East Coast Park should be a familiar location to all Singaporeans. This man-made beach has been a popular recreational destination for locals and visitors alike, ever since its completion in the 1970s. However, beyond the bicycle rental shops and the barbeque pits, how much are we aware of the other landmarks in this 15km long park?
East Coast Park
East Coast Park is built entirely on reclaimed land. It was developed and managed by the Parks and Trees Unit of PWD, which became the Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) in 1975 (predecessor of NParks). Today, the 15km East Coast Park is divided into 8 areas. Area A is located closest to the city centre, while Area H is at the easternmost tip, next to the NSRCC Golf Course. However, the naming of the areas wasn’t always so straightforward. As the entire park was developed in stages, the naming was also done in stages. The first stretch to be developed was between the city centre and the Bedok Jetty, and it was decided that the naming was done from east to west, i.e. the area around Bedok Jetty was to be called Area A, while Area F is closest to the city centre. When the area east of Bedok Jetty was developed, it became known as Area AA. Eventually, the park extended even further eastwards, and the PRD decided to use G and H, in order to avoid using a longer string of A’s. As a result, the areas are not named in running alphabetical order. In May 1987, the areas were finally renamed from west to east, as we know it today.
East Coast Park
The barbeque pits also faced a similar problem, with the first 60 pits numbered 1 to 60 westwards, from the lagoon towards Tanjong Rhu, while 61 and 92 are located east of the lagoon. They were also renumbered from west to east in February 1987.
The barbeque pits
The underpass at East Coast Lagoon – the very first underpass to be completed
There are a total of 10 underpasses connecting East Coast Park to the other side of ECP. The westernmost underpass is located at Area B, connecting East Coast Park to Katong Park, while the easternmost underpass is at Area H. The first underpass to be completed was the one at East Coast Lagoon, in 1975, and two more (at the Chinese Swimming Club and Katong Park) were completed in the same year. Three more underpasses were built within the next year – at Neptune Court, Marine Terrace HDB Estate and Tanjong Katong. By the 1980s, the remaining underpasses were completed.
The underpass at Marine Terrace
Most of the underpasses are relatively narrow with low ceilings, by today’s standards, creating rather oppressive enclosed spaces that are uncomfortable to walk through even in the day, let alone at night. It is thus not surprising for some of these underpasses to be deemed haunted.
For a less “echoey” access across ECP, there is also an overhead bridge connecting the Siglap Park Connector (along Siglap Canal) to Area C of East Coast Park.
Constructed: 1978 to 1980
Plans for a crocodilarium at East Coast Park were first announced in 1977, when the development of East Coast Park was underway. It opened in 1981, and was hailed as the largest crocodile enclosure in Southeast Asia, but barely survived 2 decades. It was closed and demolished in the early 2000s. The only surviving remnant of the crocodilarium is the carpark, which is still operating today next to carpark B1 (near the Katong Park underpass).
Long before Adventure Cove Waterpark, Wild Wild Wet and Fantasy Island were established, there were two other aquatic centres in Singapore. The first aquatic centre to be opened in Singapore was the Big Splash, located in East Coast Park. It was developed and managed by Singapore Aquatic Sports Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Goldhill Properties. The second, Mitsukoshi Garden in Jurong, was managed by Jurong Watersports Complex Pte Ltd, which Goldhill Properties also had a share in.
As the “pioneer” aquatic centre, Big Splash was an ambitious development. The $6 million, 2.8 hectare development boasted a set of 85m long, 17m high water slides (the longest and highest in the world at that time), a wave pool which featured waves as high as 1m, a 230m long flow pool, an air-conditioned restaurant, an open-air theatre and so on. All the pools were filled with sea water, and give sand bottoms, to recreate the effects of a beach.
The pools were conerted to carparks
Although Big Splash was more popular and lasted longer than Mitsukoshi Garden, its popularity eventually declined. In 2006, it was closed for a 2-year redevelopment. The waterpark was closed down, the iconic slides were removed, and the pools were filled up and converted to carparks. Since 2008, Big Splash became established as a commercial and F&B venue.
The Road Safety Community Park
The Road Safety Community Park is probably part of our collective memories as students. For one way, we had the chance to role play as different road users – pedestrians, motorists (on go-karts rather than cars, of course), bicycles and even road marshals (usually by prefects or uniformed group members) – to learn about road safety. The park features miniature versions of various traffic features, such as overhead bridges, zebra crossings and traffic lights, allowing students to simulate various traffic conditions.
The Road Safety Community Park
The $1.3 million park was initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1979, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Traffic Police and the Public Works Department. It is built on a site originally planned for an Orchard Garden, which was scrapped as the soil was found to be unsuitable. When it was first opened, only students whose schools were scheduled by MOE were allowed to enter. From 1985 onwards, the park was opened to the public on weekends. Today, the park is accessible all day round.
