Sunday, April 22, 2012
Memories of Toa Payoh (2) - I saw them building the flyovers to Toa Payoh
I studied at the Anglo-Chinese School from 1964 to 1968. Every afternoon, I would take Tay Koh Yat bus no. 9a from Newton Circus to my home at Lorong Chuan. During this period I saw them construct two of Singapore’s earliest flyovers.
The first one was called the Thomson Flyover where today’s PIE (Pan Island Expressway) crosses Thomson Road. Under this flyover, there used to be some very famous hawker stalls. But I seem to recall that we usually referred to this place as the Whitley Flyover; and not Thomson Flyover. Anyway, its main function was to provide access to the new HDB estate called Toa Payoh.
I believe this was Singapore’s second flyover. Do you know which was the first? I think, Singapore’s first flyover was the Clemenceau Flyover. Anyway, I am basing all these on memory. You will have to ASK the good folks at the NLB if you want to verify my information. I remember that there was a very serious and fatal accident during the construction of this flyover.
The completion of this flyover was big news in the papers. It was a simple affair compared to today’s enlarged version; with perhaps only 2 or 3 lanes in each direction. Subsequently, when I started work in Philips in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, I used this flyover almost daily commuting to work from my home in Farrer Road. Over the years, this flyover has been expanded several times, as far as I can recall.
This photo shows the Thomson Flyover in the direction of Toa Payoh in 1971. Photo from the National Archives Picas collection.
This photo shows the Clemenceau Flyover in 1970. Photo from the National Archives Picas collection.
This was the Toa Payoh North Flyover at Braddell Road. I remember three interesting things about this flyover.
One; there was a Caltex petrol station right next to the flyover. As you turned into Toa Payoh, coming from the direction of Thomson Road, you will go around this Caltex station on your right hand side. Likewise, when you exit from Toa Payoh Lorong 6 to go towards the Serangoon Road direction, this same petrol station would also be on your right as you turned into Braddell Road. Today, this Caltex station is no longer there.
Two. Next to this flyover, on the Bishan side, there was a hill. One day, when my father brought us to the Kampong San Teng cemeteries for the annual Qing Ming grave sweeping exercise, I took a rest along one of the pavilions on a hill top. I chanced to look downhill and guess what I saw? This Toa Payoh North Flyover and Braddell Road! The year must be around the early 1970’s.
My third memory of this flyover was in 1977 when I was doing my national service. I was attending the Junior Officers Engineer Course at Gillman Camp. One of the lessons we had to learn was how to set up explosives to demolish roads and structures. And so a group of us went to this flyover with our measuring tapes to take measurements of the key dimensions of this flyover. After that we returned to our classroom to do our calculations and plan the circuit for demolishing this flyover.
Unlike the Thomson Flyover, the Braddell Flyover has not changed much over the decades. What has changed drastically is the surrounding; especially Bishan and the stretch of Braddell Road leading to this flyover. But I just read in the newspaper last week that they are going to expand this flyover to alleviate the traffic congestion between this point and the CTE.