Some forever not for better.
All these places have their moments………..
(Immortal lines from the Beatles classic, In My Life)
Today, there are not too many seafront bungalows remaining on Upper East Coast Road after land-filling of the sea took place. Many turned into condominiums, a medical center and a church. The few that remain are # 492 which was once owned by Alexandra Brickwork, the Hwa Yue Wee Restaurant, former Shaw Bros Holiday Villa and the Columbus Childcare Center site. Gone was Palm Beach Seafood, former President Benjamin Sheares’ home, the former Pepper King of Singapore’s villa, and the Dragon Inn Motel, all well-known icons of the pre and post-WW2 era. Wyman Haven, my maternal grandmother’s seafront restaurant fell victim to land-filling too.
I lost touch of Wyman Haven whereabouts until recently; although I had been told by my father that the property was acquired by the government. I tried various sources including various government agencies but none could advise me. My maternal relatives also could not tell me much except “it was very far away, somewhere in Bedok”. After my grandmother passed away, I went through all the family photo albums but found difficulties finding appropriate photographs or reminders of that place. Since 2005 I “walked the walk; suspecting that a pair of semi-detached houses at #580-582B Upper East Coast Road was the more likely site. I realized my bad judgment was based on recalling seeing tall palm trees just before coming to Wyman Haven from the city direction. By the way, these same palm trees are still standing there in front of “The Daffodile” but the previous big lawn in front of the estate has been acquired for road widening.
Not too long ago on a trip to a military archive in Scotland, I came across some very exciting aerial photos of Singapore, and found images of land reclamation of the Bedok area. Based on my NS knowledge of map-reading and aerial photo interpretation, I found one particular aerial photo indicated the presence of six (6) large seafront bungalows between Parbury Avenue and the Chinese cemetery at Kew Drive, and the Yuan Ming Si Chinese Temple at Hwa San Road. The military archivist was very helpful, patient and understanding. I obtained a copy and turned that over to ICEMOON (http://2ndshot.blogspot.com/) our local expertise for “second shot” Artificial Intelligence photography. He was able to accurately reproduce the present-day location of Wyman Haven.
So where do you think Wyman Haven was? Here are the results:
Photo 2: Wyman Haven is the dark-shaded box. The “Pilot Site” for the land reclamation project started on the left-side of the property facing the sea. Nothing is prominent except the narrow main road and the forest in the distance. I would sit on the seawall throwing stones into the sea whilst waiting for my favorite roasted pigeon to be ready.
Photo 3: The property boundary is all that space bounded by the blue car to the roundabout (old seawall) and to the edge of the basketball court. Recall that narrow main road and the forest in the background?
Wyman Haven is now Temasek Secondary School main driveway. The row of 6 seafront bungalows now fronts one of the main school buildings. The “Pilot Site” for the first Singapore’s land reclamation is the artificial football turf. The fenced-up small forest behind the bus-stop was once the Chinese primary school; a pair of concrete railings across the drain is evidence of the old road into the school compound. The forest is strongly rumored to be the site of the East Coast Line Kew MRT station by 2020.