Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gather Moments While You May

In writing this blog, one of my biggest frustrations is that I do not have the photos to illustrate the places I try to describe. For example, I wrote about the cemeteries of Pek San Teng or Kampong San Teng before it was converted into Bishan new town. How I wish I had some photos of what it used to look like – the hills with rows and rows of tombstones, the pavilions and even the traffic jams that took place every Qing Ming.

Many young people of today have no idea what Singapore looked like one generation ago. In his National Day Rally speech, PM Lee Hsien Loong announced exciting plans to transform Singapore. Add to that the ongoing Enbloc madness, and I fear that the next generation of Singapore will also have little idea of what Singapore looks like today; especially the many lesser known places.

Let me give you an illustration. I was at the Queenstown Library the other day and parked my car at the multi-storey car park next to NTUC Fairprice supermarket. I noticed that the car park was practically empty. The reason was obvious. Many of the nearby shops have either disappeared or shut down. Before long this place will be transformed beyond recognition. Fortunately, I had my camera with me and managed to capture some shots for you to enjoy. But unfortunately, the batteries ran out after a while.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is this. Take the advice from Paul Anka’s song, Times of Your Life and “gather moments while you may”. Take out your digital camera and take some photos of places in your neighbourhood that you think will be gone soon. Better still; do what my friend Kenneth is doing and document them in your blog. Your children will thank you for it.

OK. Enough words. Here are some photos of Margaret Drive in Queenstown, taken on 23 August 2007. Enjoy them because they will be gone before you even notice it.

PHOTO #1 – Hawker Centre
Margaret Drive - signboard

This signboard is next to the Hawker Centre. Three of the 6 items listed are no more: the emporium, shops/bank and restaurant.

This is a very old hawker centre. The most famous stall here is the fish ball noodles stall. On the upper floor, there used to be a POSB branch.

PHOTOs #2 and #3 – Emporium

Margaret Drive - Emporium1

On the left is a wet market and on the right is the hawker centre. There used to be a 3-storey building (Block 40B) in between. Top floor was a Chinese restaurant famous for its tim sum. I think it was called Golden Crown. They were relocated to the Safra branch at Bukit Merah. They had an outlet selling tim sum on the ground floor. I used to buy from them when I had a gathering at my home. On the second floor was a Chinese emporium. On the ground floor was a coffee shop and a Mont’ Dor cake shop. Here’s another shot taken from the hawker centre.

Margaret Drive - Emporium2

PHOTO #4 – Cinema and Bowling Alley
Margaret Drive - Queenstown Cinema1

This building is just next to the NTUC Fairprice supermarket. It used to house 2 (I think) cinemas – Queenstown and Queensway; Plus a bowling alley and a KFC restaurant.

PHOTO #5 – Churches
Margaret Drive - Churches

On the left is the Fisherman for Christ church and on the right is the Church of Our Saviour. Do you know that both buildings used to be cinemas? The one on the right was called Venus; but I cannot remember the name of the one on the left.

PHOTO #6 – Banks

Margaret Drive - Maybank

This photo shows the hawker centre at the top. Previously there was an HDB Block 40 blocking your view. On the ground floor, right hand corner was a Standard Chartered branch. To the right, at right angles to Block 40, next to the car park was Block 39. On the ground floor, at the corner was a Maybank branch. I used to have an account with them. Further to the right, on the other side of Margaret Drive would be my favourite National Library branch; the Queenstown branch. Along that stretch of road, there used to be many HDB apartment blocks. They have all been torn down. There are now only 2 blocks left. One of them is Block 39A.

PHOTO #7 – Block 39A

Margaret Drive - Blk39A(1)

There used to be many shops at the ground floor including one photo studio called Golden Palace. Notice that their telephone number has only 6 digits.

Photo Studio - Golden Palace

Please feel free to download these photos and add them to your collection. You may want to show them to your grandchildren one day.


Miss Loi said...

I'm not sure if it's deliberate but I really like how you put up photos of these empty parcels of land and labeling them after the buildings that once stood there. It really sends a powerful message in some ways.

If I'm not wrong, the famous Margaret Drive chicken rice is still at this hawker center, no?

Also I recall there used to be a fountain with a stone statue of a bird in front of the emporium.

Victor said...

Miss Loi - Yes, the famous chicken rice stall is still there but perhaps not for long. The stall is on the 2nd storey of the hawker centre.

Chun See - Did you have your wedding photos taken at Golden Palace Photo Studio? (I see a Chinese character of "double happiness" on the name card.)

Anonymous said...

I remembered this place well during the 1970s.
1. Jasper Tailor where I made my 2 suites for my wedding. One suite cost S$220 in those days.

2. Hawker Center/Cinema. I used to serve in the Special Constbulary when i was in JC2 for 6 months. We wore the red lanyard around our armpit to differentiate us from the regular police force. We were attached to the Queenstown Police Station.

Now if you ask me how come we did NS when we were still in school. then i say you ask the Government. It is only now i realise we kenna do "extra" NS. In fact 6 months partime NS in the police force before drafted into SAF for 2.5 yrs.

So if the younger generation wanna complain about NS, think back to the time when your fathers kenna push around because there was no clear guidelines from the MINDEF or the GOvt. anyone reaching age 18 automatically drafted into partime police or VC

Anonymous said...

