Dover Road Pelican Playground

Dover playground is one of the few sand-based playgrounds left in Singapore. Situated opposite Block 35 of Dover Road, it is built in the eighties. It consists of three structures in shapes of animals, which are the Pelican, the Rabbit and the Tortoise.

These animal-themed playgrounds should not look too unfamiliar to many Singaporeans as they were once found in many parts of Singapore. But unfortunately, the local playground design was stopped in 1993 because of a number of accidents due to safety flaws.

Singaporeans born in the late sixties t0 early eighties would have spend at least part of their childhoods in these types of playgrounds.

Children can climb through a hole to make it to the top of the Pelican’s beak.

The swings have been removed some years ago, some tiles have chipped off and the whole area looks severely under-maintained, covered with algae and fallen leaves.

More information on other types of playgrounds in Singapore.

The little Dover Estate consists of eleven blocks of flats, from Block 29 to Block 39. All the blocks were selected for en-bloc in 2004, and by the end of 2010, almost all the units were vacated.

The flats at Dover Road are made up of three- and four-roomed units except Block 39, which is a point block of five-roomed units.

Being very near to Portsdown, the area of Dover was formerly a British military and residential area. Its name means “The Waters” and refers to the English Channel.

Before its closure, it was a busy neighbourhood with a popular hawker center and wet market at Block 33.

The whole estate, together with the nostalgic playground, is due to be demolished probably by the end of 2011.

Published: 22 October 2010

Updated: 11 November 2011

81 Responses to Dover Road Pelican Playground

  1. Jensen says:

    The area that I will pass by everyday during uni days when I took bus 74 from AMK to science faculty…

  2. Quek Chin Keong says:

    Hi. There is also a unique playground (it is in the form of a dragon) at Toa Payoh. Like the “pelican, rabbit and tortoise” series, the “Dragon” series used to be rather common 20 to 30 years ago but they are a rare sight nowadays. If you drive and you enter Toa Payoh Town from PIE (towards Jurong), you should be able to see the tall HDB Block 28 (approx 20 storeys). The “Dragon” playground is in front of the block.
    Currently, block 28 (and a few nearby ones) are used to house foreign labour (I think). If they are gone, the whole area (including the playground) may be demolished. Perhaps some of your team may want to drop by at the playground to snap a few pictures.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Check this out!
    HDB Block 28 “Dragon” playground is well documented!

  4. Pat says:

    From post: “The little Dover Estate consists of eleven blocks of flats, from Block 29 to Block 39.” Were the flats in Dover Estate (is this name official or colloquial ?) built by JTC — esp. since the estate is located beside Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate ? I wasn’t able to find any info about this in the SG newspapers archive. If the said flats weren’t built by JTC, I wonder if JTC & HDB shared “standard designs” back in the 1980s.

    The 12-storey slab block (consisting of 4-room flats) as shown in your photo is an exact replica of 6 nos. of 2nd-generation blocks (Blk 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 41) in the little Teban Gardens estate (formerly the largely-mangrove Kampung Java Teban), right down to the letterbox details & green chess table-cum-stools. The only differences are fairly minor — the Teban blocks have bare cement-screed floors at the void-decks, & the central lift-shafts lack the facade-protrusions at the top.

    These Teban blocks were constructed by JTC sometime between 1979 & 1982, & there were frequent news reports at that time about their construction progress, purchase costs (~$20+k) & leasing availability. Eg. See this quaint report ‘Flats for the skilled’ (ST – 25 Feb 1982). The bottom of the article features a photo of the furnished flat-interior as seen in the 2 blocks (Blk 24 & 25) “reserved for skilled executive level [foreign] workers” employed in Jurong.

    Not apparent from the black-&-white photo in the news article … The main door & internal doors were made of rather flimsy wood & painted green. The terrazzo floor in the living room was white. The water pipes were made of cast iron, & had to be completely replaced in the early 1990s, because they were badly-corroded by the industrial water that was used for flushing. (‘Corroding pipes at Teban, Pandan estates to be replaced for free’ (ST – 13 Dec 1992).

    I suppose these 4-room Dover Estate/Rd flats had the same interior as the above-mentioned flats in Teban Gardens ? In addition, the long-defunct sand-based playground in Teban Gardens had play structures whose blue mosiac-tiles are identical to those used at Dover Playground. However, the structures were different & much higher, although I don’t recall any distinctive theme. There was also a concrete-floored playground that had a high white-terrazzo slide, wooden-seat swings, long timber see-saws & an iron merry-go-round.

