pharmacy now stands.

    There used to be a grocery store “Chop Chua Seng” where Borsch steakhouse now stands.

    Next to Caltex on Lorong Chuan, there used to be a very smelly rubber factory.

    In the ’60s and ’70s Chiselhurst grove used to lead to a muddy path which is now the Li Hwan and Tai Hwan area, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 was built around this time. Before that, the only road leading to Braddell road was via Lorong Chuan.

    • twin peaks says:

      Burger Buddy 1980 to 1983 ?- the burgers and fires were so so but the fried chicken was good, available in small portions until KFC opened so the lady boss gave bigger portions. Man, she was bosomy, or was it padded bra? Guess she in her 60s now. Sure fantasized about her leading me down the carnal path…

      • John Hill says:

        Have just returned from a trip to Singapore as part of a cruise to Thailand, Vietnam and Hongkong. I took a little time to go back to SGE and though some of the names had changed I still found my way to Jalan Pacheli though the small cul de sac next to our old house (no 48) was now a through road . Found Burghley drive and Carisbrook ave virtually untouched by time and then made our way to my other house on Hillside drive (Hillside Terrace) and that was exactly as we has left it 45 years ago Even managed to have a chat with the current resident. the circus was jst the same although the names of the various shops and cafes had changed. Thanks to a very good taxi driver……..and a good tip we found our way round very very well

  26. Agnes Low says:

    Agnes says :
    When our family first moved into Serangoon Gardens in the late 60s, I remember that after shopping at the old High Street, and laden with shopping bags, when we hailed taxis and told the drivers we wanted to go to “ang sar lee”, they refused to drive us home because at that time it was considered so “ulu” that the drivers didn’t think they would get any return passengers after they dropped us!

    Amusingly, even though the taxi drivers now know where Serangoon Gardens is and are willing to take you there, most of them can’t find their way around the Groves/Drives and Avenues! Only the residents can direct the taxi drivers.

    Does anyone remember there was also a Burger King at one time where the Paramount Theatre used to stand?

  27. Cem says:

    Burger King came much later than Fitz Patrick supermaket and the roller skating ring…. There was also Buddies where Cheers is now.

    This is really a fantastic piece!

  28. kari says:

    what about mubarak bookstore and than was taken over by buddy’s

  29. N Singh says:

    This brings back a great deal of memories. The North school/South school rivalry . I attended
    North school from 1960-1965 and Miss P.Baruch was the principal.Watching “cowboy” movies at
    Paramount on Sat. mornings (50 cents).The market stalls along Kensington Park Drive (before the SG market was built).Though I don’t recall “red zinc” roofs only red tiled roofs ! The fish&chip shop a couple of doors away from Dr. Fernandes’s clinic and the NAAFI across the road from that (where time in bottle is).
    Gardens a great neighbourhood !!!

    • Melvyn Thum says:

      I must be your one year senior. I think my Primary 1 is 1959 and Miss Baruch was my principal. I was very active in extra-curricular activities but mainly soccer for the school team. The Fish and Chips shop was ‘Allens Fish & Chips’ … those days it was something of a luxury. I played football for the Sports Club then with the Singh brothers of Diljit, Harjit and Jargit (hope I did not spell it wrong). Another group of Malay brothers who played for the club were Dean, Zailani, Zainis and another brother which I currently can’t recalled.
      My brother represented Singapore in Soccer in the Sixties before he left for studies in London.

  30. Latiff Shah says:

    Oh my….it sure brings back memories…wish I can turn back time.I too grew up in Gardens…i was one of the few malay family who lived there…i stayed in portchester evenue…it was singapore 19 than…i still remember the phone number…it was 289542 :)
    i remember the family doctor…doctor fernandez….i ran round circles around him whenever he had to give me an injection back than…d needle to me back than looked like it was a foot long :)
    i remember d old fashion fish n chips shop where it was wrapped in newspaper and d vinegar was just out of this world…
    i remember cheng san kampong…one could just go in and it was like so deep and like no ending..simply love it! i also remember kampong hwi yoh….had so much fun there as well.
    i played football and was quite active at d old club where they had 2 billaird tables….and a couple of jackpot machines..i sure hope with all this info, i might be able to meet any of my old friends here…anybody remember d famous Adrian Lim?…yup..he lived in Gardens as well…always on his scooter and a loner…fierce too.
    i used to play football too with me grago friends at the st Francis X’vier church field…altar boys they were known as….

    i too studied at serangoon gardens north school….Mr Chua was my form teacher.Was a svchool prefect,represented school in football and was also the school’s drum major for the brass band…

    i sure hope to bump into any of my friends back than here……..thnks for your time..

