Friday, April 27, 2012

Memories of Toa Payoh (4) - A sea of blue

I worked for five-and-a-half years in Philips Audio Factory from 1978 to 1984. Initially there were only 2 Philips factories in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh - Video and Audio. These 2 factories were separated by a short road called Toa Payoh West. At that time, it was a no-through road. A pedestrian bridge joined our two factories.

At one stage my office was facing Toa Payoh West; and every evening at 5.45 pm, when the end-of-day siren went off, I was treated to an amazing sight. As the female production operators from both factories poured out into Toa Payoh West, the whole area became a sea of blue; blue being the colour of the Philips uniform. Coupled with the waiting buses and cars, the area was quite chaotic. I doubt Philips employees today can ever see such a sight again because for a number of years now, Philips has ceased its manufacturing operations in Singapore. 

But what is even more amazing was the speed with which the crowded dissipated. By 6 pm, the whole area was all quiet and disserted. 

Subsequently a third factory was added just behind ours. It had a very long name which I cannot recall. I think it was called VOSC – Video Overseas Supply Centre. We simply referred to it as Video 2. I remember that from the windows at the rear section of this factory, one can actually see the mortuary of the nearby Toa Payoh Hospital.  I believe today there are a total of 4 buildings in the huge Philips complex at Toa Payoh. 

Taking a shortcut to work

When I started work at Philips, I used to take the SBS No. 153 (I think) from my home in Farrer Road. This bus took a very long roundabout route. It went through the following roads, Dunearn, Whitley, Thomson, Braddell, Toa Payoh Lorong 6 and then Lorong 1. I would get off at the bus stop near Toa Payoh Rise. 

When I first used the bus stop in Lorong 1 near Toa Payoh Rise, I noticed something quite unusual. I noticed that the pedestrian crossing lights made a loud beeping sound. Later I discovered that there was a school for the blind nearby, and the loud beeping sound was for the benefit of the blind pedestrians. I saw them cross the road occasionally and was very impressed by the confident manner that they navigated along the public roads.  

One day, I noticed some Philips employees disembark at a bus stop along Thomson Road, near to the Polo Club. I found out later that they took a shortcut by walking through the Thomson Secondary School. Occasionally I too took this so-called shortcut. I remember walking through their tuck shop. But this wasn’t a very attractive alternative. The distance we had to walk was quite far and by the time we reached our office, we would be all sweaty and sticky. And we didn’t save much time. 

Today, the Thomson Secondary School is no longer there, but in its place I saw a sign saying SJI International.


MC said...

Well according to my Mum, I was born in TP Hospital. It not there anymore right?

Just the other day I was driving past and notice road widening of TP Rise. I believe when the hospital was there it was not passable to public cars. I think its now going to be possible. Another route in and out of TP, more convienent.

Lam Chun See said...

TP Hospital vanished long ago. If I remember correctly, TP Rise was passable to vehicular traffic in on direction only; not sure which way. Now the road is widened; and still being widened and passable to traffic in both directions.

I think they'll probably build another condo at the grass patch where blk 165 (Hilltop)used stand.

jade said...

TP was also house to the SGS and Fairchild Semiconductor Plants, both were near to Lorong 5 in the 70s. It definitely made TP quite robust and bustling while providing employment
for many residents.

There was also a movie theatre and coffee house near these factories, names of which I don't quite recall. Some of the shops in the location still exist today in the present TP hub which had gone thru' such lot of changes I felt so lost when I last visited TP Central

Lam Chun See said...

Jade. I think Fairchild was at Lor 3. There's also Gecon or General Electric Consumers in Toa Payoh North. I blogged about encounter with Gecon here.

I'll come to TP Central next.

peter said...

I am not familiar with TP estate, perhpas reinforced by the fact that I dont know/dated any girls living there in the first place. My association with TP was usually during lunch hours but even then I ventured out to Thomson Plaza. At that time my office was @SLF Building which faced the Ministry of Community Development. My room had a good view of the Polo Club and quite realisticallyI spent more time gazing outside the window than worrying about where to eat. Every morning I passed by the Philips factory which occupied both side of the road but afte 5pm on my way home, I encountered bus-loads of Malaysian workers who came from as far as Kulai to work @Philips. Because of the buses, there was always congestion.

That is all I have to report Sir!

TheSounDOne said...

Fairchild Semiconductor was renamed as National Semiconductor. That's where I did my IA during poly back in '88.

MC said...

Yes, CS you're right. Fairchild is confirmed on Lor 3. Walked past it many a time.

Anonymous said...

I work at General Electric Consumer, 1000, Toa Payoh North from 1980 and continue till 1997.
During the late eighties, Gecon was acquired by Thomson Audio and I continue to work for Thomson Audio a total of 18 years.
Have met many good friends. It was fun while it lasted.


Anonymous said...

Grew up in Toa Payoh Center. Thanks for the photos which brought back alot of lost memories.

Anonymous said...

For ex Philips staff anyone knows the year when the link bridge between Philips TP1 and TP2 was built?