Our Favourite Playgrounds of Yesteryears

How many of you have spent hours of your childhood playing in these sand-based playgrounds with local-styled designs? Many of them, built in the late seventies, are the works of Khor Ean Ghee (born 1935), Maria Boey, Lee Kwee Wah and Chew Chek Peng, the former in-house designers of the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

The memories of these playgrounds are precious to a whole generation of Singaporeans born between the seventies and eighties. Today, most of them were demolished, with only a few of them forgotten in the corners of the old estates. It is a matter of time before they vanish and be replaced by the new plastic playgrounds with rubber mats.

Deemed safer and more hygienic for the children, the new playgrounds have been installed all over the island since 1993. But their designs, which are almost identical to one another, seem to be lacking of some local elements.

Dragon Playgrounds

Arguably the most iconic locally designed playground, there are currently only four dragon playgrounds left in Singapore. Two can be found in Toa Payoh, one in Ang Mo Kio and a small one is located at Circuit Road.

The majestic dragon playground along Toa Payoh Lorong 6 still retains its originality with its sand box, while the other two dragons have been refurbished with rubber mats. With ladders, slides and a long metal body, it is ideal for the training of kids’ agility and their adventurous spirit. Not forgetting it is also a perfect place to play catching or police and thief.

Most of the dragon playgrounds were built between 1979 and the early eighties, and last slightly more than a decade before phasing out.

Pelican, Tortoise and Rabbit Playground

This is another iconic representative of local playgrounds. The pelican, tortoise and rabbit playground were once commonly found in many neighbourhoods. Today, only one is left standing at Dover Road, awaiting for demolition this year.

The pelican, covered with blue or red mosaic tiles, was like a mini fortress for kids, allowing them to climb through the hole to the top, or they could simple lie inside its “beak”. This playground used to be accompanied by a set of swings and a merry-go-round.

chai chee pelican playground 1990s

Vintage Animals Playground

Without any movable parts, this vintage playground is simply made up of stone structures in the shapes of duck (green), elephant (green) and horse (blue) where kids can ride on them. Likely to be built in the early seventies, its simple design reflects the innocence of that era. Located at Toa Payoh Lorong 8, it has brought joy to countless children of yesteryears.

Until the mid-nineties, Bukit Merah still retained a set of these colourful vintage animals.

Dove Playgrounds

Another design by Khor Ean Ghee in 1979, this dove playground is still around at the sleepy estate of Datoka Crescent. The concrete dove is linked by a metal bridge to a pyramidal structure fitted with rubber tyres as swings underneath.

The other remaining Dove Playground in Singapore, now refurbished with rubber mats, is situated between Block 219 and 230 at Bukit Batok. There is no bridge linked between the dove and the pyramidal structure.

Clementi used to have the dove playground too, but it was demolished many years ago.

Elephant Playground

At one end of the Pasir Ris Park, an elephant-themed sand-based playground is situated within the compound of the Home Team (NS) Pasir Ris Chalets. Also being built at the same period as the dragon, pelican and dove playgrounds, it still looks relatively new, probably due to its isolated location where few children, other than the chalet tenants, will visit.

With no duplicated design elsewhere in Singapore, the elephant playground with its trunk acting as slides is a unique piece of work on its own.

Sparrow Playground

A small sparrow-shaped playground sits quietly at Clementi central, between West Coast Town Council and Block 444. A large part of Clementi central has gone through a major facelift in recent years, except for this area. Most of the tenants and residents here have already moved out, and the demolition is expected to be completed by mid-2012.

Watermelon Playgrounds

Currently there are two watermelon playgrounds in Singapore; the one at Pipit Road is sand-based (near the baby dragon playground mentioned above) whereas the other at Tampines Central Park has been refurbished with rubber mats.

Creatively shaped like a slice of watermelon, the playground structures are decorated with red, white (or yellow) and green mosaic tiles to resemble the flesh and skin of a watermelon. There are also holes on the walls to represent the melon seeds.

Mangosteen Playground

The mangosteen playground is just 20m away from the watermelon playground at Tampines Central Park. It consists of two giant purple mangosteen-shaped domes linked together by a thick horizontal bar. The swings attached to the bar were removed years ago.

Pineapple Playground

The pineapple playground is one of the three fruity-themed playgrounds at Tampines Central Park, but it is also the only one that has been torn down recently in 2009/10.

Wonder why there are no playgrounds in the shape of durians, the unofficial national fruit of Singapore?

Clock Playground

Located at Bishan bus interchange, the clock playground looks like a page out of a fairy tale, with colourful appearance and bold curvatures. It is likely to be built in the early eighties together with the bus interchange when Bishan was being developed into a new town in 1982.

Another similar clock playground once stood in Pasir Ris. Somehow the numberings of the clocks were missing.

Sampan Playground

Sampans used to be a common sight at the Singapore River in the old times. The idea was being incorporated into the design of this unique playground near Pasir Ris’ Elias Mall. “Eyes” and tyres are also added, making it looks just like a real sampan.

Rickshaw Playground

Another brilliant design modelled after a significant local transport of the past, this rickshaw playground, however, was no longer around found in Singapore. In the nineties, there was one with two huge red wheels outside Yishun Town Council at Block 845.

Dinosaurs Playgrounds

Certainly an innovative yet weird design for a playground in Singapore, the dinosaur playground at Kim Keat Avenue is built in 2000. The structures are shaped after two tyrannosaurus and a stegosaurus. Daring kids can attempt to climb up the back of the mother tyrannosaurus.

At Fu Shan Garden of Woodlands Street 81, there is also an old dinosaurs-themed playground. The main characters here are two ouranosaurus and the long-necked brontosaurus. Children can slide down in between these prehistoric creatures made of stones.

Crocodile and Kangaroo Playground

tampines sun plaza park crocodile playground 1998

This was one fierce looking crocodile at the SunPlaza Park along Tampines Ave 7. Built in 1998, it was torn down recently and replaced by a new plastic playground. There used to be a kangaroo beside the crocodile too!

