Friday, November 07, 2008

Schools @ Tiong Bahru

Last month, my youngest daughter set for the ‘O’ levels Japanese exam at the Tiong Bahru Exams Centre at Lower Delta Road. I went to fetch her after her paper. I arrived early and so I parked my car at the open car park next to it - at the junction of Alexandra Road and Lower Delta Road.

Then I spotted this interesting old building. I have a question for you guys; and this is not a quiz question because I do not know the answer. What building is this?

Recently, YG mentioned in his blog that many schools in Singapore have moved into new premises relinquishing their premises to other users. For example, in Serangoon Gardens there used to be a school called Serangoon Garden Technical School. It was very much in the news recently because the government wants to convert the buildings into a dormitory for foreign workers giving rise to many objections from the nearby residents.

In the map below, you can see the Tiong Bahru Exams Centre (SEAB) and the PSB Academy across the road at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee. Both were formerly occupied by schools. Do you know what schools these were?

I have been to this Tiong Bahru Exam Centre quite a few times before. I drove my wife there to collect the O Levels Biology practical exam materials. It was usually early in the
morning and still quite dark; but already lots of cars and taxis were there for the same purpose. Interesting.

Incidentally, the PSB Academy used to be part of the National Productivity Board. At that time it was called the Institute for Productivity Training or IPT, and yours truly was one of the department managers there.
Update (09 Nov 2008)
Here's the answer to those 2 quesitons.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure what was the use of the building but I do know that the site was once a sewerage treatment plant. At that time back in the 1960sm, there was no road which linked Tiong Bahru Road to Alexandra Road.

There were large circular-looking concrete tanks filled with granite aggregates. In each tank, there was a long metal pipe with water dripping all the time as it turned round and round the tank.

Lam Chun See said...

I remember as a kid seeing this sewerage plant whenever we visited our relative who lived in Redhill. Quite smelly right?

My relavtives flat must be SIT and not HDB becos I was very young then. That was when I saw them using the string and pail method to purhcase food from the ground floor shops - something Victor blogged about early in his blog.

Lam Chun See said...

I didn't know the sewerage plant was at this location.

Anonymous said...

My late father told me that it was called "Sewerage Farm" and was built before WW2. It was to serve Tiong Bahru SIT Estate, a military cantonment at Prince Charles Avenue and the army depot (Hewlett-Packard factory now) at Depot Road.

There were 2 sites for this sewerage plant; the one in your map and the other diagonally opposite at the corner of Tiong Bahru Road and what is now the new Lower delta Road (towards Jalan Membina Barat)

yg said...

peter is right. there were these sewarage circular tanks near jalan membina barat. when i visited my uncles and aunties, who continued to live in tiong bahru after the big fire, i could see the tanks and smell the sewage.

seab (s'pore exams & assessment board) has two centres. the one along lower delta road used to be tiong bahru sec sch. the admin centre of seab is along jalan bt ho swee. i think - i am not very sure - it occupies the premises of the former bt ho swee pri sch.
psb academy was either bt ho swee sec or delta sec.

Anonymous said...

Delta sec used to stand at the current psb academy ground.

Anonymous said...

When I was a little kid I remember seeing the sewerage plant.It was then located at the site opposite Tiong Bahru Plaza. The design of the sewerage plant was circular and it contained tons of human waste. It was constantly kept moist by water rotating mechanism.Most people were seen holding their breath whenever they passed the place.

Anonymous said...

Although I lived in a landed property, I was brought up as a "farm boy". It was my duty every morning to walk around the garden to look for dog-shit. I had to collect them and dumped into one corner of our garden to dry them in the sun. I used watering can to "wash" the dog-shit prior to sunning. Once sunned and hardened I had to mix them with black soil. The end-result = plant fertilizer which was used for our fruit trees - chiku, rambutan and papaya. The harvested fruits had such sweet flavour but I am not sure whether it was due to the man-made fertilizer or not. So I was not terrified by the stench from those sewerage treatment plants. There used to be one at Ulu Pandan in Clementi West Estate, behind Clementi Park. Not sure whether still there.

Lam Chun See said...

I have just added a 1981 map showing those 2 schools. But I don't remember seeing that food centre near the road junction.

Lam Chun See said...

Hey. None of you able to tell me what that building is?

Anonymous said...

Chun See,
There were 2 such bdlgs and form a part of the sewerage farm. The one in your photo was a store house facing Delta House. The other was nearer to Henderson Road. In-between were the round sewerage tanks.

Have u heard the word "septic tank". I often heard this word used to describe the concrete tanks built in the housing estate to collect all the human waste before sending it to the sewerage works; something like pooling together all the human waste from the different households.

yg said...

chun see, i went to the same car-park (entrance from alexandra rd) to have a look at the old building, with bird nest ferns and trees growing on its roof. where delta house now stands was the s'pore steam laundry. could the old building be the old sub-station? the newer structure next to it is a sub-station for the alexandra incinerator.

Anonymous said...

Hi, chanced upon your blog and read this entry. My grandparents used to run a stall in the canteen of Delta Circus school till the late 80s (name of school may have changed by then).

My grandfather would pick me up after my Nursery classes at YWCA, Outram Road and bring me over to the stall.

I remember sitting behind the stall on little stools watching my grandmother selling food to the hungry students while I eat.

Thanks for bringing me back down on memory lane!

Anonymous said...


I had my secondary education at Tiong Bahru Secondary School from 1969 - 1972, ie the same site where SEAB is now. I remember that one of my classmate stays in the school compound. Her father is a jaga of the the school and the whole family stays with him in a small house just after the school main gate. There is Delta Circus
Primary School on the left. Across
the road are Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School and Bukit Ho Swee
Technical School.

Kar Heng said...

Hi, may I invite u to join us at TBSS group at


Kar Heng

Lam Chun See said...

Kar Heng. Thanks for the invitation. I suppose it is extended more to some of the readers here like Peter and Victor than to me. TB is really not my 'territory'. Never lived here, or worked here except for those King's Theatre days.

Nowadays, only go there ocassionally for lunch with my PSB friends. Very difficult to find parking :(

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Bt Ho Swee Estate. The heavy vehicle park was one of several fringe carparks at which motorists were encouraged to leave their car and then take buses to their workplaces. I think the litle brick building was used by the carpark wardens as a rest area and to store supplies. BTW the fringe carpark idea came from S. Dhanabalan. Never worked, though. This particular one used to flood whenever it rained heavily.

Unknown said...

I thought Fringe carpark was the idea of the then Minister Yong York Lin? Yes, I can recall that the little brickhouse is the depot office for City Shuttle Bus Service.

Lam Chun See said...

Without checking, I would say that the Fringe Car Park / CBD idea was from Yeo Ning Hong. So now we have 3 different answers. Haha. Strange how time plays tricks with our memories.

peter said...

No lah CS. It's that Yong Nguk LIn whom many call him to be the 6 million dollar man, not the bionic man but the man who "wasted" govt money with his crazy park n ride scheme.