03 April 2010

Albert Street SIT Flat

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) was set up in 1927 by the British colonial government in Singapore to build affordable public housing for the common population. In 32 years, it managed to build only 23,000 flats, mostly within or near the city area. It was replaced by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1960. HDB is celebrating its 50th year anniversary this year. However, with the recent run-up in prices for both public and private properties, people are divided as to whether HDB still provides affordable public housing.

Do you remember the quiz question which I asked of this photo in my blog post about traditional coffeeshop snacks? I asked readers where was this block located. Eight months has passed and nobody has come up with the correct answer yet.

Well, I have done some investigative work as well as attempted a second shot. I can now say with certainty that the block was located in a portion of Albert Street which is now called New Bugis Street. A view of New Bugis Street from Queen Street is show below:

Now compare the following photos:

Take note of the patterns on the pillar of the building which could be partially seen at the left edges of the above photos. Do they look similar?

Yes, and there you have it! The block was located in Albert Street, the street just next to Cheng Yan Place where I stayed in a similar block from 1956 till the mid-1970s. Today, the block which I stayed in has also been replaced with a red building (on the left of the photo below). The spanking new Iluma Shopping Centre is directly opposite. How I wish that it had opened 40 years ago!

But do you know when were the 2 blocks constructed? Ahh... I have the tender notice from Straits Times dated 5 December, 1947...

Singapore Improvement Trust

Tenders are invited for Concrete Piling at Albert Street and Cheng Yan Place.

Tender Form, etc. may be obtained at the office of the Trust on payment of a deposit of $50/- which will be refunded if a bona fide tender is submitted.

Sealed tenders are to be deposited in the Tender Box in the Office of the undersigned by 4 p.m. on 19 December, 1947.

The lowest or any tender will not necessarily be accepted.

Singapore Improvement Trust
Municipal Offices.

...as well as a 1946 aerial photo of the empty plots land:

Above is a map of the same area in 1961, with the two blocks indicated in red.

The two blocks of flats were constructed in the late 1940s and probably demolished in the early 1980s, some 30 years later.


Lam Chun See said...

Well done, Detective Koo. I think you have solved the case.

Gypsy Purple said...

Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter xx Gypsy Purple

yg said...

victor, i thought you were going to show for the 4th time a picture of the block of flats where you lived.

Icemoon said...

Great work Master Koo!

I'm a little confused over Bugis Street where the transvestite danced. So they danced at what is now Parco Bugis Junction and not Albert Street which is now New Bugis Street?

peter said...


You got to show the "special photo" otherwise YG thinks you got nothing else to show. He is keeping score my fliend!

yg said...

i was at bugis square just now looking for the pillar mentioned but i don't have detective koo's eyes.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Fantastic detective work. You should think of taking up investigative journalism as a hobby.

Great stuff here!

Unknown said...

Nice bit of heritage sleuthing there, and have to commend you for your resourcefulness too! That could be an interesting sideline of Singapore places lost and found that you could consider.

I think the series of "then and now" posts could be a nice collector's series of stories that I'm sure people would be keen to read. Keep up the good work!

Victor said...

Icemoon, you are right. The old Bugis Street, which is at the bottom-right of the aerial photo as well as the map, is now Parco Bugis Junction.

Victor said...

YG, I had to climb up to above the food centre to take the photo of the pillar. You can't see it from ground level.

history student (joel.lee.jian.liang@hotmail.com) said...

hi victor, must say i am thoroughly impressed with the invesetigative work. May I know how you manage to obtain a 1946 aerial shot?

Victor said...

Hi Joel, the aerial photo was kindly contributed by a friend who I am unable to divulge.

Icemoon said...

Did I see a Lorong Kranji on the map?!

Victor said...

Yes, Icemoon. Lorong Kranji it is. That map was from the 1963 Street Directory. I was only 7-year-old then. I don't remember having seen this street. Nearby were the Central Sikh Temple and a Chinese temple.

I also found it strange that Lorong Kranji was not in Kranji but right in the smack of town.