Friday, May 29, 2009

The old Pioneer Road

Here is the answer to the Old Roads Quiz (1).

This road was part of Pioneer Road near the junction with Tanjong Kling Road. I took this photo recently when I happened to stop at the SPC station for some petrol.

This petrol station used to be a BP station. Unless you are very young, you’d probably know that at one time, BP used to operate a number of petrol stations in Singapore before they sold their entire fleet of stations to SPC, the Singapore Petroleum Company.

This BP station was located near a sharp bend in Pioneer Road. Here is a 1981 map of the area. Can you spot the changes?
1) A part of Pioneer Road was straightened and joined to Jalan Buroh to form a straight multi-lane highway. Instead of a sharp bend in the road, it is now actually two roads at right angles to each other at this new traffic light junction. But both roads are called Pioneer Road.

2) Tanjong Kling Road has been shortened and part of it ‘taken over’ by the new Pioneer Road. Thus a short stretch of the old Pioneer Road has become redundant and fenced up.

In the old days, this stretch of Pioneer Road was a very dangerous place with high volume of heavy vehicles (traveling at high speeds) and no central road divider. It was also a bottle neck with many vehicles waiting to turn right into Tanjong Kling Road.

Can you guess what road is in the photo below?

It is Liu Fang Road viewed from Pioneer Walk. I took this photo this morning. As you can see, tremendous changes have taken place. There used to be many old factories here. One of them was called Guthrie Engineering. While waiting to get re-enlisted into national service, I spent few months doing a temporary job there. This factory, which manufactured electrical switchboards, wanted to fine-tune their costing system. So they hired me and another fresh Industrial Engineering graduate to do time and motion studies and set standard times for their operations. The factories have all been cleared and lots of civil engineering works is going on.

I also remember this place because it was where I did my 10 km running test during the final days of my OCS course in Safti. I have described this before here.

In the seventies, as you approached Pioneer Circus, (no AYE or fly-over in those days) you will see 2 big factories on the left. One of them is Black and Decker. What is the other one?

Hint: It belonged to a well-known US multi-national company. At that time, they were the biggest investors in Singapore, having (if I recall correctly) a total of 7 plants in Singapore. Do you know the name of this MNC?

I give you a hint. The plant in Pioneer Road was known as XX Hermetic Motors, and they had a plant in Toa Payoh called XX Consumer Electronics. The Toa Payoh plant was located somewhere near the present SPH complex.

Answer: GE or General Electric.

Well there you have it – a history-cum-geography lesson of the old Pioneer Road. I must say, I am a bit disappointed that none of you got the correct answer to my quiz in spite of the many hints. Let’s hope you do better next time.


peter said...


Lam Chun See said...

Sorry. Suddenly it just came back to me. Should be Guthrie Manufacturing, nor Guthrie Engineering.

Victor said...

Not fair. Jurong was not my childhood haunt.

Lam Chun See said...

Something else I remember about the old Pioneer Rd is that it was quite shady. Now that area is so bare and hot, so harsh. Especially with the gigantic warehouses (distri centres)

Icemoon said...

The second photo is distinctive Peiyun style.

Unk Dicko said...

In the mid 50's to the 60's, the Jurong Park Scout Camp used to be located at Tg Keling. I wonder if anyone still have a map or pictures of that place. As a scout,my buddies and I had camped there, hiked there many times...esp in the 1960's.
That was a a superb, rustic campsite. The journey there by lorry was an adventure over the old roads and terrain. It was even more exciting when we rode there from our Victoria School grounds on bicycles, in the late night. Our bicycle's headlights shone on the graves and tombstones as we passed Bulim Chinese Cemetery.
Despite agreeing to ride closely as a single file pack, once someone shouted " kui ah! kui ah!"..all hell broke loose. It was every boy for himself until we reached Jurong Park.
Thanks for the memory C See.

Lam Chun See said...

Unk Dicko. Your 'kui-ah' story is so funny. Thanks for sharing.

I checked my 1963 street directory and interestingly, there was no Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim. And Boon Lay Road (today's Jln Boon Lay) goes all the way to the sea at a place called Kg Tg Kling. And there is a P. Kuching. P Damar Laut nearby and there is a road called Joe David Road.

This is all new to me. Hope oldies like Unk Dicko or P. Chew can blog about these places and enlighten us.