My Queenstown – By residents

More often than not, the idea behind the preservation of monuments in Singapore is usually reserved for buildings or places that have a strong political, religious or national identity.

Yet a journey through the recently launched My Queenstown Heritage Trail perhaps reveals an area of history that is often neglected, that of the importance of social conservation, and the need to protect the memories and places that the first post-independence generation lived and raised the future generations in.

Participants of the tour walk walking pass block 48 along Stirling Road, one of the first few batches of HDB flats built. Some of these flats were used to rehouse those affected by the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961.

Participants of the tour walk walking pass block 48 along Stirling Road, one of the first few batches of HDB flats built. Some of these flats were used to rehouse those affected by the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961.

Angela, a librarian at the Queenstown Public Library, shares with participants the history of Singapore's first branch library

Angela, a librarian at the Queenstown Public Library, shares with participants the history of Singapore’s first branch library

Organised by the civic society My Community, the trail traces the path of the seven distinctive neighborhoods of Queenstown, Singapore’s first satellite town. This includes the mandatory stops at the Queenstown Public Library, Church of the Blessed Sacrament, abandoned SIT Flats, and of course part of the former KTM railway tracks.

Yet what sets this tour apart is perhaps the chance to speak with residents of the neighbourhood, such as Mr Mahmood Tamam, 63, a pioneer resident who since 1965, has lived in the distinctive Stirling Road HDB terrace apartments, designed by the Singapore Improvement Trust (HDB’s predecessor).

Growing up with 12 siblings, Mr Mahmood recalls living like it was still the kampong days, where he spent time playing in the jungle, visiting the nearby travelling circus and even growing vegetables and rearing chickens in the front porch outside his home.

With a cheerful smile, Mr Mahmood Tamam, 63, shared with us the stories of his kampong like days while living in the unique HDB terrace house since 1965.

With a cheerful smile, Mr Mahmood Tamam, 63, shared with us the stories of his kampong like days while living in the unique HDB terrace house since 1965.

A journey along the tour will lead you pass part of the former KTM Railway tracks that's enjoyed by those looking for a break away from the city

A journey along the tour will lead you pass part of the former KTM Railway tracks that’s enjoyed by those looking for a break away from the city

The tour also brought us into contact with traditional culture custodians and residents such as Mr Kamsari Gari, 63, a long-time resident and owner of Jali Jali Malay Barber, as well as retiree Alice Lee, 66, who readily shared with us her memories of not being able to hang out the laundry from the 11th floor flat for the first two years as she was too afraid of heights!

In what was a fitting end to the tour, we ended up at Tanglin Halt Neighbourhood Centre, a place that many long-time residents consider to be the heartbeat of their estate. Opened in 1962, many of the current shops have been around since the first day of business and continue to receive strong support from residents who frequent them regularly.

Mr Kamsari Gari,63, a long-time resident and owner of Jali Jali Malay Barber entertaining questions from the crowd

Mr Kamsari Gari,63, a long-time resident and owner of Jali Jali Malay Barber entertaining questions from the crowd

With its trusty money bucket, this provision shop is one of the few shops that have been around since 1962.

With its trusty money bucket, this provision shop is one of the few shops that have been around since 1962.

If you’re interested to discover more about Queenstown and the stories of its residents, you can register for the free-guided tour of the My Queenstown Heritage Trail (which takes place on the last Sunday of every month) at www.myqueenstown.eventbrite.sg or myqueenstown@gmail.com. You can also follow them at www.facebook.com/myqueenstown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: