Monday, 27 May 2013

Travelled Back in Time - Queenstown (Commonwealth Drive/Close and Queensway)

In early years around 1960s, Queenstown used to be a swampy area, where settlers lived in huts and farmed vegetables and livestock. As Singapore’s population grew, the need to provide adequate housing led to plans to develop Queenstown as Singapore’s first new town with mass public housing flats.
Those were the days when I was a toddler...travelled back in if I am back from the past.
That's me stood on the grass behind old blk 94 and 95 C'wealth Dr
Searching through the oldie times of the sandy hill on the top of neighbouring blocks that was once a huge playground with sand-based all over the area of the two old block 94 and 95 Commonwealth Drive where I stood as a child in 1966, side by side but the old sand playground was in front of block 95.
My friend & his pet duck at Blk 82 C'wealth Crescent
Photo Credit by Kong Pin Liang
My friend was holding his pet duck at Blk 82 C'wealth Crescent, behind him is Blk 83 and foreground is Blk 95 (blocked by pet duck). He told me that up to this day, he still wouldn't bring himself to eat duck meat. How true it is when you reared a pet animal at home.
There was a slope on top of the hill of the three blocks 81 to 83 Commonwealth Close in those time. Local residents who are the older residents had to climb these rocky-stoned stairs before it is built brick staircase with handle bar up the hill of the block 81 to 83. When I was in Primary School, I used to climb up the stoned-rock footpath that made me felt so tired all the way to the blocks to visit my Primary School classmates who once stayed there during school days.
This hilly slope was once had stoned-rock at Blk 83
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Early years, there was no staircase leading to the top hill of blocks that surrounded by forest trees that hardly seen along Queensway road. This stoned-footpath without handle would hardy walked up to the Block 83 thus many residents like me would be so difficult to climb up the rocky path, this path was once sandy footpath back then in 3 decades ago. This built modern shelter (above pic) was once a hill top with sandy slope along footpath in the mountain hill.
There was no shelter walkway in early years
Shelter walkway from Queensway to Blk 81 to 83 in 1999
(Both Photos shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Only footpath stoned brick used to patch together up the hill where the three blocks are in those times since 1970 when I was a kid, I stepped on the stone footpath up to the hill to where the block 81 now stands. Along the block 81 to 83 is the steep slope that measured about 8-storey high up above the sea level. But these stoned-rock footpath patched together without any handle and it would be difficult to walk up the hill with rocky staircase.
Foreground - Steephill facing Blk 81 C'wealth Close
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
In early years, these block 81 to 83 C'wealth Close had no shelter walkway and the road was too steep that the cars would hardly drove up the steephill  that was stone-rock road (rough) by then. Most residents had to walk up the road when there was no shelter walkway in early years.
VIP Block 81 C'wealth Close
Close-up - Façade Blk 81 C'wealth Close is declining
(Both Photos shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Block 81, one of the 16 storey blocks often known as "Chap Lak Laos" was built in around 
1964, was better known as the "VIP" block because visiting dignitaries were brought here for a panoramic view of Queenstown and a showcase of Singapore's success in public housing of a model satellite town. Some of the prominent figures include Prince Philip (Prince Philip Avenue), Princess Alexandra (the lady whose given Alexandra Road), US Vice President Spiro Agnew and the Emperor of Japan, Akihito. The fading façade of Block 81 is declining over the years.
Reinforced glass and aluminium windows in early 1965
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
The façade window would still be old that was once replaced by reinforced glass and aluminium in Queenstown that similar to my mum's window. This can be found in Block 81 to 83 and some older residents had this window being kept intact for years.
Shelter walkway built in late 2002
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Along the side of the steephill was once made of cobble-stone footpath on the pavement to prevent falling over the ground on the slope when local residents especially elderly folks who lives at Blk 81 and 83, walking down the footpath along the pavement as there was no shelter walkway built in these area in these 40 years.
This greenly hilltop once sandy hilltop in early years
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