The 2 cinemas mentioned are Venus next to commonwealth ave and Golden City beside margaret drive. The churches bought over the cinemas in mid 80s when the cinema biz was bad due to the intro of video tapes. The emporium was called Tah Chung emporium. The whole lot of flats along margaret drive had been torn down for over 10 years. In the 80s you could not see Queenstown Remand prison from the road. The canal leads right thru' to the singapore river via alexander rd, river valley, kim seng road , robertson walk and clark quay. You can walk along the canal now quite conveniently all the way to boat quay.
This place is so convenient as even before the MRT, you could get to orchard by bus in about 10-15 mins. Also botanical garden is nearby that you could walk to it in about 30 minutes for a morning or evening stroll. Margaret drive is actually very close to the former CMPB.
Off topic, there has been a lot of vacant land in this area ideal for private/govt residential dev. for over 10 years. Just find it "strange" that developers chose to "enbloc" to acquire land.

Anonymous said...

The place brings back good memories. I stayed for a brief period (in the seventies) at Mei ling street with a relative, while waiting for my flat allocation at AMK. The delicious food like fish-ball noodles, char kway teow, duck rice, fuji cakes and others are still fresh in my mind. Also, I spent some leisurely hours in the evening watching films shown in the two cinemas there.

Lam Chun See said...

I am not sure if Zen (my brother) remembers. Our 3rd Aunt and cousins Chee Seng/Kuan/Tuck used to live in a block of flats in front of the Queenstown Remand Prison next to the Library. That was real long ago when we were still living in the kampong.

Victor. You remember those days when we often need to go to studio to take passport photos. I realised I still have some of the extra photos in the original tiny envilopes. To my delight, I found a few other envelopes; one of them even older this one since the tel. no has only 5 digits! That shall be my next article.

For my wedding, we went for one of those package deals. Very popular in our time you must know. The package covers the wedding gown, Merc and photos.

Lam Chun See said...

Anonymous. Are you sure it's Golden City? Doesn't seem to ring a bell. What is the Chinese name? Is it 金 都? I thought I saw a hawker stall with this name the other day. Should have asked the owner.

BTW. The reason I could tell you the block nos. is becos I have a 1998 copy of the street directory.

Lam Chun See said...

Funny I don't remember the fountain with bird. Can give more details to jog my memory a bit?

I'm not much of a foodie. But I do recall a popiah stall at the coffee shop next to the passage way. I noticed becos they do catering for home parties.

Anonymous said...

"Golden City Cinema" is the name. It is also mentioned by ieatishootiblog
. Back in the 60 & 70s, there is a comedian called "Hamid Bond" with a chinese guy as his sidekick. He had his office at Golden City cinema.
There is a fountain with a bird figure in the open space in front of the 2 cinemas.
The popiah store on the ground flr of the Tah Chung has moved to the food centre.

Miss Loi said...

Right in front of the emporium was a big area surrounded by buildings on three sides. Looking in from the main road (Commonwealth Ave), the hawker center will be on the left, the emporium middle and the bowling alley (???) on the right.

In the middle of this area was a squarish (???) fountain with a statue (or was it wireframe) of a bird. Something like the one near Tiong Bahru market. The area around the fountain used to be busy with many people sitting around.

That's all I can write down from the obscure images in my head. I'm not even 100% sure they are accurate!

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks Miss Loi and Anonymous for your detailed descriptions of the fountain. Sorry to say, I still cannot get it. Sigh. But I do remember Hamid Bond's office. I have seen a match box with his photo and company details. He was one of my favourite comedians. I like the way he spoke dialects.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I used to visit my 3rd aunt at Margaret Drive. The old lady though pint-size, had great stamina, and liked to talk - pouring out her woes. Being a widow at quite a young age, and having to bring up 3 sons herself, it was indeed very tough for her. She depended money from some of my uncles (including my mother), and the social welfare to get by. Whenever we visited her we would give her some pocket money to brighten up her day. She would thank us profusely. I remember as a kid, while traveling in my 6th uncle's car, and suddenly my aunty exclaimed: "Tony have you given your monthly allowance to sam soh!" My uncle quickly replied: "Not yet, I shall do it".

Anonymous said...

What I recall when you mentioned Queenstown is the photostating services at Queensway Shopping centre. I used to bring some reference book there to photostat during my Poly days. At that time, copyright law still not so.....

Anonymous said...

Besides the Margaret Drive chicken rice stall, there's a good one at the Mei Ling Street food centre as well. According to my husband, who lived in the Queenstown area for very long, the Mei Ling Street one was originally at Margaret Drive. Anyway, just last week, I saw a new(?) stall at the Buona Vista food centre which had something like 'Margaret Drive chicken rice' on its signboard.

On the ground floor of the Margaret Drive place there is also a popular char kway teow stall.

There's a polyclinic beside the library which has a very 70s feel to it. I don't really know how old it is, though.

Anonymous said...

I heard on the grapevine that the Queenstown Polyclinic will be demolished soon and moved to the new building now under construction and located between Queenstown Community Centre and the Mosque.Chun See may wish to take a photograph of the Clinic for posterity before it is demolished.

pinto said...

I used to go to Queenstown Library when I was young, but I can't recall much about the area.

The title of your post reminds me of the Robert Herrick poem quoted in Dead Poet's Society (the movie from which my blog derives its name): Gather ye rosebuds while ye may..."