    • Anita Cher says:

      Latiff, I was living at 76 Farleigh Ave which I think was behind your home. I remember my mother always speaking to a Malay lady at the back fence. Part of our back fence sort of overlapped over to your back fence. We had a jambu batu tree at the backyard which I would climb up every time right up to the top and I could see North and South schools from there. My husband was an altar boy at St Francis Xavier’s Church as well and used to play lots of football so you may have played with him. Do join us in Facebook where we have a group who share memories of Serangoon Gardens. This is the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

  31. kestrel83 says:

    My grandfather bought a house at 36 Crowhurst Drive back in the 60s, and that was the first house I lived in since birth. Went to Serangoon Garden South School between 1990 and 1995. Still remember the BK at Paramount and the Serangoon Garden Bakery which baked its own bread. Quite a great neighbourhood in those days before estate upgrading – if I needed anything, I would just need to go down Chartwell Drive to the Circus/Maju Ave area to find the shops. Really hope to buy back that plot at 36 Crowhurst Drive, but since the last price was over $5M, may take a while to get there…

  32. JC says:

    Grew up in SG in the 70s and 80s. Still have roots there. Got to know the 2 boys who were manning NIB bookstore for their Inidan Boss. Was told NIB was named after a family membership of the owner. Believe it was ‘Nora Ini Bookstore”. Anyone remember the rattan seller whose entire family lives just door to NIB? He made great rattan furniture. My late dad bought a rocking chair from him ages ago and it is still working. Also, there was the Hong Seng bookstore under the Paramount Cinema billboard before the owner made it big and bought a shophouse a few doors away from Dr Fernandez’s Garden Dispensary.

  33. Denise crossfield says:

    I livd in serangoon 1963 and remember the shops curry houses bars cinema and of course the Amhas market what wonderful memories !!

  34. honliang says:

    This is just so heartwarming. Such history and love for the place!

    Reading the list of comments and trying to place shop names and developments over the years is a wee bit confusing. Any thoughts on developing a page with a map which allows readers to date and annotate their memories? And when the final product is complete, have it play like a video/documentary of memories?

  35. John Hill says:

    Next month I will be returning to Singapore where I served until 1969. We lived in a brand new house in Jalan Pacheli off Burghley drive. My daughter now over 50 is coming back with me but I gather much of Serangoon circus has been demolished. We remember The Captains Cabin, The Canberra bar and the Ocean bar with great affection but we must go and have a look. It was a wonderful environment to bring up me 2 children. Every year we hold a reunion in England for those days when we served at RAF Seletar (we were army, 19 Signal Regiment) and every year the memories flood back. What a great place to live and a great place to serve.So is anything left of the old Serangoon Circus. Will we recognise it ?

    • Peter says:

      The roads are unchanged, and the low rise shops are intact. But the businesses have changed. I remember our Scottish neighbors with great fondness but I have unsuccessful in finding them. Any suggestion?

      • John Hill says:

        Well Peter first of all were they RAF or army I still have contact with some of the Royal Signals personnel from those wonderful days. If they were RAF it may be a little more difficult but I could try. What year was that?

      • David Smith says:

        Hi Peter, Scottish neighbours struck a chord! Would he have been an Army corpral at the time? If so I might have the solution to your search!

        Regards David

      • Peter says:

        Not certain of his rank. Martin family. Parents were George and Barbara, children were Valerie and Neil. Could have been a Sargent.

      • John Hill Army staff sergeant at the time says:

        I’m still in touch with a number of the Army lads as we have a reunion every year. I will see if anybody remembers George and Barbara

      • John Hill Army staff sergeant at the time says:

        Hi Again David. Sgt George BLACK lived in SGE, he was Scottish, he was in the Army. Trying to find out his wifes name now . Watch this space regards john Hill

      • Jennifer (nee Pereira) says:

        Hi John, There is a Serangoon group on FB and I am sure someone would have known him. As per Geraldine Soh note to Denise which says:
        September 10, 2013 at 6:51 am
        Denise, please join us on Facebook where we share memories and photos of Serangoon Gardens in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

        Hope to see you too on that site. My name is Jennifer Sheffield and my maiden name was Pereira. My Mum was Flo Pereira and she did rental properties for the Services in Gardens. She was well known with the forces being UK, Australian etc.