Teapot and Mushroom Playground

The teapot and mushroom playground was an award-winning design built at Woodlands Vista Park in 2001. It was done by the same design company that also created the Kim Keat dinosaur playground and the crocodile playground at Tampines. However, the teapot structure was replaced by a new plastic playground while the two mushroom seats are retained.

Adventure Playground

One of the most popular playgrounds among boys in the early nineties, the design of this playground is mainly made up of horizontal and diagonal metal bars, completed with two slides, swings and see-saws.

There is only one such playground left in Singapore today, standing inside the restricted compound of a HUDC (Housing and Urban Development Company) private estate called Lakeview Estate at Upper Thomson Road. (Editor Note: The photos are kindly provided by a reader named George Wong who has fond memories of this type of playground)

One of the favourite games that kids used to play in this playground was perhaps “catching”, or “police and thieves”, where the game was made difficult by having a rule that no one could come in contact with the sand, or he would be penalised.

As the height of the highest level was more than 3m, it could be quite dangerous for any kids to climb to the top. There were cases of children badly injured after falling off the bars, thus it is no wonder that this design was also being phased out like other local playgrounds.

In the nineties, there was a playground of the same design located near Yishun Avenue 6, and another situated at Block 144 Silat Road.

Train Playground

The interesting tilting train at the adventure playground is the product of an upgrade of the Tiong Bahru Park in 2000. Tiong Bahru Park was set up in 1967 to serve the residents of Tiong Bahru, Hendersen, Bukit Ho Swee and Bukit Merah.

Swings, See-Saws and Merry-go-rounds

Swings, see-saws and merry-go-rounds used to be integrated parts of local playgrounds. Due to safety concerns, they were slowly phased out, especially the large metal merry-go-rounds. Swings are still commonly seen but the wooden see-saws are a rarity nowadays. Below is a standalone set of swings at the junction of Jalan Kayu and Yio Chu Kang Road.

How many of you were ever bullied by some plump heavy kids who would sit on one end of the see-saw, leaving you suspended in the air at the other end? The old see-saws used to be made of long wooden planks, unlike the short ones found at the watermelon playground at Pipit Road.

Only three merry-go-rounds are left in Singapore. There is a yellow one at Tiong Bahru’s train playground, a large original type at the sleepy estate beside Begonia Road and the one at the Upper Seletar Reservoir has a non-traditional design.

Many of us will not forget the giddy sensation on a merry-go-round, where the naughty ones would frighten the others by pushing the merry-go-round at very high speed. For the kids, it was such an exciting yet dangerous experience.

Playgrounds Then And Now

The history of local modern playground goes back to more than 60 years back. It is interesting to see how the designs of our local playgrounds have changed over the decades.

A large part of the population still lived in kampong during the fifties and sixties so playgrounds were usually installed in the downtown. The playground at Hong Lim Park had monkey bars, a slide and a merry-go-round.

Swings and see-saws were the main attractions at this former playground located at Aliwal Street, near the former Chong Cheng/Chong Pun Primary Schools and the old Kampong Glam Community Centre.

A popular playground for many kids and students in the sixties, there were also public basketball and badminton courts nearby. The playground was prone to flooding during heavy storms, but that did not stop the playful children who would play with paper or wooden boats in the pools of water. Kite-flying was one of the favourtite pastimes for the teens in a hot sunny day.

The Aliwal Street Playground had since been torn down ages ago and replaced by an open-air carpark today.

When new towns were developed, playgrounds became essential facilities. This one was part of the estate when Toa Payoh was built in 1968.

Stunts of yesteryears would probably be deemed as too dangerous for kids today. In the past, bold boys and girls had no problem climbing up and sitting on bars 2m tall.

The local flavoured designs by Khor Ean Ghee from the seventies to eighties would probably go down as the representatives of playgrounds in the history of Singapore.

Moving into the nineties, beside the complete makeover in the designs of playgrounds, the materials used also switched from concrete to mainly plastic.

As the society progresses, what will the next generation of playgrounds look like? When they grow up, will our children have fond memories of their childhoods spent at the playgrounds? Only time will tell…

Last but not least, this is a modern playground in the abandoned estate of Neo Tiew.

Published: 06 January 2012

Updated: 11 September 2016

This entry was posted in Cultural and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

177 Responses to Our Favourite Playgrounds of Yesteryears

  1. There was also another old playground with three levels of horizontal and vertical bars, completed with two slides and some swings. Used to be one of my favourite playgrounds during childhood.

    However, I couldn’t find any pictures of it…

    • Willie says:

      Yes, and it is shape like a tall tower right? Only the brave one will walk/climb all the way up to the top platform (rect), which is half the size of the other platform (square). It usually goes together with the sparrow slide. I hope we are mentioning the same thing… 🙂

    • Jerald Tay says:

      there is one near hougang central interchange,next to the new play ground,you may be intrested

  2. Hello! I wonder if I’m the only one that RSS-ed your blog. Thanks for the memories!!! Will spread to my social networks. =)

  3. Jared Seah says:

    Another wonder jog through memory lane!

    We also got the rides and climbs you featured under Toa Payoh 1975 in Queenstown. I remember climbing to the top of the “Ball” metal structure (in the background), got scared, and dare not climb down until mommy helped me down. So malu!

    I missed the swings. Especially the wooden seat ones. They can swing really high. But I guessed they are quite dangerous as once I knocked into my sister’s head with it 😦 The replaced tyre swings not the same. Harder to swing way up high…

    The merry-go-round is fun except I’ve learnt never do it on a full stomach. I did a full Merlion once! LOL!

  4. Hi, I remember when I was young, I used to play at this big castle Shape playground , located at Simei St 3. It has a maze at the side before you can go into the castle. I do not know whether it’s still there. Wonderful memories..

