Monday, 6 January 2014

The Fading of Tanglin Halt

Last July 2013, I visited to my auntie's shop upon hearing the Tanglin Halt estates had been identified for the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in 2008. Since then, over 60 units there have been sold. Some owners have time until August 2015 to sell existing flat.
Tanglin Halt estates
The area was once a hill peaks at that time, was a meandering road which stretched from Orchard Road to Queensway in the 1940s. Tanglin Halt Road, which was located near the south-western end of Tanglin Road, was named after the KTM trains which used to “halt” at the warehouse of the Archipelago Brewery Company (now known as IKEA) in Alexandra Road, where beer products were loaded onto the container trains in the past.
Blk 75 Tanglin Halt
The retro structure of seven blocks of flats (blk 74-80) was very alive in those days where the KTM railway track was behind the Tanglin Halt estates  Known to the residents as Tanglin Halt "chap lau chu" (Hokkien: 10-storey, 十楼), the neighbourhood has her own fair share of limelights in the history books.
Railway track behind Blk 79
Remembering the 1964 racial riots, personnel from the Malayan Riot Squad were stationed in four blocks at Tanglin Halt to pre-empt any outbreak of the riots in Queenstown area. The Anti-Riot vehicle commonly referred to as the Ang Chia (literally "red vehicle" in Hokkien) were parked along Tanglin Halt Road.
Bird view from newly 40-storey block
Taken from one of the five 40-storey of designated replacement blocks namely "Commonwealth 10" which evoked me to think of the old and formerly known of "Tanglin Halt ten-storey" - Chap Si Lau in Hokkien.
Closeup: Seven Blocks of Flats (74 to 80)
Remembering the sound of the boisterous honking as if it sounds like very rough and stormy, from the KTM trains was a common sight in Tanglin Halt where the residents lived, were irritated by the unpredictable bellows from the oncoming trains. The incoming train caused the residents numerous sleepless nights. Children would threw stones at the incoming train and some waved their hands gleefully.
Notice of Possession at Blk 77
Old lift of Blk 77
Typical old lifts at Tanglin Halt estates were common sight in old buildings and old industries. Children would love to play by pressing the buttons for the lift to go up and down till it breaks down and trapped inside and mischievous children would cry loudly till their parents rushed out from their units panicky.
 Laundry clothes dry out at staircase
Laundry clothes drying with nylon strings at the staircase were exposed in sight and the neighbours don't even bother even if their undergarments drying out of the space when neighbours walked down the staircase to see unhygienic clothes hanging can been seen everywhere of their neighbour's unit. It's very common among the and elderly residents and old folks living in this conditions for over the years.
Corridor of old
The original of brown wooden door without metal gate was not available at that time, they moved in after it was built. They had to install metal gate or roller metal gate by the time it was cheap back then. But old residents would prefer it in its original way to be kept over the decades as it was durable without any damaged to the door. After the years went by, the residents would painted the colour of the door, be it - red, blue or brown after the colour of the door was faded due to weather condition in Singapore especially raining season.
Lift Motor Room & Teleview Equipment
As for the younger generations might not see this before in old estates where there were lots of main equipment boxes and lift motor room mounted on the wall, located at the top floor or high floor end storey of which you might think, old residents would mention about main switch box at the top of their blocks. In our earlier generation, there was only one lift that shared with neighbours. If the lift breaks down, residents would call lift maintenance technical personnel to restore back immediately as there were many elderly residents who would not climb up the staircase if their unit was on the top floor. They have difficulty to walk up the staircase when the only one lift broke down unexpectedly as it was an old lift since they moved in early 1960s. Until in the later years, upgrading lift and the extension lift was installed just outside their block linked to the old staircase with new lift so that old residents would not have any difficulty to climbing up and down if one of the lifts breaks down.
Teleview equipment box and main switch box were for the whole block if there was a power trip and blackout occasionally and sometime all the time. I believe that mostly residents who used most of the sockets and adapters in their home and used often till the power trip again. Or because the power "station" circuit breakers also tripped. The whole block was in total darkness, even our phone lines were down due to the effected of Teleview switch box. Town Council was informed and sent technical experts to check the problems of frequently power trip all the time in old neighbourhoods area. It was indeed an experience for the young and old alike on how they lived with so many problems and got unpleasant stare from nasty neighbours.