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks. That's a beautiful poem. In fact, it would have been a more appropriate title for my post. Paul Anka must have been inspired by it when he wrote his song.

Do you remember that the old Queenstown library was quite different from the present? When you enter, the staircase to the 2nd floor was on your left. If you continued furher in, then the children's section would be on your left. I used to bring my kids there.

Lam Chun See said...

Not surprised that they will be demolishing the poly clinic. Must be one of the oldest ones around. I used to bring my wife there quite often after my first kid was born for kind of post natal follow-up.

Maybe when I return my books next time I will bring my camera along and take more pictures. I want to take a couple of shots of the two schools across Queensway. They are of the 1st generation 1960's design.

Anonymous said...

Those places mentioned is near the former Queenstown Driving Test Centre where I failed my first driving test. Wonder what is the state of the test centre now....

Lam Chun See said...

As far as I know, the former driving centre is still there. No change from when I blogged about it earlier here.

Anonymous said...

[peter said...
I remembered this place well during the 1970s.
1. Jasper Tailor where I made my 2 suites for my wedding. One suite cost S$220 in those days.
.... ]
Pardon me, as I have no intention to offend or sound like a Smart Alec, if you are referring to a man's suit, then it should be suit rather suite, because I am a non-native English speaker.

Victor said...

Anonymous - You must belong to the category which Chun See mentioned in his last post, i.e. those who scrutinizes blog articles for spelling mistakes.

Pardon me 'cos I am also not a native English speaker and therefore I have no intention to offend either, heh.

Unknown said...

Hi, do you know what happened to the Queenstown Bowling? Why did it close down when it used to be such a hotspot?


Anonymous said...

There is the really popular char kway teow stall too isn't it? I see
long queues everytime I go..

Lam Chun See said...

I think they are going to redevelop this place and so everything has to go. I quite like the KFC here. You can actually view the bowling alley thru the glass windows on the upper floor.

I only know about the fish ball noodle stall. Don't know about the char kueh teow stall here. I quite like the yong tau hu laksa; located near staircase nearest to main road. The ice kacang cost only $1 here. Must be the cheapest in town.

Anonymous said...

I have been living in the queenstown/commonwealth area for almost 15 years and I am still currently staying here. I always go to Magaret Drive when I was young, lots of buildings were torn down, and there used to be so many people in that area back then. Besides this, I go to queenstown library often, probably for about 10 years or so already. It is one of my favorite libraries. I also remember that there used be a Big Bookshop above NTUC, now it has been replaced by this winter clothing company. I love staying in queenstown, and will probably continue staying here for as long as I can, cos there's too much memories here already..

Anonymous said...

Found this blog which brought back much memory of Margaret Drive.

After reading this blog, I once again recall 金城, 金都 and 皇宮 cinema; Mont d'Or which I used to buy my favourite eclaire and Mur (the Mur could be found in Polar now); the roti prata below Tai Chung; the fountain with the 2 white swans infront of Church of Our Saviour (not surprising that most people could not recall the fountain 'cos it was so dull looking).

There was an OUB below Tai Chung at the corner facing Commonwealth and Church of Our Saviour. It has a black marble facade. I remembered the black marble because there was a period that I always saw this girl on my way to school (or was it work), and whenever she passed by OUB, she would admire her own reflection on the black marble from the moment her image appeared on the marble until she has walked past the bank. Ha! amusing memories....

I never knew about Big Bookshop above NTUC. I only knew it used to have a games arcade that I went with my neighbours during the primary school years.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. I have happy memories of the place. As a kid growing up in the 70s, Orchard Road wasn't really hip yet, so Margaret Drive was like my hangout place since I lived in the Commonwealth area. I remember the cinemas and the kachang puteh men, and the wooden seats. Patrons usually bought the Ren-Ren(?) cuttlefish snacks in. The palce is also notorious for the shootout which led to the death of Lim Ban Lim in 1972(?). Sad to see the place go. Hopefully a new lease of life will come in with some redevelopment.

DesignT said...

I stayed in Margaret Drive in 1960 - 1963 in the old 4-storey block which was situated adjacent to the market on the very site of the cinema beside the present NTUC. Behind my house is the canal. I wondered how many remembered that place. I attended Birkhall Primary School which was merged with the present Queenstown Primary (Birkhallians didn't like Queenstownians and I remembered throwing stones across) The uniform was a unique blue and white vertical stripes and blue shorts. Any Birkhallians around???

Mr Elvin Woo P F

Anonymous said...

Where is Tony now? Remember him and his family who had a bookshop in the 2-storey blocks. He was the one well known for supplying Technical drawing equipment and of course photostating.

Mr Elvin Woo P F

Lam Chun See said...

I know there was a stationery shop at the corner of the 2-story block parallel to Margaret Dr; just next to the bank and nearest to the hawker centre.

But I don't know the name as I don't live in that area. Not sure if you are talking about that one.

DesignT said...

Yes that was the book shop.
Anyway I found great ole pictures from the National Archives but nothing on Birkhall School or the house I used to live in.

andrew said...

Hi Mr Lam,

Your post about the Queenstown/Margaret Drive area brought a flood of memories. I lived around that area from 1975 to 1984 when my family was forced to re-located because of the MRT project.

