Thursday, November 10, 2011

Then and Now – Queenstown Library

The answer to the Old Building Quiz No. 16 is: Queenstown Library. The black and white photo is of the proposed site of the Queenstown Library at Margaret Drive. I saw this photo at the National Archives website a few years ago; but when I try to look for it now, I am not able to find it any more. So I am not able to tell you the date of the photo. I trust that I have not made a mistake. I hope some of the older readers who are familiar with the old Margaret Drive can confirm that this photo is indeed of Margaret Drive.


The second photo technically is not a ‘Now’ photo because I took it about 2 years ago in October 2009. Among all the public libraries, Queenstown Branch is my favourite. I have been going there for decades. I can remember clearly what the layout was like before the renovation. As you entered the library, there was a broad staircase on the left leading to the second storey, the Adults Section. Straight ahead were the service counters; and to the left would be the Children’s Section. My children spent many hours there when they were small.

Here’s another shot of the Queenstown Library taken from an angle that you are unlikely to be able to do now, or ever again. I took this photo from the multi-storey car park next to the NTUC Fairprice Supermarket. This car park was recently demolished together with everything else around it. In a few years’ time, you will see a completely new Margaret Drive.

I know many Singaporeans harbour fond memories of the old Queenstown, especially Margaret Drive. My earlier post about this area drew an incredible 80 comments! I hope this article has stirred up your memories of the old Queenstown Library. Do share them with our readers here. You can also share them with other Sinaporeans at the Singapore Memories Project website here.

Related Post: Gather moments while you may.

15 comments:

Keith said...

The 8-storey (or 10?) building in the background of your 1st photo is unique to the Strathmore Ave area near Princess House which housed several of these unique buildings. I used to visit my auntie around Strathmore Ave area. I don't think the site on the old photo is the present Queenstown library site. More like the end of Strathmore Ave linking to Commonwealth Ave. So I reckon the road is probably Commonwealth Ave.

Keith said...

Or the road could be Dawson Road, which means the site could be the now-demolished Queenstown Community Centre.

Lam Chun See said...

When I was quite small - shd be late 1950s or early 60s - I used to visit my 3rd Aunt, a poor widow with 3 sons, who lived in a flat behind Queenstown Library. Of course that was before QT Lib was buildt. It could one of the blocks in Photo no. 1.

If only I could relocate the photo in Picas then the doubts would be cleared.

Singapore Man Of Leisure said...

I studied at Hua Yi Primary School at Margaret drive (74-79)... The old 4 story buildings at the back of Queenstown library does not look like that. I could be wrong...

I am more with Keith. There are lots of 4 storey flats that were demolished between Margaret drive all the way to Havelock and Alexandra road... It could be anywhere along the stretch!

But it was a fun excercise!

Icemoon said...

I checked photos of the flats behind the polyclinic. Indeed they look like those in your pics. Considering HDB built flats without much variation in the early days, you are most likely right that they were behind the library. Another clue is the overhead cables, we can still find them at Margaret Drive today.

Ivan Chew said...

Hi Chun See, I don't recall seeing any HDB blocks behind the current Queenstown Public Library. More like a wall. Maybe this isn't the library site? But I'm terrible at remembering places, I've to admit.

Robin Dresel said...

Hi Chun See, if you happen to be around Queenstown library, do drop by, maybe I can add to your memories with some of the photos I have.

Maybe I have anything to support that there were HDBs where now is just grassland with trees. I will go over it again.

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks Robin. I certainly will take up your kind offer.

Robin Dresel said...

I happened to find a handful of pictures today, showing a several blocks numbered 12 to 22 and labelled as "behind the library". The block seem to have been about 5 floors high and the note indicates that they have been demolished in 1992, of which there is also one photo.

Pat said...

From article: "I hope some of the older readers who are familiar with the old Margaret Drive can confirm that this photo is indeed of Margaret Drive."

Chun See, I'm from the wrong generation, but I'm 99.999% certain that you are right that the old photo in your article does show the proposed Queenstown Library site.

Check out this 13 Jan 1963 photo (PICAS) showing the official opening of the Queenstown "Combined Clinics". The tall flat-roofed slab-block behind the clinics has the same style as the partially-hidden block at the righthand side of your old photo. But nope, they aren't the exact same block.

Instead, the inclined-roof block at the extreme right of the 1963 PICAS photo of the clinic is the EXACT SAME block as the inclined-roof block shown in the centre of your old photo (the same block here is partially obscured by trees, behind the watermark "viewing only"). The clinic structure is just about visible & 2cm under the "For" watermark in your photo. In the 1963 photo, this section of the clinic (with a series of windows interspersed with protruding pillars) is partially hidden by a foreground banner with 4 Chinese characters.

Using the inclined-roof HDB block & the clinic as place-markers, that means your old photo shows a site that's located slightly eastwards of the Queenstown clinic. And voilà ... the Queenstown Library is indeed just next door, east of the now-defunct clinic. Note: According to PICAS, Queenstown Library was officially opened on 22 Apr 1972. So your old photo showing the proposed library site must have been taken sometime between 1963 & 1971.

Also take a look at this PICAS photo (1975) showing the back view & carpark area of what appears to another flat-roofed HDB block (Blk 21, Margaret Drive) built in the same style. Could this be one of the blocks that used to be located behind the library ?

Additional map info: The 1968 Street Directory shows (going from west to east): Queenstown clinic, then an adjacent empty gap, then a short lane, then a post office. The 1975 Street Directory shows: Queenstown clinic, library, short lane, then an empty space where the post office was. (Was it demolished by 1975 ?)

I also realized something about the Street Directories from 1960s-1970s. Whilst kampungs & shophouses are shown, many extant HDB blocks don't seem to be depicted on these maps. Instead, the spaces are left blank ! So based on these old Street Directories, I (being of the wrong generation) mistakenly thought old S'pore had a lot of open spaces/grassland in between govt/commercial/industrial buildings.

Lam Chun See said...

Woa ... Pat. You are quite a detective aren't you? Just like my friend Icemoon.

Thanks for that detail and precise analysis. If I am able to get more old photos of this area, I will be sure to post them.

YL said...

Yes, Pat is accurate there. It is indeed as what she described. I grew up in the area, and remembered as a kid, I used to walk to school passing this area. The post office was demolished long ago, and what remains now is the Queenstown library, the defunct clinic... infact all the flats along that side of Margaret Drive is now demolished.

Would love to see more old photos of the area... brings back precious memories of growing up years for me....

blackjack said...

Hi Pat, from the PICAS 13 Jan 1963 photo, the building on the left is block 8, centre tall building is blk 9 and buidling on the right is blk 10. I stayed there from 1965 to 1988 (about 23 years...)

Anonymous said...

I used to stay at Block 2 Margaret Drive in 1975. That place is now totally demolished, but some of the stone chairs are still there. I can't confirm the building but they certainly look very familar. If you read yahoo news today, some folks from the Class of 1962 has organized a gettogether on 1dec. I wished I could attend but I was in Margaret Drive Primary School for but 6 months in '75.

kepalahunter

Chua Desmond said...

The 4-storey block is block no 12. It is directly behind the library. I was born and lived there until 1977.