The flats located at Silat Avenue were mostly built between 1949 and 1952 by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), the predecessor of the Housing Development Board (HDB), making them the second oldest surviving public housing estate in Singapore after the Tiong Bahru pre-war flats.
The neighbourhood used to be known as Kampong Silat, with its name probably derived from the Malay martial arts. A Silat Community Centre once stood along Silat Avenue, only to be replaced by a point-block flat and a nursing home after the late nineties.
The squarish Art Deco-styled flats, mostly three- or four-storied tall, have wooden window panes, large balconies and a huge red-tiled roof with chimney-like structures. Such designs were also used in the construction of SIT flats elsewhere in Singapore, such as Princess Elizabeth Park at Upper Bukit Timah.
There were originally 15 flats built, with their block numbers ranging between 17 and 31. Two of the front blocks that stood facing Kampong Bahru Road, numbered 20 and 21, were demolished in the late nineties.
An interesting and unique feature about these SIT flats is that, despite standing close to each others, the blocks’ addresses are categorized by the three roads that run around them, namely Silat Avenue, Silat Walk and Kampong Bahru.
In 2007, all the 13 SIT flats were announced to be part of the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) program. By the first half of 2012, most of the flats were vacated.
On the opposite side of Kampong Bahru Road stand two high-rise HDB flats (Block 1 and 2) that once housed the personnel of the Royal Malaysian Customs and Malayan Railways Limited, or Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM).
Built in the eighties by HDB, the two flats are called the Kemuning Residential Block and Melati Residential Block. The blocks are also commonly known as the Spooner Road flats, where Spooner Road is the minor road that leads to the small estate and was named after Charles Edwin Spooner (1853-1909), the State Engineer of the Public Works Department during the British colonial era. The road to the former property of KTM was appropriately named as Spooner was also the head of the Federated Malay States Railways in 1901.
In 2011, the flats, as part of the KTM railway premises, were handed over to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). The former KTM workers’ quarters were then converted into rental flats with 10 years’ leases.
Also read Singapore En-Bloc Flats.
Published: 20 September 2012
Updated: 14 June 2013
Thanks for sharing this. I did not know the spooner flats were to be converted – looks like this area may not be ‘redeveloped’ in the near future – hopefully.
Thank you for sharing your excellent photos and information. I grew up in Kampong Silat. It’s a treasured landmark in my memory of childhood.
I’m Louisa. My friends and I are currently doing a mini-documentary on Kampong Silat and are looking for past residents to interview. If you do see this and would like to share your views about your time staying there, do drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks (:
That sounds like an interesting project. However, I live overseas now (Switzerland) and it’ll be difficult for us to meet for an interview :-).
Have fun and loads of success with the doc.
Me & my siblings were born in Kg Silat. We lived there till the government resettled everyone in the kampong.
I grew up in Kg
silat Est too. My old address Blk 20 Kg Bahru Road 280-C. Do you happen to know Irene Tan who stayed in Block 21 also on the 4th floor.
I was born in Room 21 Kelantan Flats, Kampong Bahru Road, on 30th Sept 2602 (1942). Is the premises standing or has it been replaced.
saw your post recently, i was in Blk 21, 1st storey next to the open badminton court.
Then u would have Irene Tan Ah Say who lived on the first slab of flats on the 4th level in Block 21. Her neighbour was a christian family.
The Spooner Road flats have been given a fresh coat of paint now
The old M.R. Running Bungalow, the former resting bunks for the KTM train drivers, is also under renovation (but not sure what it will be turned into, let’s hope it won’t be demolished)
Used to visit my then grandma’s flat in Kg Bahru and she used to lived in the 2nd floor during the 80’s. I could tell you that the living hall was extremely large, that could hold 2 large round tables of 10pax each, or 5 mahjong tables and even have the space to walk, and so as the Kitchen and the Rooms.
I remembered when I was young and during every Saturdays, my family and I would visit my grandma, together with my 7 Uncles and 6 Aunties and including my cousins (mostly are from my Mom’s side). Everyone would made a heck-lot-of noise as they loved that till now even my grand-parents weren’t around, and I do not know why. You could imagined how big my (Cantonese) family was at time and also not being boastful, my grandma was my grandpa’s first wife. (During pre/post-war time, polygamy for non-Muslim was allowed till the 60’s). So imagined the crowd during the Chinese New Year, his (grandpa) other 2 wives together with their off-springs and off off-springs would also dropped by. Totally madness…
Anyways, there are some of these type of (similiar) houses along Tiong Bahru Road. You could drive or walk by during the evenings to catch a glimpse in the interior, and mostly are occupied by the expats.
BTW…my Dad’s a pure Peranakan, and so that makes me a half-Peranakan? “-_-
Tq for all these sweet memories. Being born n bred there for 25 years before I got married. I used to staying in Blk 20 280C Kampong Bahru Road, the 4th storey. Born in 1960. Wonder my childhood frens are still residing there
Didn’t there used to be a notorious group of mini cooper (original Mini, not BMW mini) enthusiasts living around the Kampong Bahru area? Once saw Frankie Boo, Mini racer, chicken rice seller who used to sell at a coffee shop along Short Street at Kampong Bahru with his famous mini cooper S. Mostly Indians, Sikhs & Eurasians in the mini clique.
I used to live at block 18 Silat Road from 1953 to 1961 when I was born till I was 9years old. We stayed on the top floor and I used to come downstairs to play.
There’s Louisa (see her comment above) who is doing a mini-documentary on former residents. Why not get in touch with her at: email@example.com. and help her with an interview?
I’m working on a mini project to analyse the former SIT flats throught the occupancy point of view. I will love to learn more
about your story if you don’t mind sharing. Kindly contect me if you’re interested:) thanks!
This really brings back memories. My family used to live on the first floor in Block 30, where Silat Walk ended in a t-shaped cul-de-sac. The cul-de-sac itself was lined with a row of concrete garbage receptacles which were later demolished after a proper bin center was built next to Block 25 (this was later removed and a new one was erected at the previous location). Behind the row of receptacles was a large field (looked at least to a kid) where a makeshift open-air cinema operated in the weekends. For 10 cents one can watch old Hollywood westerns, Hong Kong kungfu shows, Shaw Brothers local Malay thrillers or whatever the operators happened to lay their hands on. If one was broke, no problem, just find a space on top of the concrete garbage receptacles, settle down and watch the show from the back of the giant fabric screen. The operators tried hanging a black cloth to block out the view but enough of the show filtered through for a decent viewing. The only drawback: everything was in reverse! A show like that was always going to be a big draw, pulling in the crowd as well as hawkers and roadside peddlers for miles around. Almost every weekend, depending on the weather, there was a carnival going on!
The field itself was L-shaped intersected by footpaths and part of it extended to the back of my block. Almost every evening the neighbourhood kids took to a soccer match enthusiastically and it was no surprise that we often find a wayward ball in our kitchen balcony.
But the best part of my childhood was spent exploring the strip of land acting as a buffer between the field and the KTM railway lines. It was a haven for small animals – birds, monitor lizards, rodents, and of course, fighting spiders. My neighbours and I would sneak in through a hole in the wire mesh fence and spent hours hunting.
Looking away in the opposite direction, Silat Walk opened up to the shop-lined Silate Square (if I remember correctly). At the far end was a tiny chapel, the Kampong Bahru Gospel Center which later relocated to Mattar Road in Macpherson and become the Grace Baptist Church.
Now looking back, the actual physical size of the neighbourhood wasn’t that big, but to a small kid, it was the perfect romping ground.
It is sad to see it go for the sake of new developments, but hey, thanks for the memories.
I can remember the open-air cinema but no idea where that field was exactly. The entry-price was 10 cents and kids free. I remember playing football with my cousins in a field between SIT blocks as well. And we used to go search for fighting spiders in the lalang field on the slope beside the railway lines. The lalang grass was taller than most of us. And end of the year we flew kites on that slope.
I was born in Silat Road in 1966, my address previously was 82A, Silat Road,we moved out in 1973,which i started primary 1 in Silat Primary School,our school do have different school badge, morning class is called Silat 1, afternoon class is Silat 2. When i was young, we like to play at d low rise buildings. cos there is a slide. My house is directly at e entrance to e Chinese temple called Tai Yang Kong( The Sun Temple). My mum use 2 work a construction worker in Kg Bahru Chinese temple which named is Tang Gak Bio(The Hell Temple)
Ah, the slide … and if I’m not mistaken, there were swings too. Located just behind a U-shaped 4-storied apartment block (painted red), in some sort of a “courtyard” due to the building layout, they were a delight to the neighbourhood kids. The apartment block sat above a basement and each ground floor unit had a staircase leading from the kitchen to the “courtyard” below. Painted white, they stood out against the red. I remembered always wondering what it’s like to use those stairs. And of course the basement and what lurked in there was always a common topic among the neighbourhood kids.
Ricky, I was also born in Kampong Bahru Road Block 20. In those days, its legal.
Susan , my he was exactly at e bottom of e 太阳宫, which is an attachment houses wif my relatives beside us.
Nice to know u were also from Silat Primary School. I was th 1967 P1 batch of Silat Primary Sch II. Do you have any pictures of our old Primary sch to share?
Hi Susan and Ricky, my sister and 4 brothers all went to Silat Primary School. The brothers were all originally in the Radin Mas where my Dad also went in his time but my mother transferred the boys to Silat because it was closer to home and they could walk there on their own and also keep my youngest sister company. My sister was born 1959, so she would have started P1 in 1966 or 1967. Her school-name was Tan Cheng Hoon. I’ll askk her if she has old photos.
Thanks for sharing. I can remember all these landmarks. The Tai Yang Kong was the temple basically next-door to the Silat Primary, right? My Dad used to drive his car to the front yard of the temple on Sundays and there, in the shade of huge tree, washed and polished his precious car. Sometimes, a few of us kids went along for the ride and played about the yard till he was done. The Tang Gak Bio was next-door to the St Theresa Catholic Church. I wonder if it’s still there.
Yes, you are right, Lucy. it’s hard to forget all these old memories. Myfamily moved out
of the flat in 1997 after they were allocated a flat opposite Jurong Point. Block 20 had already been demolised. Very sad!
So true, Susan. So much to remember. I think it’s also because they were some of our earliest childhood memories that they have settled so permanently in our minds.
Lucy, the tang gak bio (东狱庙)is still there, beside Tai yang gong is e Thai temple, slat primary is at opposite e silken temple,hokkien ppl call it si pai po boey.
Hi Ricky. Yes, si pai po, the Hokkian pronunciation of sepoy meaning Sepoy Line – remember the post-office was called that. It was somewhere along Neil Rd, in the vicinity of the General Hospital.
I was born and bred in kampong Bahru , used to live in the Railway quarters (not Melati or Kemuning) there were other Railway quarters before these were built. I used to go often to Silat Road to buy kites. I am now 53 years old. I can never forgot those good memories. There used to be a cemetery there.
Yes, me too Joseph. I only moved out after I got married in Jun 1985 and stayed at Jalan Bukit Merah Block 106 which is the Bus Service 65 terminus.
5 blocks of Kampong Silat SIT flats (18, 19, 22, 23 & 24 Silat Avenue) will be conserved as part of the URA Master Plan 2014
I’ve heard about the MRT Circle Line proposed to close the loop between Marina South and Harbourfront station via its tunnel.
Just passed by yesterday for a photoshoot and no wonder they tore down some of the older blocks(I believed there were some blocks 17? that were on the slope that were torn down now. So it seems like they are conversing only certain blocks. I wonder what will they become if. This is certainly an interesting area as when are walking around, you will feel a kampong feeling like . Rare indeed in Singapore now.
The address of my grandmother’s house was 81A Silat Rd (if I remember correctly). Now I’m wondering which house was 82A. You must have been one of the neighbours’ little boy … 🙂
If I’m not wrong ,ur unit 81A is a shop.
Hi Ricky. No, it wasn’t a shop. In fact, we were quite far away from the shops.
I am now living in Australia, having migrated to Christmas Island in 1969, i originally a Singaporean, born in the old St. Andrew’s Hospital at Tanjong Pagar in 1943. I don’t think it’s there any longer. I live in a little row of flats, at Silat Walk, since I was born, until the age of about 6 years old, my parents passed away. I was then brought up by my Uncle and Aunt at Spooner Road, just next to Silat Road area. We lived at Johore Flats, opposite the now Running Bungalow, thankfully now still exist. Then a couple of years later, my uncle got a promotion, we then moved to Pahang Flats, a two bed room unit, on the 2nd floor. This was when I started schooling at Sacred Heart Boy’s School at Kampong Bahru, the principal Mr. Charles d’Rozerio, (I hope my spelling is correct) a few years later I was transferred to the newly build De La Salle School. That was about 1952. That school is no longer De La Salle. So, back to Spooner Road, and a few years after, we moved again from Pahang Flats to Perak Flats, a three bedroom. I left Spooner Road in 1963 and stayed at Klang, Malaya for the next six years, before i went to Christmas Island in 1969, I am now living in Australia . Times have changed, they are beautiful memories of the passed, they will never go away.
Hi Stephen, your schoolmaster at the Sacred Heart Boys’s School (a few hundred yards away from the Radin Mas Primary?) was more likely spelt de Rosario. His daughter Charlotte sat next to me in primary school in the St Theresa’s Convent up the hill. I’ve often wondered about what became of Charlotte. I ca remember that she had younger twin sisters and an older sister and brother.
I can remember the De La Salle School too. Some of my friends’ brothers went there but that would have been later than your time there.
Christmas Island is such a nice name. You must be happy there. I live in Switzerland for decades now. But yes, lovely memories of the old-fashioned colonial times, and the slow-paced Kampong Bahru ambience, and definitely more preferred by me than present day Singapore.
I’m living in New Zealand now I hope you Doris and family are doing well, you were both always kind to me and I have fond memories and a lot of respect you both.
Dear Steven Tan,
St. Andrew Hospital is now located next to Simei General Hospital. It is known as a community hospital which offer primary healthcare services. General Hospital provide tertiary healthcare while community hospital provide step down service.
I guess u must have live in those SIT terrace houses. Those which had a living room and a huge bedroom which had an entrance to living room and another leading to the bathroom n toilet area. The kitchen is long and the roof is open. Very interesting, as I recalled those houses. May I ask which unit were you living in. I believe you are the row of houses behind the coffee shop, photostudio, sundries shops and a Grace Baptist Church. We may know each other cos I frequent there very often as a kid.