This greenly hilltop was once a sandy hilltop in early years and there's no footpath leading to the above and only a small cap sandy footpath along the hill where you can look down on the ground above sea level just opposite the Block 84 to 88 below the hill. Over the years in 1984, the sandy footpath constructed on grass hilltop slope (pic above) to look greenly patch on the hilltop and many neighbouring kids including me would come and made cardboard sliding down the hill on the box as if you could remember in younger days! No skateboard in our times!
The bridge that linked from Blk 93 to reach the Blk 83
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
But Before that, there is a block 93 which in front of my mum's block that was built a 'metal rail' overhead pedestrian bridge at 4-level that led to the three blocks (81 to 83) in early 1970 even though this block 93 had no overhead bridge at all. In late 1999, the overhead pedestrian was repainted.
'Metal-rail' overhead pedestrian bridge in 1966
Above picture of my overseas friend stood at Blk 93 taken in January 1966 which is old bridge before it repainted in late 1999.
Footpath walkway is built in early 2002
Close-up of the overhead bridge of Blk 93 C'wealth Drive
(Both Photos shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Seeing that this block 93 had a lucky spot to be build overhead bridge so that most residents would use this bridge located at the lifts ground floor to level up to three level and walked up to fourth floor that linked to it. My former manager who lives at Blk 81 till now for almost 40 years and I went to visit him by using the lift of the Blk 93 to the bridge. 
Two-can string telephone
Those times that the block 93 where my primary school classmate who once lived at the 3rd level facing to my mum's block, she called out my name at her kitchen facing to my mum's unit and I went up the grass hill that was once had by the time we were in Primary School then and had no mobile phone. One time, we used two-can string telephone that tied up the string to the end of the can that you ever heard of the child using a can talk over a distance.
'Round' Stone-chair in early years still exists!
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
This 'Round' stoned-chair had been there since early 1965 and still exists opposite Blk 88. There're six round stoned-chair facing the former school still stands - New Town Primary SchoolNew Town Primary School got its name because it was situated in this new town where high-rise, low-cost Housing Development Board (HDB) flats were built.
It was officially opened on 26th July 1965 by Dr Goh Keng Swee, Minister of Finance. This made New Town Primary School as old as the nation state of Singapore, which gained her independence on the 9th of August 1965.
My former New Town Pri. School since 1971
(Photo shot by Hp Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc)
Thus this old campus of New Town Primary School was then located at the junction of Commonwealth Drive and Commonwealth Avenue in Queenstown. The school building was a 4-storey block with 24 classrooms. Most of the students lived in public housing flats around Queenstown. During that time, New Town Primary School was an Integrated School, offering both English-medium and Chinese-medium classes in two sessions.
My last lesson was on 4th floor at the corner end
(Photo shot by Hp Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc)
This is where, I was formerly a student of New Town Primary School since 1971 to 1976 when my mum would fetch me to school during those times and I even know how to walk home by foot which is near to my mum's block in 5 mins. Those were the days, this school was not even built shelter walkway until 1999.
Former New Town Pri. Sch (right) and Permaisura Pri Sch (Left)
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Close-up of Former Permaisura Primary School
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
In 1992, when Permaisura Primary School closed down, New Town Primary took over its campus which was located beside its old campus on Commonwealth Drive. On second of January 2004, New Town Primary School became single session. In January 2009, the school merged with Ghim Moh Primary School and was relocated to a new campus where it now stands at 300, Tanglin Halt Road. Both Former New Town Pri School and Permaisura Pri School now occupied by MOE (Ministry of Education) known as MOE Heritage Centre.
Signage board - 'State Land'
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
Besides the former schools, there is a big field track which many residents living in this area, would jog in this field for years and also use this track as the short-cut to the Commonwealth Drive station and bus-stop located nearby. The signage hanged on the fence indicated 'STATE LAND ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK' does not bother them at all and use it as short-cut route from their block 81 to 83. Residents of Queenstown like myself have been using this route for 4 decades since.
School field track opp. highrise buildings, Mrt and bus-stop
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