    • Tony Eng says:

      John: The Serangoon Garden circus is still there – the road is a little wider to accommodate the buses which drop off and pick up passengers. The Captains Cabin and Canberra Bar shop locations have change ownership hands quite a few times since 1969 and are now housed by other local restaurants. You will find the surroundings similar except for larger and expanded houses build over the original single and or 2 storey houses. The open drains which I used to play hide and seek in Penshurst Place and all other open drains throughout Serangoon Gardens are now covered over with sidewalks. Although I don’t live there anymore but do visit every few years when I return from the USA. I am now 55 yrs old but remember my childhood days in the 60s playing with kids my age from England, Australia and New Zealand as well as a few local boys.
      I am sure you will have lots of fun as you reminisce during your visit and walk/drive through the streets of Serangoon Gardens.
      Best Regards,
      Tony

      • John Hill says:

        Thanks for the reply Tony sad to know those “haunts” are now long gone but I am sure we will enjoy the experience. I used to cycle to Seletar every day rain or shine. Boy was I fit then. I am 75 so this was my 75th birthday present from the family.getting excited though I have been back alone on three occasions and the last time my neighbours who were Indian still lived at the same house and took me out for the evening Thanks again.

      • Anita Cher says:

        Tony: Capt’s Cabin may have stopped operations but the shop is still owned by the original Hainanese family but rented out to Pow Sing Chicken Rice and Nonya Food. If you go into the restaurant now, you can see the original wallpaper that was up from the time of Capt’s Cabin existence. My sister-in-law’s family owns the place and they also own and run The Sloane Court Hotel in Balmoral Road which is done up in Tudor style. The restaurant in the hotel has the same decor as Capt’s Cabin had previously, that of an English pub. Unfortunately, the hotel has aged and is a bit run down now but it has kept the same ambience.

    • Jennifer (nee Pereira) says:

      John, by any chance you rented the Gardens house from a Eurasian lady who used to collect rent from you on behalf of the owner?

      • John Hill says:

        Sorry Jennifer but it’s so long ago can’t really remember. All I know is that it was the fifth house down on the left hand side as you come down the hill from Burgley drive and next to a short cul de sac which is now a main road back into the gardens. If I remember rightly though the lady who owned it was quite a well built Chinese (unusual for a Chinese to be so big.) ..but then again I may be wrong. My daughter will; remember the number though so I will send this to her also…….Why do you ask ?

    • Leon Yzelman says:

      hi john, may i quote you for my research paper?

    • Janet says:

      John Hill, were you the one who once lived at 63 Brockhampton Drive in 1967/68. I am Janet. If you are, please write to me – janetchee@hotmail.com.

  36. Fiona Levey nee Allan says:

    I lived in SGE as a small child in the mid 60’s. with my parents and older siblings. My Dad was in the RAF, and I went to Seletar Primary School. What sticks in my mind is the most yummy creamed mushrooms on toast in the Ocean Bar :-)

    • John Hill says:

      Hi Fiona. My daughter Pam (Pamela Hill) went to the same school at the same time as you. I was a PONGO but stationed at RAF Seletar (19 Signal regiment). Do you have any school photos

      • Jennifer (nee Pereira) says:

        Hi John, We lived in Walmer Drive the street opposite the market from the early 50’s to late 60’s. My Mum used to rent houses to the forces, be it from UK or Australia on behalf of the Chinese owners. I was a young girl and she worked very hard and used to travel on foot to collect their rent and also on their behalf, pay their utility bills for a mere -20cents so that their payment would be on time and it would not be cut off.Some tenants would what she called ‘the moonlight flit’ and leave the house without letting her know. She got around this by going direct to the head of their forces. She was well known in SGE. Its interesting to have read all the various news of the early days and the memories just keep flowing in. We are now in Sydney but both my parents have passed on. Thanks for your reply.

    • Fiona, please join us in a Facebook group Memories of Serangoon Gardens in the 50s, 60s & 70s… here’s the link below:

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

    • Rob Wiltshire says:

      Hi Fiona …I was at Seletar Primary School early sixties ….Still have photos of he classrooms ..did you know Linda Warwick ?…Rob Wiltshire …

  37. John Hill says:

    Returned to Jalan Pacheli and Hillside drive a couple of weeks ago. Nothing much has changed except the Captains cabin, Ocean bar abd Canberra bar are under a different name but generally speaking, the whole estate looked very much as it did 50 Years ago except where our house in Jalan pacheli was on a cul de sac, it is now a main road to heavens knows where, somewhere in SGE I suspect. All the “Jungle” at the back of the house has gone. It was very very pleasant to see it all again.

    • Hi, I’m posting on behalf of Mr Peter Cunneen, who asked if anyone recognize the decoration of the bar in this photo. Was it Captains Cabin or Canberra Bar?