    On a related note, you might wish to check out ‘Old Singapore Playgrounds’ (29 Aug 11) , which shows night photos of various old-style playgrounds in S’pore — including Dover’s Pelican Playground & Bishan’s Clock Playground.

    • Hi Pat, from what I know, many flats built in the eighties (including the old ones at AMK and Clementi) modeled after the same design:

      Need to find out more on whether HDB and JTC somehow share their “standard designs”, like what you have mentioned…

  5. jm says:

    Thanks for writing up about Dover Estate. You even included a shot of the provision shop (my grandma was on good terms with the uncle and auntie there and I used to buy biscuits from the large tins). used to live at Block 39. Miss the old place really, and I still stop by once in a while. Sad to see it’s got so dilapidated now.

    Is it still scheduled to be demolished? I heard there are other plans but I’m not sure if the sources are correct…

  6. CC says:

    I used to live in Blk 39 too.
    Very good job.
    I feel tears in my eyes just looking at these. I really love those days.

  7. Ryan says:

    I stayed in Blk35 for over 20 years till i moved out in 2008. I would had no doubt be still staying there if it wasn’t en bloc. I misses some of the food, especially the long time wanton mee stall facing the coffeeshop which was still selling $2 a bowl when i moved out. The playground was the best thing, the place where i will wait for my school bus every day, the round fitness corner where we just run round and round again trying to catch each other. There was a merry go round at the playground until it was demolished due to accidents and injuries.

    Are they demolished yet? I haven’t returned for over 2 years, i just felt compelled to go back again to take a few last shot of the place. It really touches my heart to see the pictures.

  8. The Dover wanton mee stall has relocated to the hawker center at Alexandra Village.

  9. Gioia says:

    i stayed at blk 23. dover estate is not just confined to blk 29-39 though these are the blocks near the hawker centre. My grandpa would bring us to the market to buy chicken, chee cheong fun etc in my childhood. of course we also went to ghim moh and holland rd market to get stuff too.

    My brother will always have to visit Dover dispensary to see the Dr there as olther drs can never cure him. Nostalgic!

  10. Gerald says:

    Wow, I remember that Bedok Reservoir Playground, Bedok Reservoir Park and Road used to have several playground and as a kid, I used to have hours of fun moving around different playground on my trusted bicycle, Life was much simpler then. I miss those days.

  11. CSH says:

    I moved in to blk 35 Dover Road with my family back in Feb 1978 when I was only 6 years old … I shifted out when I got my own flat in early 2000 but my parents cont to stay in Dover Road till the en-bloc scheme and moved out in early 2010 to the current new blk 28 4 blocks of 40 storey high HDB flats.

    • Wei Wong says:

      I moved in to Blk 37 with my family in end of 1977 when i was going to Tanlin primary school year4. Live there for many many years with beautiful memories. Have not been back there for a long long time! Miss the Hock Kian Mee and Wan Ton Mee too.
      Wei Wei

  12. The wa dan hor fan (zi char stall) at the hawker centre was one of my favourites…
    Don’t know where it has shifted to

  13. Roy says:

    Hi Dover Vista Park is it near Ayer Rajah Crescent or one-north Circle Line station?

  14. Roy says:

    I just been to this play ground and take a few shots. 🙂

  15. eeshawn says:

    Lovely and informative article! So glad that I chanced upon this article. 🙂

    Some of the photos that I have taken during my visit to the estate, enjoy!

    spread your wings and fly
  16. Allie Lim says:

    Though i don’t stay at that area, but i used to study at Dover ITE, which is taken over by SUTD. Places mentioned here are just nearby~ Sad to see the old building go, and old school gone.

    • Henry Tan says:

      Me too. I miss the basketball court.. Used to play soccer during my ITE days.

      • Wei Wong says:

        i used to live in Blk 37, but my granny live in blk 36 and everytime i go there, I can hear people playing basket ball allt he time, n i always look down n wath them play. great memories!
        Wei Wei

  17. LS says:

    I go there often to collect my stupid mail which kept getting sent to my OLD house and because MOE refused to update my address.
    The whole area is like a ghost town, very cool atmosphere like any second will have zombies pop out.

  18. vincent says:

    does this pplayground still around? if still, can anyone tell me where is the exact location?

