Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bukit Timah Heritage Trail 2 – Floral Mile/Newton Circus (cont’d)

I left out two items in my previous post – ACS and the Fringe Car Park. ACS was left out because, unlike Whitley and Swiss Cottage, it is still there, but then I realize there has been some interesting changes from 1960’s. As for the fringe car park, I simply forgot.

Floral Mile Sketch (updated)

1) Fringe Car Park

The piece of land occupied by the Raffles Town Club used to be a huge car park. It was built as part of the failed Park-and-Ride scheme which was introduced as part of the Area Licensing Scheme of 1975. To encourage people to take public transport into the Central Business District, the government set aside some big car parks outside the CDB. The idea was for you to park your car there and then take a shuttle bus to work. Besides this one, I can think of two others: one at Dempsey Road, where the former CMPB (Central Manpower Base) was, and the other at the National Stadium. See photo of the fringe car park at Dempsey Road on the right.

The scheme turned out to be not very popular and the car parks were largely empty. They became better known for their durians stalls.

2) Anglo Chinese School

In 1999, the ACS campus at Dunearn Road was being rebuilt. At that time there was a great deal of protests against the tearing down of the iconic clock tower which held a special place in the hearts of many generations of ACS old boys or ‘ACSians’ as they called themselves.

During the few years of construction, the primary and secondary school were relocated temporarily to other campuses. My son was studying in ACS Primary and they had to shift to the school building at Ah Hood Road. I believe it was previously occupied by Kuo Chuan School.

Let’s see now. What can I tell you about the old ACS campus that was different from today. Well the biggest change as visible from the outside was the removal of the Barker Road Methodist Church. Previously, it was situated just beside the school, to its left side. There was a narrow winding road that led up to the church from Dunearn Road. All my years in ACS, I never step into the church grounds, even though I was often curious about what it was like inside a church. The other big change was the removal of the huge field and car park next to the main road. It is now occupied by a multi-storey car park and building. I have been to the cafeteria there a couple of times to meet up with old school mates, but I have never been inside the new campus.

But I am really glad I did not make the same mistake with ACS as I did for NJC. For many years, I lived near to the old NJC campus at Linden Drive. I often drove pass it, and still do; and had thought of dropping in just to see how the school was like. But being the procrastinator that I am, I never did. Then one day, as if overnight, the NJC campus was gone and in its place stood a completely new school; the Nanyang Girls School. That was my big regret.

So when the time came to register my son for primary 1 class at ACS, I took the opportunity to wander around the premises and try to recollect what it was like all those long decades ago. I made a special effort to explore the clock tower. One particular block brought back memories of a funny incident that happened when I was in Secondary 2. The year would be 1966.

At that time, the school had a strange system whereby during the morning session, it was occupied by ACS but for the afternoon session, it was occupied by a Chinese school. One afternoon, I had stayed back after class for some reason. Suddenly I had an upset stomach and needed to use the toilet. And so I rushed back to the toilet next to my classroom in Sec 2C. After ‘doing my business’, I had to walk pass my class to get out of the block. I noticed many of the student laughing as I walked pass. Do you know why?

The Chinese school which occupied our premises in the afternoon was a co-ed (mixed; boys and girls) whereas ACS was a boys school. Apparently, our toilet automatically became a girls toilet during the afternoon session!

You should feel privileged because you are the first people to hear this story in more than forty years.

Links to Area Licensing Scheme

1) Infopedia

2) Times of Your Life: ALS to ERP


Anonymous said...

The ALS allows 4 person in a car to enter the CBD for free. I remembered talking a lift in my friend's car and he will drive to Newton Circus to pick up additional 2 passengers to make up the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Jakarta adopted our idea. So the funny situations like what Chuck said, are still "available" in that city. On Jalan Jend Sudirman, around the Senayan Stadium and Jkt Hilton or the Chartered Bank area, people will wait for you but you need to tip them (something which we dont do in Singapore). Cant remember exactly how much but I think was 1K or 2K Rp.

If you come through the toll roads into "pusat" you still need to pay the ALS or pay people to sit in your car/Kijang


Anonymous said...

Peter... latest info from Indonesian friend : A car require 4 people to go into the city centre and 4 people required to be seen if the car is driven out of Jakarta city centre. So not sure if tipping passengers to get in and out of the city centre is worth it.

Anonymous said...

My brother David, who work in Jakarta for a couple of years, related that there was a very innovation way of earning money in the capital. A guy would sneak up to a car jammed in the traffic. He would brazenly tell the driver to hand over some money to him, otherwise the rock he was holding would crash onto his car windscreen - desperate chaps.

Anonymous said...

Surprised to read that the idea of fringe car parking did not work. Here in Cambridge we have five very large 'Park and Ride' facilities on all the main roads into the city, they are well used because of the limited car parking in the city itself and people take reasonably cheap and regualr buses into the city centre from them. I think they are considered essential now having started about 1990.

Anonymous said...

Actually from my experience living in Jkt, no point to go home early. How to with traffic congestion. My apartment was 2km from Shangrila Hotel yet driver took 45 mins, sometimes 1 hour. Bcos I know short-cut through cemetery ground and sidelands, can achieve in record-breaking time of 45 mins. But very giddy after that!!!

So ppl tend to chill-out at bars, Netcafes and what nots until about 9.30pm then go home.

Ivan Chew said...

Hey cool, Chun See! You're using a Infopedia resource as reference. My NLB colleagues will be delighted!

Victor said...

Brian - Actually S'pore still has many fringe car parks that are quite popular today. Most of these are multi-storey car parks near MRT stations. A few are open air car parks.

We now call it Park-and-Ride Scheme. We even have a scheme whereby drivers can buy a monthly package car-parking ticket plus bus fare/mrt ticket, costing $75 - very reasonable, considering how much it costs to drive into the city during peak hours today.

Victor said...

You can read about our Park-and-Ride Scheme here.

Anonymous said...

thanks Victor - I could not believe that Spore has not adopted (early) a good idea to deal with the car issue. We hear a lot about Spore's experiments with traffic control measures.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Yong Nyuk Lim the then Minister for Communications was given the title of "7 Million Dollar Man" over the ALS carparks because there was a TV program by the title "6 Million Dollar man".

rentacardubai said...

Every time I see a classic car on the road, it's like a little piece of history rolling by. It's amazing how they evoke nostalgia and admiration all at once.

rentacardubai said...

Have you ever noticed how certain cars seem to have their own personalities? It's like they're more than just machines—they're companions on the road, each with its own quirks and character. It's one of the things that makes being a car enthusiast so much fun!