    • Fadhilah says:

      Unfortunately it isn’t! I used to play there a lot when I was a kid too. It’s long gone and has changed into a plastic playground with only two slides

  5. Dan says:

    Those were the days when you could round up at least 6 neighbours to play with anytime after school without any thoughts for homework, and we still make good now. Where you play football in the school compound, with a plastic ball after school and not get chased out. Making cherry guns from planks of soft drinks crates, catching spiders etc. Now my kids do not have much leisure time, can’t possibly get friends/neighbours to play with, without tuition concerns and homework. Have we really progressed? I do not know who was happier in thier childhood days.

  6. xelaboy says:

    Great photos – I posted a piece on my PlayGroundology blog about Singapre playgrounds when the commemorative stamp set was issued. This is much more comprehensive – nice piece. Thanks

    • Wow, your playground blog is impressive, covering many of the playgrounds from around the world!
      *Have added the link to your comment

      • xelaboy says:

        Thanks it’s a lot of fun discovering other people like yourself make the time to share a little magic about the world of play. I thought it was so cool that Singapore had issued stamps about their playgrounds. It looks like your post is very popular. All the best.

  7. abao says:

    imo, these playgrounds have real flavour to them… it somehow feels much more authentic and close compared to the safe and watered down designs we see today.

  8. anonymous says:

    I love your blog , hope you continue to post more !

  9. weiq says:

    my gosh the photo of the Boon Lay clock playground is a tear-jerker! use to live in Boon Lay Place, and go to that area after school..

    btw if i remember correctly there’s use to be also a dragon playground near the mainroad/in front of the Yuhua Market & Hawker Centre.

    • vivien says:

      yep there was a dragon playground there.. me and my frens still use “dragon playground” to refer to that market.. =D

      also.. more than once in primary school.. me and a few frens walked from yuhua to boon lay interchange.. stopping at every playground and playing for awhile.. amazing memories.. and we all did well for PSLE.. i sometimes feel sad for the kids nowadays.. =(

      • Syazwan says:

        I was a Yuhua primary school student, where the school’s back gate is just facing the dragon playground… I used to go there with my frens after school every day. I think i was one of the last generation of kids to enjoy the playground there. I was in pri sch from 1998 -2003. The playground was changed after that. good memories. N i did well for my PSLE as well

  10. KL says:

    I could find many childhood memories from the Hong Lim Park playground. Thank for recpaturing.

  11. Winnie says:

    Only after reading your blog, then i realized i had missed out so much fun in tampines’ park though i had lived in tampines estate for close to 20 + yrs … i will want to bring my baby gal there to explore …

  12. sgbakegirl says:

    lovely walk down memory lane…so nostalgic…thank you 🙂

  13. Doe says:

    Great blog. Brought back lots of old memories. Spent so many afternoons playing in the sandpit digging for god-knows-what, spinning on the metallic merry-go-round till dizzy and then dare-devil jumping off; challenging other kids on the swing to go higher; and yes I was one of those who got bullied at the see-saw by a bigger kid. Wasn’t funny back then, but it’s pretty comical now thinking back. Thanks for blogging this topic!

  14. Mike Lim says:

    It really is kind of sad that sandbox playgrounds are being all but phased. I didn’t get to go to the beach very often as a kid so for the most past, I spent my time rolling in and building castles in playground sandboxes. Good times.

  15. Kane Chew says:

    There was also a Dragon playground at Tampines St 21, sandwiched between Blk205 & 207.

    Pity I did not have a photo of it.

  16. nwping13 says:

    I remember there is a playground with one tall mountain, 2 Himalayas and a small hill linked with bridges. These kind of playground somehow had helped me in my army training days, where I had to climbed up the rope, balanced myself and more… It had helped me physical and mentally. It’s really sad that most of the playgrounds had been demolished. Most of the playground are more entertaining than those new one. I will try to bring my kids to those existing before they are going to be demolished.

  17. Willie says:

    There is also a playground with swinging/moving bridges. It made of wood, and hold up and connected by metal chains. Most of us like to jump from the bridge, which is probably 1.5 m high. It even have a cargo net on one side I think. I love this playground as it is the most fun to play ‘catching’. Lots of running away and easy climbing up and down, as compared to other playground. There is one at Bukit Gombak. Anyone recall? 🙂

  18. Are there any more old forgotten playgrounds hidden at some corners of Singapore?
    Please let me know if you happen to spot one not mentioned above 😉

  19. Roger White says:

    What a wonderful nostalgic post, and a great video too from Melvin Boey. \thanks.

  20. vivien says:

    another thing about the safety issue.. i rmb climbing up monkey bars and sitting up there for a long time.. even eating up there.. and most of the time jumping down after..
    now.. monkey bars have been changed to the triangle type.. no more climbing up =(

    i also rmb this rope thing in my pri school.. where we would compete to see who could climb up and touch the top wooden bar the fastest.. or tie two ropes together to use as swings.. i dun think it exist anymore..

  21. I found out from an old newspaper cutting that there once existed a Trishaw Playground at Eunos

    It looked quite similar to the Rickshaw Playground.. 🙂

  22. serenelai says:

    Reblogged this on Miss Serene Lai's English Blog and commented:
    This is so very nostalgic. Wonderful walk down memory lane of what playgrounds used to be like in my days.

  23. Roy says:

    Thanks to Remember Singapore if not I also never know the history of these playgrounds and the locations.


  24. Daniel says:

    while looking though this post, it brought back lots of memories. wooden see-saw, swings made of rubber tyres, slides and merry-go-round that we would spin ourselves crazy! Not forgetting the bleeding knee that all of us suffer when we fall at the play-ground!

    use to remember my grand-dad picking me up after school from kindergarten, he would always allow me 1/2 hour to play at the play-ground while he sits at the stone stools beside the play-ground with an watchful eye! Before going home its always a trip to the ‘kek-ai’ (grand-dad and Mum always calls the small provision shop that) for a yakult and chewing gum (i always remember i have to hide at a corner at home to drink and eat these for my Mum forbids me from consuming all these!)

