Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lost Roads – Lorong Panchar

Take a look at this photo. Do you know where it was taken?  The next time you travel along Sixth Avenue, from Holland Road towards Bukit Timah, look out for this place. It is near a bus stop before you reach the junction with Jalan Haji Alias and Laurel Woods Avenue.
(Former) Junction at Sixth Avenue
Did you know that this is actually the start of a road that used to run from Sixth Avenue to Holland Road? The other end of this ‘lost road’ was at the winding stretch of ‘old’ Holland Road, between Holland Green and the unnamed canal that flows from Bt Timah Canal to Ulu Pandan Canal. This second entrance has just been erased by ongoing construction; presumably to widen the canal as part of the Bt Timah flood alleviation project.

Former junction with Holland Road

And the name of this ‘lost’ road? Lorong Panchar.
 
A section of Lorong Panchar (From 1981 Street Directory).Click on image to see an enlarged view.
Lorong Panchar probably did not exist for long because I could not find it in my 1963 street directory. In fact, at that time (1963), Sixth Avenue was only a tiny side road that branched off Bukit Timah Road and did not join to Holland Road. And in my 1993 street directory, only a tiny section of Lorong Panchar was left. Hence I conclude that Lorong Panchar only existed for about twenty years or so. Unfortunately, even though I have been living in the Sixth Avenue area since 1986, I don’t have any recollection of this road.

From 1963 Street Directory. Lor Panchar not shown.
From 1993 Street Directory. Only a tiny section left.
A couple of year ago, my neighbour and I tried to bash through the forest that had covered Lorong Panchar, starting from the Sixth Avenue junction. He told me he had seen some durian trees there and also the remains of a huge tomb. Unfortunately the vegetation was too thick and we never found anything interesting save the shed skin of what must have been a pretty large snake. We finally emerged from the forest at a point near the canal next to Holland Plain.


 PS - Read about two other lost roads that I have blogged about in the past:


14 comments:

Lawrenz said...

Lorong Panchar was in existence since the '70s. In those days, while serving in Mowbray Camp in Ulu Pandan Road as a regular, I used to jog around that area specifically along Sixth Ave. I noticed this road especially so because one of my colleagues was staying in the kampong inside. I am not sure if the road was linked to the Old Holland Road but, if I remember correctly, there was a small path linkng it.

Pat said...

From post: " the unnamed canal that flows from Bt Timah Canal to Ulu Pandan Canal"

It's called Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal. This 3.3km long canal was completed in 1972. See: PUB's map.


From post: "Lorong Panchar probably did not exist for long because I could not find it in my 1963 street directory. In fact, at that time (1963), Sixth Avenue was only a tiny side road that branched off Bukit Timah Road and did not join to Holland Road."

Lorong Panchar already existed in its entirety on maps of the 1958 Masterplan (index). On the relevant island map, Lor Panchar is depicted with dashed lines, indicating an unpaved track. In fact, Lor Panchar is older than the southern stretch of Sixth Avenue -- this southern extension is absent from the 1958 island map, but planned for on the town map. (Also notice how the KTM Jurong line neither existed, nor was it planned for in the 1958 maps.)

* 1958 Island Map -- annotated extract, original
* 1958 Town Map -- annotated, original
* 1970 Street Directory (Ministry of Culture) -- note: data valid as of Dec 1968
* 1970 Topo Sheet (Dept of Survey) -- annotated, original
* 1978 Topo Map (Ministry of Defence)
* Animated: Map-views of the site in 1978 (topo map) vs. 2012 (Google Earth).

As shown by the topo maps, Lor Panchar ran along the foot of a hill occupied by a Hokkien cemetery (Hock Eng Seng). The northern side of Lor Panchar was occupied by freshwater marsh & ponds (for fish &/or water hyacinth used as pig feed).

The latter might explain the origin of the road's name, which appears to have been derived from the Malay word "pancar" -- ie. flowing out in gushes or spouts. Perhaps the waterlogged area north of Lor Panchar was due to the presence of former springs -- or more likely, natural base-flows (ie. sustained fair-weather run-off) gushing out from the foot of the hill there.

And guess what the Chinese name for Lorong Panchar is ? 罗弄班查 (Luō nòng bān chá) -- source: ST - 04 Jul 1978. Lorong "Class Check". :|


From post: "And in my 1993 street directory, only a tiny section of Lorong Panchar was left. Hence I conclude that Lorong Panchar only existed for about twenty years or so."

In my 1996 Street Directory (agency: Ministry of Law), both ends of Lor Panchar are shown. The middle stretch is not depicted probably because URA acquired the adjoining cemetery land in 1995, & the site was reportedly exhumed by early 1997. So we can assume that the road was closed & expunged after the exhumation was completed -- circa 1997/98. This implies that Lor Panchar existed for at least 30 years.

The earliest mention of Lor Panchar I found in the local press was a PUB notice (ST - 27 Jan 1967), informing about a scheduled electricity disruption there & 2 other roads in the vicinity (Lor Makam & Yoon Kin Rd).