I remember the block I lived was Block 26 but I cannot remember the unit number except that it was on the 3rd level. That block was located along Commonwealth Avenue, right at the junction with Strathmore Avenue and next to True Way Presbyterian Church (真道堂). I believe it is now the site of Queens condo. The rental for the 3-room flat I stayed in was $70+ a month and my granny used to despatch me to the HDB office along Stirling Road or Mei Ling Street (next to Queenstown Swimming Pool) to pay the rent.

I used to attend the kindergarten at True Way. Back in the 70s it consisted of single-storey buildings, with the chapel in its present location and another 2 blocks, which housed the kindergarten and canteen, forming a U-shape surrounding a car park and playground. Being a private kindergarten, they charged $20 a month in 1977, which was a huge sum.

There was also a large grass field behind my block, with a concrete footpath leading to a compound of shophouses. It is now a HDB carpark. I remember there used to be a bakery, provision shop and curry powder mill. I went there to watch the activities, especially in the bakery. The workers would give me the crust from the freshly baked bread for free. Up until today, whenever I smell freshly backed bread, I will think of the bakery.

I also remember the junction of Alexandra, Leng Kee & Commonwealth Avenue being a circle instead of a cross-junction. On one side was the Ministry of Environment and on the other was this factory with a red staron its facade. The red star is still there today. There was (is) also a Singapore Telecoms exchange station.

There was also a Setron Factory behind a block of flats. I think it's along a Dundee Road. Some shophouses were also there, with a chinese barber, coffeshop that served hor fun on banana leaf. Further down was a wet market, Princess Market, I think. The Strathmore area is now built-up with HDB flats. The entire area used to be 4 to 7 storey rental flats. There was also Forfar House, "14-storey building" or "十四樓" as my granny used to name it. It was a red-bricked building.

Too many things in my mind. I'll need to write them down somewhere before I forget.

Lam Chun See said...

Andrew. Thanks for the inputs about many of the old places in this area. You are right. So many things to recall. For example, you left out a very important landmark near your block - the Queenstown Driving Centre which I blogged about here.

The circus you mentioned was called Princess Circus. Along Alexandra Road, also there was a Diethelm Factory and another factory with the word Aluminium in its name. But the most famous was Kodak Centre. I think it was their HQ.

Anonymous said...

I stayed in blk 39A where my grandfather has a provision shop there. Right now, that is the only shop that is still open. All else are gone. The bowling centre was also our favourite haunt after school. If only there were old pictures posted of what was before. thanks for posting these photos online so that I can reminisce my childhood memories.

Anonymous said...

Hey there!
I'm a student from a nearby school that is extremely curious about the queenstown bowling centre.
My friends & I went in to explore, :x.
*previously we didnt know we trespassed.
I was intrigued, why is that place close down for such a long time yet not demolished?
And also, my friends found a room with indian gods as well as chinese gods. I was thinking, why would they have such things in an entertain centre?
I have alot of questions, hope I can find more information about this place! :D
Thank you~~~~

Anonymous said...

Its time to do some digging into the old photos ... might have some old photos of the surrounding of Blk 39A where I was staying for almost 30 yrs, since I was born. Now my parents shifted to the new blocks near Commonwealth MRT Station. See if I can find anything to post .. :)

Lam Chun See said...

Jenn. Pls let me know when you post your old fotos on your blog so that readers of GMY can also view them. If you don't have a blog, I will be most happy to share your story here as a guest blogger.

Anonymous said...

Aluminium fatcory at the corner of Leng Kee Road and Alexandra Road = "Lea Hin Aluminium Co".

There was this Anchor beer factory further down Alexandra Road called the Archipelago Beer Company - now Anchor Point.

Yes there was a Singapore Telephone Board (now SingTEL) branch exchange at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Stirling Road. I visited my uncle (when he got married in 1962) who rented a ground floor SIT unit with a common garden at Stirling Road; looks similar to the ones at Margaret Drive,

Anonymous said...

I went through all the old albums and only managed to find a picture of this dragon dance during CNY @ the coffee shop at Blk 39, HO PENG COFFEE SHOP, where there is this Nasi Padang stall selling good Mee Rebus & Nasi Lemak. This coffee shop used to engage the dragon dance during Chinese New Year. On the background, u can actually see some of the old shops in front of the hawker centre .. Let me get hold of the scanner to put that up. My mom has been activated to search for my old photos, especially those during our days in Birkhall Primary :)

Chun See, I should be sending u the pictures instead since i dun blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Golden Palace studio confirmed no more, unless they re-open somewhere else. As far as I know, one of the owner's son is a photographer somewhere, maybe freelance ... he was already doing freelance photography when his father was running the shop. I still have the envelopes with me as well, found some of my Dad's old passport photos too. I stayed there for about 30 yrs, since I was 6 months old, until I moved out to my own place .. my parents stayed on for another 8 yrs until 2008 Jan when they moved to Tanglin Halt. Sad to leave the place, many good memory :)

Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Lam Chun See,

I am an Urban Designer at the Bauhaus in Germany and completely agree with you about the destruction of memories and the lack of historic continuity that is happening in a lot of the "new towns" that were created in the last century (primarily due to the movement started here at the Bauhaus by Le Corbusier, Gropius etc.).