      (Photo Credit: Peter Cunneen)

  38. Geraldine Soh says:

    Hello everyone, I started a group to share memories of growing up in Serangoon Gardens in the 50s, 60 and 70s. Please join ask in Facebook at the following link, we’d love to have you on board to share your memories and photos. Looking forward to seeing you there!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

  39. wenda koh says:

    Hi everyone here, it’s so nice to recall memories of childhood days at jalan pacheli and serangoon garden. I am from the 70s and I stayed in a kampong at jalan pacheli…. exciting happenings back then… can remember the python late at night… bathing using the creepy cold water from the deep well.. durian plantation and free play of water sports in the midst of water lilies what a view… it’s a special village as it’s all around surrounded by the houses and as kids we like to cross over to the playground opposite our attap house and find ourselves in another land just like the magic faraway tree. With my cousins we all studied at serangoon garden south or north primary school. Hope to hear more from the 70s in this blog!

    wenda koh (1977-1989) serangoon

  40. Joanna Ash says:

    Wow this post brought tears to my eyes. Having grown up in Serangoon Gardens, this post just flooded my mind with so many wonderful childhood memories. I need to go dig up my old pics now. Also because I schooled at Cooling Close Convent, the old girls and I often meet up to reminisce our days in Serangoon gardens. Thank you for the memories.

  41. Denise crossfield says:

    I recently returned to serangoon garden city after 50 years and it was great to see the houses I lived in. chartwell drive and Brighton crescent. at that time I went to school at seleter RAF but loved my time in serangoon I loved the curry stalls on the corners and watching Bollywood films at the cinema. I remember choosing the seat when buying your ticket. you cannot lose your memories. Denise Crossfield x

  42. Serangoon Gardens has good eats, quaint charm

    Old shophouses, famous food centre and roundabout put estate on the map This is the last of a three-part special on three new identity nodes earmarked in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan 2013

    The Straits Times
    http://www.straitstimes.com
    Published on Nov 24, 2013

    The shutters are coming down for good at Seng Hin – Serangoon Gardens’ last provision shop. After toiling for over half a century, 70-year-old owner Koh Guan Hock has decided to call it a day next month.

    “I am too old to continue the business and I don’t want my only son to take over this dwindling trade.”

    But shops like Seng Hin, which was started by Mr Koh’s father-in-law in the early 1950s to serve the British airmen and families who lived there, are part of the estate’s charm, said piano teacher Catherine Ding.

    “People know about Chomp Chomp food centre here and the roundabout, but for residents, the shophouses are also worth preserving,” said the 63-year-old who has lived in Serangoon Gardens all her life.

    “You can’t tear them down and build 10-storey buildings.”

    She seems to have had her wish after the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) last week picked Serangoon Gardens as an “identity node”. The status guarantees that future development plans will not erode the estate’s character and charm.

    Serangoon Gardens, nestled between Ang Mo Kio avenues 1 and 3, off the Central Expressway, was designed by British developer Steven Charles Macey between 1952 and 1954.

    He gave the roads quaint British names like Chartwell Drive – named after former British prime minister Winston Churchill’s England home – and Portchester Avenue, after a small suburb in his home country. He also donated land to set up the Serangoon Gardens Sports Club in 1955, which later became the Serangoon Gardens Country Club.

    Older residents call the estate “Ang Sar Lee”, or “red roof” in Hokkien, referring to the red zinc roofs of the houses that once dotted the estate.

    Today, the laid-back middle-class estate of landed houses is famous for the Chomp Chomp hawker centre and more than 20 restaurants and pubs.

    The opening of a French school, Lycee Francais de Singapour, in the estate in 1999 and the Australian International School at nearby Lorong Chuan in 2003 brought a new influx of expat families.

    Residents say the neighbourhood started changing about 10 to 15 years ago. Old shops made way for restaurants. The building that housed the Paramount Theatre was torn down in 2009 to build the new MyVillage mall. Traffic congestion got so bad that last year, the authorities banned the opening of more restaurants there. The unorganised development of the estate also irks some residents.

    “There are now big houses towering over the single-storey houses,” said retired teacher Eunice Chua, 69. “This makes the place a bit less friendly and warm.”

    Some things, however, have not changed. Hairdresser Ng Siew Way, 63, has been perming hair for more than 40 years in a shop there, while tailor Molly Toh Ean, 62, has been making shirts and cheongsam for more than 30 years. They moved a few times within the estate when rents went up, but not out of it. They even rope in family members to help.

    “We are like a family serving generations of other families,” said Ms Toh.

    Mr Koh hopes Serangoon Gardens does not lose its identity. “This place has so much history,” he said. But when asked about URA’s plans to preserve the area, he said: “It came too late for me.”

