I have just completed reading the booklet on Bukit Timah. I must say that I am very impressed with what a great job they (the National Junior College students and Leaf Monkey) have done. So many interesting facts and photos in such a small document. I really learnt a lot of new information about an area I have lived in for the past 23 years. What I like most is the history of names of the roads. When I was blogging about the Beauty World, I lamented that I couldn’t find any information about it in Singapore Infopedia as well as the Singapore Encyclopedia. But thanks to the initiative of this group of young people, others will not have this problem.
I suppose that, owing to the lack of space, the authors had to leave out many places along this very old part of Singapore. So I am sure they will not mind my mentioning just a few of what I think they should have included in the brochure. Anyhow, my friend Peter and I are thinking of writing a series of articles here to supplement the information contained in the booklet. But we are still at the planning stage.
OK. Here are my thoughts of some of the places that should have been included.
The booklet had quite a detail write-up of the existing schools; but being a heritage document, they should have included schools that used to be there. I am thinking of course of Whitley Secondary School, Swiss Cottage Secondary School and Dunearn Technical and/or Secondary School.
Whitley Secondary School was located at - where else but Whitley Road; where the present Singapore Chinese Girls School stands. When I first got married, my wife who was a teacher at Jurong Secondary School applied to be transferred to Whitley to be closer to our new home in Sixth Avenue. She taught there for a number of years until a couple of years after they were relocated to their present premises in Bishan new town.
Swiss Cottage Secondary School was located just after Whitley School; going in the direction of Newton Circus, and just before a private estate called Swiss Cottage Estate. They too have been relocated to new premises. In their case, it is Bukit Batok new town. Its premises is now occupied by a private school. I think the name is International Chinese School. (see photo at right). In the Bukit Timah Heritage Trail, there was quite a lengthy narration of the history of the Swiss Community. I suspect, this area of Swiss Cottage must have some connection with the Swiss Community, but the booklet was silent on that.
But my biggest disappointment was that they did not publish a photo of the iconic NJC lecture theatres. As Singapore’s first junior college students, we enjoyed the unique experience of having lectures; and our lectures were held in two adjacent lecture theatres with sloping roofs of quite artistic design. From the main road, this structure can easily be seen. Since the NJC had a key role in this heritage trail project, I thought they certainly would have included a photo of the college viewed from the main road.
No mention was made of the hotels along Bukit Timah. The two most well-known ones were Orchid Inn and Equatorial Hotel. Lesser known are Garden Hotel and Sloane Court at Balmoral Road. Orchid Inn is still there, although it is now called Copthorne Orchid Hotel. Incidentally, my wedding dinner was held at the Charming Garden Restaurant there twenty-one years ago. Equatorial Hotel was located at the junction of Stevens Road and Bukit Timah Road. It has been demolished to give way to a condominium.
Did you know that there used to be a cigarette factory known as Rothmans located at Bukit Timah Road just about where the present Tessarina condo is. There were also several other factories and commercial buildings nearby. But if you want to know about these and many other interesting places along the Bukit Timah, you will have to wait till Peter and I start blogging about it.