The Bauhaus is actually currently doing a project to see what can be done to preserve the cultural and spatial identity of places like Queenstown while increasing the quality of life, commercial opportunities etc. for the residents.

I would appreciate speaking with you (and anyone else) interested in Queenstown and its future. We will be in Singapore in January and would be happy to host a meeting then. I would also be happy to stay in touch via email at


Sameer Narula

soel said...

Thanks so much. Your blog brings back memories that have been shelved at the back of the mind especially for someone who has been away for years. Really nostalgic.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Crouchingtiger. Thank you for your invitation for a discussion but I don't think I have anything else to share other than the thoughts that I have put up here as a layman.

Globalcitizen. Glad you enjoyed reading this article. Do check out what my friends and I have written about other parts of Spore like Bt Timah, Balestier, Ulu Pandan etc.

Lam Chun See said...

Coincidentally, I saw a studio discussion on Channel 8 this morning where they were discussing about Queenstowns "past, present and future" and some viewer phoned in to share their memories of Queenstown.

blackjack said...

Hi Lam,

Read your blog. Interesting! I lived in Margaret Drive before for about 24 years! (1965-1989) Just behind the library (Block 10 ground level)
We don't have to lock our doors at night. Practically like our own kampong where everyone knew each other!

Pasar Malam - every Fridays evening. Stalls stretching from block 6C down to almost near Birkhall Primary School.

The Library - before the construction, it was just a piece of grass land. There are some farmers bring their goats, yes, goats! to graze there. When they started to construct the library, the plywoods and some of the building materials were placed just outside our block. We had our fun playing amongst the plywoods during the chinese new year! Firing of fire crackers, hide and seek games etc...

Queenstown Chicken Rice - someone taken over this stall. The original is at Mei Ling Street hawker centre. (Could be upgrading now) The stall was taken over by the owner younger son. I personally know him as we were from the same uniform group (NPCC) at Queensway Secondary School. His elder brother was my classmate.

Queensway Secondary School - my alma mater (1972-1975). It took only less about 5 minutes from my house.

Margaret Drive School - my primary school (1966-1971). Now being taken by some children school.

Golden City /Venus threatres - even when I started work, the parking lots were free after the last shows were screened. Now these places have become churches.

Just sharing some memories. If I happen to dig out any old photos, I will share with your blog.

Anonymous said...

It appears that they are going to demolish the Queenstown test centre. Whoever wish to take some last shots of the place have to do it fast.

Blackjack : Thanks for sharing and helping me to recall the Friday night pasar malam which I have already forgotten. It's interesting to know that farmers once brought their goats to graze at the National Library site. The library was already there when I shifted to Margaret Drive.

Unknown said...

After reading, found to bring back some old memories....How the present site SM Motors? It was bus depot where bus used to stop for refuel. Kodak office is now replaced by car showroom. As for Queenstown Polyclinic, it will be used as foreign workers dorm. Any idea why this area is called as Queenstown? The Queen visited Toa Payoh.

Anonymous said...

Queenstown was the future blue-print of the then Colonial Government for large-scale low-cost housing in Singapore through the SIT, after pilot housing project took place at Stirling Road area (terraced 2-storey housing). So naturally the architecture, precinct layout and road names followed the British tradition. This would have been the biggest after Tiong Bahru.

After the PAP came into power in 1959, the PAP accelerated the low-cost housing program in view of the housing shortage in 1960.

Probably only Toa Payoh was a PAP low-cost housing idea and not the colonial government. As a consequence, the road names in Toa Payoh was very much pretty local and this is the reason why you get "Lorong" instead of some Anglosized name.

Anonymous said...

I now recalled going to the bus depot to buy the monthly bus stamp.

Anonymous said...

A correction to my earlier post....they are renting out Queenstown test centre as private school or office. Apparently, the piles of bricks around the building which leads me to think they are tearing down the building, is more likely to be some form of retrofitting.

blackjack said...

just had a dessert the other day at Queenstown hawker centre. I met one of my friend and he told me that the hawker centre will be demolished in 2010. Another icon going....

Anonymous said...


Anyone has more information about Birkhall Primary School? If you are an ex-student from 1968 to 1975, kindly contact me at :

Anonymous said...

Hi Chun See,

This is kepalahunter (The one in Marsiling/ Woodlands).

It so happens that about 35 years back, I stayed in Margaret Drive. Blk 2.. no 27A. It was a short building just by the road. I visit the place sometimes, in fact, the little stone stools can still be found..


Tks for bringing back good memories

A.T:) said...

Hi chun see, I came across your website and it really is interesting to find out all the interesting memories that exists where i used to stay for the few years i stayed at queenstown. I was just wondering if anyone could tell me if there was a specific significance to the queenstown bowl building that is still standing? Like, was it a really iconic place? is it a place worth conserving? and i was a little confused while reading the comments. so was the cinema in the queenstown bowl building? or was it the two churches that are there now? and someone did mention that the churches bought the queenstown bowl building. so wats the future of the building? :) sorry for the whole load of questions but i'd really appreciate knowing.. thanks! and good job on the blog! real meaningful. :)

Lam Chun See said...

I believe the cinema at the building housing Queenstown Bowl is separate from the other 2 that became church buildings. I think it was newer compared to the other 2.

Mont d'or said...

