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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow them at www.facebook.com/myqueenstown