Chun Chew’s earlier article about the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Singapore reminds me of the housing estate which I lived in when I was young – the Princess Elizabeth Estate, which was located near Hillview Avenue in Upper Bukit Timah. I believe it was built around 1951 to commemorate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh) in 1947.
In all, the estate had 24 blocks of flats. Blocks 1 to 16 were single-storey blocks whereas Blocks 17 to 22 are 3-storey blocks. Block 23 and Block 24 were 7-storey blocks. There was also a school named Princess Elizabeth Estate Primary School. Its premises are now occupied by the Red Cross Home for the Handicapped and the school was relocated to Bukit Batok many years back.
I lived on the ground floor of block 17 from 1975 to 1984. Before that, I lived in the kampung in Hill View Area. I remember the address was 01-103, Prince Charles Rise, Singapore 23. You might recall that at that time, we had 2 digit postal codes in Singapore.
Ours was a four room flat. The 3 bed rooms were really big by today’s standards, but the hall and kitchen were miserably small. Just in front of Block 17 was the Princess Elizabeth Estate Community Centre. I spent lot of time there playing all sorts of games like badminton, basketball, sepak takraw, table tennis etc.. at this community centre. We also played lots of childhood games, like my wooden guns, rubber bands, picture cards etc..
Just beside Block 17 was a small public car park . Parking was free in the mid 70s until the Coupon Parking system comes into effect. Occupying the same car park was a bus terminal where SBS bus Service 173 and 193 started their journeys. Princess Elizabeth Estate Primary was just beside the bus terminal.
There was also a football field surrounded by 3 Single Storey flats. I cannot remember the block numbers. An interesting thing about this football field was that it had a 'centre parting' - same as a kind of hairstyle. The reason was that the residents of this estate walked diagonally across the field to get to Bukit Timah Road to catch other bus services not served by Service 173 or 193. This caused the path to become 'botak' (bald).
Sadly, like many of the older estates, Princess Elizabeth Estate no longer exists. Today, it is just an open patch of ground awaiting development. Who knows what they will build here in the future; probably another condominium. I wonder if they will reuse the name.
Kampong Fruit Trees
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