Yes, I lived in one of those Terrace houses, 97, Silat Road, around 1945-1950. Outside our terrace was a commom public bath place, just by the side of Silat Road. Night soil was collected in the early hours of the morning. Right on top of our unit, were those flashy new S.I.T. Flats, 3 storeys I think.
Do you still keep any pictures of your old house? If u still hav them can share here?
Hi everyone who used to live or knows someone who lived at Kampong Silat,
I need your help to reconcile my Mom with her family!
My Mom who is Chinese was given up for adoption into an Indian family.
She was about 5 days old (needs verification).
She was born 6th of December 1938 I am her son and she is now 76.
She asked me tonight if I can help her to reconnect with her family.
When she was a little older, she was told by a “neighbor” and some relatives that a Chinese man, her brother, who was probably 10 years her senior, came to visit her but her adoptive parents became very protective of her and stop those visitations.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Vasu, when I was between 4 and 6 years old I knew about a girl of Chinese descent adopted by an Indian family. She was very pretty and young as I was, I had often wondered how could any parent give away such a pretty daughter and not regret it? But you said your mother was born 1938 which in the Chinese Lunar Calendar was the Year of the Tiger and the Chinese do not like having female ‘tigers’ in their family and hence, ‘tiger girls’ tend to end up in adoption. Wicked superstition!
However, this pretty girl I remembered was only a teenager when I knew her – that would be sometime between 1956 and 1959. However, I remember grown-ups saying that her parents were already going to marry her off.
Their house was opposite a block of SIT and very close to a public stand-pipe where the village women fetched water for their homes or wash their laundry there in the mornings, and their vegetables in the late afternoon before cooking dinner.
This adopted girl’s grandmother made and sold apom in the mornings and we kids used to stoop around before her little charcoal stove (or were there 2 stoves?) watching her pour the white rice batter into the little iron pan, swirling expertly to spread the batter before covering the pan with a wooden-lid to let the apom cook. We used to wait patiently for our turn to buy an apom from the old Indian lady for breakfast – white lacy and crisp with a thick soft centre sprinkled with brown palm sugar, and piping hot. That was super yummy.
Anyway, sorry for my longwinded degression, but I doubt there’s anyone left from the older people from the village who could have known who your mother’s birth parents were. A lot of those gossipy neighbours moved to the Bukit Merah HDB settlements.
My dad is 72 and also grew up in the area, he remembers your mum, his name is Spencer Ware
He remembers your mum and group up in block L17
He recalls your mums adopted mother has a son who was a detective and his name was tumbi for the Singapore police department
Happy to share more info
Hi Greg, I believe you dad used to live in the middle block in the second photo from the top. I think my mum knew your Grandma.
I got 3 photo of that area in the 70s here:
This picture seemed to be in the Silat Road Market Place area where there are squatters .
Hi Susan, which part of Silat is this, I’m trying to recall. I’ve lived in Silat Road since 1957 till 1969 when we moved to the HDB flats just after the kampong. In Silat we first lived beside the Charcoal shop and later moved behind the Chiang Teck School. Thanks.
Hi Vasu, sorry for this late response as I have not visited this site for a long time. Hope you found what you were looking for by now. Like Lucy, I remember a young Chinese girl (at least she looked Chinese to me being so different from her “family”), living in a wooden house in the kampong next to the SIT blocks. The kampong and the SIT flats were separated by a chainlink fence. And yes, the granny sold apom, and I would be fascinated by the way she lightly touches the hot pan with the batter wrapped in a white cotton cloth, and presto! a delicious apom is made.
They had a dog too, a mixed breed, think part border collie and part something else, but boy, it was very fierce and dog aggressive. My dogs were attacked several times when I was out walking them. But coming back to your mom, I thought she was well loved by her adopted parents though.
Tcwdoggy, thanks for sharing those old photographs. I have some vague and some vivid memories of the kampong. These are early childhood memories because we moved away in 1961. I left Singapore in 1971 which was a few years before the whole village got torn up and buried under HDB flats. Glad to know that the old SIT blocks escaped the bulldozers.
Hi Joseph, I’m so happy to read that you too remember the apom granny. There was a stand-pipe almost next-door to Vasu’s mother’s house and the granny’s apom vendor-spot was just across the path from it. Housewives got together at the stand-pipe early in the morning to wash clothes, bath their small children and/or carry water back home for cooking. Always a chatty atmosphere. And in the late afternoon, they congregated to gossip and wash vegetables for dinner-preparation.
There was a kedai on the other side of the path from the stand-pipe. Young Chinese guy (called Peng Yan, I think) who was in charge of the family business. I remember they had a little counter in the doorway to sell fresh cut fruit like pineapple and water-melon, and also sweet-onions preserved in vinegar as well as buah long-long in jars of yellow liquid. It was fascinating to watch the Peng Yan guy skillfully clean and cut up a pineapple. He wore a rubber glove on one hand to hold the pineapple and with the knife in the other, he got rid of the hard skin, then he cut diagonal grooves into the surface to trim off the brown ‘eyes’, rotating the pineapple dexterously in his gloved hand.
Anyway, maybe Vasu, you could try and trace the people of that kedai and ask if they remembered hearing where your mother came from. Good luck.
Hi Lucy, yes I remember that stand pipe and that little shed of a shop. We kids loved to visit it for the golly (concrete marbles) and the tee-kam (Chinese lucky draw). Unfortunately, I had never won anything. There was this sneaky feeling that the shop was kept going by our “contribution”.
The shop itself sat next to the opening in the chain-linked fence that served as a doorway. And you are right. It sat directly opposition to Vasu mother’s home. If my memory didn’t fail, it (Vasu mother’s house) was painted light blue or some sort of bluish hue. I concur that tracing the people connected to that shop will be a good start.
I also kind of vaguely recall witnessing a fanfare taking place during Vasu mother’s wedding. I couldn’t be sure as it happened so long ago.
Vasu’s mother must have been a very beautiful bride and her adopted family must have been very proud of her. It’s just such a shame that she and Vasu hadn’t started searching for the birth-parents earlier.
Stumbling upon your blog brought me many memories of Silat Road.
My parents stayed in one of those SIT flats together with my father’s parents and siblings. It was where the present Block 149 is located. My birth certificate showed the address to be 13F Silat Road and I lived there from 1953 – 1959 before my parents moved to another SIT flat in Margaret Drive. I remember riding my 3-wheel bicycle along the blocks, ducking to avoid open windows. Our immediate neighbour on the same floor was a nice Indian family.
The most memorable times were the visit to the open air cinema with my aunties. I also remembered looking out the window seeing the bright orange horizon towards the SGH area when the Bukit Ho Swee fire occurred.
Got a picture of how the near area looked like from my house window and one which showed my deceased father cycling below the block.
Thank Elvin Woo for kindly sharing heritage. These SIT flats are built before my birthday. Now, I visit the Thai temple also near here.I noticed those 4-storey SIT flats were SERS and offered alternative flats in Kim Tian Place. Tentatively, the Circle line MRT stations would close the loop from Marina Bay to Harbourfront. It would also integrate with Greater South Project when Tanjong Pagar container terminal relocate to Tuas port. That’s so much info for now. When the future built up environment happens, your old photographs would be useful archive (artefacts for Kampong Silat museum). Over to you Elvin, Ricky is penning off now.
I’m a year older than you, Elvin and I share the same memories of the open-air cinema in the field by the railway, and of seeing the dark columns of churning smoke from the Ho Swee Swa great fire.
Hi all !
