Sixth Avenue

Sixth Avenue refers to an area in Bukit Timah that surrounds a road of the same name.1 The road was built in the late 1930s as a cul-de-sac branching off from Bukit Timah Road, and it was later extended to connect with Holland Road. Landmarks that once existed in the area included the Fong Yun Thai Association Cemetery, Hock Seng Cemetery, Race Course Village and Kampung Tempeh. Today, Sixth Avenue is a residential enclave comprising private properties and religious landmarks such as the Masjid Al-Huda and Hoon San Temple. The area is also known for its wide variety of dining options, which range from coffeeshops to fine-dining restaurants.

History
Prewar years

By 1935, First to Third avenues had been constructed, with Fifth Avenue soon to be ready.2 During the 1930s, drainage improvements, antimalarial and flood prevention measures, and the construction of better roads turned the Bukit Timah district into a sought-after residential area.3 Sixth Avenue, which was situated within this district, was built in the late 1930s as a cul-de-sac branching off from Bukit Timah Road.4 The avenue was named using a numbering system for new streets that was later restricted to Housing and Development Board and Jurong Town Corporation estates.5

War years
The Battle of Singapore in 1942 saw British forces attacked in the Sixth Avenue area by invading Japanese troops while in retreat.6 During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), the Osaka Teppan Steel Drums Factory was located on Sixth Avenue. There was also a noodle factory situated in the area.7

Postwar years
After the war, the junction of Sixth Avenue and Bukit Timah Road became the site of the British Army’s Base Ordnance Depot, which supplied motor spare parts and vehicles to the army’s workshop.8 In March 1950, the 41 Base Workshop (Vehicle) of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) was established in the area. The workshop, which was staffed by local workers supervised by British Army officers, was responsible for the repair of military vehicles.9

In December 1962, a large attap hut in Sixth Avenue was razed in a fire that left 50 people homeless.10 In the wake of the communal riots of 1964, grassroots leaders organised goodwill committees to visit the Malay village on Jalan Siantan and the Chinese village on Jalan Lim Tai See, both off Sixth Avenue, in an attempt to quell tensions between residents.11

Postindependence years
The cosmetics company Yardley Jardine began building a factory at Sixth Avenue in December 1965 to produce their brand of products for local consumption and export. The S$1-million, 42,000-square-foot factory officially opened in May 1967.12

In June 1969, police and military units conducted a raid in Sixth Avenue for suspected individuals involved in racial riots following the May 13 incident in Malaysia that year.13

By 1970, Sixth Avenue had been extended southwards to connect Bukit Timah Road with Holland Road.14 That same year, streetlights were commissioned for the extended section following a resident’s complaint about the lack of lighting being a traffic hazard.15 Between 2000 and 2002, Sixth Avenue was linked with a new side street known as Laurel Wood Avenue.16

Landmarks
Fong Yun Thai Association Cemetery
The Fong Yun Thai Association Cemetery was established in 1885 by Hakka clansmen at a site off present-day Holland Link near Sixth Avenue. It was one of the many cemeteries located in the Bukit Timah area, which was considered a prime burial location according to Chinese geomancy.17 The 142-acre cemetery used to contain more than 20,000 graves before it was acquired by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) in the early 1970s for the construction of an inland container depot.18 The clan association initially rejected the S$1-million compensation offer from PSA for acquiring the cemetery and sent a 36-member delegation to appeal their case with then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.19 The association proposed alternative sites for the depot and even took their case to the High Court.20 However, the acquisition of the cemetery by PSA eventually went ahead and the process of exhuming the graves was carried out in 1975. Most of the exhumed remains were reinterred either at the Choa Chu Kang cemetery or the Fong Yun Thai Association’s columbarium, while the rest were cremated.21

Hock Eng Seng Cemetery
The Hock Eng Seng (also known as Hock Seng) Cemetery was a private cemetery situated at Lorong Panchar off Sixth Avenue. The cemetery housed the graves of many Chinese patriots who died during World War II. Many of the plots in the cemetery were sold at a discount to the Chinese community in the 1950s as the area was considered out of the way. Most of the graves in the cemetery were exhumed in the 1990s.22

Race Course Village

Race Course Village was recorded on a 1945 map as being near the Bukit Timah end of Sixth Avenue (around what is now the Lucky Park estate).23 During the Battle of Singapore, two units of the British Army established lines of defence in the Race Course Village area, where a failed counterattack organised by Lieutenant-General Arthur E. Percival also took place.24 Race Course Village was still featured in a 1971 map of the Bukit Timah area even as new developments had sprung up around it.25