@A.T: I don't think there's any specific significance to the queenstown bowl building. To people who grows up in Queenstown, and specifically Margaret Drive, it will be as worthy of conservation as any UNESCO site :) .

Mont d'or said...

The value of the photo of the Hawker Centre at the top of this blog has increased....the signpost is no longer there :( .

blackjack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackjack said...

Tony Bookshop can be found in a small shop at blk 39A NTUC beside the betting booth and atm. Its the side facing the former Queenstown bowling centre.
You can see the owners have more grey hairs now...

Anonymous said...


We are pre-university students doing a project on conserving the history and heritage of Queenstown.
We would like to know more about Queenstown and your opinion on the importance of Queenstown as a historical landmark.We would greatly appreciate it if you can help us out.Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1959, stayed in queenstown (blk 1, queens crescent) from 1965 to 1975. My primary school was QES - 6/3 in 1971. Really ,much had changed. I saw through the eyes of a child the cemetary fronting queens crescent which today is meiling street. Tah Chung Emporium and its 2 cinemas were Queenstown's pride in those days. The Queenstown roundabout (no longer there) was where the circus use to stage its tents. I remembered we had the Indian Circus and the Tai Thian Kew circus. two main circus troupes those days. A tim sum lunch for 10 will cost about $15.00 at the Golden Crown restaurant in 1968. And that will include lots of tim sum and even ice cream for desert. Queenstown shopping centre came later and the Jumbo coffee house was where I had my first beer at 15 !!! Queenstown Library was a welcome sight when it first opened its door.

Icemoon said...

Anon, you mean Queensway shopping centre?

By the way, where was Blk 1? Was it one of those H-shaped blocks? Behind the market (nearer to railway track) or beside (nearer to fire station)?

Anonymous said...

I Lived in BLK 39A from 1969 - 2003, here are the list on where are the good old store's shifted to.
1 Ho Peng Coffee shop Malay stall - shifted to the block beside queenstown swimming pool. They still serve the same good old dishes like Mee Rebus, Tauhu Goerang, Nasir lemak.

2 Wet Market Duck Rice- Remember the bald specky uncle who once sells mix veg rice & change to Duck rice at the wet Market? You can locate him at Mei Ling St wet market 2nd floor.

3 First Clinic located at 39A shifted to Bukit Ho Swee but i last heard Doc Tan already Pass On.

4 Cake Shop At Tah Chung Emporium- Owner Son Royston did not continue his dad bizz. Dad Retired

5 Wet Market fried bee Hoon/Chee Cheong Fun/Peanut Porridge seller. They are still staying at 39A waiting for allocation of their new flats.

6 The original chicken rice is not the one at 2nd floor hawker center. His son is operating at Mei Ling St wet market 2nd floor. The current store at margaret dr is his uncle who is once a helper in the stall. The founder who is a tall specky uncle pass away 2 years ago

7 One of the most delicious Mee Siam & Lontong will be the stall at the ground floor. Go try it before its gone.

If you can remember, on the 2nd floor of the hawker center, there use to be a coffee house near to the shanghai food stall. Their set lunch is very reasonable during those days...simmilar style like silver spoon at suprem house(Park Mall)


Mont d'or said...

I heard Blk 6C will be enbloc. Not sure about 39A though. These are the last 2 remaining blocks in Margaret Drive. It's sad to see them go. Will surely find a day to go capture them on pics for posterity.

Lam Chun See said...

Mont d'or. Be sure to take some of the Queenstown Remand Prison as well. I heard they are going to tear it down very soon. I'll do that when I go down to return my library books next week.

Mont d'or said...

Lam, even though the prison is just around the corner, personally I have no memories of it because it used to be hidden behind those 4 storey flats. It is only in recent years that its facade comes into full view. Thanks anyway.

blackjack said...

yes, every saturday at 11 am sharp, the siren will sound for practise.
Once or twice, a prisoner will escape and it makes Margaret Drive more interesting with the tension in the air.

Chippey said...

Im currently living in queenstown on stirling, and i was just looking at the history of the place. Ive always wondered what them sirens were for, thanks for clearing that up blackjack. Im rather interested in the queenstown bowl, i wonder what its like in there.

Lam Chun See said...

What's the inside of Queenstown Bowl like? I'll try without drawing a sketch.

The entrance is facing NTUC Fairprice. Next to the entrance and also facing NTUC Fairprice is a small 2-storey KFC restaurant.

The bowling alley is quite small. I would estimate 10 lanes. The front is on the NTUC side. Hence you bowl towards Commonwealth Ave direction.

Interesting part is that the 2nd floor of KFC has a huge glass panel overlooking the bowling alley and it is quite fun to enjoy your meal and watch people bowl. As you enter the KFC, the serving oounter is on your left. On the right are some tables and a staircase leading to the 2nd floor which is entirely eating area.

Mont d'or said...

For the record....,-its-hard-to-say-goodbye

blackjack said...

hey, green bean dessert soup is only $0.80 per bowl and $1.00 if added with extra ingredients like tapioca or sweet potatoes. Get it before it's gone...forever

Unknown said...

