Duchess Estate

As a follow up to my first post about Duchess Estate/Margaret Drive, I revisited the place recently, after most of the demolition took place. The first post was updated with new photos, while the places in Duchess Estate that I missed out will be covered here.

The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship (former Golden City Theatre) 02
These benches used to be placed all over the estate; now they are piled in front of the church

Former Venus & Golden City Theatres 金都戏院、金城戏院
Constructed: 1965
Status: Found

Church of Our Saviour (former Venus Theatre) 01
On the left, where the cross is, was where the name of the theatre was displayed – “Venus” and “金都”; billboards were placed on the façade on the right

These 2 theatres were originally planned by SIT to be located at Dundee Road. However, when HDB took over, the plans were changed to locate them closer to the neighbourhood centre. They specialised in Taiwanese movies and kungfu flicks. Neighbouring school would also hold their graduation ceremonies in the theatres.

Church of Our Saviour (former Venus Theatre) 02
Venus Theatre – now Church of Our Saviour

However, business dwindled within less than 20 years, and they were closed in 1984. The 2 buildings are now occupied by the Church of Our Saviour and The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship respectively.

The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship (former Golden City Theatre) 01
Golden City Theatre – now The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship
The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship (former Golden City Theatre) 03
The former box office and entrance

Those familiar with Singapore xinyao songs (新谣) would definitely remember Dr Liang Wern Fook’s “Singapore Pie” (新加坡派). In the song, the lyric goes:

“……

旧家的戏院建在六十年代
我钻在人群里看明星剪彩
那时候粤语片是一片黑白
有些来新加坡拍

……

我们已搬家住得舒服自在
旧戏院变成教堂做礼拜
有时我独自回到旧地感怀
惦记那昔日小孩

……”

The two bolded lines read: “the theatres at my old house were built in the 1960s”; “the old theatres were converted into churches.” Dr Liang lived in Queenstown for 23 years when he was young, and these 2 lines in the song refer to Venus and Golden City Theatres.

Jalan Penjara Flats
Status: Lost

Jalan Panjara 01
Jalan Panjara 03
Jalan Penjara

The area bounded by Jalan Penjara used to a cluster of flats – Blk 15 to Blk 25 (while Blk 7 to Blk 14 were located around the polyclinic and library). There are now 2 stretches of Jalan Penjara. The curved stretch that leads to the Queenstown Remand Prison was the first stretch to be constructed, while the straighter stretch that leads to Garden Hub @ Margaret Drive (originally the HDB nursery; subsequently known as Queens Townclub) was added on later.

Jalan Panjara 02
There used to be a car park behind the library, together with Blk 11 and Blk 12

Penjara means “prison” in Malay, hence the road name might be referring to the Remand Prison that used to be along the road.

Jalan Panjara 04
The car park is most likely the original one from the estate. It was surrounded by Blks 21 to 24

All the flats have been demolished for quite some time.

Queenstown Remand Prison
Constructed: 1963 to 1966
Status: Lost
Demolished: 2010

Queenstown Remand Prison 01
The empty plot of land along Jalan Penjara that once stood the Queenstown Remand Prison

The Queenstown Remand Prison was built to ease overcrowding problems at Outram Prison. During its service, it housed several famous inmates, including Michael Fay, opposition leader Dr Chee Soon Juan and celebrity Christopher Lee. It was torn down in 2010.

Queenstown Community Centre
Status: Lost
Demolished: 2012

Queenstown CC (Former) 01
The branch road off Margaret Drive that leads to the former Queenstown CC on the left

The Queenstown CC was originally located at Margaret Drive, before merging with Alexandra CC and moving over to its current location at Commonwealth Avenue. The old building was last occupied by the New Optometry and Ocular Care Centre (NOOCC), before being demolished at the end of 2012.

Blk 27A Commonwealth Ave
Status: Lost
Demolished: 2011

Blk 27A Commonwealth Ave 01
The only clear photo of Blk 27A I have – taken from the start of Alexandra Canal Linear Park

Blk 27A is the sole block of flats that used to stand next to Queenstown MRT Station. It was selected for SERS together with Blk 6C Margaret Drive and Blk 39A Commonwealth Ave. These 3 were the last surviving blocks of flats in the entire area.

Blk 27A Commonwealth Ave 02
Blk 27A Commonwealth Ave 03
After demolition, the once well-shaded stretch of road is exposed to the scorching sun

The residents from these 3 blocks were relocated to the new cluster of flats at the junction of Dawson Road and Strathmore Ave, next to Queenstown Secondary School.

Former Queenstown Driving Centre
Constructed: 1969
Status: Found

Queenstown Driving Centre
Former Queenstown Driving Centre

The Queenstown Driving Centre was the second driving centre in Singapore, after the one at Maxwell Road. It was larger than the one at Maxwell, and was able to hold Class 1 and Class 2 vehicles. The “L” plate cars would be parked along Commonwealth Ave, in front of Blk 27A.

In 1997, the driving centre was closed, and Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre took over the building. In 2005, the police centre moved to Alexandra Road, within the premises of HQ 1st CD Division, and the building was subsequently leased out as private offices.

Setron Building
Status: Lost

Setron Building 01
Setron Building entrance at Dundee Road

At the end of Dundee Road once stood Setron Building. I don’t actually remember much about it, even though it seems to be demolished only in recent years. Currently, only the entrance gate remains.

Setron Building 02
Now an empty plot of land

Blks 41 to 49 Stirling Road
Constructed: Late 1950s to 1960
Status: Found

Stirling Road HDB Flats 01
Stirling Road – flanked by Blk 48 & Blk 49
Stirling Road HDB Flats 02
The first HDB flats in Singapore – marking the transition from SIT to HDB

When SIT was dissolved in 1959, the terrace houses in this cluster were just completed, while the high rise flats (Blks 45, 48 & 49) were built halfway. HDB then took over and completed these 3 blocks. Hence, these 3 blocks can be considered the first HDB flats in Singapore.

Stirling Road HDB Terrace House 01
Stirling Road HDB Terrace House 02
Stirling Road terrace houses

Today, the 3 blocks are mainly rented out to poorer residents, while the terrace houses have been rising in popularity as they are some of the only remaining HDB terrace houses left.

Ridout Tea Garden
Designed by HDB
Constructed: 1970
Status: Found

Ridout Tea Garden 01
Ridout Tea Garden

Ridout Tea Garden and the nearby Ridout Road were named after Major-General Sir D. H. Ridout, the highest-ranking military officer in the Straits Settlement during WWI. The Japanese style garden was constructed by HDB as part of the landscaping features in the satellite town. In 1978, a major fire broke out in the row of shops. The fire fighters ran out of water despite the heavy downpour, and had to use water from the pond to put out the fire.

Ridout Tea Garden 03
The garden features a pond with a footbridge. Turtles can be found in the pond
Ridout Tea Garden 02
The McDonald’s restaurant has a non-air-conditioned area and an air-conditioned area

Today, a 24 hour McDonald’s restaurant stands in the garden, and is a favourite haunt among residents and students from adjacent schools.

The following map shows all the buildings demolished in the area around Margaret Drive, including those mentioned in this post and the previous, and others not highlighted. From Blk 1 to 40 (Blk 41 continues at Stirling Road), only Blk 38 remains today.

File Last Updated: October 24, 2015

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