Stumbled upon this site….I grew up in Silat Rd albeit at a later time than the seniors here. I left the area in 1976. In the 60s Kampong Silat was a notorious area as that was the HQ of the 18 Sio Gee Ho secret society (site of old Chang Teck School) which was running a 18 yrs attack-on-sight curfew with arch-rival the 18 Seow Koon Tong in See Kah Teng (Gaga Selera Barat) now known as Jln Bukit Merah. Then there were Silat Walk, S Rd, S Lane, S Ave….The 1st demolition came in 1977 to make way for HDB flats in 1979…Blks 146, 147 etc . The 60s and early 70s – those were the good old days…
Hi Max. Interesting that you were there till almost the eve of the destruction of the old kampong. Thanks for sharing the information on secret societies of the area. I remember the name See Kah Teng (probably named after a 4-posted pavillion) but never knew that it’s the present-day Jln Bukit Merah. Fascinating for me to connect my childhood memory with facts and information I learn only now.
Hi Lucy, I used to live behind the Boon Huat coffee shop beside the charcoal shop in Silat road from the day I was born in1957 up till 1970 when we were resettled to the new HDB flats just at the end of the then Silat road. Blk 110 Jalan Bukit Merah aka Si Kah Teng. which was close to the Buddhist Temple on the hill up till the time I got married in 1984 and moved out to Tampines. I still cherished the days of walking along the train tracks to school (De La Salle) and playing at the Silat Community Centre.
Up to 1979 by-election when Devan Nair won then re-named Anson consistuency, the area was still known as Sepoy Lines consistuency – Sepoy Lines was dissolved and re-drawed when then MP Wee Toon Boon serving as Minister of State for Environment was arrested for CBT in 1974-75.
Back in 1967-69 when they cut a path from end of Neil Rd and start of Kampong Bahru Rd, at the start of the Hindu (with a large mural of Tata on the wall) Temple, the Jln Bukit Merah road came to become the 2nd longest stretch in SG then (2nd to Serangoon, Upper Serangoon Road).
In the years prior to 1973, the area was known also as “Hoo Ah Sua” denoting the hilly attap kampung behind the SIT flats of Silat Rd – the terrain next to present-day SGH. Before Jln Bukit Merah cut through dissecting Silat Rd and Hoo Ah Sua, no taxi would drive into Silat kampungs due to the area’s notorious reputation – enter at your own risk !
And from 1970-71-72, the construction of Jln Bukit Merah, Jln Membina, Kim Tian Rd HDB flats started. As for the other side of kampung, at the terminus of the railway line….there was Reaburn Park football field where the “Knights” team were playing. You have to cut through a small pathway at Neil Rd peranakan houses to get to Reaburn Park. There were two Hindu Temples along the railway tracks, one at the Reaburn Park site and another nearer to Bukit Chermai. And the Thai Buddhist Temple at the top of the hill looking down at Tai Yang Gong temple is the pre-eminent Thai Buddhist temple in SG – then Field Marshal Thanom Kittitachon took his vows there after leaving Thailand following his bloody coup in 1973. And some of the early bandboys in Matthew and the Mandarins (not Matthew) were from Spooner Rd….(if I recall correctly) the band came together in Spooner Rd ! Of course, the railway field hosted once a while movies at night. And the CYMA team (catholic young men association – aligned with parish at St Teresa Church) was playing there.
On another note, the Grace Baptist Church at Silat Walk was the the childhood church of Rev Lawrence Khong who now runs a much bigger congregation. He was still with the church in 1983 until some time later due to differences with the GBC Elders over “speaking in tongues”.
These are some of the memories ! Good Old Salad Days !!
Thank you Lucy, so now I’m more aware. How did the Thai temple came into being. Regarding Rev Lawrence Khong is busy with his newly completed building over at Touch Community centre. Perhaps during Christmas carolling he would open up for visitors to the new centre.The SGH is gradually transforming into a new outfit.The little bus interchange at SGH would be relocated to the Tanjong Pagar railway station on top of Circle line MRT station extension.Let’s update and share information as we get along!
Thank you for sharing this wealth of information! I remember the Sepoy Lines area – called See Pai Por in Hokkien. We left Silat Rd to live in Everton Park, just off Neil Rd. And I especially remember the Sepoy Lines post-office just opposite the drive up to the SGH because I wrote regularly to 2 pen-pals in Europe (Ireland and Switzerland). Those were pre-facebook days when one makes virtual friends through a pen-pal club.
And I remember what you mentioned as Hoo Ah Sua which I think is Koo-ah Sua, Hokkien for ‘tortoise hill’ possibly either because of the shape of the hill or some physical association with tortoises or turtles.
And guess which school I went to till I joined NJC? St Theresa’s Convent, almost a mile trek inland and uphill from the church. We went often to mass in the Church of St Teresa to celebrate special feast days and also for Novenas. Though spellt differently, both church and school were dedicated to St Therese of Lisieux or St Therese of the Infant Jesus. Next time I’m in Singapore I must remember to visit the church and admire its achitecture properly.
The railway-field movie nights seem a very strong anchor-memory for many of us who spent our childhood in the Silat-Kampong Bahru area :-).
Hi Lucy, here’s an 1970s photo of the Sepoy Lines Post Office
(Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore)
OOhhh! Thank you, Max, for posting the picture of the Sepoy Lines post-office!!! OMG, what memories and nostalgia that brings :-). I can see my teenage self again coming round the corner from Everton Park and either going into post-office or passing its gates to get to the STC terminal on North Bridge Rd to take, I think, the No. 10 bus into town to the USIS library and/or meeting up with friends for window-shopping along Hill St and Bras Basah.
Quite a pretty house, it was, wasn’t it? A post-office with a little garden and bamboo chicks blinds, and shaded by that giant old tree. You can’t get a post-office more ‘old-school’ than that! So sad that it’s now gone and in its place, just a few tired-looking trees.
I remember that complicated road junction just in front of the post-office with Neil Rd, Kampong Bahru Rd, North Bridge Rd and Hospital Drive all coming together, neither in a cross nor in a roundabout circus. And all those great big roadside trees, and the middle-line of stately palms with heads of windmill fronds leading up Hospital Drive. My bestfriend from Convent School lived in the peranakan house next-door to the coffee-shop in the corner of Neil Rd and Spottiswoode Park Rd.
Those were drowsy, laid-back days :-).
I was searching for information on Bukit Teresa but came to nought. My wife was from STC and inevitably she lived in the kampong at Bukit Teresa, just beside the Carmelite. Now the area is known as Bukit Purmei estate. St Teresa High School, a Chinese medium school used to be at the site of the present Kellock Convent. There were a few rows of low houses leading up to the kampung on top of Bukit Teresa Road. The road still exists, the private houses are still there. On the right side of the road was a small cemetary..We could walk to the Bukit Merah & KIm Tian area from Bukit Teresa, passing through kampung houses and the railway track until the Expressway across it was constructed.
I regretted not taking photographs of the area before it was demolished.
St Theresa Church did not change much except that it is air-conditioned inside. Beautiful architecture….. The yearly Feast Day procession around the Church perimeter is still being held.
I did blog about my first home at Silat Road some years ago (link below). I am now searching through my parent’s old albums, hopeful to find some more pictures of the place in the 50s. Ah, i remembered the kampong houses which were beside my grandpa’s block and my uncles and aunts were told to strictly keep out of bound because of the frequent fights there.
