Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Tour

We have never gone on a Heritage Trail as a family, so we were glad for the opportunity to do so with MyCommunity last Saturday, when MyCommunity, together with The Other Sites of Singapore (TOSS) and Queenstown Citizens’ Consultative Committee launched the Dawson and Alexandra Tour.

Our tour guide was Lip Sin, and he spoke to us through these audio devices.

QHT - Video Receiver

It was very effective. Samuel loved it. He said, “This is fun”.
He loved being like a big boy.

The tour took us approximately three hours. We took the following routes. 

Alexandra Dawson Trail (1.2)

We started from the Queenstown MRT station, and went to the Church of the Good Shepherd.
After that, we went to Forfar Heights, and proceeded to the Princess House.
Then we walked towards Dawson Road.

Alexandra Dawson Trail (2)

We walked along Dawson road, past the beautiful Skyville@Dawson and turned into Kay Siang Road.
We looked at an old running track of the old Hua Yi Boys Chinese Medium School and did some off-road exploration.

Alexandra Dawson Trail (3.1)

Finally, we all took a bus to Tiong Ghee Temple, and then walked to Blk 168A Queensway.

We had to leave the trail after Blk 168A as we needed to be somewhere else. The rest of the tour group went on to Alexandra Hospital before they were ferried back to Queenstown MRT station.

Here are the highlights of our trail:-

Church of our good shepherd

This was our first stop.
Lip Sin told us that in the 1950s, the Government gave out 11 plots of land for religious purposes.
Nine plots were taken up by Churches.

Forfar Heights

Forfar House was once the tallest public residential housing in Singapore.
It was built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) (pre-HDB days) and opened on 24 Oct 1956.
It has now been replaced by Forfar Heights, which is quite a pretty estate.
We met some residents who told us about their lives in Queenstown in the past and now.

 

Princess House

The third stop – Princess House, now called Blk 332 Alexandra Road.
It was the former HQ for HDB, and hosted foreign dignitaries such as Prince Philip (QEII’s husband),
Princess Margaret (who lent her name to the estate) and Edward Heath (PM for UK).
It became the office for Ministry of Environment in 1972.
One participant shared about what it was like
when he worked in Princess House (Ministry of Environment).
There was a Co-operative which sold groceries and household items at a cheaper price.
It opened in the afternoon and he used to visit it after work to make purchases.
It was meant for Queenstown residents but people who lived elsewhere went to buy things from there too.
He said there would often be long queues.
Looks like our national strength of queuing was developed right from the early days.
Lip Sin also told us about the Hock Lee Bus Riots
– the place where the bus drivers did the sit-in was nearby.

 

Hua Yi Boys Chinese Medium School

This is the “Hua Yi Boys Chinese Medium School”
(you can see the words printed on the school building in the photo held up by Lip Sin.)
Samuel says this is his favourite part of the trail.
He said he can run around it (although he was doing nothing of that sort, but snacking instead…).
Another participant told us an interesting personal story.
He said that his wife (then girlfriend) and he used to have dates at the running track!
He said that they must have climbed over the school fence! Lol!

 

Kay Siang Road Exploration

This was a relatively new “discovery”, Li Hong from MyCommunity told me.
It was Elias’ favourite part of the trail.
We had to walk through a short forested area, to two old army buildings.
The first had only the wall left, and the second was a small building with a dark and damp enclosed space.
There is apparently a third building, further in.
Elias said it is not likely to be an Army building. He gave some reasons. Hmm..
It sounds quite plausible. I would go along with him (But of course! I am his mother).

 

Tiong Ghee Temple

This is Tiong Ghee Temple.
Some verbal history about the place from Li Hong :
In 1928 the Ang family bought 7 acres of land in the area, and built it up.
They did not want to go to Chinatown or Geylang because it was too crowded there.
Li Hong also interviewed Mr Ang, whose forebears were among the first settlers.
Sadly, he had to move out of his childhood home during the resettlement. He now stays in Choa Chu Kang.

 

BLk 168A Queensway

This was our last stop.
We met Mr Fernandez who has been staying in the block for 40 years.
He said that he had applied for a flat at Farrer Road but was given this instead.
He grabbed it because at that time, getting a flat was like finding a needle in a haystack.
When he first moved in, there were cracks in the flat.
That was because the Government was in a great hurry to build as many flats as possible.
He had to spend much money on repairs, and he was quite angry at that time.

I did not know there was so much history in Queenstown. I used to work near Kay Siang Road, and I never knew there was a forested area nearby. We often drive past Blk 168 Alexandra, just opposite the Fire station and we did not know its history. It was really nice hearing from the residents, especially the older ones. The guides are volunteers who are really passionate and enthusiatic and they are always prepared to answer questions which we had.

It was certainly a very informative tour worth spending the time to do. There are lots to look at and experience, and because a lot of the information is given in an audio form, do pay close attention to the narration to catch every juicy detail.

My children aged 9, 13+, 15 went along, so older children will be able to appreciate it, although they got a bit tired near the end. Do drink lots of water and put on insect repellent for the forest trail.

The Queenstown Heritage Trail is conducted every last Saturday of the month. Those who are interested may visit the website – www.myqueenstown.event brite.sg, e-mail myqueenstown@gmail.com or call Queenstown Community Centre at 64741681.

Read more about the heritage trail from:-

In the Wee hours
Lil Blue Bottle
Missus Tay’s Journal
Life’s Tiny Miracles
A Juggling Mom

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One Response to “Dawson and Alexandra Heritage Tour

  • Thank you for sharing the Heritage Trail . I am quite familiar with some of the places that are featured in the trail and brings back good memories when I was a child residing at Alexandra.