The Legacies Queen Elizabeth II Left in Singapore

Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022), Britain’s longest reigning monarch, has died at an old age of 96.

While Queen Victoria (1819-1901), in her 63 years of reign, managed arguably the golden era of the British Empire, Queen Elizabeth II’s record 70 years on the throne oversaw a devastated post-world war empire that had lost its former glories and colonies during its transition to the modern world. But like her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II has left her influence, mark and name around the world, especially in the empire’s former territories including Singapore.

Here are some of the places in Singapore named after Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth Walk

The Esplanade Park has existed since 1922, but was refurbished and renamed Queen Elizabeth Walk on 30 May 1953 as part of the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

With a splendid view of the Singapore River connecting to the open sea, the seafront promenade was extremely popular among the locals for dates, strolls and picnics from the fifties to the seventies. Even though it was officially named Queen Elizabeth Walk, many locals, even the newspapers, curiously referred it as the Princess Elizabeth Walk in the fifties and sixties.

In the nineties, the seafront view was partially blocked by the new Esplanade Bridge and the reclaimed Marina South and Bay areas. Today, Queen Elizabeth Walk has become part of the Esplanade Park again, and is extended along the coast south of the Esplanade Theatres.

Princess Elizabeth Flats

In 1949, the Princess Elizabeth Fund Bill was passed in the Singapore Legislative Council for the construction of two housing estates both named after Princess Elizabeth (before she became the queen in 1953) in commemoration to her royal wedding with Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip (1921-2021) in 1947.

One would be the Princess Elizabeth Flats at Farrer Park, whereas the other one was the Princess Elizabeth Park at Bukit Timah. Made up of single and three-storey flats, artisans’ quarters and shops, the two housing projects were undertaken by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) and funded by the government and public donations.

The Farrer Park’s Princess Elizabeth Flats were completed in 1950 and officially opened on 8 June by Sir Franklin Gimson (1890-1975), the Governor of Singapore between 1946 and 1952. There were initially four blocks of flats, built at a cost of $374,000, that were catered for 72 families of artisans and workers. More flats were later added to the estate for other residents. In the early 2000s, the flats, a total of 18 blocks, were demolished.

Princess Elizabeth Park

On the other hand, Princess Elizabeth Park, also known as Princess Elizabeth Estate, was developed at the same time as the Princess Elizabeth Flats. Located off Hill Avenue, it was completed in 1951.

Over the years, public amenities such as markets, schools and a bus terminal were built at the housing estate, which also enjoyed ample job opportunities due to its close proximity to the many factories and plants established in the vicinity. In the mid-sixties, there was a Princess Elizabeth Community Centre built for the estate’s residents.

Elizabeth Drive, the main road for the housing estate, bore the name of the queen. In addition, there were Philip Walk, Prince Charles Rise and Princess Anne Hill, named after Queen Elizabeth II’s husband and first two children respectively. Clarence Walk was named after Clarence House, the residence of the royal couple after their marriage.

Except for Elizabeth Drive, the other roads were expunged when the Princess Elizabeth Park estate was demolished in the mid-nineties.

Princess Elizabeth Primary School started as Bukit Panjang School in 1952. Two years later, it moved to the Princess Elizabeth Park estate and was renamed Princess Elizabeth Estate School. Its name was changed again, to Princess Elizabeth Primary School, in 1986, when it was relocated to its present address at Bukit Batok West Avenue 3.

Due to their similar names, there were confusions and mix-ups between Farrer Park’s Princess Elizabeth Flats and Princess Elizabeth Park. The locals sometimes referred both as Princess Elizabeth Estate, even though they were more than 10km apart. The situation became slightly better when the Princess Elizabeth Flats were later called Farrer Park Estate.

Queenstown

The first satellite town in Singapore was developed by the SIT in 1952 and was named Queenstown to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. A satellite town refers to a self-sufficient housing district located outside the city centre but has most of the communal amenities required, such as schools, markets, shops, banks, cinemas, bus interchanges, malls and places of worship. Today, this type of residential concept is known as the heartlands.

Several roads at Queenstown were also named in the same convention way as the satellite town, carrying the word “queen”, referring to Queen Elizabeth II but without her actual name. Examples are Queensway (originally Queen’s Way), Queen’s Close, Queen’s Crescent and Queen’s Circus (expunged).

Queen’s Dock

Like other abovementioned places, the Queen’s Dock at Keppel Shipyard was developed in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Designed by the Singapore Harbour Board, it was then the most modern dry dock in Southeast Asia. Completed in 1956 at a cost of $5.5 million (total $11 million including all its machinery and equipment), Queen’s Dock was able to dock ships up to 18,000 tons.

Queen’s Dock lied parallel to Keppel Shipyard’s three other older graving docks – Dock No. 1 (built in 1859), Dock No. 2 (1867) and King’s Dock (1910). King’s Dock was presumably named after King George V (1865-1936), Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather, who ascended the throne in 1910.

Queen’s Dock was scheduled to be officially opened on 31 October 1956 by Prince Philip, who was invited to Singapore for the grand event. However, his trip was cancelled due to the disruptions of the Chinese Middle School riots in October 1956. The dock proceeded with the commissioning and started its operations in November 1956.

In the nineties, Keppel Shipyard was relocated to Tuas, and the site it left behind was redeveloped into luxury waterfront condominiums Caribbean and Reflections built in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The present-day Queen’s Dock is the water channel between the two condominiums.

Queen Elizabeth II had visited Singapore three times – in 1972, 1989 and 2006.

Many older Singaporeans’ fond impressions of Queen Elizabeth II were perhaps her tours of Toa Payoh during her first Singapore state visit in 1972. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Princess Anne visited the residents at their homes and caught a bird’s eye view of the new public housing estate from the viewing gallery of Toa Payoh Lorong 5’s Block 53. In 2006, 34 years later, Queen Elizabeth II would visit the Toa Payoh flats again in her final Singapore state visit.

The three-day state visit in 1972 also saw Queen Elizabeth II officiated the foundation stone laying ceremony for the new British High Commission at Tanglin.

At the Singapore Turf Club, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup was introduced in 1972 as one of the annual horse racing events. Hong Kong, Japan and the United State also have their horse racings competing in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Published: 11 September 2022

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3 Responses to The Legacies Queen Elizabeth II Left in Singapore

  1. Mount Elizabeth and Mount Elizabeth Hospital were excluded here.

    The hospital, opened in 1979, was named after Mount Elizabeth, the location of the hospital. However, according to the newspapers archive, Mount Elizabeth has existed at the Orchard area since the late 19th century and was therefore not likely to be named after Queen Elizabeth II.

  2. A fascinating post!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jun says:

    Hello,
    Love your blog, and reliving the things of the past through them.
    Would you by any chance happen to know the author of https://timesofmylife.wordpress.com/?
    Tried to write to his email, laokokok@yahoo.com.sg but it bounced back. I believe he may be an old friend from the 1970s.

    Thanks.

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