When I was in primary school, I walked all the way from home at Margaret Close to Birkhall school which was located approximately in the middle of the stretch of Margaret Drive. It was a good 3 bus-stop away and we the children would walk to/from school on our own. I can’t imagine any modern day parents will allow their primary school children to walk that distance especially as it involves crossing roads.
But I enjoyed the walk. In those days there were many block of flats along the way and we would invariably meet up with classmates or stop at classmates home to chitchat and play. Right now, it is all empty piece of land.
Here where there were several block of low rise flats was where most of my classmates stayed.
Behind as can be seen in the picture was the imposing Queenstown Remand prison. That is one area that we seldom venture near. Cannot remember why though. (Unfortunately I couldn’t get a close up photo of the prison even though it is now no longer in operation as the security guard loudly and forcibly shouted that no photograph was allowed. Why?)
But closer to home was this little path (in those days it was just a small track)
and it leads to the biggest and beautiful ‘ang mo chu’ or English house I ever seen. We spent a lot of time among the forest here catching spiders, grasshoppers and later in my teens, running away from the dogs! It was also here that I was nearly robbed but then we didn’t have any money in those days and they got nothing after I assured the 3 robbers that my pocket was indeed totally empty.
Back to school. My alma mater, Birkhall Primary School.
School in the early years was just a single block with the canteen, staff room, music room on the ground floor and classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floor. We shared a field with Queenstown Primary School and Strathmore Primary. The understanding was that each school children keeps to their own side of the field but sometimes territories are crossed and fights will break out frequently. I remembered being very impressed by this boy who did a 2 legged flying kick on one of my classmates but the most vivid memory was of the same classmate – blood pouring from his head when he was hit by a stone threw by another kid and he just sitting there as if nothing was wrong. Those are what we called tough kids not the wimpy kids of today. The school is no more. It has merged with Queenstown Primary Sch and is today a brand new building. So sad.
Across the road from the school is a small little chapel.
I only entered it once when I was invited by a former classmate to attend a concert. Unlike the many older buildings, this little chapel has grown and now has an extension although the main hall is still pretty intact.
Of the 4 post sixties HDB block in the areas, Blk 6A, 6B, 6C and 39. Blk 6A where I stayed when I was 17 until I married and Blk 6B are no more.
Where they are now is an empty piece of land waiting perhaps for some developers to breathe new life into it.
Blk 6C used to be a vibrant block with shops on the ground floor.
Today, there is only 1 shop – the evergreen Go Sports probably the most famous skate board shop in Singapore
but when it first opened – oh how I hated it! Although we wasn’t so near to it, the sound of the skateboarders skating away would wake me up every weekend and drives me nut. It was also in front of this block that one of Singapore’s most dangerous and wanted criminal was shot dead by police.
Blk 39 right next to the Fairprice supermarket was originally
ringed by a row of 2 storey houses. where there were a Maybank, a Standard Chartered Bank (or was it Hongkong Bank) and the famous Tony bookstore. Blk 39 itself had many shops but today there are no more shops and I presume soon no more flat.
Many of the buildings in this neighbourhood had disappeared or undergone major transformation. The only remaining intact place where time seems to have stand still is the Margaret Drive Food Centre
where some of the most delicious food can be found…….