In my blog I included a picture of part of the ‘square’. It was taken from the room of our flat. Also a picture of my late father who was riding his ‘Raleigh’ bicycle at the ground floor of the block. I believed that brand of bicycle was considered as the ‘BMWs’ of bicycle at that time. Quite ‘atas’. I was told that he would ride his bicycle to work at Harbour Board, the present PSA, in the Pasir Panjang area every day.
Thanks for sharing the photos. I can remember those long low rows of housing along the road. When it’s wayang time, a lot of food stalls and ti-kam (lottery) stands were lined up there. With regret I’ve never visited the area again after 1971 and now I doubt that I’ll be able to find my way around there anymore. Time flies and kampongs transform into shopping-malls and express highways.
And oh yes, the Raleigh was the ‘BMW’ if not Rolls Royce of bicycles in 1950s Singapore! My Dad’s first wheels were those of a Raleigh too. Not that I had ever seen the bike because I wasn’t born yet then.
Hi Elvin, sorry to hear that your search for information on Bukit Teresa was unsuccessful. Nowadays, when one googles for old places in Singapore, the results are mostly apartments for sale and maps with confusing new express-ways and road names created for new housing estates.
I remember Bukit Teresa Rd with the Chinese school and the row of low houses on the left side which included a coffee-shop. I remember passing the Carmelite Convent whenever I chose to walk home to Silat via Bt Teresa Rd and crossing the railway-line, in fact, walking part of the way on the railway itself was the main part of the fun. Those days (1960s) there were no fencing or any form of safety precaution for the pedestrian crossing the railway-line as a short-cut. But there were like 2 trains a day sort of thing and some goods-trains carrying stuff from the rubber estates and tin-mines on the mainland.
You said your wife was ex STC (St Theresa’s Convent)? What years was she there? St Theresa’s produced a few beauty-queens of the early 70s and many models. One of my primary classmates, Seah Jiak Choo, became the Director-General of Education at the
Ministry of Education in the early 2000s.
The school itself (since the 50s, I think) is on the Radin Mas Hill and there were 2 ways of getting to it. One way was to leave the school on the western end, go down a flight of hundreds of cement steps, through the roadless kampong which now has roads like Bukit Purmei Rd and Bukit Purmei Ave, and down to the Kampong Bahru Rd, and the other was on a tarred bit of ‘road’ that ran past Tang Gap Beo, a few kampong houses with a Muslim graveyard and a steep climb either on the steep, narrow, one-lane road up to the eastern side of the school or on footpaths between attap houses on the kampong slope.
Now all those paths and primitive roads are of course gone. I don’t think I’ll be able to find my way to the STC without a taxi :-).
You mentioned that your wife lived at Bukit Theresa Village opposite the Carmelite Monastery. I used to live at the first house (51-E) in the entrance of the village at the bottom of the road where Bukit Theresa Road began to curve uphill. It’s hard to miss the green zinc roofed house with a cream coloured main frame. I do have a photo of it that is dated around late 1950s. Is there a possibility of posting it here? I can approximate the date because my mom was holding my toddler eldest sister (I obviously wasn’t born yet) and two of my sisters attended St. Theresa’s Convent too.
Hi All !
Yes……Harbour Board with the logo of 3 funnels & smoke – my neighbor was working there and his
pay in 1965 was SG$ 25/- (I saw his little blue pay card !) Singapore has come a long way….!! Cheers !
The Singapore Harbour Board, present-day PSA (Port of Singapore Authority), also holds special memory for me, I guess because the livelihood of our family and extended family was maintained by the SHB. My Dad started his career at the Singapore Harbour Board too like his great-uncle, uncles, cousins and some schoolmates. In fact, most of them were Harbour Board lifers. Dad climbed from a lowly clerk to the coverted position of Storekeeper, attaining his life-long ambition to one day own a similar job to those of his first and beloved ang-moh bosses. However, despite of that, he took early retirement and started his own transport and warehousing business. The SHB must have been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, employer on the island back then.
Yes, SHB was the premier employer then esp those who lived around the area. Beside my dad, my 3rd uncle was also employed there till his retirement. These were the ‘Englsh educated’ and a clerk was highly looked upon.
Haha, so Elvin, you were a ‘Habour Board’ kid too. Many of my schoolmates had fathers working with the Harbour Board too. Strangely none of my relatives in my or the younger generations joined the SHB. I guess the financial sector, Jurong and the airport seem more attractive nowadays. And yes, those days, English-schooled clerks were a highly looked upon.
Hi Lucy, Elvin, Hou Seng and All !
There was a chapel by the side of the post office also…..and the St Matthew Church was down the road facing the Everton Park red-brick blocks….this was early 1970s when the buses plying Neil Rd and Kampong Bahru were Bus Nos 61, 123, 124, 143 and from Neil Rd diverting into Jln Bukit Merah were Bus Nos 181, 196 and …..good old days !
Oh yes, Max, I spent my first primary school year at the Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School before transfering to the St Theresa Convent where all my cousins go. And I can vaguely remember St Matthews on the way to and from school in my father’s car. But I can remember better hearing choir singing in there on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings when walking past.
The old building of St Matthew Church at Neil Road has been vacated for many years
Those buses still travel the same routes…
Interesting. Good to know. Thanks, Elvin. Next time I visit, I shall go on a ‘nostalgia’ tour of the Kampong Bahru/Silat/Sepoy area by bus.
Sorry, Remember Singapore, I was confused about who posted the picture of the Sepoy Lines Post-office. Thank you for it.
No problem 🙂
I remember there was a mosque in Kampong Bahru and seeing men in white or light-blue Malay clothes and white taqiyah prayer-hats going or returning from prayer-services on Friday evenings. However, I can’t remember exactly where the mosque was located and if it’s still there. One fond childhood memory is waking at dawn to hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, and sometimes hearing the azan again at midday, and definitely again at sunset. I remember because of the feeling of peacefulness and ‘all’s well with the world’ the musezzin’s melodic voice effected.
Hi Elvin and Lucy, here’s a 1966 map of Bukit Teresa Road and several landmarks such as the St. Teresa Church and School.
(Map Credit: Singapore Street Directory 1966)
Thank you so much, Remember Singapore. This 1966 map of the Radin Mas/Bt Purmei area is a treasure and it makes more sense to me in connection with the routes I walked to and from St Theresa’s Convent School than the present-day map. I was in STC from 1960 to 1968. I see that the present-day Bt Purmei Avenue and Road are not where the narrow tarred lane to kampong Bt Purmei used to be but on the Radin Mas end of Kampong Bahru Rd. No wonder I felt so confused when I looked at the google map because I knew my memory of the 2 routes is correct!
Real gem of a map. My in-laws lived at the exact location where the short divert of Bukit Teresa Road. Address: 15 Bukit Teresa Road. It was a nice cool kampung house with area big enough for a few fruit trees. The Carmelite area was so peaceful, serene…I blogged about it 2 years ago. Ah…those were the days.
This short road still exists! At the end of that road was a cemetary, think it was a Muslim one which you mentioned. My wife also attended STC from 1960 till 68/69….She also told me about how difficult it was to go to school…initially from her place at Radin Mas, then from Bukit Teresa. Nowadays, STC is so reachable from the main road, can’t miss it.