  43. I lived in Serangoon Gardens in Berwick drive (1962 – 1968). My grand parents lived in Cooling close from 1955 by the church and uncle still lives there. we moved back to Gardens in 1970 and mum and my brother still live in the house on Chartwell drive. It still has a special place in my heart, and I agree with Mr Koh in the artlice that the URA’s recent preservation plans have come too late. By the way I have ref your blog post in my blog as well.

  44. Amy longstaff says:

    Hello I am hoping someone can help me and my family! My grandma and grandad moved to singapore in the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s as my grandad was in the Royal Navy they lived at 14 borthwick drive, while there they employed someone called “nee can chee” (apologises if spelt wrong!) also known by “Helen”! When my grandad got the news they could return back to uk they were very sad to say goodbye and wanted to bring her with them! They have always wanted to find out what she did after they left! Due to my grandad having ill health he is unable to do this! If anyone has any information or may know them or this lady please get in touch! My grandad and grandma are called maurice and Sylvia soppet! While over there my grandma had my mum christine! Thanks for all your help x

  45. ding ks says:

    I lived in cowdray ave and brighton crescent as well as pprtchester ave. I dif tae kwon do under jimmy too. He had a signboard displaying his? name, jimmy ms too 4th degree black belt. He was one of the students among the first batch of tkd students in singapore. The club was at the old serangoon garden recreation club. The club had 2jackpot machines. Liquor and finger food was sold. A small clubhouse, there was a billiards table on the ground floor. Some members of the nz and british forces did tkd there also. The club has been replaced by the sg country club.

    There was a row of makwshift shops along farleigh ave next to the current my village. Remember the aquarium and electric appliance stalls there. mr chua, the coach of olympian mr tan howe liang used to live at cowdray ave.

  46. Richard Foo Say Sweng says:

    Hi there and greetings to all old Gardens boys and girls.

    I wrote the following back in 2008 for one of the journalists (my old primary classmate’s daughter, we studied at Serangoon Garden South School) who was going to do a write-up for The New Paper about Serangoon Gardens and approached me to share my memories but apparently the whole thing was scrapped so it was not published.

    I happened to chance upon this website and article so looked up my old email and what I wrote for that journalist was still in there.

    So I will just post here what I wrote.

    I can give you some little personal memories of that period 1960-1967 when the British forces were still stationed in Singapore.

    – Quite a lot of the terrace/ semi-detached houses in Singapore Gardens were rented out to British soldiers. Even the upstairs unit of the shophouse next door (3A Kensington Park Road) was once occupied by a British soldier and his family. My parents ran Lido Cafe on the ground floor at 2 Kensington Park Road and my family stayed upstairs.

    – The British soldiers used to have a parade every now & then (with military band, bagpipes and all) on special army occasions at 6am in the mornings.

    – They had their own shopping N.A.A.F.I. (Navy Army & Airforce Institutes) outlet located at one of the shop-houses along Serangoon Garden Way (beside UOB Bank) where they could buy their groceries (and of course beer at special prices).

    – There used to be 4 bars & cafes in Serangoon Gardens (all owned by Hainanese families). In fact there was quite a big contingent of Hainanese-run businesses in Serangoon Gardens in the old days (60s & 70s) – the bakery shop, 2 barber shops, coffee-shop etc.

    – All the bars & cafes had pretty good business & more or less their own regular customers (British soldiers & locals).

    – Every Thursday, it was pay-day for the British soldiers and they would converge at the cafes with their families and drink beer and eat to their hearts’ delight. Also on Thursdays there would be a darts tournament (there was a Darts League with teams from different cafes from around Singapore…Sembawang, Jalan Kayu, Changi etc).

    – I remember once or twice a soldier would get drunk and leave their Sterling submachine guns overnight in our cafe but they always came back very early the next morning to reclaim it.

    – It was a hard life for my parents as some customers would drink late until 2-3am although the cafe had to close by 12 midnight. Next morning my father would still get up at 6 am to clean up the place. There were the occasional fights with chairs being thrown around.

    – My father even extended credit to some regular local customers & British soldiers. some never paid up but there was one regular customer who offered to pay my father some 15 years later when they met after the cafe had long been closed (my father declined to accept).

    – I also read in one of the newspapers some years ago of a former Serangoon Gardens resident who mentioned fondly about the delicious “Rump Steak” he used to have at the old Lido Cafe – that was where he had his first taste of Western food!

    Some other memories of Serangoon Gardens from the “good old days” of the 60s & 70s!

    – Around the main estate itself were kampongs. Fun for schoolboys during that time was catching spiders in the many bushy areas around the estate, catching fishes in the canal (which once ran along Kensington Park Road) and the many ponds around the outskirts of the estate, shooting birds with catapults and plucking fruits.