    Really wonderful memories, I think kids these days are missing out on lots of fun that we have experienced during our younger days! seriously i dont think an iPhone, DS or PSP can replace all the fun that we use to have!

  25. National says:

    There is still a merry-go-round at Begonia Road, off Yio Chu Kang Road. Do visit it before it gets demolished.

  26. Love the oldies photo. Classic !
    Can I share my album too, modern touch, with young kids 🙂

  27. Remembering the young youthful days of my life.

    Should let th younger generations have some of these.

  28. bear says:

    serangoon north used to have a shoehouse playground i think

  29. Pamela says:

    There are more adventurous types that are not featured here. There was one below my blk at Tampines between Blk 914 & 915, it was those that are made of concrete slides and metal rods criss-crossing for climbing up to 5meters. It was removed in the early 2000s. This type wasn’t much featured but it is part of the 80s design.

  30. Pingback: “Changing Landscapes” in Southeast Asia | Encountering Urbanization

  31. This was another old-styled sand-based local playground in an old neighbourhood, with rabbit, tortoise, giraffe structures and slides and see-saws.
    No longer around…

    • Leong CK says:

      Yup. This one, I used to play on. Telok Blangah area got a lot of this. Another kind at Blk 1 there, demolished, build and demolished. Both also old kind. Sad. 😦

    • Sarah says:

      Ah! YES! I was hunting for a photograph of a playground I grew up playing at Clementi Ave 4, and it looks something like this!

      As I was trying to hunt for photos and information to write my blog post, I chanced upon yours. These are some wonderful photographs and commentary you have here. I am so sad to learn that there are no others like this particular one anywhere now for me to visit.

      But I want to really say a BIG thank you for taking such effort and pains to document these playgrounds. Really glad that at least we still have photos of those lost to time and progress.

      Btw, this is my own memory piece about the old playgrounds. http://theplayfulparents.com/2012/06/singapores-old-heritage-playgrounds/

  32. haidir85 says:

    Reblogged this on Singapore Mosques – Past & Present and commented:
    Good Blog

  33. Jane says:

    The saddest thing is, such “dangerous” playgrounds and “dirty” sandboxes are still very much alive here in Germany. It’s everything a kid can ask for… the site is huge, full of shiny high slides, ropes, swings, see-saws, bridges, towers, monkey bars, flying fox… and even rock-climbing walls! I really envy the kids there. And nobody has heard of HFMD too.

  34. Schoolboys used to undress and play in the water fountain at HongLin park.
    They hid their uniform in the bushes and the warden will throw it into the trash.

  35. Oh such wonderful memories flows back into my mind as I looked at these pictures. It helps me to recall those days when I was a child, I love playing at such playgrounds together with my sisters.

  36. Ian Row, Melbourne, Australia says:

    Does anyone remember the maze that was at Seletar Reservoir? And is the ‘rocket’ still up?

  37. Jil says:

    Hi i would like to know if you could find pictures of this old playground nestled in the block of flats opposite the whampoa cc?? Although i’m still a teenager, i used to have fond memories of playing there while i was still in PCF kindegarten. it got demolised about 5 years ago i think.. Would really appreciate your help to locate pictures of it. It boosted a large slide with a dragon’s head and below it was a single rubber tire, if this helps.

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Thanks, will post it if I come across the old photos.
      I also hope to locate all the former Dragon playgrounds in Singapore. There are only 4 of them left, but I’m sure in the late eighties, there were at least a dozen of them islandwide 😉

    • Another dragon playground that was demolished a few years back, posted by gordonator.blogspot.com. This one should be in Yishun (not confirmed).

      • Cris says:

        This should be in Jurong East. Near to Parc Oasis.

      • Jil says:

        Yup the dragon playground is similar to this one except that it already was refurnished with rubber mats since about 12 years ago..? Also, just for curiosity’s sake, i was wondering are there still any playgrounds with sand left in Singapore? My friends and i got inspired by you and we plan to visit the remaining old playgrounds in Sg at the end of this year 😛

  38. betsy says:

    Sparrow playground at clementi central blk 444 – DEMOLISHED
    clock playground at Boon Lay – DEMOLISHED

  39. TK says:

    Pelican, tortoise and rabbit playground at Dover road has been DEMOLISHED.

    • Passed by Toa Payoh today and the vintage playground is under renovation.
      The vintage pieces of the duck, horse and elephant are moved to one corner… Not sure if they going to retain them

  40. With refernce to the photo “Liang Seah Sreet Playground” 1963…I recognized this playground but it is not Liang Seah Street, but rather it is the playground in front of the old Kampong Glam community centre. On the left of the pix, should be Chong Cheng/Chong pun primary boys/girls school. An important clue is shorter tree in the pix…I remember it..the leaves were used by some from the Indian community to roll up beetle nuts for chewing. Also the public toilet is another giveaway it was used by the street hawkers in the vicinity.

    • I took a photo recently at approximately the same spot just to validate my point. Although the whole place had changed, the background of the building remains about the same, they are still standing today.

      • It was indeed the playground at Aliwal Street instead of Liang Seah Street which is several streets away. Thanks for the feedback Wai Fun.

      • wai fun says:

        This was my childhood playground in the 60s and am quite familiar with this area. Once my neighbour and I climbed up to the roof of the public toilet to pose for a photo but couldn’t get down thereafter and had to be helped down by some adults..so paiseh 🙂 Chong Cheng school my late parents mentioned during ww2 a Japanese plane blew a gaping hole on its roof.

    • Jassirphine Siok says:

      Yes, I used to visit that playground when I was a liitle girl together with some of my cousins and sisters together with our grandfather. It was a sweet mermories back then. He always mentioned that our parents were the students of the Chongcheng and Chong Pun Boys/Girls School. What we enjoyed most was the swings which we would challenge each other to see who can swing the highest and walking along the see-saw from one side to the other.
      Now, where do we have the time to bring our children to visit all places with all the busy school schedules and tuitions going on? Please return the active, innocents children to us.