Along the school track that used for other activities e.g. School events that organised by Pri Schools as well as Secondary School just opposite the track on the left (pic above) hidden from view. This track also used for local residents' morning and evening jogging and when I was in my teens, I used this track for my exercise and jogging along the school track and occasionally I  still jog along this field track when I visit my mum's block nearby.
Opposite the school track, the sister school whereby there is some connected to both schools in early years formerly known as New Town Secondary School which is now occupied by Assumption English School (pic below).
Former New Town Secondary School
(Both Photos shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
New Town Secondary School is a secondary school in Singapore, and its present location is currently located at Dover Road. It was established in 1965 is the same year as New Town Primary School. At first, the school was located at Queensway before it moved to the Dover road on 8th December 1998. Thus the once early school from New Town Secondary School then converted to CHIJ St Theresa Convent, in 2013 the formerly CHIJ St Theresa Convent is now used by Assumption English School from 2013 to June 2015 for 'holding' campus for the time period.
The once swampy area of the former New Town Secondary School where there was no walkway but rough sandy footpath along the slope down the hill opposite Block 81.
Kampong style - Residents' Corner in 1999
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
Over the years, there was no residents' corner or RC at that time in Queenstown housing estates until 1999, the kampong type of seniors citizen's corner was formed and eventually built at the tophill among neighbouring flats and now known as 'Residents' Corner.
Close-up Kampong Residents' Corner
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
The retro kampong style had been there for years after development of shelter walkway in early 2004 after clearing the former playground site that once stood on the ground below the Residents' corner.
Forgotten old playground once stood now disappeared
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
The Playground forgotten by many new residents moving in recently in front of Block 95, where there was once an huge old playground with sandy-based area - the old swing, seesaws and wooden merry-go round. Sady, I missed this old playground but luckily I had been there many times since early 1980 until it cleared and demolished in 2000 to make way for planted trees and small badminton court, walkways to the Residents' Corner up the hill slope.
Roof-Shelter and walkway in 2004
(Photo shot by Sony cam - DSC HX9V)
The once sloppy hill so called slippery hill with grass swampy area and stone-based footpath along the field that was once a huge tree beside the footpath that I used to play old skateboard sliding down narrow footpath all the way to block 93. Now it had changed to roof-shelter and walkway to the block 93 where there is a overheard bridge linked to it as seen in pic shown above. This old tree had cut down that once had many tiny brown 'durian' shape (in my earlier blog) dropped on the ground that I picked it up and I still keep till now as a memory of this spikey fruit shape.
Current small playground garden
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Along down the shelter walkway, there is a playground beside Blk 92 that was formerly the site of the grass sandy area before it was built. Those were the days when my childhood friends and I who was then living in these blocks, would bring the cardboards down and sat on it, sliding down the hill slope where there is roof shelter currently stands on the background picture.
Sculpture of the children with letterbox
(Photo shot by Sony camera - DSC HX9V)
Beside the small playground garden, there is a sculpture hidden away from the spot that surrounded by bushes, next to the playground. This reminds us of the times the children was once played with the letterbox in those early years. This retro letterbox can be found along Malay Heritage Centre and Terrace houses at Queensway/Queenstown areas where the letterbox was once stood outside the building.
Next, my blog will figure along the Japanese garden that current forest known Ridout Garden Mcdonalds and Margaret Drive.


  1. Your beautiful blog deserves more recognition, glad I chance upon it :) It is really a job well done !



  2. Dear Catcat, I enjoy your blog entries about the Commonwealth area, past and present!

  3. I stay there during my childhood leaving at blk 103 commonth crest.

  4. We could have been classmates Catcat! I was in New Town Pri from 1971 to 1977 too. I stayed in Blk 88.

    1. Wow!That's nice to hear from an old schoolmate, Shirley. Noticed that your surname is Boey and I do have a classmate with same surname as yours. I still remember my classmate full name - Boey Mou Lian (don't know if I spell correctly). Could be you?

  5. I m from NTPS 1971-1976 too. 6B class i think