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Apr 4, 2015

Mystery of the "Gold Rush" at Queenstown

An abandoned WWII ammunition bunker near Kay Siang Road

There are no gold bars, treasure chests or hidden precious stuff buried underneath the vicinity of the abandoned bunkers near Kay Siang Road in Queenstown, Singapore.

Heritage fans and curious members of the public who are treasure hunters are advised not to cause a  "gold rush" to these little known spots in Queenstown.  To visit these abandoned bunkers on their own without the permission of the relevant authorities for the heritage tours at the sites.  Trepass is illegal and access to the bunkers are hazardous at own risk.  The management will not accept liability for any accidents, damage or loss incurred.

MediaCorp's Channel News Asia video team were present to film the heritage trail and interviewed the organisers and guides at the heritage tour.

The soundproof bunkers at Kay Siang Road were built before World War II, and they were believed to have been used by the British.

"According to the residents, they informed us that this was a so-called storage facility for the British army," explained Muhd Herizzad Ruslan from The Other Site of Singapore.  "It was where they put all their guns and ammunition inside.  (Source:  CNA).

A new trail showcasing Queenstown's past will begin in May and will take place on the last Saturday of each month.

From abandoned bunkers along Kay Siang Road, to the 'Butterfly Block' at Queensway's Block 168A - these are just some of the iconic landmarks that participants will get to visit on a new free, guided heritage trail of the Dawson and Alexandra neighbourhoods in Queentstown.

The tour will take place every last Saturday of the month and will begin in May.  It is organised by civic groups My Community and The Other Sites of Singapore, and supported by the Queenstown Citizens' Consultative Committee and the National Heritage Board.

This is the second trail to be launched as part of the My Queenstown Heritage Trail series. The other trail explores the Tanglin Halt and Duchess estates and takes place every last Sunday of the month.
The first heritage trail was posted to a previous blog here .

Media Preview of Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Trail

With thanks to Mr Kwek Li Yong, President of My Community, Chairman of Queenstown Heritage and Mr Jasper Tan of My Community, The Other Sites of Singapore (TOSS) and Queenstown CCC who invited me to the Media Preview of Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Trail on Saturday, 4 April, 2015.

The invitation added: "We would like to advise you to bring an umbrella, insect repellent, water bottle and wear shoes that are suitable for thick vegetation.  We would also like to inform that this heritage trail may be unsuitable for children and people with disability."

It sounds to me like a jungle trek in the forest or to climb up the hilly footpaths on an adventure off the untrodden path to experience and new stuff to learn.

Explore Queenstown’s colonial history in an unforgettable adventure through Dawson and Alexandra neighbourhoods.

Participants to the new guided tour can look forward to many impressive landmarks such as Alexandra Hospital, Princess House, the former Archipelago Brewery Company, the first HDB Point Blocks and bunkers along Kay Siang Road.

The Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Tour is part of the My Queenstown Heritage Trail series and the trail is opened to the public and interested participants can register for the free, guided tour, which takes place on the last Saturday of every month, through, or call Queenstown Community Centre at 64741681.

About Queenstown

The story of Queenstown began on 27 September 1953 when British officials from the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) named the new town after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation a year ago. The colony suburb was the most ambitious project initiated by SIT to tackle overcrowding woes in Chinatown. Bounded by Ridout Road, Tanglin Road, Alexandra Road, Holland Road and the Malayan Railway, the self-contained estate would comprise of 11,000 apartment flats housing 70,000 people, and cost some $80,000,000.

Construction of the new satellite town began at the former Buller Camp in Princess Estate. The former burial ground and farmland at Boh Beh Kang village (Hokkien: 无尾港; No Tail River) were later cleared to make way for public housing. When the Housing and Development Board (HDB) took over from the colonial government’s Singapore Improvement Trust in February 1960, work has begun in three out of the five planned neighbourhoods in Queenstown, namely Neighbourhood 1 (Princess Estate), Neighbourhood 2 (Duchess Estate) and Neighbourhood 5 (Queens’ Crescent). The Board added two more neighbourhoods in Mei Ling and Buona Vista.

There were seven neighbourhoods with distinct identity in Queenstown. As a satellite estate, each neighbourhood came with its own amenities while larger facilities such as the library and sports complex were shared by the entire town.

A myriad of social institutions were pioneered in Singapore's first satellite town. In 1956, the first technical school was opened to equip future generations of Singaporeans with technical knowledge and skills to ride Singapore through industralisation. In 1963, Singapore's first polyclinic was built along Margaret Drive to provide access to subsidised healthcare. In 1970, the first branch library and sports complex were ushered in the estate.

By 1980, Queenstown’s oldest flats were 30 years old. Sparse and offering scant niceties, the estate were mirroring the greying of their original occupants. The next generation of residents who grew up in Queenstown, were heading towards newer estates due to a lack of development and various restrictions to own flats in mature estates. Demolition works in the aging residential estate commenced in the 1990s and 2000s and many iconic landmarks such as Tah Chung Emporium, Queenstown Japanese Gardens, Queenstown Remand Prison and Margaret Drive Hawker Centre were torn down.

Rejuvenation in Queenstown takes place in the form of Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) where high-density precincts are inserted in Queenstown’s older neighbourhoods. In 2005, Queenstown emerged as Singapore’s costliest estate. Once again, Queenstown has become a desirable address for Singaporeans.

For media enquiries and interviews, please contact:

Kwek Li Yong President of My Community Mobile: 92207712 Email:

About My Queenstown and My Community

My Community champions the preservation and propagation of history and heritage in communities and civic spaces. In Queenstown, My Queenstown carries out research, documentation and forging partnerships with various stakeholders to make heritage and civic life vibrant and enriching. My Community was formed in 2010 as a society under the Registries of Societies (ROS)

The Slippery Muddy Forest Trek to Discover the Bunkers

The Journey to Explore at My Queenstown

The former Queenstown Driving Test Centre
(Photo left to right)  Lam Chun See,  Cheng Pei Yun,  a friend,  Thimbuktu,  Philip Chew,  KL Lee

Forfar House

Former Forfar House built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in the 1960s.
Photo source:  National Archives of Singapore.

Forfar Heights built by Housing & Development Board (HDB) completed in 2005

On the right of the photo,  at the junction of Dawson Road and Alexandra Road, the former Hock Lee Bus Depot where the major riots occurred in 1955.
Blogger friend Lam Chun See pose for a photo for sweet memories ...
The former school field of Hua Yi  Primary School ( 华义小学 ) at Margaret Drive.
Tiong Ghee Temple, the oldest Taoist temple in Queenstown.

Mission accomplished! We arrived safely at the Queenstown MRT Station at about 12:00 noon after a three and half hour heritage trail to learn more about Queenstown and revive fond nostalgic memories to share.


Blogger James Koh said...

The school field belongs to Hua Yi Primary School or Margaret Drive School.

The old Hua Yi Secondary School was located at Depot Road.

April 6, 2015 at 12:10 PM  

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