On 27 June, HDB announced the latest SERS project for Tanglin Halt district. With 31 residential blocks and 8 commercial blocks scheduled for demolition by 2021, this is the largest SERS project announced since 1999.
Tanglin Halt Estate
Tanglin Halt (along with Tanglin Halt Road and Tanglin Halt Close) derived its name from Tanglin Road, which used to extend all the way to Queensway before the late 1940s. In the past, trains along the KTM railway would “halt” at Archipelago Brewery, where Anchorpoint and IKEA now stand. This gave rise to the name “Tanglin Halt”. By now, half of Tanglin Road has been expunged, Archipelago Brewery demolished and the KTM railway removed, leaving few traces of the origins of its name within the district.
Details along the sheltered walkways – telling you which block you are approaching
The other residents of Tanglin Halt
Tanglin Halt was first developed by the SIT, and subsequently by the HDB in the 1960s. Almost all the blocks built by HDB during that period were ten storeys tall. Hence, Tanglin Halt estate was also known among the locals as chap lau (十楼; “ten storeys” in Hokkien).
Blk 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive
This cluster of flats stands out from the rest of the estate due to its regular grid front façade. These 7 flats were announced for SERS in 2008, and by early 2014, all residents had moved out. The replacement flats for the residents are located across the road, at Blk 50 to 54 Commonwealth Drive. The new flats are known as Commonweath 10, although ironically, they are definitely much taller than 10 storeys.
The grid facade
These iconic 10-storey flats were featured on the back of our $1 notes.
Where the PUB Gas tank used to be
Residents of these flats would definitely remember the distinctive PUB gas tank located right next to Block 79. The gas tank was actually part of the Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate.
The estate is now empty and awaiting demolition
Located on the ground floor of Blk 75 is the famous Chin Hin Eating House (振兴餐室), established in 1976. This coffee shop is popular, not just among residents but also taxi drivers who would stop by for a break. I managed to visit it just before its final day of business on 28 February 2014.
Chin Hin Eating House
Constructed: 1961 to 1964
Commonwealth Drive SIT Flats
When SIT first developed Tanglin Halt, lots of 3 and 4-storey flats were built. Most were demolished after HDB took over, and only 9 remain today. They are blocks 57, 61 and 67 to 73, and are currently used as student hostels. They are mostly located along the rail corridor.
Ventilation blocks along the staircase core
It seems that the SIT flats are not included in the latest list of SERS flats. However, the adjacent blocks 55, 56, 58 to 60 and 62 to 66 have not been spared.
The hexagonal-shaped Tanglin Halt Food Centre
There are actually 2 food centres in Tanglin Halt. Tanglin Halt Food Centre, otherwise referred to as Commonwealth Drive Food Centre, is the one consisting of 3 hexagonal-shapes on plan. It is also known as Blocks 1A, 2A and 3A. It was originally two zigzag shapes on plan, with a series of pitched roofs. It was subsequently rebuilt into its current form.
Tanglin Halt Market and Food Centre
There is another Tanglin Halt Road Market and Food Centre, which can be identified as Block 48A. It is a two storey building that dones a vault roof.
The distinctive shophouses of Tanglin Halt
Both food centres are surrounded by two-storey shophouse blocks. The ones around Tanglin Halt Food Centre are unique in that their block numbers were given numerical suffixes (Blocks 46-1, 46-2 and 46-3) instead of alphabetical ones that we commonly see nowadays. Both food centres and the surrounding shophouse blocks will be demolished by 2021.
The distinctive shophouses of Tanglin Halt
Former Queenstown Police Station
Queenstown Police Station, located between Queensway and Tanglin Halt Road, was officially opened in September 1963 by then Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Ong Pang Boon. The two blocks of flats behind the station was originally occupied by the police officers and their families. By the 1990s the building was taken over by the Civil Defence Force. In 2002, the Alexandra Fire Station moved here temporarily while a newer complex was being constructed. A student hostel is currently located there.
Its unclear if the building will survive this round of SERS.
New Town Primary School was originally located on the other side of Commonwealth Ave. In January 2009, it merged with Ghim Moh Primary School and moved to its current location. It stands on the former grounds of Tanglin Integrated Primary School and part of Tanglin Integrated Secondary Technical School (TISTS). Tanglin Integrated Primary School was opened on January 1964, and was subsequently renamed Tanglin Primary School. Its building was typical of the school buildings built in the 1960s – 4 storeys, “H” shaped plan with an extension off its central bar. Similar buildings can be found across the road, in the former campuses of New Town Primary School and New Town Secondary School.
