Feel the pulse of Singapore’s early heartland
In Singapore, where change is a constant, trying to capture the soul of a historic neighbourhood can be tricky. But a community group has nonetheless made a valiant attempt with Museum @ My Queenstown.
The newly opened museum, which occupies a shop space at Block 46-3 Commonwealth Drive, is a grounds-up effort by the non-profit heritage group, My Community. Its inaugural exhibition is titled, Our Stories: Do you remember them?
The exhibition showcases artefacts from Queenstown’s industrial past, including an original 1958 town plan drawn up by the British, and the first made-in-Singapore television set by Setron, short for Singapore Electronics, which was manufactured in Queenstown.
The exhibition is especially poignant, given that some Housing Board blocks in Queenstown are slated to be demolished by 2020 under HDB’s Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme; this includes the block where the museum is located.
If you need more reasons to be persuaded to pop by the show, here are three artefacts on display you shouldn’t miss.
The neon lights (above), which spell the Chinese characters for “queen”, were part of the sign for the Queenstown Cinema and Bowling Centre that was demolished in 2013. In the days leading up to the demolition of the cinema and bowling centre, Singaporeans, both residents and non-residents of Queenstown, flocked to the building to get a final glimpse of the landmark and to snap photos of it. The neon sign was salvaged by a My Community volunteer.
The bright pink suit is a reminder of an important moment in Singapore’s music history, as well as Queenstown’s legacy. The suit belonged to musician Jap Chong, the lead singer of The Quests, a Singapore band so popular in the 1960s that they dethroned The Beatles from Singapore’s music charts.
The band’s name was inspired by the title of the Queenstown Secondary Technical School’s school magazine. Two band members, including Chong, were students at the school, which is now known as the Queenstown Secondary School.
Chong had worn the suit for the band’s get-together performance in 2013, and he bequeathed it to the museum before he died in 2014.
For many decades, early birds in Queenstown would be greeted in the morning by the sight of the Thin Huat provision store owner lugging sacks of potatoes to the back of the shop at 49 Tanglin Halt Road to be cleaned. The family-owned provision store, around since Queenstown was a kampung, was the de facto community centre of the neighbourhood; over grocery runs, residents would share about their lives and perhaps exchange housekeeping tips and family recipes. The shop closed for good last April, however, due to the owner’s declining health, and competition from supermarkets.
From 1 March, Museum @ My Queenstown will be open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 9.30am to 2.30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, the museum will be open from 9.30am to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm. The museum is located at Block 46-3 Commonwealth Drive. Admission is free.