Tan Chong Motors was one of the sponsors for this park
Amber Beacon Tower
The Amber Beacon Tower is another “infamous” site on East Coast Park that is shrouded in urban legends. The origin of the stories is an unsolved case that occurred in 1990, where a couple was stabbed by two unknown attackers, resulting in the death of the female. The attackers were never identified or caught. Since then, tales of hauntings began to spread, supposedly by the restless soul of the victim.
Urban legends aside, the tower actually serves an important role, not so much to the users of the park but to incoming ships. As the name suggests, it is intended to be a beacon – to direct ships approaching Singapore off the east coast. The name Amber may be named after the nearby Amber Road, which in turn is named after Amber Elias, the mother of Joseph, Ezra and Issac Elias, who were land owners who owned property in the vicinity. The alternative meaning of the word “amber” might have inspired the yellow coat of painting given to the tower, which in turn inspired its other name – the “Yellow Tower”.
Designed by Lim Chong Kooi of Akitek Regional
The East Coast Recreation Centre was opened in 1982, housing 17 squash courts. The first major event held there was the World Junior Team Squash Championship, in February the same year. Other facilities include a remote control car race track, an indoor golf course, and 3 racketball courts.
The most well-known attraction of the centre, however, is the McDonald’s outlet. It featured a drive-thru facility (the first such outlet with a drive-thru in Singapore), and subsequently added a skate-thru (the first ever McDonald’s skate-thru in the world). This outlet was also notably the first 24-hour outlet in Singapore.
Other facilities were added in the later years, most notably the bowling alley known was Marine Bowl.
The centre was later renamed Marine Cove in the 2000s, before being demolished in 2012 to make way for a newer development. A new McDonald’s outlet was opened in 2011 in the East Coast Seafood Centre, seemingly as a replacement to the Marine Cove outlet, but did not last long. The new Marine Cove is slated to open in mid-2016, and McDonald’s is expected to return.
The Raintree Cove is located next to Marine Cove. Like its neighbour, Raintree Cove houses a fast food outlet (Burger King) and sports facilities. It was originally known as the Singapore Tennis Centre. The tennis courts have since been converted into futsal courts. Other notable tenants include Long Beach Seafood Restaurant’s main outlet and Ju Shin Jung East Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant.
By 2017, this iconic pitched-roof building will be demolished as well, removing yet another familiar meeting point along East Coast Park.
Constructed: 1974 to 1977
Goldkist Beach Resort
As part of the masterplan to turn East Coast Park into a seaside holiday resort, a cluster of holiday chalets were built by the Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC). A total of 110 units were constructed in 2 phases, housed in 19 red brick buildings of 1 to 2 storeys. An administrative block was also built in the centre of the compound. These chalets replaced those demolished in Changi, probably due to the construction of Changi Airport.
Goldkist Beach Resort
The chalets were strategically located near the other facilities along East Coast Park, with recreational facilities such as Big Splash, East Coast Recreational Centre and Singapore Tennis Centre to the west, and the lagoon (along with the F&B establishments around it) to the east. As such, facilities within the chalets were kept to a minimal, to avoid duplication and to keep the prices affordable.
Goldkist Beach Resort
Although each unit could technically only house 4 people, the low prices and sea views were major pull factors for large student groups looking for venues for barbeques and overnight parties, even if this means cramming a lot of people in the tiny rooms.
Goldkist Beach Resort
The HUDC Holiday Chalets were subsequently known as the UDMC Holiday Chalets in the 1980s, following the name change of HUDC. In 2002, it was bought over by NTUC Club, and was operated by Resort Concept Pte Ltd. The chalets became known as Costa Sands Resorts (East Coast). In 2006, following the expiring of the lease, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) took over the chalets, and operated it under the name East Coast Resort. By then, occupancy rates have dwindled, with only 1/3 of its rooms filled up.
Goldkist Beach Resort
One year later, SLA awarded the tenancy of the chalets to Goldkist International (S) Pte Ltd, which initially planned to rename it Island Park Resort. However, the chalets eventually became known as GoldKist Beach Resort. Attempts by Goldkist to revitalise the resort failed to improve on the dwindling visitor levels, and reports of poor maintenance further plagued the resort. It eventually closed down in 2015. Today, the cluster of red brick buildings remains vacant, awaiting plans for redevelopment.
East Coast Seafood Centre
The East Coast Seafood Centre was originally known as the UDMC Seafood Centre, named after its developer, the Urban Development and Management Company (which also developed the nearby chalets). It consists of 3 single-storey blocks housing 8 units in total.