  41. JF says:

    The watermelon playground at Pipit Road have become rubber mat playground already. 😦

  42. plasma08 says:

    the rubber mat playground is so boring

  43. olly says:

    Thanks so much RememberSingapore for this wonderful hobby you have that really brings is closer as Singaporeans through these beautiful shared memories !!

    Wanted to ask you if you’ve any idea the name of the award garnered by our dragon playground ? Heard it did win something 🙂

  44. olly says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful hobby that brings us Singaporeans together through our shared memories ! this blogsite is beautiful 🙂

    I’ve heard the dragon playground won some award? Any idea about that?

  45. afgy6h says:

    Sir, do you have the elephant playground? There was one in Pandan Gardens at Block 47 (I think), now replaced by a new plastic one. I think there is still an old playground left in Clementi (may it be saved as part of our heritage) where the old A&W used to be, right at the end of the Clementi Hawker Centre.

    • The little sparrow playground at Clementi Town Centre was demolished a few weeks ago

      • EMF says:

        Actually, I made a trip down recently. If you go to the top level of block 442 and look down, you should still be able to see the sparrow playground still behing the hoardings. That’s what I did. better make a trip there soon. I guess it will be demolished very soon.

  46. kuet says:

    Hi All, anyone know this old water playground in 60′ at Eastern part of Singapore? I think the name is 金宫水上游乐? Paddle boat is the main attraction. Trying to get the info for my family book lar 🙂 I have few old photos about this place.

  47. Found a pair of old school see-saws at Saunders Road, around Emerald Hill…

  48. S Goh says:

    Perhaps you should do a comparison of new playgrounds and old playgrounds.. the new ones are barely ‘playable’ (see the one across the bridge from Lavender MRT for example)

  49. dan says:

    I always passby this park in Pasir Ris where there’s a playground. Unfortunately they upgraded and left this…

  50. The first ever dragon playground was built at Toa Payoh Town Gardens in 1975. Perhaps not very well received, it was demolished soon after that to be replaced by a temporary bus terminus.

    There are several photos of old playgrounds at Toa Payoh and Woodlands at http://mynicehome.sg/2012/07/30/its-playtime-riding-the-dragon/

  51. Ash says:

    Omg this is precious. I nearly cried when I saw the Clementi dove playground, I played it in this one and also another one in Clementi Ave 2, just outside PAP kindergarten. That one had a wooden suspension bridge between the pyramid structure and the dove. Thanks for uploading this.

  52. LiShan says:

    There used to be a tower like maze playground in yewtee area at the park there. I’m not sure if it is still there as there’s another 2 playground in a 100m radius. That playground was pretty nice for adventurous kids however that playground have more drunk/smokers users than kids as you can find broken glass bottles everywhere and cigarettes butt.

  53. chelsea says:

    the watermelon playground in pipit rd is demolished too!!!!!!!!!! Sad……..

  54. A group of students having fun at an adventure playground in the 1980s… Location unknown

  55. sophiazz says:

    fantastic website and post

    here’s one that is not too exciting – taken in 2004, forgot where, maybe commonwealth.

    this one’s from 2003, seletar hills market

    this one’s from 2005, seletar west farmway 6

  56. EMF says:

    theres this kampong playground at woodlands town garden

  57. EMF says:

    Hey everyone. I just passed by the watermelon playground at tampines central park. The watermelon structure with the slide is surrounded with red hoardings. Is that watermelon playrgound going to be demolished as well. By the way, the mangosteen playground looks worse than ever. There’s so muc graffiti inside

  58. timinsingapore says:

    As an expat angmoh I feel nostalgic just reading these posts – and I didn’t even grow up here!

  59. More photos of the merry-go-round at Begonia Road… the last original merry-go-round left in Singapore!

    The rusty spinning wheel…

    The familiar patterns…

  60. Kelvin says:

    Just passby Boon Lay clock playground I think going gone soon too

  61. EMF says:

    Sparrow playground still there, apparently. Went there toady and no one seems to be inside the construction site. Work seems to have stopped for quite a while

  62. Beautiful colour photo of Toa Payoh in the late 1960s (with the playgrounds in the foreground)

    (Source: Facebook Group “On a little street in Singapore”)

  63. Children having fun at a playground in Bukit Merah (1990s)

  64. A sand-based playground surrounded by flats in the 1980s
    However, I have no idea which housing estate this was… Anyone knows? 😉

    The playground was in the same design category as the one shown in the article (Adventure Playground, Marine Parade 1991)

  65. NY says:

    Thanks for the photos and contributions from all.

    Anyone has photos of the old playground in Jalan Remaja near Hillview? I’d love to share it with my children what their mom’s playground looks like.

    I always look out for playgrounds with space to run and tall structure to climb, and fall so they learn.

  66. NY says:

    Thanks for the great blog post. Great effort!

  67. Evonne says:

    Thanks for such a good post! I am looking for the playground that was at telok blangah heights wet market and hawker, it was right in ftont of a row of shophouses with a goldsmith shop. It was so unique and crazily dangerous. It was a large concrete hill with a plateau with three slides, to get to the top, one face of the hill would be covered with numerous “U” shaped iron rods. One could use these “steps” to climb up the hill. This structure was even more fun during the rainy season because it would be flooded with a moat of water at the foot all around. This structure was accompanied with a set of two swings and a green metal merry go round. I really want to see a photo of this playground again! Good times!

  68. EMF says:

    There is a recent condo LA Fiesta that is having a dragon playground, I think

  69. TL says:

    Thanks for sharing the memories about the old playgrounds. 20 yrs back i remembered playing at my grandma’s hse in whampoa. The playground had lots of yellow dividers – something like a maze. there is also 2 tires for swings. Those were the good old days..