  19. Hello! I used to stay at this humble Dover Residence, in fact I stayed there for about 12 years since I was a young girl 🙂 I really enjoyed the Pelican old school playground, I feel that playgrounds these days are too “protective”….I used to play around with the sandbox and climb up the Pelican, and went back home with grazes and bruises sometimes. I have since moved, as they wanted to vacate the area for upgrading and transformation into an educational hub (or so they told us) However, I went back recently to capture some last shots before they demolished the area, did a short blog post and would like to share it 🙂

    • Wei Wong says:

      i always climed up on to the pelican n imangine it was my bed, i lay on its beak all the time! I miss my childhood there, 1977.
      Wei Wei

  20. Yanting Chan says:

    Hi everyone! An interesting post here, I stayed at this humble Dover residence for about 12 years 🙂 I have since moved (they told us we had to vacate the area for some educational hub developments), however I brought along unforgettable memories, especially of the Pelican playground. Playgrounds these days tend to be very “overprotective”…..I used to play around in the sandboxes and climb up the Pelican to gaze at the trees or play Marco Polo, and return back home with grazes and bruises sometimes haha. Anyway I went back recently and did a short post about it here: Would like to share it 🙂

  21. coolefxzhar says:

    i lived at the estate opposite this one since i was 3 and recently just moved out after i got married last year. When everyone vacated that estate, i remember it being empty for a while but then last year a block was used i guess to temporary house people in need of a place. i am not sure of the details but i often see people going in and out of the block and by night at least around 65% of the apartments lights in the blocks were switched on.

    The last that i passed by the place which was a month ago, that particular block is now sealed off. A bit weird.. 🙂

  22. YC says:

    The playground was demolished this afternoon. Sigh, yet another memory…

  23. wendy says:

    Sad. Very Sad.

  24. plasma says:

    sigh, i was too late. I was thinking of going down to take some photos before it is gone forever.

  25. plasma says:

    why dont they just keep just this one? sigh

  26. Jonathan says:

    Farewell to the Pelican playground!

  27. Sebastian says:

    l recalled, many years ago, of reading a Straits Times article write up on Singapore’s President scholars. It revealed that the a good number of PS lived in Block 39 Dover Road. It also mentioned that the staff of the Ministry (handling the scholarship awards), yearly perceived that the next awardee would be from that Block 39.
    Is it that, there is some sort of divine alien power reside at that block? Rewarding the residents’ children with the island’s highest educational award.

  28. Frances says:

    Thank you for putting this up. I lived at Dover since I was an infant when the estate was newly established. Moved out after I got married but my parents continued living there and have now moved on with the other neighbours to the new estate after the en bloc. Really good memories.

  29. Tim says:

    There is a recent documentary on the old playgrounds in Singapore via ‘Tuesday Report’ They e even interview the designer and architect of these playgrounds when HDB was doing the design inhouse.

    • Wei Wong says:

      Really? How casn I watch this doc film? Love to watch it…. Brings back good childhood memories! Thanks for sharing….

  30. Kraser says:

    Has the area been demolish or being fenced up by HDB? Have the urge to visit this place after reading this post!

  31. There was once a small estate near Dover Road called Kampong O’Carroll Scott, off Ayer Rajah Road (Ayer Rajah Road had since been incorporated into Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) by 1988)

    The estate was made up of about 100 single-roomed terrace houses formerly occupied by the British military personnel. The houses were later taken over by HDB and leased out to the foreign workers.

    Anyone has more info or memories of this place?

  32. The flats along Dover Road are mostly completed in 1975.
    A three-roomed flat cost only $15,000 then, and a five-roomed one cost $35,000 each

    (Source: NewspaperSG)

    • eguy899 says:

      I stayed at Blk 3 which my dad bought for $15k and we moved there in 1975 from West Coast. Lived there for >20 years until we moved in 1996. I believe Blks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 are still there today.

  33. Ang Family says:

    The Dover Road Estate was not an en bloc issue. HDB could not get sufficient votes for en bloc. So, the Land Acquisition Act was used to ask the residents to vacate. I was very sad to leave that place too. Some blocks were demolished while some were renovated/re whatever and rented out.

  34. as far as i can remember the first part of my life was at Blk 35. My little sister and I played a lot at the “See-saw” which we called the playground collectively. I remembered admiring older children swinging high up, myself climbing up to the top of the pelican skillfully, playing Goli under the tree (on the right of the photo), making the merry go round spin at break neck speed and “playing fire” during lantern festival.

  35. yangwenting says:

    Hello to you! I’m so glad to come across the early Singapore photos that you took. As we are having a production, we think it is most appropriate as one of the backgrounds we may need. hence we would like to sincerely ask for your permission and support for us to use your valued photos in the show. Wish to hear from you soon.


  36. Dennis says:

    Hello everyone,
    Appreciate if any of you have any old photo on delta sports complex which use to be call Alexandra Road. iT use to be a kampong house is just opposite Alexandra Post Office.

  37. Memo says:

    Hi would you happen to have photos or collections of the (former) playground at Pandan Gardens? I think it was sorta like an elephant. Used to play there when visiting my late Grandma. It’s now another piece of plastic playground like any other…

  38. Slade says:

    Used to live in Blk 39. That playground has so many memories and the gardens ard it too.
    Anyway thank you for collating this information. Much appreciated.

  39. Paprika says:

    I’ve worked at the nearby institute for 20 over years since the vocational days. Dover is the only best place to go for lunch other than the school’s canteen & staff cafe.

    Chanced upon a friendly football match between a group of ITE & ACS (I) boys at the basketball court once in the evening back in the 90s. Highballs were inevitable and a high fence was soon erected..memories.

  40. S L says:

    Anyone know where the chicken rice stall went? There were 2 rival stalls, I like the one at the side. I used to stay at block 31 till 2005 but the weird thing is MOE still sent my university letter to that old house in 2012!

  41. eve says:

    i guess this playground is already demolished, judging by the posts updates. was thinking to capture this in my wedding photo shoots 😦

  42. Lih Wei says:

    Hi! I’m a student in SUTD and I stay in hostel (block 36). Didn’t know that the grassy field in front of Block 34 used to be a wet market. The estate is enjoyable especially in the evenings, when the blocks provide shade in all the right places and the children come out to play.

  43. Raydem Poh says:

    i used to eat at the wanton mee stall at the wet market. it shifted to alexandra village but i still go there to eat it.

  44. xiaoleic says:

    Blk 39 @ Dover Road is where I lived in my first year after arriving in Singapore in 2006. That was the “good old days” 🙂 The memories associated with this place feel so surreal now, not least because Singapore has changed a lot…

  45. Jase Wong says:

    Used to live in Block 30 from birth – 1980 to 2002 when I left for Australia.

    My childhood and teen memories were all in Dover having started schooling at the PAP kindergarten at Block 37, moving on to Fairfield Methodist Primary School just across Dover Road, to 1 year next door at Fairfield Methodist Secondary School, before returning to Dover again at ACJC.

    Anyone who frequented the basketball court at Block 36 between 1992 to 1999 would probably have seen me there daily between 5-7pm with my basketball.

    Those were the days…..

  46. Jil says:

    Hi there, I recently went to this estate as part of an amazing race event so I thought it would be nice to share that some of the apartment doors are not locked. People could actually get a good glimpse of how people in the past used to live 🙂 The two/three storey estate i’ve mentioned is on the right of the playground. And also, this was the first tire swing i’ve seen in 14 years!

    • Oh no I just realised I was referring to the dove playground at Dakota crescent haha! sorry for my mistake but I hope everyone has a chance to explore these soon to be demolished estates 🙂

  47. AH WEI says:

    I used to stayed in blk 31 and move to blk 37. Stayed in Dover road for almost 25 years. Really missed the place. I go back once in a while as my son is currently studying in FMPS.

  48. Dovermyplaygroud says:

    I am made in Dover and still staying in Dover hahhaah not at the market cluster though…thumbs up for Dover!

  49. James Tan says:

    I have been dreaming about this place since I moved out in 05′. I was only about 8 when my family decided to move to Australia.

    For as long as I can remember, this was where my life started. I used to play at the swings with my brother while my dad would walk on the therapeutic stone path. I used to walk to school every day to fairfield methodist which is only across the road, and come back in the evenings to play basketball at the court. I remember I was not allowed to cross the road alone but I did it anyway with some of the other kids. We used to go to the tuck shops and buy snacks and drinks. 7 eleven was new at the time

    The hokkien mee near the wet market was one of my favourite foods, as well as the wanton mee and prata. If you lived in a similar time you may have seen me.

    Oh and at blk 36 I had a good view of the court to see if my friends and neighbours were down to play. Miss this place.
    Visited there in last year with my mate from Melbourne and had a sit on the court staring up at my house windows (its still bright and blue!) It was so surreal.I can even remember the lines that run the court, they all seem too familiar.
    I always wonder what my house and room looks like now.

    Thankful for the pictures!

  50. Honda says:

    I was living at Dover Road estate since birth. I’m staying at higher floor of Blk 29 with a great panoramic view, enjoying strong breezy wind while standing at the common corridor. It was only when I received the letter of eviction from HDB notified that my flat was going to demolish. It was devastated but soon after, I moved to Dover Rise before moving to Dover Crescent.

    My childhood memories were still clear as yesterday.The barber shop at Blk 32, haircut only $5, air-conditional very cold, got free magazines and comics (Lao Fu Zhi and Doraemon) to read while waiting. The plump chinese uncle (barber) like to watch EPL and alot of World Cup team posters on the wall. He also likes karaoke, always play old hokkien songs with the KTV set.

    The chinese provision shop at Blk 32, family business owned by 3 brothers and their elderly father. I will patronized their shop almost everyday. During mid-autumn Festival, they will displayed many paper lanterns and also those expensive battery-operated lanterns.

    The bakery shop at the last unit of Blk 32, where I met my then-girlfriend, Ester. Her parents owned that bakery shop with their own production line when they used to bake fresh bread everyday. She would help out in the shop after her school which she studied in Fairfield Methodist secondary.

    The traditional medicine shop at Blk 34, also family business. The uncle dressed in singlet was well-known by everyone, his given nickname as pah chiao (cock-eyed). His son, Gary like to play catching and basketball.

    The basketball court in front of Blk 36 was my usual hangout place where I met with my street soccer buddies (Eric, Justin, Julian, Ivan & Terence). The street soccer matches began at 5.30pm daily until the lights auto-switched off at 10pm sharp. Last time there was no fence surrounded it, guess must be someone staying 2nd or 3rd storey of Blk 36 complained that we kicked the soccer ball very high then hit their windows and thus the town council erected the fence. Those who remember me, leave a message.

    • Candy says:

      Hey Honda. Your bro name guli right den change to ryu after? U used to wear specs during those days. Dono if im right. Haha im kaili sister. He alwz play basketball there. With zhong yi(chicken rice) all. U guli and eric are the soccer clan

      • Honda says:

        Hi Candy, so surprisingly that you know me and the soccer clan… I know your brother Kaili who played basketball with zhong yi. But I seldom see you in basketball court, so sorry I don’t have much memory about you except your brother. About my brother, I not sure who named him guli but everyone call him ryu… btw, do your family own a shop at blk 35?

      • Jase Wong says:

        Hi Honda and Candy,

        Not sure if you remember me. I used to be called Larry by the kids at the basketball court.

        Do you guys/girls still keep in touch with many of the others? I’m still in touch with Zhong Yi and Zhi Qiang (the one with a sister, not the tall skinny one) on FB.

        Really miss those days when we were at the basketball court almost every afternoon and evening.

  51. Stanley Christiphor says:

    I too stayed in Blk 32 Dover Road. Left the estate in 2006 after I got married. Yes, I do fondly remember all the things this place used to provide. The wet market, food center, shops, clinics, dentist, barbers and almost everyone else. It’s like you know all of the business owners personally including the wet market stallholders. They vacated and either retired or do their business in some other locations.

    I do especially miss the smell of bread coming through my bedroom window from the bakery located 4 floors below. Dr. Chew and his gentle way of dealing with his patients. The 3 brothers and their provision shop. The barber uncle was where I preferred to get my haircut. The best wanton mee in the food center. everyone including workers from the surrounding areas spoke highly of the kway teow. Yes, the chicken rice stalls located almost next to each other. (They had soya bean drink stall in between them). And they fought with each other at times which made us think that the movie “Chicken Rice Wars” was about them. Hahaha.

    However, the blocks have now all been torn down to make room for future developments. I believe the only building left is Blk 34 which is being used as an office for the construction staff. Nothing else remains. Sadly even some of the older residents living in the newer replacement blocks at Dover Crescent have passed on including my own father.

    I definitely do miss this aspect in Singapore where we have continuously done away with many things for the new. Buildings and lifestyle included. But I think its unfortunately due to lack of available land in this nation and changes in technology.

  52. Noriy says:

    I missed this place very much…Used to be my playground

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