Wow this post brings a lot of memories. I stayed at Margaret Close Blk 3 for many years before moving over to Blk 6A Margaret Drive before moving out in the nineties. Studied at Birkhall.(ex students can join the Facebook groups there are more photos there.
Growing up in the area is swell. I remembered going to gawk at HK actress Chan Poh Chu when she made a stage appearance at Venus; catching spider in the forest between the Japanese Garden and prison; catching longkang fish in the canal and the night market on Fridays!
Still go back there on and off for my favourite Char Kway Teow (btw - he is moving to Telok Blangah soon).

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was born in the old SIT flat, Blk 21 Margaret Drive. Ya, all my siblings were born at home with the help of the experienced mid wife. Blk 21, 7 storey flat, was just overlooking the Queenstown Remand Prison. But before it was built, it was just a forest and I remembered seeing the Indian man bringing his cows to graze there. Then the prison was built and I remembered the alarm testing drills on Saturdays. I studied at Birkhall, me and my siblings were the 1st Malays taking Chinese as 2nd lang there. Principal was Mrs Lucky Low.

Anonymous said...

Hi my family live there in 1959 until the lot of flats was demolished. I recalled there are some stalls selling food and cigarette/titbits by the roadside.
There is a couple who sell "Kuay Chay" and it costs 0.15cents for a bowl of kway with tau poh. An elderly man sells char kuay teow in front of a provision shop(Chye Huat).He was relocated to the coffee shop below Tah Chung and hand over the business to "AH O" the present seller when he retires and return to Swatow(China).

The fishball noodle stall use to operate in a carpark lot. Opposite the carpark there are a couple of stalls selling pineapple drinks and snacks targeting those school children from Birkhall, Queenstown and Strathmore Primary schools.

The plot of land where the present Queenstown Library is used to be a made shit market.

I missed the "Friday pasar malam" and in the 70' the "private cab" that take me to work (Robinson Rd)for 30 cents.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon of 23 June 2010,

I hope you are joking... "The plot of land where the present Queenstown Library is used to be a made shit market".

Guess it is a typo error. Anyway, that was a good one. Hahahaha!

D Leong said...

Hi, the madeshit market is not an typo error. I thought you guys might like to know. During that period, where do you think the folks do their marketing? I was about 7 yrs old then and I still can remember.The other option is to
walk to "14 storey" to do our marketing.

I lived in Block 16,I recalled we had a free movie night. We had to turn off our power supply and a man will show the movie from his 3rd storey flat using the other block wall as a screen.

Those days, we donot have block numbers, visitors had a hard time locating the correct unit. Most of them are delivering wedding invitation carrying cakes and a can of cigarettes to their relatives.

I REMEMBER said...

Sorry i meant a makeshift market....

Hussain said...

I used to stay at Margaret
Drive Blk 126 near the canal two storey terrace house. i love the place very much but it is a pity lots of old building no longer exist esp the cluster of 4 storey "lum por lay" blue window and "chap see lor" where my ex used to live around blk 43 now replaced by taller buildings. Thanks for the memories.
My email is :

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Hussain. thanks for sharing your memories of Queenstown/Margaret Dr. I was at the Queenstown Library a few weeks ago and noticed that the hawker centre has closed down and all boarded up. So has the NTUC Fairprice.

Regarding your request to look for a long-lost friend, occasionally, I do get requests like that. In fact, I am proud to say that my blog has helped reconnect old friends from decades ago; including overseas friends. I myself was able to meet up with a couple of classmates from Primary school.

I will give your idea some thought and maybe put up a "Looking for Old Friends" corner. Any idea how to do it? My IT skills very limited you know :(

Thomas said...

I used to follow my parents to Margaret Drive to do shopping at Tah Chung Emporium when I was in Primary School studying at Strathmore Primary School, I can say that the only entertainment area is Margaret Drive where one can buy daily necessities and watch a movie or two at Venus or the Golden City. And one more place is Queensway Shopping Centre next to Alexandra Fire Station and Alexandra Hospital.
In fact that was the in place to be at in the 70s I believe.

Lam Chun See said...

Queensway Shopping Centre is another place I shd blog about. Before that, it was a roundabout. Sure to attract lots of memories from readers of GMY.

Venessa said...

Only 19 this year but have been living in Queenstown my entire life. Yes,even now. My grandmother was the first to move into Blk 27A, she taught at the driving center with my grandfather then proceeded to opening a bird shop at the block Just in front of the Queenstown Library and the carpark connecting to the NTUC.The birdshop was basically where i spent alot of my time at. :)

Remember walking to kindergarten in my blue checkers dress with a pocket in the middle uniform, at good shepards kindergarten bhind Blk 27A!

I also vaguely remember emporium and loves going to the wet market with my grandparents. I love the duck noodles. The uncle still recognises me till now. He's at Mei Ling Street Market now. I love buying guppies from this uncle at the wet market. And buying terrapins!

The same row as my grandmother's bird shop was a pastry shop, which sold my favourite mix choc-vanilla ice cream. There was also a shop by this 2 indian guys making frames. And kiddy rides just beside 2 convenient stores at the other end of the row.There also used to be a saloon there later on.

I also remember my mom taking me to the Maybank constantly and remember looking down at the people bowling from KFC, wishing that I could join them. Was too young and didnt know how to. lol

Then, it turned into an Arcade, which had a slope up, and the table to change tokens were taller than me. Often went there with my cousins!

