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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Apr 18, 2014

How much do I really know about Tiong Bahru?

As a matter of fact, I do not really know everywhere in Singapore after living here for 65 years as a Singaporean.  Everywhere I visit a new place, I am a "newbie" each time to learn and discover  more.

This personal nostalgia blog to walk down the memory lanes in Tiong Bahru is juxtaposed with archived photos with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore, contributors on the Internet with thanks and also links to blogger friends related to this blog topic.

As I remember, the photo of the building in the background with the Yong Siak St signage was the former King's Theatre before the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961.

As I visualise the places around Tiong Bahru during my childhood days, please join me looking back in my mind's eyes on this blog with the help of my "memory storage" and the resources and "memory aids" as much as I could remember over 5 decades.

This archived photo of the pre-war SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flat at the junction of Kim Pong Road and Tiong Bahru Road in the 1960s.

The previous blog of "Zi Char Corner at Kim Pong Road in Singapore" posted here .

Further down the same block in this photo, the corner stationery and book shop owned by an Indian shopkeeper.  I was a regular customer to buy the "Beano" fortnightly as soon the new magazine is published and available at this shop.

The former Blk 9, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee where I lived in the HDB "emergency flat" after the Bukit Ho Swee fire, was located directly opposite the Kim Pong Road.  In the past, there was a steep staircase which was used as a shortcut from Jalan Bukit Ho Swee to Tiong Bahru.

Opposite the former Zi-Char stall at Kim Pong Road was the former HDB Tiong Bahru Area Office in the 1960s.

The ground floor of this block is presently used by the Post Office Saving Bank branch.

In my recollection of Tiong Bahru, I could remember only a few persons of former residents.  Some have passed on, some have already lost contact and moved to other places overseas to stay.

My former secondary one classmate in 1962, Chin Ah Chai was staying with her mother at Lim Liak St.  and we often get together in the evening after school.

My former colleague Chin Kwong Chuen was staying at No. 1, Eng Hoon St. where his father was a tailor at the shop.

Both my eldest and second aunties, who were formerly teaching Chinese language at the Chinese Industrial & Commercial Continuation School (later Gong Shang Primary School) were staying at Kim Cheng Rd and Tiong Bahru Rd respectively.
In 1950, the Secretary of State for the Colonies James Griffith visited Singapore Improvement Trust flats at Tiong Bahru with SIT officials.  The design of the 60-year-old buildings remain unchanged.  The old world charm of the pre-war Tiong Bahru estates.

Tiong Bahru Conservation Area

Tiong Bahru is a town in Singapore with architectural, cultural and historic significance.  It was developed in the 1920s as Singapore's first public housing estate, and remains the only existing public housing not built by the Housing & Development Board.  In 2003, 20 blocks of flats in the estate were granted conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Bounded by Seng Poh Road, Outram Road and Tiong Poh Road, the area was given conservation status on 1 December 2003. It is the first public housing estate in Singapore and comprises 20 blocks of 2- to 5-storey pre-war public housing flats built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in the 1930s. There are also the 2-storey transitional style shophouses along Tiong Bahru Road built in the same period as the flats and the 1- to 4-storey Art Deco style shophouses along Outram Road built in the early 1940s.

The roads in the area are:

Tiong Bahru Road
Seng Poh Road
Seng Poh Street
Tiong Poh Road
Eng Hoon Street
Eng Watt Street
Eu Chin Street
Keng Kiat Street
Sit Wah Road
Guan Chuan Street
Moh Guan Terrace
Yong Siak Street
Chay Yan Street 

Where is Yong Siak St in Tiong Bahru?

As a Singaporean living in Singapore for all these years, it is a fact that I do not really know about Tiong Bahru or every nooks and corners of Singapore for that matter.  There are some places which visitors to Singapore knew more than me.  I may have travelled to certain places more frequently for purposes or reasons to visit.  I do not have friends who stay everywhere in Singapore.

Recently, I visited Yong Siak St. where it was the first time in my life to discover this place, although Singapore is a small country.  It was strange that I had never stepped into Yong Siak St before since my childhood days.  I need more lessons to learn the topography and geography of Singapore to explore more new "old" places.  Yong Siak St. is very near to Kim Tian Rd where the former King's Theatre was located.

The best popular Books Actually at 9, Yong Siak St.

The future of Kim Pong Road is written clearly on the hoading which is now fenced up after the old SIT block was demolished.  Another new condominium to change the faces of Kim Pong Road in Tiong Bahru to start another chapter of the stories of  Tiong Bahru to become familiar with another generation of Singaporeans ... an entirely different stories told by the pioneer generations.

With thanks to our blogger friends who posted their collective memories of Tiong Bahru to share with us.

Pre-war houses and Tiong Bahru Market blog here .

“Tiong Ma-Lu” as the Cantonese would say (Part 2) – By Peter Chan at Good Morning Yesterday .

新加坡中峇鲁 here .



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