Hi Lucy, you are correct. Some of the roads are gone, like Bukit Kasita between the St. Teresa Church and the Chinese Templ, no longer exist. I used to use the same route to and from school in De La Salle from 1964 to 1969 as you, passing the coffeeshop along Bukit Teresa to cross the rail tracks to Silat road. Those were some of the fondest times which I cherished. Thanks for the memory.
What’s your wife’s name, Elvin? She and I could have been in the same classes. In 1960 I was in P2 and my teacher was a Miss Chia and she remained with us for P3. My P4 teacher was a Miss Toh who lived a stone’s throw away from the STC bus No. 10 terminal at Sepoy. My Sec1 teacher was a Miss Yeo, Sec2 with Mabel Tan, Sec3 with Mrs Mowe and Sec4 with a new teacher who had just returned from university in Australia.
Lucia Ho. Her two sisters, Irene and Mary, one older and the other younger, also attended STC…She remembered Mrs Martens…other teachers a blur….She still kept in touch with a couple of her classmates like Jessie, Cecilia…she mentioned that one of her Malay classmates is a well known cook/restaurant owner….
Hmmm, I can’t remember a Lucia Ho. The Lucia I remember was a year older and Eurasian and she won a beauty title after leaving school. Irene Ho sounds almost familiar, though. Yes, I remember Mrs Martens to but she was never my class teacher. Ask Lucia if she remembered a group of girls always together during Sec3 and Sec4 – Lucy Tan, Stella Chiang, Wee Sau Hui, Jenny Ho, Jacintha John. Or older girls like Lorraine Davies (also later a beauty queen) or Stella Williams (very white skin and blonde hair). Or other girls who lived in the area like Hafsa, Mahmoona Ali, Basaba, Gloria, Charlotte di Rosario, Bernardette and Eugenie Paulo (who became SIA stewardesses)?
And oh, there was a girl called Anna who lived in that row of low houses along Bt Teresa Rd; coming down from Kampong Bahru Rd, I’d say it was the last house in the row. I also wonder if Lucia could remember the girls who live on Pulau Bukom: the de Silva sisters and Bertha Paul (dark skinned, very tall and chubby). And if she remembers the principals Sister Marie and Miss Rodrigues, and the secretary Miss Martin (I think that was her name, she was a rather beautiful Eurasian).
You are my wife’s senior by a year. She told me her cousin, also from STC went gaga over Eurasians. Finally found an Eurasian husband…
Eurasian girls and boys are good-looking – probably because of the racial mix. Say, ‘Hi’ to your wife for me. It’s kind of nice to discover fellow schoolmates from so long ago.
Hi Lucy, the girl Anna you are referring to living towards the end of the row of house along Bukit Teresa. If it is, then it’s she’s Ann Marie Chua who now lives in Telok Blangah. My Uncle used to live in the middle of those row of houses. The first unit being a coffeeshop with an indian man selling Goreng Pisang. Glad to share.
Was your uncle a musician? I believe my father knew him? I used to live at Bukit Teresa too … the big green zinc roof house at the start of the village.
Hi Frank, thanks for your mail. No my uncle was not a musician that was the D’Ameida family. My uncle lived next to them a eurasian family. They were active at the near by St. Teresa Church.
Thank you Edward. I guess there is more than one Eurasian family there since my father also knows the Hendricks family who lives on the same row too. I went to De La Salle 66-71 and St Joseph as well.
I was in De La Salle from 1964 to 1969 before going to St. Joseph.
Hi John, thanks for your 2 replies. I had quite a few neighbour boys who went to De la Salle. Did you move on to St Joseph’s Institution in town like most De la Salle boys?
I lost touch with Anna after Sec2 and I can’t remember her surname. My parents lived in Telok Blangah till 2010 but I had heard of only one other schoolmate living in the same area who was from Silat. I can’t remember that classmate’s name but her grandmother was called Mary Hock.
Yes, I remember the coffee-shop in that row of houses. I really miss those old days and locations because they recall images in my mind of a life less complicated and hectic but so laid-back, relaxed and tranquil. I’d love to live in those times again but with computer and iPhone! Haha!
Sorry, I meant Edward because John is your surname 🙂
Hi one and all
Been away for a while but thought I’d drop by and see what’s brewing. Looks like there’s been quite a bit going on. All of us boys, except for my oldest brother, attended Radin Mas and all of the girls, except for my second sis, went to St. Theresa. Talking about crossing the railway tracks, they did it everyday, going through a “gate” at the end of a SIT block. If my memory didn’t fail, I think there was some sort of a wooden hut that sat right next to the “gate”. A Chinese family stayed there. The hut being so near to the tracks, I have always wondered what’s life like at 12 midnight when the train thundered past.
Talking about the railway track, it’s the demarcation line that divided two warring secret societies: 08 and 24 (I think). I had for classmates children of gang members from both sides. They taught me the various hand signals that identified the group they belong to. My parents were incensed when they found me practicing at home. I was given more than a tongue lashing and severely warned never ever to stray into those forbidden territories.
Back in those days, most schools ran two sessions: morning and afternoon. The students alternated between the sessions. If you were in the morning session then you would be going to school in the afternoon next year. I loved the afternoon school and I look back with the fondest memory, Well,for one thing, you didn’t have to get out of bed so early. But the best part was when St. Theresa’s Church bells tolled at 12 noon. That’s the get ready call. It’s time to go to school. With two younger brothers in tow, I would make my way first across the “bridge” that spanned the railway line. It was part of the Kampong Bahru Road. There were 4 huge concrete “posts” with a stone finish that anchored the bridge.Later on, as a teenager, I often climbed and sat on top of those posts, watching the train went by or firing rockets (fireworks) into the distance.
Then a little distance further down the road there was this rubber factory sitting almost at the junction of Kampong Bahru and Bukit Theresa roads. Yes, I remember the coffee shop and the delicious goreng pisang. And of course the Sino-English school students with the white top and kaki shorts as well as St. Theresa Church where I learned to cycle. I just rode around the church many times and presto! I could cycle.
Further down you would come to a bend where a row of low shop houses came into view. My favorite shop? It’s the bicycle shop. I depended on it to get my bicycle fixed! Shortly after that was Nelson Road and across it was a police station. After that Maris Stellar and De La Salle came up quickly and each had an archway with its name emblazoned on it. A couple of yards more and you would come up to Sacred Heart. Across it were the Harbour Board flats and a candy factory next to them. Believe it or not, together with some classmates, I occasionally would search for discarded candies along the huge drain that separated the factory from the SHB flats.
By now, I was almost arriving at school. Just before that I had to pass the road leading into Kampong Radin Mas and the school field. Once done, I would turn into Mount Faber road and into school. But before that, after all that walking, I needed to visit the water station: Ah Liap pineapple juice stall. It’s stationed just outside the school gate and boy did Ah Liap have business! Over the years I got to know him so well that I drank for free. Maybe that’s why I’ve had yellow skin to this day 🙂
Hi Joseph. Thanks for sharing your happy and humourous contribution to our forum of reminiscence. I prefered morning school because there wasn’t such a great hurry to get home before it was dark and so, unless we were very hungry for our lunch, we could dwaddle along the way skipping on the railway-line from sleeper to sleeper or doing the zig-zag hop along the inside of the big V-sided drain on the railway side of the SIT blocks. If afternoon school, my Dad would drop the boys and me at Radin Mas after lunch and collect us there again on his way home from the Harbour Board in the evening. This meant I had to walk through Radin Mas village to St Theresa’s but it also meant I could stop at the Chinese kedai on the other side of the big longkang from Radin Mas and buy ice-balls deliciously coloured with red and green syrups to suck while walking inland in the hot sun. And in the evening before driving home, Dad would sometimes buy us ice-cream and I liked the kind with a block of ice-cream sandwiched between 2 wafer-biscuits. Years later when I took the bus from Radin Mas to Everton Park, there was the Indian chendol man with his cart at the corner between the main road and big longkang dividing Radin Mas school from the village but I cannot remember if that was during morning or afternoon school years.