 Old typical letterbox
Those days, the aluminium steel letterbox of old, you cannot find this letter box design in new HDB estate anymore. The 1st and 2nd of letterboxes were the same but only the new changes of the unit floor number without A-Z (then 543-J now 543-10) after 10 years later in 1970s.
Children's playground
The forlorn and quiet surrounding of the children's playground was the favourite of every Singaporean's childhood playground back in 1960s. Singapore pools and shops were seen in the background. Actually there are two Singapore pools outlets at Tanglin Halt of which one is at Blk 49 Tanglin Halt road at the corner end of the shop.behind at my auntie's shop opposite.
Main Water Valve
In early years,  local residents in old estates would come out to turn the tap manually when they need more water flows for washing their floor and washing clothes. My mum used to call me out loud that the running water is low or too slow that I went out to turn the tap outside my mum's unit manually. Those were the days, as a kid I used to play with the tap by turning on and off!
 Chin Hin Eating House
At the corner of Blk 75 Tanglin Halt where the old-fashioned coffee house - Chin Hin Eating House located and it operated for more than 5 decades that attracted office workers from industrial building and local residents who lived nearby. I had my lunch there many times when I visited my auntie's shop at Blk 46 and her home since early 1970s. 
 Crowded eating place
Storage area and fridge
Behind the eating house board marker, was the storage area and a fridge that unoccupied for years. I believe that it used to be a restaurant back then,
Wanton Noodle stall
Wanton Noodle Auntie
Tucked into my lunch meal that I ordered - S$2.50 "Wanton Noodle", a springy noodle was simply delicious and yet yummy. This auntie was abit eccentric though when I ordered from her! I don't even bother about her behaviour as it's just like my old neighbours who was fierce and strict in the past that was because old people lived in the old quaint kampung like my late grandma's kampong with their neighbours surrounding the forested or the jungle and that's their character turned more eccentric when they lived as a kid back then. People from all walks of life came here to feast their meals in reminiscing good old days, the clock was clicking away too fast as if it would not be the same again.
Good Atmosphere of Eating House
Such places like coffee houses in the old traditional way or old-fashioned seem too boring for the younger generations who might not like this kind of quaint eating places because of unhygienic. But this place has lots of history and nostalgia that long-time residents have great sentimental value on this place that they belonged.They lived and grew up for decades. Lots of local residents around the area were elderly and they often to patronise the coffee shop to drink coffee or tea in their spare time and chatting away with old neighbourhoods nearby. Now the Chin Hin Eating House will be closed its door for good on 24th February 2014 and thus brought back sweet memories of their 40 years here and not forgotten as the time goes by.
My former kindergarten
My first kindergarten was at Queenstown Lutheran in early 1960s where my mum's old block located in Commononwealth nearby before switched to Tanglin Halt Kindergarten when I was 5 year old in 1960s, that when I was accompanied by one of my auntie who lives in Tanglin Halt as my mum was busy back then. I remember fondly on how I was started to cry when I enrolled to kindergarten in the first place, as told by my mum. How time flies! It's been more than 5 decades.
O recall that there was once a Pasar Malam along the Tanglin Halt estates on Fridays and Saturdays nights at that time where there were lots cheap items to buy and the foods tasted to try the good old days.
The fading of Tanglin Halt estates will be demolished in 2015. How time flies. Times flies when you were having fun and sweet memories of the place or it's been 5 decades since I stepped into this old neighbourhood in my kindergarten days.


  1. This is my childhood place too! Where I grew up and so many wonderful memories.. And I too, went to that kindergarten at blk 77, where I used to stay. Unfortunately, I was a little too late. Went to visit the area early this year but everything had been boarded up. It was so sad I only managed to see everything only from far.. And to think I will never get to see it again.. I really missed those days that means so much to me, cause that place holds the last of memories of my grandpa. I get so emotional every time I think of this place.

    1. It is indeed sad to let it go. The sound of "horn" of train will linger in my mind whenever I walked pass by.