    – Mention should be made of the old Serangoon Gardens Sports Club where we could play football, basketball, snooker etc. the club also had quite jackpot machines which were always busy and they also had Lotto sessions. Most weekends there would be a football match (we had our very own Serangoon Gardens team) where the crowd would easily be 100 to 200 or more. there was also a Netball League with teams from different parts of Singapore comprising of wives of British soldiers.

    – Those were also the days when there were still many gangsters island-wide. Extortion was still a way of life, even in Serangoon Gardens. I remember one newly-opened coffee-shop (my father’s friend’s shop) refused to pay up and had all the crockery smashed up and furniture all over the place. There was also the occasional gang-fight (there were two gangs operating then(one from the kampong at Jalan Hwi Yoh and the other from the other kampong at Cheng San). One time there was a settlement talk between the 2 groups at the coffee-shop next door to our house. Suddenly the two groups both ran out and went to their cars parked nearby to take out their weapons(metal pipes, sticks and even parangs) and started fighting it out just below our house. I must have been crazy but I just yelled “mata lai liao” (police coming). Surprising they quickly stopped fighting and the two groups started heading back triumphantly in the direction of their kampungs, still swinging their weapons including their parangs.

    – My parents did not exactly pay protection money but some gang leaders of the Jalan Hwi Yoh faction used to be regular customers who drank on credit(there never paid up and my parents never asked them to!). One time two young strangers approached my mother to ask for protection money but she cleverly told them that our cafe was “already protected” and requested them to leave their gang name and their particulars so she could arrange for the two parties to meet but they declined and never came back again!

    – I remember one time there was a fight between two small groups and one man was stabbed and he ran but collapsed and died outside one of the shop-houses further along Kensington Park Road.

    – Another hilarious incident was the “bomb scare” at 4 Kensington Park Road (now the 4D shop) during the Indonesian Confrontation of the 60s. the police were informed that there was a bomb in two suit-cases left in the shop unit which used to be a tailor shop. Residents were evacuated and the police and bomb squad detonated the two suit-cases at the football field across the road in the Serangoon Gardens Sports Club. alas, it was a false alarm! The owner of the suitcases who was a friend of the shop-owner had left it at the shop and gone to Malaysia without informing anyone. He had also left an alarm clock in one of the suitcases and that led to the near-panic! Everyone had a good laugh at the poor guy who had his belongings blown to pieces!

    – There used to be a drug problem during the late 60s and early 70s and Serangoon Gardens was not spared. from the vantage point of my house, I could see openly some drug dealings just across the road around the Sports Club building. I remembered seeing this very young couple (boy and girl) who must have been in Secondary 2 or 3, regularly turning up and buying their stuff there. There was even a marijuana plant being grown in the bushes at the far end of the football field (now the Serangoon Gardens Country Club)!

    – In the late 60s and early 70s, a group of bikers used to congregate just next to our cafe. one of them used to borrow my guitar. every weekend, they would turn Kensington Park Road into a race-track. Groups of 2 bikes would race towards the end of Kensington Park Road (with girl-friends as pillion-riders) and race back towards the finishing line just outside our house, crossing the last part on 1 wheel.

    – There used to be a Paramount Theater at the site where the cluster of buildings NTUC, DBS Bank & Coffee Bean etc now stand**. It used to screen mainly Hong Kong movies and was always quite packed, being the only entertainment in those days. When new movies were screened(especially swords-fighting ones), sometimes the queue would be 50 to a hundred long and there were even ticket touts cashing in by selling tickets at a premium. On Saturdays, there would also be a midnight movie and these were packed as well.

    I have of course more stories but there would be too many to write about.

    (** now redeveloped by the owners into My Village.)

    ****** Moderator kindly use my 2nd post as the earlier one had some grammatical errors – thanks)

  47. Richard Foo Say Sweng says:

    There is confusion over whether the name of this unique neighbourhood is Serangoon Gardens or Serangoon Garden. Some landmarks use the singular version such as Serangoon Garden Circus, Serangoon Garden Way, Serangoon Garden District and Serangoon Garden Secondary School. Others would retain the plural version, as in Serangoon Gardens Post Office and Serangoon Gardens Country Club.

    Both singular and plural versions have been used since Serangoon Gardens was first developed in the fifties.

    ==========================================================================

    I would say the correct historical name of the neighbourhood should either be Serangoon Gardens or Serangoon Garden Estate which referred to it in the past.

    But nowadays people, even some government bodies, tend to refer to it (incorrectly) as Serangoon Garden (without the “s”)..