The dwellings along Lor Panchar appear to consist of attap houses -- ST report (20 Oct 1969) of how a fire burnt down a house & made its 20 residents homeless. In addition, there were also factories, offices & warehouses along Lor Panchar by the 1970s -- as attested by job adverts (eg. ST - 31 May 1979) & news reports (eg. ST - ST - 01 Oct 1979).

Pat said...

Previously, I mentioned elsewhere that Hock Eng Seng Cemetery is featured in Tan Pin Pin's short documentary-film about the exhumation of her great-grand parents: 'Moving House (1997)'. The eastern end of Lor Panchar (exit to Sixth Ave) can be viewed @ 14:41-15:06 min of the video. Lor Panchar appears to have been upgraded to a metalled road before 1997, & the road had by 1997 become rather deteriorated by heavy usage &/or the passage of time.

Comparison of the view of Sixth Avenue from Lor Panchar's eastern exit: 1997 (image-still from 'Moving House') vs. Feb 2009 (Google Street View). Note the bus-stop, as well as the 2 Dynasty Lodge residences that have retained their red-tiled & blue-tiled roofs respectively all these years.

Hock Eng Seng Cemetery & Lor Panchar are also highlighted in the book 'The Politics of Landscapes in Singapore: Constructions of "nation"' (Lily Kong, Brenda Yeoh - Syracuse University Press, 2003) -- excerpt:

{{{ Li Cheng explains what the ‘moving house’ (ie. exhumation) episode means for her: "All these years, everything sort of revolved around Lorong Panchar. It was the epicentre, and somehow that sort of spatial centre has been taken away. [...] you suddenly realise, after all those years, you can’t go back any more." }}}

Apparently, Hock Eng Seng Cemetery was one of those well-visited cemeteries that require the narrow (2-vehicle width) Lorong Panchar to switch to 1-way traffic flow for Qing Ming periods:
* Special Traffic Measures for Cheng Beng Festival (ST - 27 Mar 1971)
* One-way Cheng Beng Traffic at Cemeteries (ST - 05 Apr 1973)

NLB's PictureSG archive has some photos (taken in 1992) showing:
* Lorong Panchar: Pic1, Pic2
* Hock Eng Seng Cemetery: Tombs

Below is a news extract that might be of interest ... unfortunately I've no access to the rest of the report.

* Grave Matters (Business Times - 19 Apr 1996):
"Advertised recently was an announcement by the Urban Redevelopment Authority to exhume "600 graves at the Hock Eng Seng Cemetery" off Jalan Panchar. Those with long memories will remember that Hock Eng Seng is an old privately-run cemetery where plots were sold ("discount if you booked two plots")... "

Chun See Lam said...

Pat. Thanks for the detail information. I shall have to come back when I hv more time to go through all those links and info.

Meantime, my friend YG mentioned in my Facebook page, where I posted a link to this article, that he used to drive thro this road to get to Holland Rd in the 80s.

Chun See Lam said...

Pat. For your info, parts of the cement/brick wall of the Hock Eng Seng Cemetery are still visible if you walked along Sixth Ave - which I do frequently for my exercise.

I also remember seeing Lor Makam and an old temple there in the late 80s when I jogged and drove along (old) Holland Rd.

Chun See Lam said...

Pat. Have you seen my earlier article about what I now know is called the Bt Timah First Diversion Canal here. I have posted several photos of this canal which is now undergoing major 'renovation'.

Pat said...

@ Chun See: "I also remember seeing Lor Makam and an old temple there in the late 80s when I jogged and drove along (old) Holland Rd."

Would that temple be Yu Shan Teng (Hakka temple), which served the southern side of Fun Yun Thai (Hakka) Cemetery that was bordered by Lor Makam & (old) Holland Rd ? Some photos of the temple: NAS PICAS, NLB PictureSG.


@ Chun See: "parts of the cement/brick wall of the Hock Eng Seng Cemetery are still visible if you walked along Sixth Ave - which I do frequently for my exercise."

Btw did you try hiking along the expunged foot lane (with SLA State Land signage -- see Google Street View) a short distance away from Lor Panchar's exit along Sixth Ave ? This route would have passed near the former fish ponds there ... I wonder if the ponds have been filled in & if the land there is still marshy.

I once considered bashing through from the Clementi Road side (ie. along the stream opposite Ngee Ann Poly), but was turned back by a pack of barking stray dogs in the forest. Might the forest along Sixth Ave be less territorial ?

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Icemoon said...

Was much encouraged by Chun See's comment "I also remember seeing Lor Makam and an old temple there in the late 80s when I jogged and drove along (old) Holland Rd" and Pat's reply to blog on my latest topic. Was that what Chun See saw?

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Tah Chung said...

This may be the tomb mentioned above....

http://pictures.nl.sg/Details/650a8422-3077-48bb-802d-10e05f689259

Chun See Lam said...

Tah Chung. Thanks for the letting us know about those old photos of the cemetery and Lor Panchar.

Tah Chung said...

You're welcome, Chun See! I've benefitted greatly from your blog.