TISTS was officially opened on October 1964 by Mr Ong Pang Boon, who had become the Minister for Education. The school was the first technical school that conducted its lessons in Chinese, and was also the first to admit female students. It was renamed Tanglin Technical Secondary School in 1969, then Tanglin Secondary School in 1993. That year, the school moved to its current location at West Coast Road. In 2016, Tanglin Secondary School will merge with Clementi Woods Secondary School (which in turn was formed by merging Ghim Moh and Jin Tai Secondary School) due to dropping intakes.
From 1993 to 1997, Queenstown Secondary School occupied the old Tanglin Secondary School campus while its own campus at Strathmore Avenue was being upgraded.
Sri Muneeswaran Temple
The Sri Muneeswaran Temple started off as a railway shrine set up by the Indian workers of Malayan Railways in 1932. It was dedicated to the Hindu deity, Sri Muneeswaran, and was a simple attap hut under a banyan tree. It was known as the Muniandy Temple.
On January 1970, a new $7000 temple was opened at the original location, and was known as the Queensway Muneeswaran Temple. The forest between the temple and Queensway was cleared, and a path was opened as well. It was a series of huts lined up along the railway. The temple was unique as it technically stood over an invisible border between Singapore and Malaysian land. The main temple structure stood on land owned by Malayan Railways, while the front garden and the path were within land owned by HDB. The temple had to pay $10 and $12 a year to Malayan Railways and HDB respectively.
A new plot of land along Commonwealth Drive was bought over in 1991, and a newer building was built from 1994 to 1998. The original site was taken over by a road-widening project along Queensway. The new building then went through 3 renovations and expansions, to become what we see today.
I tried searching for information on the exact original location of the temple, but could not find any additional clues to it. It should be near the Queensway Flyover though, as that is where the railway ran alongside Queensway.
Designed by Y. G. Dowsett
Conserved: Since 2005
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
This iconic church is best recognised by its dramatic slate roof that is designed to resemble a tent, symbolising the “tent of meeting” in the Old Testament. The locals refer to it as the “origami church”. Slits of glass panels are located under the folds on the roof, allowing sunlight to enter the interior. The roof is currently blue in colour, although it used to be dark grey.
The “origami” roof of the church
The symbol of the cross is prominently featured in its design, from its cruciform-shaped plan to the Celtic cross at the main altar. There used to be a miniature farm in the church compounds, where animals such as monkeys and goats were kept. However, the farm has been removed since 2003.
Given its conservation status, the church will most likely remain as an important landmark and religious venue amidst the redevelopment of Tanglin Halt.
Constructed: 2002 to 2003
Faith Methodish Church
Faith Methodish Church started off as a Methodist Chapel in 1964, and services were conducted in an open field before the building was completed in 1967. It was named after Faith Goh, the daughter of Dr and Mrs Goh Kok Kee, who donated to the Church’s building fund. The original building was a simple brick building with a gabled roof. It was renovated twice before being demolished in 2002 to make way for a much larger, $12 million complex.
Demolished: Late 1980s to early 2000s
Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate
When Tanglin Halt Estate was first developed, an industrial estate was also planned by the Economic Development Board (EDB) to provide job opportunities to the residents. The light industrial estate was managed by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), and flourished from the 1960s to the 1980s. Other than the gas tank next to Block 79, the industrial estate also housed numerous factories that left an impression on the residents.
What’s left of the industrial estate
Sheng Huo Enterprise Ltd was the manufacturer of the famous Van Houten chocolate, and residents of Tanglin Halt could remember the aroma of chocolate coming from the factory.
Goh Sin Huat Electrical Pte Ltd is currently located in Kaki Bukit
Setron TV Factory was located at a prominent location, at the junction of Commonwealth Avenue and Commonwealth Drive. Its unique roof served as a landmark for vehicles entering Tanglin Halt. Singapore’s first black and white television set was produced in this factory. Haw Par Technocentre currently stands on this location. It is also the only building left in the entire industrial estate. For the remaining factories, only remnants of the fences and gates remain.
Haw Par Technocentre, where Setron TV Factory once stood
File Last Updated: July 29, 2014