I can’t remember the wooden hut by the tracks but I can remember something of the rubber factory. I also remember that the air always smellt of rubber all the way into Silat kampong. I had schoolmates living in Nelson Road and hence, can remember it together with the police station. Years later my 2 younger brothers and a cousin were arrested and taken there one evening because they had chest-long hair (1970s) and were cheeky when a policeman asked to see their ID-cards. One of my Dad’s cousins was a ‘big-dog’ police inspector those days, and he had to go and bail them out before they were locked into cells for the night 😁. They got off lightly with just having to apologise but no fines to pay.
I can remember the De La Salle gates quite well but not the Maris Stellar portal or the candy factory. And something else, I can still see very clearly in my mind the spikes of red on the flame-of-the-forest trees standing by the back block of the Radin Mas school where the road curved round there going up the Mt Faber.
Ah, Mount Faber …, but first the kampong Radin Mas Road. Lucy, you’re fortunate to be a girl as you could go through the kampong unaccosted. But not so with boys. It was a “no-go” zone. The kampong kids were extremely territorial and if they ever spied an ‘outsider’ walking alone, that guy better start praying, really hard. Call me a coward if you like, but I never ever ventured in unless I was with a group of at least five guys, or better still, with one of my sisters. Sometimes the same thing happened in school: don’t offend any of the “local” boys or you’d find brothers, cousins and neighbours waiting for you after school to settle scores. The prefects had it the worst. Catch one of them “locals” and you’d have to go home under protection.
But back to Mount Faber. Lucy, do you know the lyrics of the original Radin Mas school song? I’m not sure about the present one, but back then it was set to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” or “John Brown’s Body”. A part of the lyrics mentioned something about the school being “at the foot of Mount Faber”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the rest. But the song’s right. Mt. Faber was Radin Mas’ playground, and a gigantic one at that. Fighting spiders, birds, squirrels, lizards, fruits, secret tunnels, derelict WWII military equipment and an abandoned swimming pool beckoned tantalizingly. I’d jump at every opportunity to explore it’s wild habitat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progress and development, but what they did to it today had all but destroyed its rustic charm. We don’t raise kids the way our parents did anymore.
Kg Pahang, Radin Mas, is gone long long time ago when they built the Bk Purmei estate. However, the old Malay graveyard is left untouched, behind Block 102. You can still feel the serene kampung atmosphere…crickets sound, leaves of the trees swaying….
I have just blogged about some of my past and it included some names of my father’s colleagues from the SHB. Was your dad’s name there? There is also the salary and salary scales then, which was meticulously recorded by my father. Something to remember…..
Joseph, Edward and others, anything rung a bell?
Hi Elvin, just had a look at your rosewiththorn blog and I’m impressed with your meticulous collection of old documents. Such a pity that the humid Singapore climate is so destructive to old documents. My pulse quickened a couple of times when I saw the names beginning with Tan Swee but my Dad was Tan Swee Hee and therefore, not on your Dad’s list of colleagues. I remember that my Dad’s salary was over 500 a month around 1970.
Just found out that the entire Kampong Silat plot is earmarked for redevelopment. Thought the government would conserve some old buildings, but apparently not.
Good bye…, soon it’d be just a memory.
Sounds bad. You think they’ll bulldoze everything including the SIT blocks and eradicate the entire kampong once and for all?
Looks like the only reference that we will have left of our good old Silat Road would be the Buddhist Temple (which was right behind my house). And the other would probably be the Sikh Temple. It really is sad.
Except for St Theresa’s Convent School, all the places connected with my childhood and teenage years have disappeared or been redeveloped. Sad for me that I have no personal ‘historical sites’
left on the island.
I feel the same way, I still pass there once in a while. The landscape have changed so much so the feeling is also gone.
Yes, that’s true, Edward, it’s not just a building disappearing but the entire area changing beyond recognition that gives the feeling of having our memories ‘erased’. When I passed St Theresa’s Convent after 7 years’ absence, I didn’t recognize the area when my brother was pointing out ‘my old school on the hill’ to me!!! Happy New Year!
You’re right, the entire region is going through urban renewal to be in synch with continuous improvement. You will notice that the bus interchange had taken up space previously occupied by KTM Tanjong Pagar railway station. Below it would be another Circle Line MRT Station. If things are favourable, a tunnel connection would materialise to link into the Outram Community Hospital building in progress. Likewise over the Downtown Line Outram Station building in progress, a tunnel connection would link into Pathology & Forensic Department/National Cancer Centre. More exciting mega project is on the drawing board/computer. e.g. After Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal tentative relocation to Tuas port in 2027. More good years onward march Singapore! We would be celebrating 2019 -200th anniversary of founding of Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles.(1819). any contribution/innovative ideas are welcome by the organising committee. Lookut for more information in due course!
Looks like it. However sad it might be, we’ll be kidding ourselves to believe that it could escape redevelopment. That’s Singapore for you. It’s just too small. Will be visiting the site soon before the heavy equipment shows up.
Yes, you’re right, Joseph. There’s no escaping the bulldozers. Kampong Silat doesn’t have anything significantly historical or interesting for it to merit conservation. Say ‘goodbye’ for me when you visit our childhood area. I live too far away to run over to take a last look – no plan to visit Singapore in the near future. I’m grateful that we have the photos and contributed comments on this Remember Singapore page.
Thanks, Joseph. Yes, pictures are all that will remain of what used to be ‘the hub’ of our childhood universe. Enjoy your little trip down memory lane and know that there are still many of us old village kids who are accompanying you in our minds whether we are now in the US or Europe, Australia or Tasmania.
Will do. No sweat. Probably this weekend. Will take some pictures too.
Dear Mr Ng, you must be mega excited about all the new urban renewal projects. Thank you for updating me/us on Singapore’s progress. However, it’s not that we are uninterested in Singapore’s progress but as the name of this web-page suggests, we are a bunch of ‘older folks’ interested in this online forum for sharing information and memories from our childhood and teenage, for learning a little more of the history of the little corners on the island where we grew up in, and finally, paying our own little tribute to those past years when a newly independent Singapore was also in its ‘childhood years’. I’m sure that in 60 or 80 years’ time there will be a similar online bunch of ‘older folks’ sharing their reminiscence on the Tanjong Pagar MRT station or the Tuas Container Port. I am sure that for your 200th anniversary of the founding of Singapore project, you’ll be able to find plenty of information and old photographs in the official archives to document Singapore’s progress from a muddy little island to the Asian equivalent of the legendary Atlantis. Good luck!
I am currently been engaged to look into the conservation of 5 blocks of the remaining Kampung Silat SIT flats. Whilst we can work around conserving the buildings themselves, I would like to explore how we can re-generate the place more holistically to address environment, social and economical factors just to name a few. I would appreciate if anyone can provide some inputs like old photos, stories etc. which might be helpful. This is part of our actions to reach out to the public and other stakeholders. However, there will be limitations to how much we can do but we will try to strike a balance. Anyone keen to provide inputs can drop me a line at email@example.com
thanks in advance
Just found out about the conservation of Kg Silat.
I grew up in Kampong Bahru Hill, Block 24 (to be conserved, hooray!). Attended Silat Integrated Primary School II and St Theresa’s Convent in the 60s and 70s. I moved out in 1980s but my brother’s family lived there till their SERS flat was ready.
I still meet up with my classmates from Silat (63-68) and St Theresa’s (69-72), the last during 2019 CNY. Old schoolmates and neighbours…do feel free to touch base and share.
I enjoyed your writings and sharing and definitely will come back for more updates. A pity that I chanced upon this so late in the day…But better late than never -:)
Thanks for bringing back sweet memories for me….
I attended Silat II from 67 to 72. I wish I coul have been there during CNY 2019 to catch up with familiar faces.
The place has been hoarded up and heavy machinery moved in for the start of the new condo development…
My name is Edward and I have lived in Silat Road almost all my life until my thirties when the Flats were built beside it and we were resettled. We first lived directly behind the Budist Temple and later moved behind the Chines School (Chiang Teck School). I studied at De La Salle School from 1964 – 1969 before going to SJI. I would like to share the memories of the Kampong which really cherish so much. If you are still working on your documentary and have any question,please feel free to email me and I will try to provide you with whatever I know. Wishing you all the best.
Hi Im just wondering if the Kampong Silat Low rise flats are for demolition or conservation?
I saw cordoned off and also unsure are the flats demolished or under conservation.
The preserved flats will be part of the new condominium called Avenue South Residences.
How to get rental unit there?
Just dropping by n fun to read through the posts here even thought I don’t stay ard the area and much younger …..
Golden mile complex has been conserved too … I think sometimes Govt should strike a balance
It’s always easier for outsiders that don’t stay at the area to understand the ‘agony’ of residents. Saw that documentary and residents saying how the layout has caused water leakage etc.
People want to preserve old and unique buildings but some buildings are easy to replicate or the values often exist due to people wanting to preserve their memory …
Just liked how Ex Pm Lky wanted to demolish his own home and outsiders that doesn’t have any memory to the home ended up saying ‘wasted’, shld be preserved etc .. if the owners can even let the house go, why is it outsiders turn to comment?
The spooner rental flat also looks like any other corridor kind of hdb …don’t see any wastage to let such flats go
that post office building shares by someone here is the gem that shld be preserved. No one going to stay there to be affected and it’s just a 1 or 2 level building?
This is a long shot and it’s just too bad I discovered this discussion so late! I used to live in neighboring Bukit Teresa Rd until 1980. Does anybody knows of a Julia Chan who attended Anderson Secondary School in the early 1970s? She used to live in Kampong Silat in the block behind the low level shophouses, which would be closer to Jalan Bukit Merah Rd.
Interstingly, I bumped into someone whom I discovered to have stayed in the Silat Road area.
I was born and grew up between 1961 and 1972, the best memories of my childhood. I attended Radin Mas School at the foot of Mount Faber and all the girls went to St Theresa’s Convent.
My home was an attap house attached to my uncle’s provision shop.
The address was 239 Silat Road.
Surprisingly, there’s no mention of this arae called ‘Four Stilts Pavilion’ （四脚亭）.
I hope there is a book or documentary in this arae to relive the memories.
Hi Chung Ling
Was your uncle called Peng Yan (my improvised spelling) and his kedai was next to the public water standpipe and facing the chain-link fence of the SIT block? The provision shop had 2 open sides like a walk-in shed and in one corner, your uncle sold cut pineapple and watermelon slices?? And there were tikam type of lotteryies that even kids could buy, and big glass jars of sweets and Chinese cookies in a row? Or was your uncle’s provision shop the one at the other end of the village where the barber and charcoal shop were?
Btw, this Silat-Kampong Bahru area was called Koo-Ah-Swa (Tortoise Hill). Si-Kar-Teng was in the Tiong Bahru area, between Tiong Bahru Rd and Jalan Bukit Merah and included Jalan Membina and Kim Tian Rd. It was like the next village behind the General Hospital.
There seemed to have been a graveyard there and the 4-pillared pavilions were built over graves for sheltering grave visitors.
I read about it here: https://tiongbahruestate.wordpress.com/2007/08/
and there’s a family history here: https://www.beyond.org.sg/another-week-beyond-2127/
Can you remember the name Mang-Kit-Hng – meaning something like “mangosteen plantation”? It was directly next to the Silat area but seemed like a village on its own. It’s where the open market was.
I remember that back in 2015 or 2016, someone called Vasu posted on this forum looking for help to trace his mother’s family roots. His mother was a Chinese adopted by an Indian family which lived next-door to the public water standpipe and a provision shop. Maybe you could help him if you grew up almost next-door to Vasu’s mother.
I have been reading this blog on and off for the last few years and I am actually quite impressed with your wealth of knowledge through the Kampong Bahru Rd region. In one of your earlier posts back in 2016, I can literally imagine your meandering walk when you described your sojourn from St. Theresa’s Convent through Bukit Theresa Rd and through the village area to cross the railroad line onto Silat Road area. The reason why I can vizualise this route so well is that I live at Bukit Theresa village for the first 20 years of my life! And like you, I have live the last few decades overseas (USA) but return to the call of the past every now and then to re-connect to my roots. Besides the invaluable internet (that has made all these precious re-connections possible) I make a conscientious effort to visit Singapore twice a year simply to re-connect with places, friends, and family (my mom turns 90 this year, and it’s even more imperative that I visit as often as I possible can). In fact about eight years ago, I even stayed at the Harbour Ville Hotel (this hotel is sited at where the police station at Kampong Bahru Rd was) for a couple of days simply to check out the area ….. after all, my former primary school De La Salle, the building that is, is just a stone’s throw away. Anyway, I hope you get the chance to visit Singapore sometime in the near future. All of us are getting old, and living in the present and for the future are fine as they are. However, it is when we start re-tracing our past and connect them with our own later lives that we understand our short existence better in a broader context as a complete whole.
Go to : tiongbahruestate.blogspot.com where there are info on Kg Tiong Bahru
Hello All, I have lived on the ground floor, block 19, 7 Kampong Bahru Hill.. from 1952 to 1978. I have not been back there since. I was just driving through the Kg Silat Estate 2 weeks ago and saw the vast changes there.. saw that towering condo block. I came home and checked on the estate’s history and saw this interesting discussion blog. Please fill me in. I want to know what is happening to “the old hometown.” Thank you.
Hi All, I happened to read this blog after I paid a visit to the area since my last visit while Avenue South was under construction. I am already 77 years old. When my father moved us to this new flat in 1952, I was only 7 years old. I studied in St Theresa for the Mandarin in the morning and Radin Mas for English in the afternoon. Later, this was disallowed, and I had to drop out of St Theresa. I remembered the bicycle shop where I used to rent my bicycle after school. After 70 years, there are some old photos I could post later after I find them. The open air cinema was something many younger generation never get to experience. Someone mentioned about the great Bukit Ho Swee fire, and I saw the fire up close but being so young, I did not know the hardship of those residents there at that time. I think, the block where I stayed was spared the demolition as it is just behind the 2 blocks beside Kg Bahru Rd that was demolished. If it is possible, I will upload some photos later.
Hi Jeff, you can email the photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and I can embed them here (credits to your name). Thanks