  48. Marleni R. says:

    Reading all these memories about Serangoon Gardens Estate has made me so happy! My parents bought our family home in 1963– on Berwick Drive right next to the first bus-stop. My mother still lives there and it remains perhaps the only home on the street that has been extensively renovated but not torn down and re-built.
    I remember as a young child playing in the big open monsoon drain infront of our house especially after a big rainstorm when there would be guppies in it which had escaped from the fish farms behind our house. In the evenings, all the ladies would hang plastic bags of food scraps on their front gates and these would be collected by a farmer from the kampong behind who would add them to the swill he cooked for his pigs. Sometimes the farmer would take his big boar for a walk down Berwick Drive and I would walk along with him past a few houses before my grandmother would call me home. My brothers and I would also cycle down to the “attap shop” (where the Community Center was later built) on weekends to buy chunks of ice which was coated in sawdust to keep it from melting. We could get 2 bottles of F&N soft drink to be shared between the 3 of us. At the Circle I remember a Thai lady who used to sell mee siam at the corner where Ming Garden Coffee Shop is now located. She had a pet monkey who used to hang out in a big tree by the sidewalk and the monkey would smoke cigarettes that the bus drivers used to give him.

    • JohnHill says:

      In my day as a young staff sergeant in the army based at RAF Seletar we lived in the brand new homes in Jalan Pacheli. We were surrounded by army, navy and Air force personal. I don’t remember any local people in the whole street. I would cycle daily to Seletar along the dreaded Yu Chu Kang road and even cycle to Changi along the Tampines Road.
      At weekend’s many of us would eat in the Captain’s cabin or the Ocean Bar.
      Sadly my children never had the opportunity to play with any of the local children. THey were all Brits but she did manage a few words of Cantonese from Lan, the Armah. One high point was attending the wedding of Dato Saids daughter at Pongol. What a ceremony.Dato worked for me in the telephone exchange. I often wonder what happened to all my locally enlisted soldiers. Did they all return to their villages in Malaya or did some settle in Singapore. Wonderful memories and some of us old soldiers meet every year in the UK and reminisce of those good old days

    • Marleni, if you are on Facebook, please join our group Memories of Serangoon Gardens in the 50s, 60s & 70s. Here is the link.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/288096541221505/

  49. Steven Lauw says:

    My family lived in Serangoon Gardens from about 1952 – 1967 and our house was at 2 Crowhurst Drive (missed out in the list of the roads above) between Medway and Bloxhome Drives. I still remember the Sebastiens at number 3, Lims at number 7 or 9 and the Macintyres next to them.
    It was so different from today and the streets didn’t seem as narrow as they do now. Certainly there were very few cars parked along the streets in the evenings
    Next to the Serangoon Gardens Circus was the bus terminus (which was unpaved so it turned muddy when it rained) and the hawkers center which had a famous hokkien mee stall – don’t know what’s happened to it but the son took over from the father then and he himself must be almost 70 yrs old now.
    The wet market was located where the Chomp Chomp food center is today with the post office across the road
    On the opposite side of the road across from the bus terminus and next to the Serangoon Gardens Sports Club were a row of wooden shacks where I had my regular haircut from the Indian barbers.
    Instead of the extended Serangoon Garden Way which at that time stopped at Tavistock Ave next to the Zion Church, there was Cheng San Road which was a dirt track and led deep into a rubber estate and farms where we used to catch spiders and fish..
    To get to town we had to take an hour ride on the STC (Singapore Traction Company) 18A or 18B bus service. Buses then didn’t have airconditioning and so it was hot and they weren’t half as comfortable as those today.
    In the 1960’s after Lorong Chuan was built we had a weekly Thursday night road side market which was the highlight of the week – together with the open air nightime movie shows at the Serangoon Gardens Sports Club..
    At Lorong Chuan there was a tannery which gave a terrible “pong” as well as a crocodile farm.
    The houses then were the same original design unlike today where we have a mix or single to 3 story houses many of which just don’t blend..

    How it’s changed since then.

  50. 壹峯陳 says:

    anyone interested to know how chomp chomp got its name? I got the information from one of the person who come out with the name. actually hythe road,court road and worthing road are called 椰腳低。 (nothing to do with the naming of chomp chomp.