When it was first built, priority to the units was given to 5 restaurants which initially operated in bungalows along Upper East Coast Road. 4 of these restaurants took up the offer; they were Red House Seafood, Kheng Luck Seafood, Bedok Seaview Seafood and Chin Hwa Hin Seafood. They had to move out of their original premises due to complaints of illegal parking from nearby residents. One other restaurant, Palm Beach Seafood, did not take up a unit at the seafood centre. The remaining 4 units were bidded by other seafood businesses, including Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, which opened its first branch outlet there. The outlet is still in business today, and is still known as the UDMC outlet, despite the seafood centre changing names.
The vacant unit was where No Signboard Seafood used to be. A McDonald’s outlet once occupied the adjacent unit (Enak Enak Hong Kong Tea House in the image)
Over the years, other seafood businesses have occupied the premises, including Jumbo Seafood (1987 till today), No Signboard Seafood (until 2015), Fisherman’s Village (until 2015), and Rong Heng Seafood (since 2016; famous for its usage of robot waiters).
The seafood centre was renamed East Coast Seafood Centre in 2000.
Blk 1204 once stood here
In 2015, Blk 1204, where Red House Seafood was located, was demolished to make way for more open spaces.
Constructed: 1975 to 1976
East Coast Lagoon – no longer opened for swimming
When it was constructed, the 6.1 hectares, $4 million man-made lagoon was deemed as the main attraction of the entire East Coast Park. It was built to replace the swimming resort along Changi beach, which was reclaimed for the new Changi Airport, and was able to accommodate up to 6000 bathers are one time. It proved to be very popular among Singaporeans, with thousands of people going there to picnic and swim. To cater to the large number of visitors, bus service routes were amended to allow for better connectivitiy to the lagoon.
In 1980, the East Coast Sailing Centre was opened at the swimming lagoon, to promote water sports such as windsurfing, canoeing and sailing, both in the lagoon and in the open sea. It was bought over by Europa Holdings in 1996 and renamed Europa Sailing Club. In 2000, it was renamed Pasta Fresca Seasports Centre, until it was shut down in 2006.
East Coast Lagoon
The children’s pool at the lagoon was redeveloped in 1985 into a recreational centre known as Wet and Wild Sports, which featured a five-storey water slide, cabanas and barbeque pits.
The swimming lagoon was permanently closed in late 1991, to allow for a new theme park called Sun Laguna Park to be developed. The attempt was unsuccessful, and the lagoon was converted into a short-lived fishing facility called Lagoon Fishing Pond in 1996. That, too, closed down in the early 2000s, and the lagoon was abandoned.
It was eventually redeveloped into a cable ski park, known as Ski360° Cableski Park, in 2006. It was closed in 2014, but there have been plans to reopen it.
Designed by Public Works Department (original) and CPG Consultants (rebuild)
Constructed: 1977 (original); 2002 to 2003 (rebuild)
Status: Lost (original); Found (rebuild)
East Coast Lagoon Food Village
One year after the opening of the East Coast Swimming Lagoon, a food centre was constructed next to it. It housed 60 food stalls, and could accommodate up to 1200 diners.
East Coast Lagoon Food Village
When it first opened, the food centre was called East Coast Lagoon Food Rendezvous. Following the rebuilt in 2002, it became known as the East Coast Lagoon Food Village.
The dining pavilions
Both the original and rebuild designs consist of separate single-storey structures scattered around the site, creating an outdoor resorts-like atmosphere that blended well with the surrounding beach.
Bedok Jetty was first built as a private jetty, by businessman Yap Swee Hong, who imported scrap metal from the Americans involved in the Vietname War. The concrete jetty was then acquired by Mindef in 1974, and was subsequently used for military exercises. When there were no such exercises conducted, the public was free to use the jetty for fishing and other recreational purpuses.
Bedok Jetty as a fishing hotspot
The Bedok Jetty was also where Vietnamese refugees arrived in Singapore in 1975.
Till today, Bedok Jetty continues to be a favourite spot for fishing enthusiasts. It is also a favourite stopver for cyclists, joggers and other visitors of East Coast Park.
Constructed: 2005 to 2006
The Bougainvillea Garden next to Carpark F2 is a relatively new addition to East Coast Park. Originally called the Shrub Garden, it was built as part of the redevelopment plans for East Coast Park, which also saw the opening of Ski360° Cableski Park at the lagoon.
The Bougainvillea Garden is also one of the 9 parks selected for the “Our Solar System” initiative by the Singapore Science Centre. The Neptune Sundial is located here.
The Neptune Sundial
File Last Updated: May 30, 2016