Today, I would like to make a short detour and talk a bit about Sixth Avenue, an area in which I have been staying for the past 21 years.
If you traveled along Bukit Timah Road from Hwa Chong Institution towards Clementi Road, you will pass a number of side roads that go by the names First Avenue, Second Avenue and so on. The most famous of these is Sixth Avenue. By the way, you won’t be able to see Fifth Avenue because it is actually off Sixth Avenue and not Bt Timah Road.
Recently, Sixth Avenue was in the news for the wrong reason. Two United World College students were killed in a tragic accident when their sports car crashed into a wall and burst into flames.
Prior to 1986, I seldom used Sixth Avenue. The only thing I knew about Sixth Avenue then was that there was a very steep slope at the junction with Holland Road, and your clutch control skills would be severely tested if you had to stop there. In those days, there were very few cars with automatic transmission.
Question: Now I want to test your knowledge of this part of Singapore. Have you heard of a place called Race Course Village (and not Bukit Timah Village as I said earlier)? Do you know where it was located?
Answer: Race Course Village was located at where I am staying now; Lucky Park. (Bukit Timah Village was located at the junction of Upper Bt Timah Rd and Jalan Jurong Kechil, where the present market and hawker centre is)
1) Lucky Park
Where I am staying now is a small estate made up mainly of terrace houses and semi-detached houses. An interesting feature about this estate is that all the roads are named after flowers beginning with the letter L. It’s such a small estate, I think I can rattle off all the names - Lily, Lantana, Lasia, Lemon and Lotus. The proper name of this estate is Lucky Park; but somehow nobody uses the name.
Did you know that before this estate was built, it was a village by the name of Race Course Village? I stumbled on this interesting fact when I was looking through a 1969 street directory recently. When I first moved here in 1986, Royal Ville, which is directly in front of my house was just being constructed, and it was a big nuisance for us during the first few years. At that time, there were still a couple of kampong houses remaining right at the end of Lily Avenue, next to the big drain. But today there is only one kampong house remaining. Yes - I am not pulling your leg. And here’s the proof.
Well actually two if you included this one which is just across the road.
2) Guthrie House
One of the most prominent landmarks of Sixth Avenue today is the Guthrie House with the Cold Storage Gourmet supermarket on the ground floor. Next to it are two new condos by the names of Fifth Avenue Condo and Sixth Avenue Ville. Do you know what was here before? It used to be a furniture factory and showroom by the name of Actus. After Actus moved out, it was occupied briefly by another furniture company called Novena.
Did you know that there used to be a Chinese cemetery along Sixth Avenue? Off Sixth Avenue, somewhere midway between Bukit Timah Road and Holland Road is a short little road called Lorong Panchar. There used to be a Chinese cemetery here, and next to it was a nursery called Evershine Nursery. Today, both the cemetery and nursery are no longer there. It’s just a green field (see photo below). But a short distance away, at Holland Link, there is still a private columbarium call Fong Yun Thai Association Columbarium.
Like many parts of Singapore, Sixth Avenue has undergone much change during the past 20 years. For one thing, the traffic is so heavy nowadays. There are many new condominiums here and even a new road that goes by the very exotic name of Laurel Woods Avenue. But one good change was the relocation of the nearby Turf Club to Kranji bringing with it those irritating weekend traffic jams and even more irritating punters who liked to park their cars in our estate and litter and speed. For some reason, they liked to arrive late and leave early.
1) A nice arial photo of Bt Timah area showing the old Turf Club can be seen here at a document called BUKIT TIMAH 1993 Planning Report by the URA.
3) “In 1859, one village near Bukit Timah was abandoned due to too many attacks. Bukit Timah was nicknamed A Tiger Resort.” (From Singapore Infopedia)
3) “On the 11th February, Bukit Timah Village was captured. Indian and Australian troops being pushed back, the British abandoned their headquarters at Sime Road and retreated to underground bunkers at Fort Canning. “ (From Radio Singapore International)
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