Recently, I came across an interesting document concerning Taman Jurong. My church, the Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church at Toa Ching Road, has just celebrated our 40th anniversary. They gave each of us a copy of the the first issue of our church bulletin, Vol 1, No. 1, dated September 1970. In this bulletin, there was a pastoral letter was written by our first pastor, Rev Philip Heng. Titled A Glimpse of the Promised Land, he narrated his impressions of coming to this part of Singapore for the first time. I reproduce extracts of his essay below. You will see that he mentions several places that have since disappeared from the face of Singapore. Do you remember any of these places?
Notice that Corporation Drive joins directly to Corporation Rd in this map – no Yung Ho Rd at that time!
“Those who have seen our proposed church site in Jurong Town will readily agree that we are in a strategic position, not “far from the madding crowd and strife” but rather in the midst of humanity. Let me take you on a tour to see why our site is so strategic.
Just look at the numerous significant landmarks that point the way to our proposed church. Coming by the “southern” approach, we drive westwards along Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and turn right into Corporation Road at Bulatan Gudang (Godown Circus). At the traffics we turn right again into Corporation Drive. On the left hand side are the Police Station and the Bank of America while on the right side are the St. John’s Ambulance Association House and market. Further along comes the First National City Bank and Chartered Bank, the Jurong Dental Surgery, on the left hand side with the Jurong Primary School conspicuously opposite. Right next to the school are more high rise flats.
At the Junction with Yung Kuang Road, and on the left side is the Jurong Hospital and Clinic. Two stones’ throw away are the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) visible from the road. We next pass a large open-air cinema and come to the junction with Tao Ching Road. And right here, in the foreground of Blocks 111 and 112 is our “Promised Land”.
|Site of the Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church at the junction of Corporation Dr and Tao Ching Rd (1970)|
Bro. Moses and Lillian Tan of the Life Church live here in Block 111 which also houses the Jurong Town Residents’ Association. Behind Block 112 and skirting our proposed church are several blocks of multi-storey flats being built and presently overtaking the 10-storey blocks. Beyond these will be executive housing.
What about the older blocks of buildings? Across Corporation Drive from the church are 3-storey blocks. How dwarfish they look by comparison! However, they house established shops such as the tailor, photographer, stationer, laundrer, dress-makers, grocers and the hair-dresser. Beyond these, on the far left, are numerous eating stalls, JTC offices, the post office, the Government outpatient dispensary and other shophouses and business houses.
Continuing our tour along Corporation Drive, we come by another large empty plot on the left earmarked for a cinema and a creche. Then we pass by the Jurong Church and Civic Centre on the right. The road runs on for another quarter mile with multi-storey flats flanking both sides some still under construction. When we come to the end, it is now block 99 and just think of the thousands dwelling there.
We turn left in Yung An Road to be confronted with several blocks of Army barracks. What an opportunity it would be to minister to the men in uniform – defenders of our country, our sons.”
Here are some photos of places mentioned in the above article that are still standing today.
PS - Having been closely associated with this part of Singapore for more than 30 years, I plan to start a new series of articles about Taman Jurong which I will label Taman Jurong Heritage Trail. Look out for them.