  70. Yuki says:

    I was born in 1996, but even I have memories of playing in these sandy playgrounds… 🙂

  71. Ai Shan says:

    Hi Rem@SG, thank you for capturing our memories and posting them here. (:

  72. The Pelican, Tortoise and Rabbit Playground on grass, instead of sand!

    Photo Credit: 25 Years with the people 1960-1985: People’s Association 25th Anniversary Publication

  73. Mr Khor Ean Ghee… Truly the father of Singapore playgrounds

    (Source: MyPaper)

  74. The “Playsets of Yesteryears” at Raffles Place, an outdoor exhibition by the National Park Board commemorating 50 years of greening Singapore

    Got swings, seesaws and even a merry-go-round

  75. wenlin says:

    wow, really cool post on the old playgrounds. is there any chance you could provide specific details on the locations of each of the playgrounds that are still in existence? you’ve listed the roads above but not the blocks…

    thanks! 🙂

  76. The old playground is/are still the best ever

  77. MNFA says:

    Finally found a picture of the Adventure Playground which was right in front of my parents block in Jurong. Will never forget it as i broke my nose playing there when i was 5 and had a prominent scar ever since. Now i can show my kids where i got the scar from. Thank you so much and please continue with your excellent work!

  78. Just realised that the dinosaurs playgrounds at Kim Keat and Woodlands are also the brainchild of Hong Hai Environmental Art Pte Ltd, who had designed the crocodile playground at Tampines (no longer exists):

  79. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane 🙂 Lying inside the beak of the pelican in a slightly U-shape manner – yes, definitely! And thanks for creating this blog. I grew up in one of the old housing estates but have lived overseas since 1996. In my mind, S’pore is still the way it was, frozen in time . But the few times that I’ve been back for a visit, I was saddened to see old familiar places no longer there.

  80. Pingback: Editor’s Picks – July 2013 - SingaporeMotherhood.com

  81. Sai Karishma says:

    I will like the old playground but I wish it is still there.

  82. xlashiii says:

    Hey mind if i use some of the report that u type up there in the article for my primary school work ? (Please dont worry i will put your blog on my credits in my presentation )

  83. Jason says:

    I still remember that there was a Playground that looks like a Rocket or Chimney at Bedok interchange. Basically it is made up of metal rods. My friends and I will always meet there and called it the Rocket. Anyone has a photo of that? =)

  84. A really beautiful piece of work by the Singapore Memory Project, done in the form of comic strips

    How many of you have the same sentiments towards the old playgrounds? 😉

    Once Upon A Dragon: http://www.singaporememory.sg/data/res29/once_upon_a_dragon.pdf

    • selselbaobao says:

      that story made me tear. 😦 i miss the dragon playground just downstairs from my block i was staying during my primary school days. will make it a point to visit the one at toa payoh soon!

  85. shineltk says:

    There used to be a clock playground in Tampines too, just downstairs, near my block, I played there when I was younger and had made a friend there. Thanks for the post, will visit the remaining playgrounds soon.

  86. kety says:

    thanks for sharing those old-sch playgrounds. it really brought back many beautiful memories i had of S’pore. like your title has said, it was really those good old days.

  87. Annapoorani says:

    Now you’ve really made me cry. Your dragon at Toa Payoh blk 27 is next door to blk 32 where I lived till 9 years old before moving back there when I was 16 and I continued to hang out there in the evenings as a teenager before moving again in my 20s. I’ve always wondered if its still there and was so pleased to see its picture on your blog that it got me all emotional. Thank you for keeping my memories alive in real time. Btw, blk 27 is infamous as the “jumping” block. Being such a tall block ( in those days), it was sadly favoured by those who were intent on ending their lives. On a happier note, I was friendly with the Malay family that lived on the ground floor 3 room flat, as I walked past their house to get to the Dragon. I remember how they always looked so happy and the parents had 12 children all living under one roof. it makes me smile when I recall these fond memories. Bless you remember singapore x

  88. EMF says:

    Sparrow Playground is finally demolished 😦

  89. Chromosome says:

    Guys.. Sadly the Doves playground at bukit batok east had been demolished 😦

  90. Yong Lin says:
    Dragon playground (Toa payoh lorong 6)

    Recently i decided to take a trip around Singapore to collect some photos of these playgrounds. Just wanted to share. Excellent article anyway, enjoyed every bit of it. 🙂

  91. melvinyeoMelvin says:

    Dear remember singapore,

    Can u help me identify if this dragon is or was located in AMK?


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  93. Rick Chong says:

    Hi, I was Googling for nostaglic playgrounds and happen to come across your page.

    I was able to reminisce the old and fond memories of the past. Thank you very much for capturing these memories where I can share with the next generation.

    Would like to ask if you able to track any of the playground listed below?
    1. humpty dumpty playground. ( last spotted in teck whye lane between block 115 and block 114)
    2. a playground centered on a cylindrical centre that resembles slight a small rock climbing, (last spotted in teck whye lane in front of block 119)

    Thanks. =)

  94. byalicia says:

    The dragon playground at Lor 7, Blk 28 seems to be slated for destruction as the blocks there have all been covered with hoarding. Do visit it soon. It is still accessible via main road for now.

  95. old pelican playground

    old sparrow playground

    (Source: Facebook Group “if you were born in the 70’s in Singapore”)

    • Marvin Tam says:

      There is a sand based playground at Hougang central Blk 838

    • Clementi kid says:

      Yes, the second photo has that steel jungle gym, just behind the concrete sparrow slide and wooden see-saw boards.

      Once upon a time, there was one in the sand playground below Clementi Ave 3 Blk 433. The exact same design. I loved to climb to the top and just sit there with my feet dangling over the edge. I remember the playground also had swings with seats made of a sheet of hardened rubber, connected to the top by iron chains.