  51. 壹峯陳 says:

    there was a kampong next to serangoon garden north across the drain. there are a lot of coconut trees there.therefore hythe road,worthing road and court road has the name of 椰腳底。

    至於忠忠熟食中心, 據知當初命名之時小販們因為不識字,找實群中學幫忙。而學校開會之後決定命名為忠忠。取自忠忠外水溝流水滾下的聲音。 而今經過忠忠熟食中心再也看不到水溝也看不到“忠忠熟食中心”的牌匾。還記得當初的忠忠都是用圓桌,外頭的桌子,一桌少說也有10多人。

    • JohnHill says:

      Wasn’t that between Jalan Pacheli and the main Serangoon Gdns area. I remember there was one….and I remember the snakes in there, yellow and black stripes. It is now a main link road back into Serangoon. I lived in Jalan Pacheli

  52. Who remembers Hai Meng Yuen Restaurant & Bar at Serangoon Gardens (1963/64)?

    Thanks to Peter Cunneen


    (Photo Credit: Peter Cunneen)

  53. Gillian (nee smith) says:

    hello Tony E,

    This is Gillian (Gill) nee Smith, thank you so much for replying to our message. It is so nice to know that we have been remembered, your message rekindled a lot of good memories. You mentioned in your first message that we lived to the left of you, after much discussion with my sisters and mother could it be that we lived to the right of you as we remember playing jacks also, and coming round your house to watch cartoons as we didn’t have a television. Myself and carol also remember coming round your house and eating a bowl of rice with your family. To our right lived an Indian family but their house was not adjoined like ours as it was higher up. My sisters and I was always amazed watching you fly your kite as we could never understand how you managed to get it so high without any wind, we also remember your New Years celebrations when you would let off all the fire works from your balcony. My mother has memories of you burning money at the bottom of you garden but cannot remember why. Our good memories are still very vivid visiting many beautiful places like the botanical gardens and the amhas market, eating sugar cane and watching dragon dances in the Chinese celebration amongst many other things. Carol says hello and how are you? and was interested to see your now living in California, that must be very different from the old days in penshurst place, by the way carol is still wearing her cute spectacles. We are all living in Yorkshire, England now and have been for a number of years. Do you remember my other sisters Anne and Rita, we also have a 6th sister called eileen who was born a year after we left Singapore, We recall you having a brother and sister.
    We look forward to hearing back from you, take care, regards gill.

    • Tony Eng says:

      Hi Gillian and a big hello to you, Carol (as I still remembered that your sisters or was it you whom once wrote in colored chalk on the driveway at your front gate “Carol loves Tony” :). Sure nice to hear from you both after having responded to Susan’s note. Sorry for the confusion – I meant your house was to the left of ours when I am facing the front of our house or it would be to the right when I am looking out onto the street. Your house was #23 and ours next to you #25. The Indian family on separated by a brush path was a kid by the name of Kingsley. Their house is now a 3 storey double unit home with 2 parking lots on the street level – its incredible what the architects can design to make use of the limited space and build upwards for more room. Can you believe that the house you were living it (priced at about S$25K in the early 1960s) was sold at a price of Singapore $4.2M and the new owners practically demolished it and build 2 units on the same lot with room for car parks.
      As for your other younger siblings, I can only remember there was a fourth girl in your house and a baby(if y memory hasn’t failed me). As for the burning of “money”, they were incense which at that time, my mother used to burn when she was then a Taoist/Buddhist and now a Christian as most of my other brothers and sisters and extended families are now. And yes I have 4 other brothers and sisters – the ones whom you might remember are my elder brothers Alan, Larry and sister, Lilian.
      Now for the kite flying – the trick to flying the kite is to get it above the roof line of the terrace houses as fast as you can at the start (that’s how you can catch the wind or a stronger breeze then at street level) with a fast run down a good stretch of the street to begin the flight. :)
      btw – I have an aunt (mom’s youngest sister) who is living in London.
      Do you all use Skype? If so, and if you are OK with it, let’s all Skype or we can email and or Facebook. I think it would be fun and great if you are cool with that. Let me know, please.
      Warm Regards,
      Tony

    • Tony Eng says:

      Hi Gillian: FYI – Pls check your FB “other folder” mail Inbox. I sent you, Carol and Susan messages.
      Rgds,
      Tony

  54. Monica says:

    Great pictures of old Serangoon Gardens.

  55. ChamonixAsia says:

    Bloxhome Drive seems to be missing from your streetname listings……it is most likely a misspelling of Bloxham, a conservation village in North Oxfordshire…

  56. Lesley Annable says:

    Reading through brings back many memories of living in Serangoon from 1963 to 1965. We lived in Crichton drive I actually thought it was close but could be wrong. I remember walking through the campong to get into the village.

  57. tony leggett says:

    As an RAF brat of 9/10, I lived on both Bridport avenue and Borthwick drive ’67 to ’69 and schooled at Seletar camp. I have memories of playing football on the local sports field, eatings coconut from the vendors at the market, paper cones of peanuts bought before going to the pictures and comic exchange 2 for 1 from a little stand at the end of the shops. I can still picture the layout but am sure looks nothing like it anymore. Tony leggett

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