When I blogged about BRS in 2005, the premises was occupied by MINDS (Tampines branch). This time, the tenant is the Society of Moral Charities (SOMC). Interestingly, whilst the ladies could remember much about our classmates and teachers, I fared much better when it came to places. Here is a sketch of the layout of BRS which I recall from memory, as well as some photos that we took.
Oops .. that should be 'principal'. But too troublesome to change lah.
I believe all the buildings within this complex are from our time. I don’t think any new buildings have been added because none of the tenants stayed for long. We were surprised to see that the place was much smaller than we remembered and the blocks were so close to each other. This reminds of a tall tale that one of my Primary 3 classmates told us. This chap claimed that he had seen a snake which was as long as the blocks in our school!
Can you see that huge tree? We spotted many red saga seeds at the base of the tree. I have a strong suspicion that this huge saga seed tree* is the very same one that was already there during our time. Many kids, including boys like me, liked to pick the saga seeds and play a rather girlie game which I will describe another time – or maybe one of you readers would like to take up this ‘assignment’. If my suspicion is correct, then this tree must be more than 50 years old! Can a saga seed tree survive that long? In that case, perhaps we should recommend to the National Parks Board that they gazette this tree as a "heritage tree". In fact it stands only half a kilometer or so from the famous Braddell Road Angsana tree.
I also remember this statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus perched on the roof of Mount Alvernia hospital. The hospital was constructed during the years when we were at BRS, which would be around 1960 to 1963. At that time, the statue faced the main road and when you passed by Thomson Road at night, you could see the statue bathed in soft blue light. Now they seem to have shifted the statue and it is no longer visible from the main road.
After we bade fond goodbyes to our former school, we made a short visit to the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir. Those days, our teachers often brought us for ‘excursions’ here. We would line up in pairs, holding hand and crossed the road to enter the park from a point just opposite the school.
Our last stop was the Saint Theresa’s Home. Aii Chan and Sock Gek were quite excited to see it because they used to live at a kampong just next it. At that time, it was called The Little Sisters of the Poor and the kampong was called called Hai Lam Sua (Hainan Hill). The present location of Hai Lam Sua would be around the Lakeview Estate. Even as I write this post, I suddenly recall that in those days, we used to call the Thomson Road area Hoi Lam San which is the equivalent in Cantonese. I was surprised to learn that there used to be a cemetery here which served as a playground for the two brave little kampong girls. Apparently, besides the huge, mainly Cantonese cemeteries at Bishan, there was also a smaller Hainanese one here.
As we bade our farewells, we promised to try and round up more former BRS students for a gathering to remember our beloved BRS. And one question lingers … would the authorities demolish it? I hope not.
*The saga seed has a very romantic name in Chinese. Do you know what is it? Answer here.
Response to suggestions that there used to be a badminton court between blocks 2 and 3. (posted on 04 Aug 2009)
Below is a photo showing Block 2, with Mt Alvernia Hospital in the background. On the left is Block 3, the highest block. As you can see, the gap between the two blocks is very small and the slope is very steep. Unless, block 2 has been rebuilt to bring it closer; it is unlikely that the badminton court could have existed here. And judging from the buildings which we saw on that day, I don't think anything new has been built. Mostly it was just retrofitting, I believe. Plus there simply isn't enough space to house 3 blocks and a badminton court.