TwentyFifteen 01/20: For My Son by Darren Soh

For My Son, Christian.

By the time you are able to fully understand this letter, most of the buildings in this book would have disappeared for good.

Since Daddy is a photographer, I thought it would be more meaningful to share my childhood memories with you through photographs rather than just describe to you what things were like ‘back then’.

You may or may not be interested in old places, but I thought I would photograph some of these old buildings and and put them in a book for you because they were special to me.

There’s Block 82 Commonwealth Close, where I lived till the age of five. I remember playing masak masak along the long common corridors with my neighbours, and also Grandpa and Grandma buying roasted chestnuts on weekends from the hawker who came on a motorbike.

Or that strange bungalow in Punggol called Matilda House, which should be a condominium clubhouse by the time you read this. Grandma’s family used to live in that part of Singapore and they were chicken and vegetable farmers. Some of their neighbours reared pigs too. All these were long gone by the time you were born, but they were still around when Daddy was a little kid.

And then there was the old Methodist Girls’ School at the top of Mount Sophia, better known as Old School in its final days. Mummy used to go to school there when she was a little girl and she has so many warm memories of the place. But sadly the school buildings there did not qualify for conservation, and the government sold the site to a property developer. I guess there will be yet another expensive condominium in its place.

Unfortunately, many places I would love to take you are disappearing for one reason or another, and I do wish that the people involved would think more carefully before they tear down every old building.

In a perfect world, I would show you all these places, where Mummy and Daddy spent many hours when we were younger.

Let’s see if ideas about redevelopment in Singapore change by the time you read this. If not, perhaps my memories and this book will be all that I have for you from these places.

Your Daddy,

Darren Soh

July 2013


20 Geylang Lorong 3 by Day | Demolition in progress, 2013


20 Geylang Lorong 3 by Night | Demolition in progress, 2013

29_havelock_road_001_LR29 Havelock Road | Demolition in progress, 2013


63-66 Yung Kuang Road


82 Commonwealth Close


96 Henderson Road | Demolition in progress, 2013


408 Clementi Avenue 1 | Residents relocated, pending demolition, 2013


Big Splash, East Coast Park | Slides demolished 2007


Pelican Playground, Dover Road Estate | Demolished 2012


Matilda House, Punggol | Conversion to condominium clubhouse 2013


Methodist Girls’ School / old School | Demolition to start 2013


Queenstown Cinema, Exterior | Demolished 2013


Queenstown Cinema, Interior | Demolished 2013


Tanjong Pagar Railway Station | Ceased operation 2011


Adventure Playground, Spooner Road, Old KTM Quarters | Demolished 2013