Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ulu Pandan Heritage Trail (4) – The Short and Winding Road (by Lam Chun See)

If you had to vote for the most ‘winding’ road in Singapore, which would it be? South Buona Vista Road perhaps? My choice would be Old Holland Road. Do you know where that is?

Photo shows where Ulu Pandan Road (left) joins Holland Road (right)

Old Holland Road is actually a side road that joins Ulu Pandan Road and Holland Road. However if you check the street directory, it is listed as Holland Road. But I am very sure it was formerly called Old Holland Road and it led all the way to Bukit Timah Road near the Komoco/Hyundai showroom and opposite the Swiss Club Road. There are a lot of big private bungalows as well as old trees and sharp bends along this short and winding road.

However, this short road has been shortened even further a few years ago. It is now truncated by a huge piece of empty land which I blogged about here. Thus the short and winding road suddenly ends where it crosses a canal.

This is the part where the Old Holland Road was truncated. That short stretch behind the barrier used to lead all the way to the Bukit Timah Road via a winding route that passed through thick vegetation. I used to jog here quite often.

The road in the foreground used to be called Holland Lane and it led to Chinese cemetery and an old temple. Very quiet and eerie. Below is a photo of that temple taken from the National Archives collection.

Today the road is renamed Holland Plain and the temple is called Fong Yun Thai Association (see photo below). Just in front of the entrance to this temple complex, the road makes a 90 degree turn and becomes Holland Link which rises steeply till you come to Old Holland Road again. With this development, I guess they have no choice but to rename the front portion of Old Holland Road back to Holland Road as in the sixties.

Very interesting (and confusing) indeed. I often do my brisk walking exercise here and on more than one occasions encountered drivers who had lost their way; including a couple of taxi drivers!

I used to wonder why this road was called Old Holland Road when it looks more like a side road joining the main road; and it seems as if Holland Road and Ulu Pandan Road are actually one continuous road. I believe some of you may not even know where Ulu Pandan Road ends and where Holland Road begins. But looking at a 1964 street directory, it becomes clearer. In those days, Holland Road and Old Holland Road were one continuous road called Holland Road and Ulu Pandan Road was a side road. According to Peter Chan, it was a non-metalled track which started at Reformatory Road, the old name for Clementi Road. This track was to serve Mowbray Camp which existed prior to WW2.

All the above is only my hypothesis. I hope some reader familiar with this part of Singapore can confirm.

At the junction where the old Old Holland Road joined Ulu Pandan Road and Holland Road (see photo no. 1 above), there used to be two army camps. One was 2SIR which was on the small hill. My elder brother David used to serve his NS (National Service) in the early 70’s here. The other was 1SIR.

Of these two camps, 2 SIR was the more interesting one. A number of interesting ghost stories originated from here. Want to know more. Look out for our next installment coming up soon.


yg said...

chun see,
i think south buona vista road, known as the gap, is more winding than old holland road. in the past, the singapore motor club (smc) used to hold motor cycle sprints along this stretch of road.

old holland road is a quiet and almost deserted road; i remember reading about a young woman jogger who was raped there.

where it joins bukit timah road, there is a restaurant which is popular for its zhi char food.

on race days, when the turf club was there, you would find many taxis parked by the sides of the road outside the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I agree with YG. Both roads are actually quite winding in the past but the bid difference between the two is the steep gradient. Width-wise, both roads can take 2-way traffic but try doing it on South Buona Vista Road, one gets scare. This was especially more so in the 1950s and 1960s when theere was very little vegetation. One wrong move, you go over the clift and the accident-prone area was the valley below Science Park 2.

But then what is a little bit of thrill to warm up the heart-beat before proceeding to Lovers Corner opposite PGP? Old Holland Road was never preferred by lovers because of the fung shui.

Lam Chun See said...

YG. Can you pls confirm that at one time the entire stretch of Holland Road from Ulu Pandan to Bt Timah was called Old Holland Road.

Or anyone with an 80's street directory? Thanks.

yg said...

i cannot confirm that. i know that at ulu pandan end, it was holland road and at bukit timah end, it was old holland road.

the bukit timah end is where forture - now part of the kim san leng group - restaurant is.

i also remember that part of the stretch that has been sealed off was quite narrow and one stretch was actually unsealed road.

today, part of old holland road meets blackmore road, where mgs is.

incidentally, i want to find out from peter what PGP stand for?

Anonymous said...

PGp = Prince George's Park. There used to be a lane that lead to a reservoir. Nice view of Pasir Panjang Sea.

Tom said...

Tom said...
I was talking to a old soldier, and Singapore was brought up in the conversation, he and wife lived there in 1970, he said , lived in a place just of Holland Road, the address was 24, Tamman warna chipbee estate Holland Village.he wonders if it still there?I told him to get on to GMY.

Icemoon said...


You mention about a reservoir. Where exactly is it?

Anonymous said...

Reservoir was(is???) opposite to Chartered Semicon plant at Science Park 1, Stockport. I think behind the reservoir was some park. Very popular with lovers when Mt faber already crowded and u need more space.

Chip Bee the red brick flats are gone to make way for the MRT Station. The landed houses like Jalan Warna, Jalan Kelabu Asap still around. Looking at his address, the landed house is still around.

Tom said...

Tom said...
THanks Peter for the information, about that address, the lad said to me he lived in the Fats, before he move into no. 24, Jalan Warna, I will tell him and his wife that the fats are gone, but house is still there, thanks again Tom.

Icemoon said...


You mean at Marina Hill? Then the park should be part of Kent Ridge Park?

I was confused as I thought there was a reservoir on the PGP side of the gap. I believe you are actually talking about the other side.

Anonymous said...

PGP/Island View side in those could not have been a lover's park. Why? Bcos it was the home for the senior British military officers with the rank of captain and above.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I lived on 'old' Holland Road from 1987 - 1993. From what I can remember, none of the road signs ever said 'old' on them, it was just Holland Road all the way through to Bukit Timah. People just used to call it Old Holland road to help with directions etc. otherwise people just carried on down Ulu Pandan when trying to find it.

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for sharing that information about the name, "Old Holland Road".

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