Queenstown



Queenstown is a planning area and a satellite town located in the Central Region of Singapore. It is one of the earliest housing estates to be built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) and subsequently the Housing and Development Board (HDB). It also has the distinction of being the first satellite town in Singapore.1

History
Queenstown was formerly a swampy valley with two hills named Hong Lim and Hong Yin. The Hong Lim hill was a cemetery for over 100,000 Chinese graves, while Hong Yin hill was covered with orchards and rubber plantations. A village called Bo Beh Kang, literally “No Tail River” in Hokkien, was settled by mainly Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka dialect groups. The area also housed a British military camp, known as Buller Camp, at Alexandra Road. The swamp, cemeteries, farm land and camp site were eventually cleared to make way for the development of Queenstown housing estate.2


Queenstown was one of the earliest housing estates to be built by the SIT. It became the first satellite town in Singapore in 1953 and was named after Queen Elizabeth II, in commemoration of her coronation a year ago. Bounded by Ridout Road, Tanglin Road, Alexandra Road, Holland Road and the Malayan Railway, Queenstown was planned to house 70,000 residents in 11,000 apartment flats. In 1960, the HDB was formed to replace SIT after Singapore gained self-governance. Queenstown underwent major development from 1960 to 1965 as part of HDB’s first Five Year Building Programme. By 1970, the town had about 19,000 dwelling units housing more than 100,000 residents.3

Queenstown was a pioneer in many areas. Apart from being the first satellite town, it was also a place where many social institutions were established in Singapore. In 1956, Queenstown Secondary Technical School was the first technical school to be established in Singapore. In 1963, Singapore’s first polyclinic was built along Margaret Drive. The Queenstown Community Library, the first branch library in Singapore, opened in 1970, lending another historic marker to the estate.

By the 1980s, however, Queenstown estate was becoming stagnant without much new developments. As a result, the younger generation of residents were moving out to newer estates. In 1994, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) issued a Development Guide Plan for Queenstown which included proposals for a new sub-regional centre in Buona Vista, new infrastructure to link tertiary educational institutions and business parks, and good, high-density housing.5

Queenstown was also rejuvenated in the form of the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme, whereby older flats were demolished to make way for new ones.6 Other developments that helped to brighten up the old estate were the construction of new private residential housing, the opening of Swiss furniture giant IKEA’s flagship store, and the launch of The Anchorage, a condominium-cum-shopping complex.7

In 2005, Queenstown regained its popularity and was listed as the costliest estate in Singapore.8

Description
Queenstown is located within the Central Region of Singapore. In 1994, it was bounded by the Ulu Pandan Canal, Ghim Moh housing estate, the former Tanglin Camp estate, Alexandra Road and Clementi Road, covering an area of approximately 2,188 ha. There were seven distinct neighbourhoods which made up the original Queenstown.9

In the 1990s and 2000s, many iconic landmarks in Queenstown, such as Tah Chung Emporium, Queenstown Remand Prison and Margaret Drive Hawker Centre, were torn down to make way for re-development.10 In 2013, three buildings in Queenstown, namely Queenstown Library, the former Commonwealth Avenue Wet Market and Alexandra Hospital, were announced to be gazetted for conservation under the URA 2014 Master Plan.11



Author

Shereen Tay



References
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Queenstown planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Author, pp. 4, 8. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
2. Kwek, L. Y. & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], pp. 35–36. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA]); Urban Redevelopment Authority. (n.d.). Queenstown. Retrieved 2016, July 13 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/publications/research-resources/books-videos/2015-02_queenstown.aspx
3. Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA]); New town for 70,000. (1953, September 1953). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Urban Redevelopment Authority. (n.d.). Queenstown. Retrieved 2016, July 13 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/publications/research-resources/books-videos/2015-02_queenstown.aspx
4. Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015).  My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], pp. 7, 14, 19–20, 22. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA])  
5. Kwek, L. Y, & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA]); Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Queenstown planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Author, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
6. Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA]); Tan, H. Y. (1996, May 1). Queenstown flats selected for en-bloc redevelopment. The Straits Times, p. 1; Hooi, A. (2005, December 30). 3 Queenstown blocks to be redeveloped. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Rohaniah Saini. (1995, February 5). Lucky owners of new Tanglin Road HDB flatsThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA]); Au Yong, J. (2005, May 1). Flats in old estates top price charts. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Queenstown planning area: Planning report 1994. Singapore: Author, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN); Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA])
10. Kwek, L. Y., & Lee, J. (2015). My Queenstown heritage trail. [s.n.], pp. 7, 21, 24, 26. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 KWE-[TRA])
11. Saifulbahri Ismail. (2013, October 3). Three buildings in Queenstown to be conserved. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/


The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Street names--Singapore
Suburbs--Singapore
Urbanization--Singapore
Streets and Places
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings