Situated opposite the Queenstown MRT Station, a white building stands abandoned for more than a decade along Commonwealth Avenue. Forgotten over the years, this is the remnant of the once-popular Queenstown/Queensway Cinema.
Built in 1977 and closed in 1999, the cinema, equipped with two screens, reached its peak in the late eighties. The area used to be bustling with life in the evenings, where long queues were common sights as movie-goers lined up for tickets of their favourite movies.
Countless of blockbusters were screened at Queenstown Cinema, a favourite haunt for the residents living in the nearby neighbourhoods. The building also served as an entertainment center that included a KTV and a bowling alley known as the Queenstown Bowl.
The crowds were long gone, and what is left is an empty building waiting for its fate to be sealed.
The building is expected to be demolished by late 2011 to give way to new development of Queenstown and Commonwealth.
Queenstown was named in honour of Queens Elizabeth when she was proclaimed the Queen of the Commonwealth realms in 1952. Queensway, an arterial road, was named two years later. Commonwealth is one of the 16 sub-zones of Queenstown, and was named after the Commonwealth of Nations, which consists of Singapore after independence.
In early 2011, Queenstown’s NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) Fairprice supermarket ceased operation after more than three decades.
NTUC was founded through labour movement in 1973 when the global oil crisis, triggered by the Middle Eastern oil-exporting countries, caused prices of food and necessities to rise. The first NTUC supermarket was opened in Toa Payoh, and has since grown to be the biggest retailer in Singapore.
The multi-storey carpark behind the cinema has been under-maintained for years. It, too, will be torn down together with the rest.
The flats nearby, such as the prominent Block 27A, which is linked directly to the Queenstown MRT Station, and Block 39A have been chosen for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in 2005.
By March 2011, most residents and shopkeepers have already moved out of the block. Many of them have moved to the new units at Dawson, which were reserved for them in priority.
Modern studio apartments for the elderly will be replacing these old blocks of flats.
Published: 23 October 2010
Updated: 17 May 2011
I really like the queenstown bowl as a kind of contemporary ruin, that’s why i came across this blog. i have been wondering when exactly it is going to be demolished, you mention that in late 2011. is there any manner of knowing with precision (or with the most precision possible) when will this be? does the government agency in charge of this publicly posts such kind of info?
for your attention, thanks a lot!
Hi Rafa, thanks for your interest..
The nearby hawker center and NTUC were relocated after Chinese New Year this year (although it was postponed for about 6 months), while the nearby flats were vacated shortly after that.
From what i know, excavators has been deployed in early May to remove pipes and tiles just in front of Queensway cinema… The demolition of the buildings might be completed earlier than expected
Hi there. The building is being demolished now. If you wanna have a look at it, this is probably your last chance.
Thanks for the write up. I would like to do some urban exploring soon and this is the “ticket”. I always go to “Old Changi Hospital” and kinda sick and tired of it. So this is a good change.
Thanks once again.
hey its me again,
I have some pics of the interior of the bowling alley/cinema. How do I send it to you?
Hi, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org… thanks alot!
Could you please post the photos of the interior? The KFC, bowling, cinema… my mum used to bring my bro and I there when we were young. Too bad we did not take any pics back then and would love to take another a look at some photos.
Anyway, great blog, brought tears to my eyes reading some of your posts… nostalgic, big thanks for bringing back memories.
Thanks championgrumbler for your kind words
I did not have the luck to access the interior of the cinema, but a great Queenstown blog has some excellent interior pictures! (provided by a reader below) 😉
Can you show the pictures to the interiors? Miss it alot.. I watched my first movie there with my mum and used to visit the NTUC weekly with my dad… Certainly brings back lots of fond memories.
Unfortunately I don’t have the pictures of the cinema’s interior…
it is quite sad to residents nearby that no developments have been done to queenstown cinema vicinity. Do you have any idea where are future plans for 27A and cinema areas? In between, what has the ntuc relocated to?
Hi ang, thanks for your interest…
Last i checked, studio apartments will be built in that area, and NTUC was closed down at the start of Feb 2011 rather than relocated (have edited the info). There are two other NTUC nearby at Dawson Road and Stirling Road.
thanks for your info. I still have fond memories of that ntuc as it is the largest ntuc among all 3 in queenstown. Just being curious, do you mean 27A blk is demolished in order to build studio apartment? From what i have heard from residents there, plans for condos+shopping centre are underway.
The entire area from the multistory car-park to the former food centre has been boarded up and demolition works are underway.
Hi I am not sure about this, but I thought I read somewhere which mentioned that these buildings will be integrated into a new estate which will be built in the near future in Queenstown. It seems like they wont be demolished. If they are fated to be demolished they would have been demolished long ago together with the neighbouring HDBs. Is there any way to confirm? LOL. Really feel sad for this place because I spent my childhood in Queenstown where my grandparents lived.
It seems unlikely that they will keep the buildings but I also hope otherwise
remember the KFC..it has a nice view of the dimly litted bowling alley..Good times
Ah! Memories! I live in Queenstown and studied at the nearby Hua Yi Primary School.
Saturday after school ECA will walk to NTUC to play the arcade game on the top floor, visit the KFC – as Mark remembered – for our junk food kick, and when got more money, will play some bowling.
We also play jump drain at the monsoon drain. LOL!
I have lived in Queenstown my entire life, and still am living there. From Blk 27A until Mei Ling Street to Strathmore Avenue presently. But still in Queenstown. 😀 You can actually really call it my turf :p
My grandmother actually owned the Bird shop near the present queenstown library opposite the Carpark which is connected to the NTUC.
If i am not wrong, I vaguely remember that, there used to be a market at Queenstown which i constantly go to. Now turned into a car showroom. However, there used to be a MALL like a small MALL besides the used to be market. I forgot the Malls name but i remember it being there. It was sadly demolished years ago.
Would be good if anyone remembers the Mall and help me recall things about it :p Otherwise, Queenstown in a wonderful place , full of memories for me. Its sad to see 27A being demolished. My grandmother was actually the first to move in when it was first built and now she’s being pllaced under the en bloc scheme and has to move out. I lived there with her often as my school is is CHIJ.
Its sad that the government is demolishing alot of memories.
I remembered the bird shop and the POSB ATM by the side of the road. There used to be a two-storey mall in that area, somewhere near the hawker centre. There’s a departmental store at the 2nd floor called “东方百货公司” and a traditional confectionary called “金山面包店”at the ground floor.
Yeah …..level 1 is a confectionary, Level 2 is Emporium, Level 3 is a Double Joy restaurant. The restaurant is very famous then during the 70′ 80′ times where alot pple held their wedding dinner @ this place
Beside this building there are 2 more buildings also are cinemas, but now turned into churches. So mean to say last time Queenstown used to have total 3 cinemas
Yes, they were the Venus and Golden City cinemas
Other old photos of the former Venus and Golden City cinemas, accompanied by a nice little fountain
I studied New Town secondary school (the big track next to commonwealth mrt) in the 1990s. Used to live around redhill area. Like to frequent Queenstown cinema, kfc, bowling, library, small shops within the vicinity like birdshops, coffee shops (including an old couple selling thick sauce beef noodles), ntuc, big bookshop and the famous margaret drive hawker centre. So much things to see and walk. Now only the library remains.
Sometimes when taking bus 32 passby, still think of those good memories.
Redhill and Keng Seng Pri also a place full of memories.
第一次到NTUC购物、第一次吃KFC、第一次看电影、第一次上学（Queenstown CC 幼稚园）、第一次上巴刹（还记得是两层楼，楼上卖杂货、衣服；楼下卖鱼、肉、菜；一楼外面还有熟食摊，第一次吃的虾面汤就在这）、第一次上书局（还记得店名叫＂东陵书局＂）、第一次吃BubbleGum、第一次把辛苦储蓄起来的零用钱买第一只walkman、第一次被＂跛脚猫＂吓到从此与猫为敌、第一次吃麦芽糖（由一位ah peh提着铁桶到学校门口售卖，以一支竹签将铁桶里的麦芽糖卷成一小团，一支才卖$0.10)、第一次不听话玩刀片，结果割伤手了心虚不敢哭、第一次含冰块含到隔天病倒、第一次被牙医拔牙、第一次上小学、第一次看歌台、第一次参加中原节晚宴、第一次吃自家种的石榴、第一次喝妈妈煮的purple水（以自家种的竹叶熬煮而成的一种饮品）、第一次为妹妹剪头发（那时的我才不过4岁）、第一次把cassette中的黑带抽出来剪断，当做masak时炒的＂黑面＂、第一次把＂黄页＂电话簿撕出来，揉成碎纸团masak、第一次和妹妹＂见面＂（她在家中厕所出生）。。。
Ha me too…
Played with razor blade and cut myself when young.. Lesson learnt
Waaa… so interesting, i studied at Queenstown Primary School from 1986-1991. I remember the bird shop!
After morning session school, my friends and i would go to Queenstown CC or Blk 6C to play block-catching-hide AND seek. Then when the TAMIYA mini car craze swept by ard ’89, there’d be 2 cool places to race our cars. One at Go-Skate at Blk 6C and the other one is a little shop directly across 27A. The hyper-dash motor, lil sponge tires ahahahahaa….
I remember one classmate who stayed at Blk27A, and his dad run the provision store in the same block. Another friend stayed at the block to the right of 27A.
Oh! The Tamiya Mini 4 wheel-drive craze. I still remember the craze that was hot during the “Let’s & Go” era which I started playing those little 1:32 size cars in 1999 and Tai Sing was the company distributing them.
Though it became a craze again now when Stargek restarted distribution of Tamiya’s Mini 4WDs, radio control cars and their tune-up parts in Singapore with lower prices, there’s still a sharp decline in Mini 4WD racership than the 80’s to 90’s with R/C racership is still soaring high.
i was studying there the same time. i remember me & classmates always get into trouble with the blk 96? residents, the block right outside.
really those were the times.
Pictures of the interior in the blog below:
Thanks for showing…
There’s one cinema they’e going to demolished. Empress at Clementi. Perfect weekend haunts for me and my family, watching then the scariest Indonesia movies. I took photos a couple of years ago before they put barriers. I think I would put them in my site. You can use them as reference if you like.
Is this gone already?
The buildings are still around… I just passed by them last week
At least the library is still there. Used to go there in the 70s. The other two cinemas on the other side of the market, Golden City and Golden something, one was bought over by the Church of Our Saviour, the other one by Fishermen Christians? I saw Bruce Lee’s “Big Boss” at the latter, think also “One-Armed Swordsman”, when the hero returned to fight the badies, the audience rose and applauded. I guess going to the movies was quite an event then.
I remember that cinema and the hawker centre nearby very well. I used to go there with my mother after school to eat Mee Rebus in a stall opposite from the library. We used to wander around the area as well. Long, long, gone days, must be nearly 30 years ago.
Queenstown NTUC supermarket when it was opened in 1981…
Another landmark further down the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue (junction to Alexandra Road) was demolished a week ago. It was the kindergarten building set up by Hephzibah Christian Fellowship (from 1989 to 2012), also formerly the office of the Ministry of Environment (1972-1989).
The four-storey building had stand beside the famous Princess Building of Queenstown for many decades.
Yeah….think the level 2 is called 大忠, not emporium as I mentioned. One of the 2 cinemas is called 金都戏院
The cinema/bowling alley has been fenced up already. So its being demolished as well??
The bad news is almost confirmed
As of early June 2013, the iconic cinema building of Queenstown is boarded up and seems certain for demolition
(have to now shift this Old Place of Singapore from “abandoned” to “demolished”)
Why can’t they just keep this at least after demolishng so much of Margaret Drive?
Thank you so much for this article. Seeing the old pictures brought back a flood of memories and tears. I truly miss the old Queenstown I grew up in. It used to be a crowded and bustling little town in the 80s and 90s before it became quieter and eventually disappearing.
I’m now staying at Dawson, the newly allocated blocks for the En Bloc residents. Every now and then, I still dream of this old hometown of mine.
Gosh, these pictures do bring back so much memories….I spent my early years in Commonwealth Drive and used to take walks with my parents to Blk C and watch the world go by on one of the many benches. We would occasionally catch a movie, only if there was extra cash available. I really miss the simple and carefree lifestyle then….
Hey thanks for these lovely and memorable pictures. Between 1982-1988, i remembered the playground in front of the NTUC that i used to hang out as there was big metallic slides and swings. The Queenstown cinema was my favourite place of which they screened “old jackie chan’s shows” and also the infamous hopping vampires shows.. I also remembered large numbers of motobikers like to hang out during the weekends outside the cinema too. Thanks again
Three historic buildings in Queenstown to be conserved
The Straits Times
Published on Oct 04, 2013
QUEENSTOWN library, a former wet market at Commonwealth Avenue and Alexandra Hospital will be gazetted for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in its upcoming Master Plan.
The news was cheered by civic group My Community, which had lobbied for the conservation of these buildings in a paper submitted to the URA in July. The authority said it had also been looking at these sites.
Their status was announced by Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin at the URA’s Architectural Heritage Awards presentation ceremony yesterday evening.
“All three buildings are important representations of what conservation can do to reinforce a community’s identity and preserve its ‘flavour’ for past, present and future residents,” said Mr Tan.
The buildings are both historically and architecturally significant, said the URA. The former wet market, for instance, is the only one left that was built by the Singapore Improvement Trust. It features design elements like a honeycomb screen wall suitable for the tropics.
Alexandra Hospital was selected for its “stripped-down hybrid of modern and classical styles” and historical significance – it was built by the British Armed Forces in 1938.
Their inclusion brings the number of conserved buildings in Queenstown to six. The others are Princess House, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and Archipelago Brewery Company.
My Community has pushed to conserve much of Queenstown as a showcase of the evolution of public housing and residential town centres in Singapore.
Its paper, four years in the making and bearing the signatures of 1,000 residents, marks out 15 other Queenstown sites it wants conserved.
A number of landmarks, such as the Queenstown Remand Prison and the Margaret Drive hawker centre, are now gone. In June, the Queenstown cinema and bowling centre were also demolished.
Residents welcomed the move to conserve the community facilities, especially the library, which was opened by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1970.
“It’s an iconic landmark worthy of preservation. A lot of our childhood memories are also tied to this place,” said Mr James Tan, 52, a resident who still frequents the library with his family.
Civic group founder Kwek Li Yong, 24, said he was pleased and hopes the other sites on the group’s list will eventually bear the conservation stamp.
What is proposed for the cinema building?
Heard of the latest news a few days ago that Queensway Shopping Centre has closed sometime May. Sad.
Don’t think so. They are only going for collective sale and looking for a buyer. Nothing is confirmed 🙂