      Then it was demolished when the HDB estate underwent upgrading (early 2000s?). Recently it was upgraded again with a ‘multi-generation fitness corner’ and another one of those brightly-coloured plastic playgrounds.

      Kids these days are really missing out. That sense of adventure, risk and danger totally stripped away from their formative years. It is my opinion that once you have learnt how to walk, you have outgrown those ‘Fisherprice’ plastic playgrounds.

      Fun fact:
      Clementi town has always been the ‘bastard child’, passed from one town council to another as the govt redraws electoral boundaries every election. It had belonged to Ayer Rajah, Brickworks, Tanjong Pagar, West Coast and now Jurong town councils. Consequently, you can notice the little incongruencies in how the estate was developed as each town council did their own thing.

  96. sabmy says:


    Blk 28, TP Lor 6 has bn demolished but Dragon Playground still stands.
    It will be preserved & still open.
    Outside of hoarding tho you may hv to either park
    @ Safra or other nearby carparks if one drives.

  97. Hi RemSg 🙂
    OMG! I remember the dragon playground in AMK!
    Also the pelican 🙂
    Plus those rainbow slides in Marine Parade (?).

    I remember there was this transparent tube thing like a giant rabbit warren above a shopping centre too. Can’t recall its name though…

  98. EK Tan says:

    There are 4 phases of Children Play Ground Dev. in Singapore so far.
    Phase 1 (Sixties) – Depiction of Local animals, symbols in play equipment such as the Dragons, the Penguins, the tortoise etc.
    Phase 2 (Seventies) – Creating children storylines such as : The Hays and the tortoise race, The fishing village, The Kampong Life etc.
    The intelligent mouse deer -Kanjil & the crocodile.
    Phase 3 (Eighties) – Educating the young ones such as the Maze, The old lady and her Shoe house
    Phase 4 (Nineties) – Prefab. Systems such as NS fitness Equip, tubular system etc.
    Where will these lead to- the loss of innocence and fun !!!!!!
    Wake-up HDB and wake-up Singapore!!!!!!

  99. excellent info on old and heritage places of singapore. i followed your blog to find the dragon playground and incorported it into a timelapse video at http://www.vimeo.com/107380631 – just a little something for all to remember

  100. The sparrow playground at the newly-built Jurong East new town in the early 1980s

    (Photo credit: Singapore 1984)

  101. I love the idea of a dragon playground, I think I would have really gone for that as a kid!

  102. A simple pair of see-saw was a source of play and fun back in the 70s…. @Block 73 Commonwealth Drive

    (Photo credit: Facebook Group “My Queenstown”)

  103. `J says:

    i spent a great deal of my childhood at the Dove playground situated beside blk 134 ang mo kio avenue 3 in the 80s and early 90s.

  104. (: says:

    Reblogged this on Let's just talk and commented:
    What I’d give just to relieve my childhood

  105. Abarna says:

    I really wish these Playgrounds still stays in Singapore! I miss the these kind of playgrounds. I always play with my brother and we always get into a fight for who is going first. I really miss my childhood!

  106. bk says:

    Number 6 from the top really brought back much memories; spent many days playing in the playground back in 1980s. Used to have a similar playground as that in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10. Didn’t take a photo back then and thought I would never see it again. Truly a pleasant surprise to see it here 🙂

  107. Lee Chee Shan says:

    The original merry-go-round at Begonia Road Playground has been replaced by a new brightly-coloured blue one. Light and spins fast – easy for kids to ride on.

  108. anon says:

    The watermelon playground near pipit road is gone 😦

  109. sn@ilmeat says:

    Wondering if anyone has a picture of the old playground below Block 215 Marsiling Lane. Have not been able to find any pictures of this style of playground. My memory is a little fuzzy, but there was a ladder which led to a suspension bridge (when we got older and more daring we climbed onto the railings of the bridge). Past the suspension bridge, it was something like a cliff top, with twin slides down to the sand. Around the sides of this cliff, there were metal poles stuck in which allowed us to climb up the sides. Behind this structure was a concrete tube lying on its long side, with open ends, and a square hole at the top where you could jump in.

  110. High jinks as swings come back in play

    16 June 2016
    The Straits Times

    Swings – the much-fought-over equipment at playgrounds of yesteryear – are making a slow but sure comeback to housing estates.

    New swing sets have sprung up at playgrounds in several estates including Bedok, Bukit Batok, Sembawang and Yishun, much to the delight of young children.

    A swing set at the Yishun Ring Road playground sports a modern twist on the classic play equipment. Set up last November at Block 330, it comprises nine swings linked together and placed at various heights, allowing children to explore it differently.

    At other Housing Board estates, the offerings are more modest, such as the pair of swings at Blocks 701 and 705 in Bedok Reservoir Road. The swings are also lower, making them more suitable for children aged two to five.

    Spotted at the playground when The Straits Times visited recently was five-year-old Julia Goh, who said: “This swing is more fun and also easy to ride on because my feet can touch the ground.” Her brother, Kieran, nine, said he enjoyed the swings even if they might be “a bit too low” for him.

    The swings were introduced last year, said Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, which manages the playground.

    Swings, see-saws and merry-go- rounds in sandy pits used to be the staples at HDB playgrounds, until they gave way to imported proprietary equipment designed and certified for safety. The new-generation playgrounds are built on rubber mats meant to cushion falls better.

    Increasingly, people are calling for old-school playgrounds to be retained, seeing them as part of Singapore’s identity. Housewife Chong Foong Chiou, 33, who is one of them, said she still prefers swings made out of old tyres.

    A 29-year-old civil servant, who wanted to be known only as Mr Farhan, said: “I used to play on swings a lot – the old kind.”

    Of the 16 town councils approached by The Straits Times, only four said they have swings at the playgrounds in their estates.

    Mr Ian Tan, corporate communications manager of Chua Chu Kang Town Council, which installed a new swing set in Hong Kah North last year, said the decision was made after feedback from residents, an assessment of the proposals submitted, as well as consultation with the residents’ committee.