Then things changed. Everything i ever loved was demolished. I still live in Queenstown, strathmore Avenue. But it breaks my heart whenever i pass by Blk 27A now.Seeing it all covered and prepared to be demolish. I lived 3/4 of my life there and in Queenstown. I tell my boyfriend about it. But no one will never understand it. It's also sad that, there's hardly pictures around to remember those places.

They'll forever be memories in my heart. And hopefully more & more pictures will surface and we can tell our children about Our Queenstown in time to come.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Venessa. Wow at only 19, your memories must be quite fresh compared to ours. But you have one advantage. There are many photos of Margaret Dr and Queenstown; whereas photos of the kampong where I grew up in are extremely rare.

My youngest daughter is your age; and I think I brought my children to your grandfather's bird shop opp the library. They used to keep budgies and a rooster. They also like to play in the playground between that block and the NTUC Fairprice supermarket. I don't like that playground. A lot of sand. After that they dirty my car.

Sometimes, they also like to ride on the coin-operated machines in front of the corner shop nearest to the cinemas. I liked to buy biscuits from that shop. I mean kampong-style biscuits where they will take from a big tin container and sell by weight.

We also liked to buy cakes and buns from the cake shop attached to NTUC. Is it Prima Deli?

Anyway, all the buildings in Margaret Dr are in the process of being demolished. Another piece of heritage gone.

Lam Chun See said...

Since comments are still coming in here; I think I will scan a map showing the blocks and add to this article - later when I am free. I was a bit afraid of violating copyrights. But hack, I am not making any profit and many people will benefit from it.

Venessa said...

The pictures of places I used to go to hardly surface. Like the emporium and the Maybank square. The entire row of shops that I go to are now just empty spaces.Yes, they're relativly new compared to those kampung days of course. But Still missing those demolished places.

Ah yes, prima Deli. I love their chicken pies and chocolate fudge cake!

On the other note, I loved the playground outside NTUC. When it was full of sand, it had swings and see saw and so many other fun stuff. Now it's rubber flooring and it's all just slides and tic tac toe. Haha Not much of a childhood in those right. Swings are a rare sight in Singapore nowadays if you notice! And the best part building sand castles ;p

Ah glad you remember the bird shop haha, Not too sure about the rooster but yes budgies and pigeons and even Parrots! :D

Its nice reminiscing about my childhood again. Can't help but feel a little sad for the lack of childhood in coming generations.

Ipods and Blackberries are nothing compared to playing in sand filled playgrounds and playing catching around the neighbourhood. hehe

Glad i found this post. thanks for taking time to post about Queenstown!

Lam Chun See said...

Venessa. If you go to Facebook and do a search for Queenstown, you can find a few memberw who post photos of Queenstown. This one for example.

Lam Chun See said...

I am trying to add an old map of the Margaret Dr area showing the location of the blocks to make it easier for you guys to make reference. But for some reason, unable to open the Edit page for this article.

BTW, there's a very good book in the library that has much historical info about Queenstown and many photos. The title is; 10 Storeys.

Lam Chun See said...

I just added a 1993 map of the Margaret Dr area, showing the location of the various blocks.

PC said...

I was from the first batch of students @ Birkhall circa1956/58?the most reknown personality in my class today is CEO of Comfort Delgro Kua Hong Pak or Johnny as he used to call himself.

Elvin Woo said...

I was in Birkhall Primary from 1960 to 1965. Principal then was a lady called Lucy Low. Anyone has an old picture of the school. Please post it

rainman007 said...

Hi guys. My name is Woo Yin Fook. Was studying at Margaret Drive Primary School from 1966 - 1970. Forgot whats my class but remember Miss Yip, my form teacher. Classmate wise, I remember a few names. If you guys are here, drop me a note. Love to catch up with you guys. Here's the list 1) Quek Kian Foh, 2) Gek Choo, 3)Cheah Mei Ling, 4) Mohan, 5)Poh Choo, 6) Kim Fai. Hope there's a chance to re-unite with you guys.....My contact is

Anonymous said...

Hi Chun See, I happened to come across your blog while searching for things, places, people and events pertaining to old Singapore. Your blog is very informative an interesting. Thank you for that. By the way, I remember that the one of the famous famous criminals and the most wanted man in Singapore at that time at shot dead by the plain clothes police at Magaret drive in 1972. I was still quite young at that time and didn't really know what happened, other than reading the newspapers report about the incident. Since you were a resident there at that time, did you happen to have witnessed the event, or knew about what happened?

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry, I don't know anything about the incident. Suggest you come for this event and pose your question to the panelists.

Queenstown Heritage Forum held on 26/5/2013 (Sunday) from 2pm to 4pm at Queenstown Community Centre Auditorium.

Anonymous said...

OK. Thanks very much. I will attend if I can make it.

Anonymous said...

The name of the criminal shot dead was Lim Ban Lim. Incidentally I was with my mom and dad watching movie at Venus Theater that very night. Remember after the show, when we came out, there was lots of people milling around and later then we heard someone was shot dead by the police.

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

Good article. The pictures jolted back my memories of growing up in Margaret Drive. I used to live in blk 6A opposite the present Queensway Secondary School

Anonymous said...

Gee. This is so interesting. It brought back memories of the good old days. I shifted to Margaret Drive in 1966 (or was it 65) and attended the PAP kindergarden close to the old wet market. After 50 years and shifted 3 times around the vincinity, I am still here.

KJ Leong