Monday, 13 April 2015

Transit Road in its Last Call

Transit Road to Nee Soon Camp
Gone were the days....fate in transit road was 'hit' hard to the owner of the shops in one 'last remaining' will be recorded in its history.
Transit Road in its heyday....remembering...the place Nee Soon camp is located opposite where my hubby and my younger brother were at Nee Soon Camp (BMT) in early 1970s and 1980s respectively. 
Nee Soon in its heyday... there was lined on both sides of the street with bars, nightclubs and rows of shops selling everything under the sun. There was also wooden huts (Nee Soon Villages) within the area at that time.
Last Remaining shophouses
The surrounding area in Nee Soon was once filled with servicemen hanging around the bars in Transit road till the British pulled out in 1971 while other NZ army stayed put till 1980s. In the late 90s, when the new SAF BMTC (Basic Military Training Centre) was opened at Pulau Tekong. All newly enlisted recruits were no longer trained at Nee Soon Camp thus the crowds passing through Transit Road became considerably lesser. The place in Nee Soon and transit road making a slow journey as times goes by....
Arson fire at shophouses
Credit: NewpaperSG - New Nation
There were also several fires along Transit Road in 1970s and 1980s. The huge fires burned down the majority of the shops on each side of Transit Road and wiped out many businesses thus never recovered well enough to relive their former glory.
But before that, there was also fire in 1977 swept through a row of shop-houses and wooden huts in Transit road, caused more than $1 million damages in goods and property. 33 people out of 12 families made homeless by the blaze that gutted 10 shops, 10 attap and wooden plank huts. The fire started at the electrical shop just next door to Yong Lee provision shop, Parisilk (lucky store) was situated at the end of the row and other shops that were not affected until when the 1st fire engine came in 30 mins and took sometime to locate the fire hydrant. By then the flames spread out the entire row of the shop-houses and behind the shops there were wooden huts (villages) caught fire as 3 more fire engines came. It took firemen to put out the fires in 4 long hours!
Parisilk Store
I heard the owners in the wooden shop-houses had been plying the trades since 1940s after WWII. The Pari Silk Store (now Parisilk Electronics and Computers Pte Ltd) set up its 1st store in 1952 at 22 Transit road which had been in operation over 6 decades, had another 2 shops (Central outlets) in 1980s and 1990s in Holland Village a few stones away from my place while two shops at East outlet and one at North outlet.
Hock Gift shop (two shops under roof)
The Hock Gift shop has been operating its business since 1979, their first shop - Chua Peng Hock Trading Co at Nee Soon Barrack (Nee Soon Camp), the shop sold tid-bits, cold drinks, plastic bags, army field camp products, provided sewing service, name tag embroidery, ID tag and name tag engraving then in 1984, it renamed to Hock Gift Shop. In 1991, the shop relocated at 21 Transit Road (two shops under one roof) just outside Nee Soon Camp till April 2015 and the shop incorporated as Hock Gift Shop Pte Ltd, relocated to Kaki Bukit road, Shun Li Industrial Park after the final closed at transit road. Hock Gift Shop has another unit next door - Embroidery Machines and engraving system for pouches, badges as well as gift items.
Badges and others
Drawing of Hock Gift Shop
A piece of drawing paper of Hock Gift shop pasted on the glass panel of the shop.
Danny Tattoo Art
Passing by at Danny Tattoo Art which is located next door from Hock Gift shop. This shop is founded in 1950s, this tattoo business was started by the late Johnny Gurkha during the British Occupation in Sg, located in Transit Road, nearby Nee Soon Camp which was formerly known as School of Basic Military Training (BMT). During the 1950s to the 1970s, their customers were mostly former servicemen; consisting of mainly British stationed in Singapore's military bases. After the passing of Johnny Gurkha in 1976, Danny (also known as Ramlal),19, was his successor and took over the business. Since then, he has been working for over 30 years in Transit Road with many regular customers. Danny's Tattoo Art has relocated at 110 Owen Road, and has been running the tattoo business there and the nearest Mrt -  Farrer Park Exit D.
Rambo Gift Store
While other shops... 7-eleven and Rambo Gift Store also moved out and they will not continue their business as they have been around for over 30 years.
Forest Hills Condo@transit Road
After an hour, my hubby and I walked around at Forest Hill Condo close to Nee Soon Camp. He talked about his army days in Nee Soon camp in 1970s. He and his platoon mates were lucky to have their bunk, no windows but has aircon in their room. Really? I said to him. Then I laughed. So good to you and your platoon we continued to walk as he talked... So anyone or you had your luck to the 'aircon' room?
Our journey will end when the last remaining shophouses will torn down at the end of this month to make way for development of condominium.

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