Saturday, February 17, 2007

Old Adam Road Hawker Centre

Adam-Farrer sketch

In my earlier post about the A&W Restaurant
in Dunearn Road, I put up a sketch of the vicinity. My friend Peter pointed out that there was a mistake in the sketch. and that the old Adam Road Hawker Centre was on the same side as the present location. I checked with my friend Chuck and my younger brother James, and they both agreed with Peter. I began to have some doubts.

But then recently I received a comment from another reader who insisted my sketch was correct. This is what he wrote:

“I am very, very sure that the location of the Adam Road Hawker Centre is as it is in the sketch, at least in 1970 & 1971. After all, I had chicken rice and chendol every Sunday with my dad there for lunch after badminton practice. We would take a "Green Bus" to the hawker centre from Swiss Cottage Pri, had lunch and then I think No.7 "Tay Koh Yat" bus back home to Margaret Drive, Queenstown. I believe initially, a flyover was built so the hawker centre being on the canal side was relocated. Later the flyover was knocked down and an underpass (today situation) was constructed with a new flyover now linking Adam Road.”

That jolted my memory and so I want to 're-blog' about this place.

My first memories of the Adam Road Hawker Centre were in early 1971. (I think I probably learned of this place from my 2 years in nearby NJC in 69/70). Anyway, at that time I was doing my national service in SAFTI. When I booked out from camp on Saturday afternoons, I would occasionally stop over there for some nice, cool ice kacang. I probably had to change a bus there to return to my kampong home in Lorong Chuan. After 1 week of Safti cookhouse food, and losing buckets of sweat for “duty, honour, country”, the ice kacang of Adam Road Hawker Centre was heavenly. And I remember the place was beside the canal. I believe it was relocated to the other side of the road in 1974. I did a search in the picture archives of National Archives of Singapore and found several photos of Mr E. W. Barker, our former Law minister opening the ‘new’ food centre at the junction of Adam Road and Dunearn Road. The year was 1974.

In the early 80’s an old friend of me and my brothers, Chuck Hio, often came to our house at Farrer Rd to play mahjong in the weekends. After midnight we used to adjourn to this Hawker Centre to enjoy a night snack, including Chuck’s favorite – tulang (cow bone marrow). He taught us the special technique of how to ‘knock’ the tulang out of the bone by holding it with the left hand, and gently banging the wrist with your right hand. At that time, we had a downstairs neighbour who operated a stall here selling fruit juices.

In 2001, it was closed temporarily for upgrading under the Hawker Centres Upgrading programme and was reopened in 2002.

Adam Rd Food Centre (2)

Adam Rd Food Centre (3)

Since I am on this subject, I would like to add some additional information for the benefit of the young people.

1) Did you know that the original flyover at this busy junction ran perpendicular to the present Adam Road flyover? And this one I am very sure because after I moved out of our kampong, I stayed in Farrer Road for 12 years from 1974 to 1986. Initially the flyover was built to facilitate the flow of traffic along Dunean Road and Bukit Timah Road. Later this flyover was demolished (probably in the 90’s) and replaced by the present underpass. I drove past this place very frequently - and still do, and when I saw the demolition works, I thought to myself, what a waste to demolish such a new flyover. Subsequently, a new flyover was built joining Adam Road to Farrer Road.

2) Also did you know that Cluny Road used to run all the way from the entrance of the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Timah Road? Anyone who had driven here must remember the very sharp bend near the rear entrance of BG. But recently, with the extension of BG to Bt Timah, Cluny Rd was truncated and so they renamed the Bt Timah section, Cluny Park Road, and joined it to Tyersall Avenue.

3) One last bit of information. There used to be a Post Office just opposite the Serene Centre along Farrer Road. Next to it was a Mobil petrol station that I frequented. Both have been replaced by the Lutheran Towers. Incidentally, I think Lutheran Towers was originally built for the executives of HDB.

(The 2 black and white photos above are from the National Archives of Singapore.)


Lam Chun See said...

Dear 'Anonymous'. If you want to make a comment here, may I request that you use a pen name or your initials so that it is easier to refer to you in any discussion. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Love the old and new Adam Road Hawker Centres! At least now parking is easier.

Have a blessed and wonderful Chinese New Year, filled with porcine pleasures, ham-some moments, and lots and lots of pigging out! Thanks for being a friend and a part of my world. Lots of good cheer from the cool insider.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Chun See, yes, I remember the original flyover that used to run perpendicular to the present Adam Road flyover.

My secondary school and JC were around the area and I used to dread the construction of the present underpass and the demolition works because the traffic there could get pretty bad back then.

Ah, I have never tried the ice kacang at Adam Rd Hawker. I only went there once with my JC classmate.

Anonymous said...

Chun See
Perhaps you could be right because I went to this place in 1972 and you went there before 1972.

There were 2 flyiver sin the Bukit Timah Road area in the late 1960s - Adams Road and Newton Circus.

Kung Hee Fatt Choy!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was quite hazy about this area when my parents and siblings moved away from the old kampong and resettled in Farrer Road area, because I got married then and stayed somewhere else and the only place where I could remember well was the corner post office which was rather small but user friendly. The best part was the free parking at its compound. The most impressionable place was the former Newton Circus which controlled at least 7 to 8 roads leading to it. Traffic was really heavy at peak hours, but quite orderly, despite of motorists trying to out-maneuver each other when entering the circus, with buses always coming on top of the game. It was a daily pitting of drivers' skill and bravado.

eastcoastlife said...

Dear Mr Lam,
Happy Chinese New Year!

Anonymous said...

Before 1932, the site was once the Cluny Road Railway Station. Adams Road and Farrer Road had not existed then but Duneran Road and Bukit Timah Road were. In fact Duneran Road used to be the routing for the railway track.

Lam Chun See said...

My friend Chuck just informed me that the tulang came from bone of goat not cow.

Anonymous said...


I posted that "anonymous" comment. I checked with my Dad who is now 78. He told me that originally, the hawker was on the other bank of the canal i.e. Sg Univ side. However it was just a makeshift one where the hawkers just set up shop with tables and rickshaw, nothing concrete. The ovt then build one on the other bank as shown in the map.
As shown by yr research, the present one was built in 1974 to replace it. I did not frequent the old centre from 72 onwards as I had dropped badminton bec. of PSLE. I only noticed that the old centre was not there in the 80s when I took buses that passed by it. I visited the present one probably in mid 90s. I did not know that it replaced the old one that was by the canal. However i could not find the hainanese chicken rice store that my dad and i used to frequent.