    The lack of space is one reason why some playgrounds have no swing sets, said town councils.

    This is because the construction of swings requires more stringent criteria for safety. These include the height from the swing seat to the rubber flooring, and the distance between the front and rear of the swing set, according to Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council.

    Mr Jason Sim, managing director of Playpoint, the consultancy firm that designed the Yishun Ring Road playground, said swings are not dangerous, but supervision is crucial to prevent accidents from occurring.

    He said: “Children using the swings should ensure that no other child is standing behind them.”

    Mr Ameerali Abdeali, president of the National Safety Council of Singapore, stressed proper playground planning. “Safety must be incorporated at the design stage, and not be included as an afterthought when accidents happen,” he said.

    This includes anticipating possible dangers and mitigating them through good design.

    While the Yishun Ring Road swings are elaborate, 11-year-old Chong Xi Ze prefers the simpler swing set located just a couple of blocks away from his home, saying: “I prefer the normal swings. I like the feeling of swinging up high.”


  111. 0necat says:

    In the 90s, there was a playground at bedok interchange also quite unique, it’s called the ROCKET, as it is situated at the interchange, it also serves as meeting place for many people 😀

  112. The colourful clock playground next to Block 176, Boon Lay Avenue, was part of a new series of playgrounds built in 1988 by the Housing Development Board.

    Other playgrounds in the same series include fruits, an old woman’s shoe house, fire engines and the fairytale character Humpty Dumpty.

    [Photo credit: Wong Hoon Song]

  113. Think the merry-go-round at the Upper Seletar Reservoir is gone already….

  114. Just when you think the dove playground at Dakota Crescent is the last of its kind in Singapore (after the demolition of the second last one at Bukit Batok), Zeitgeist Photos makes a startling discovery of a dove playground at our neighbouring country.

    This sand-based one is located at Stulang Darat, Johor Bahru, and the surrounding flats have features that look remarkably like the Dakota Crescent flats.

    (Photo Credit: Zeitgeist Photos)

    • 1. Zeitgeist Photos made a mistake with the location — Stulang Laut (1.472618, 103.778919) and not Stulang Darat. I’ve informed them and their album is now called “Stulang Laut” but the initial post and comments still written “Stulang Darat”.

      2. Nov 21, 2015 – Blogger 香香@茉莉花 posted Stulang Laut’s Dove Playground.

      3. Dec 12, 2017 – Urban Explorers of Singapore uncovered 3 more dove playground.

      4. Dec 13, 2017 – Urban Explorers of Singapore uncovered the fifth Dove playground in Johor Bahru, including the Pelican, Rabbit, Tortoise, Dove, Elephant, Snail, and the old-style Merry-Go-Round, Slides, Swings, and See-saw.

    • Clementi kid says:

      I think the same contractors were building those playgrounds in both Malaysia and Singapore, either concurrently or around the same time.

      Buildings and structures built around the same time have very similar aesthetics and quirks, even if geographically they’re not at the same place. You can notice this in older HDB estates e.g. the corridors, the void decks, the stairwells, the lift lobby which is located not on the ground floor, but between the second floor and the ground floor etc.

      • Azyure D. Hikari says:

        Singapore was under the federation, which explains the similar buildings and structures. The current mystery for the playground is, where were they built first? Singapore or in Malaysia?

  115. One of Singapore’s forgotten old playgrounds was previously located at the Woodlands Town Garden.

    It was designed in the shapes of a mousedeer, tiger and crocodile, based on a popular Malay folklore. In the folklore, the Kanchil, or Intelligent Mousedeer, tricked his enemies, the tiger and crocodile, from attacking him.

    As for the playground, the mousedeer was a slide, while the tiger was designed to be a swing and climbing apparatus in a steel-pipe frame. The crocodile was a low-lying crawling piece for young kids.

    This was one of the old local playgrounds in new towns and estates that was designed to depict local legends.

    (Source: NewspaperSG)

  116. Francis Yip says:

    Wonder if anyone has photos of the old Bukit Ho Swee Playground between Jalan Klinik and Former Bukit Ho Swee Primary School. The Monkey Bar contraption will be real fun for present Parkour enthusiast . We were playing catching and running on top of those bars. If only there’s video easily available then . Haiz miss.

  117. Ace Woo says:

    The Dove playground Block 219 and 230 at Bukit Batok used to have a link bridge and tyre swings under the pyramid. There was also a wooden See-Saw. I lived in Blk 230 since 3, till 12 years old. Unfortunately during those times in the early 80s, camera is costly, taking photo wasn’t as easy as nowaday so there wasn’t any photo for us to remember it as how it was to be.

  118. upper thomson resident says:

    I grew up and still live in Lakeview. The playground is unfortunately in a very sad state. All the sand is covered by grass due to unuse and it has been cordoned off for some repair works that doesn’t seem to be progressing. No one plays at the playground nowadays (even before CB), all the kids stay home.

    If you notice, there are 3 metal rings between the 2 taller pillars. Those used to have ropes attached to them for climbing. They were problematic for 2 reasons: the ropes wore out quickly, and they gave a nasty rope burn quite easily, so management decided to remove them completely.

    My neighbours and I used to play almost everyday when we were in pri sch. We even developed tactics and strategies on how to position ourselves not to get caught, how to navigate around the bars, where were the good escape points and if you were the catcher how to block those points. We could easily move from the ground to the top in 5 seconds, and would regularly jump the 2m drop. In all those years, I never heard of or seen anyone getting hurt. Perhaps we should have more faith in the abilities of children.

    • Sorry to hear about the sad state of Lakeview adventure playground.

      Like you, I loved to play on this type of playground (at Yishun) when I was young. Simply befriended a group of kids at the playground, and we would spend hours playing “catching” on the bars. Yes, thinking back, it’s certainly dangerous as the top layers of bars are quite high; any trips or slips would be disastrous…

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