A Train in the Heartlands

By : Nur Hafizah
02 September 2014

I’m a sucker for interesting finds in the heartlands. Previously, I headed all the way up north when I heard of a park which has preserved the ‘kampung’  feel – Woodlands Town Garden. Predictably, my interest was stoked when I heard of a train “parked” in Tiong Bahru.


Many of us probably know Tiong Bahru for the many ‘hipster’ cafes around the area, but less of its origins. According to Singapore Infopedia, the Tiong Bahru area contained a burial ground for the Cantonese and Hakka communities before the 1930s. At that time, however, there was already a cemetery at Tanjong Pagar for these two communities. So the name Tiong Bahru was coined from the Hokkien and Malay words for ‘Tombs’ (Tiong) and ‘New’ (Bahru), meaning ‘New Tombs’.


Tiong Bahru was also home to the first ever block of public housing flats, which was built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1936. Today, 20 of these pre-war SIT flats have been granted conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), so their distinctive architecture will be there for all to enjoy many years down the road.


By the way… SIT flats are not the only ‘first-of-its-kind’ buildings to be erected in Tiong Bahru. In 1951, Singapore’s first community centre was established there, and a decade later, in 1961, the island’s first polyclinic!


Etymology aside, after an afternoon cuppa at one of the ‘hipster’ cafes and a visit to one of my favourite bookstores, I trooped down to Tiong Bahru Park to check out this ‘train’. It was a short drive away from where I was, but the stroll took me about 20 minutes. Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to burn off some extra calories.


The first thing I noticed about the park was how green it was. There was plenty of shade and benches for resting – thankfully, after the long walk. And there it was – the artfully tilted train!


Looks like so much fun to “ride” on, doesn’t it? The children’s squeals of joy were quite telling, too


There was also a flying fox, a maze and a merry-go-round – some of my playground favourites from my childhood days


I heard that the park is also abuzz with activities in the mornings – with residents, both young and old, partaking in daily exercises at the green spaces around the park. Maybe I could check out the park the next time I’m in the area for breakfast. I also now have another playground to bring my nieces to during next week’s school holidays!


Are there parks near your estate that are worth a visit? Or do you have a favourite park you could share with us? We would love to hear from you at mynicehome@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg!


Tags: Tiong Bahru,




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