Kampong Tempeh
Built in the late 19th century, Kampong Tempeh was originally a cluster of four villages: Jalan Tuah Kampong, Duchess Road Kampong, Jalan Haji Alias Kampong and Jalan Tai See Kampong.26 Named after the Indonesian word for the fermented soybean cakes that some of the villagers produced and sold, Kampong Tempeh was bounded by what is now Sixth Avenue and Coronation Road West. At its height, Kampong Tempeh comprised 100 to 200 dwellings. Besides the Malays, there were also Chinese families living in the kampong. The village had a Chinese temple known as the Hoon San Temple, Chinese grocery shops and a wayang stage.27

By 1984, only 18 wooden houses were left in Kampong Tempeh.28 Despite multiple offers from property developers to buy their land, the remaining residents refused to move out as they were reluctant to give up their way of life.29 Around the mid-1980s, authorities outlawed wooden houses and required the area’s landowners to redevelop their houses according to modern standards. Only a few complied, while the rest moved out of the village for good.30

Masjid Al-Huda
Located at 34 Jalan Haji Alias off Sixth Avenue is Masjid Al-Huda, whose origins can be traced to a mosque housed within a small wooden structure built in the early 20th century to serve as a place of worship for Malay-Muslim residents in the area. The land on which it stands was donated by a Hindu-Indian moneylender, Navena Choona Narainan Chitty, in the early 1900s. In 1925, the mosque was rebuilt and given a Javanese-style wooden structure. It became known officially as Masjid Kampung Coronation, although villagers liked to refer to it as Masjid Kampung Tempeh.31 In 1966, the mosque was rebuilt into a concrete building in the Malay village style. In the 1970s, the mosque was renamed Masjid Al-Huda.32

The mosque underwent an expansion and upgrading in 2015 to include new facilities.33 Within the mosque compound are two village houses built in the traditional bumbung lima style, which is believed to have been influenced by colonial British and Dutch architecture. These houses feature hipped roofs and high ceilings for added ventilation.34

Hoon San Temple
Situated at 29 Jalan Lim Tai See off Sixth Avenue is Hoon San Temple, also known as Lim Tai See or Yun Shan Temple. Built between 1901 and 1903 by a certain Lim family, the temple honours the deified Ming-dynasty Chinese scholar, civil servant and essayist, Lim Jie Chun.35 The temple features wall murals depicting a complete set of 24 traditional Chinese stories on filial piety, a door mural illustrating the story of the Eight Immortals, and a tablet commemorating Lim’s noble life.36 In 1920, Hoon San Temple was renovated, while a new building was raised behind the original temple structure in 2011.37 On 13 March 2009, the temple was accorded conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in recognition of the temple’s high level of artistic detail and workmanship characteristic of the style from Fujian, China.38

Food and beverage
Sixth Avenue is known for its plethora of food options ranging from coffeeshops to fine-dining restaurants. Beginning with Italian eatery Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore, which opened there in 1988, the area quickly gained a reputation for being a “gourmet’s paradise”. By 1994, the area had eight restaurants, a coffeeshop (Bonnie Eating House) and a late-night fruit shack shop.39 That same year, Brazil Churrascaria opened in two shophouse units on Sixth Avenue.40 Other notable dining establishments that opened in the area over the years include Omar Shariff Authentic Indian Cuisine, Pizza da Donato and Ubin Seafood Restaurant.41

Traffic
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Sixth Avenue faced heavy traffic congestion, especially at the junction with Bukit Timah Road during the Singapore Turf Club’s weekend races. The situation worsened when increasing numbers of motorists started using the road as a shortcut between Jurong and East Coast.42 Several measures were undertaken to alleviate the situation. In 1976, the traffic police attempted to clear away heavy vehicles that were illegally parked along the road at night. A bridge across Bukit Timah Road was built in 1980, allowing motorists to travel from Sixth Avenue directly to the Pan-Island Expressway and the city. The centre white line prohibiting parking on both sides of Namly Garden was extended to the junction with Sixth Avenue in 1982. Turf Club Road directly opposite Sixth Avenue was widened a year later. Holland Road, including its junction with Sixth Avenue, was widened in 1985 and a Sixth Avenue side road was converted into a one-way street in 1986.43


Flooding
Sixth Avenue is a flood-prone area, with incidents of flooding reported from as early as the 1950s.44 In 1972, a diversion canal was constructed from Sixth Avenue to Clementi Road’s Sungei Ulu Pandan as part of the Bukit Timah Flood Alleviation Scheme.45 In July 1985, heavy rains flooded the roads in the Bukit Timah area, leaving thousands of people stranded in their vehicles. In response, the government announced plans to widen Bukit Timah Canal, raise Bukit Timah Road and improve the local drainage system.46 However, Sixth Avenue was submerged again in February 1996 when it became almost impassable after a six-hour rainstorm.47 In November 2009, the junction of Sixth Avenue and Bukit Timah Road suffered a “freak” flash flood after the diversion canal at Sixth Avenue burst its banks. Waters reached knee height and Sixth Avenue Centre’s basement carpark was inundated with rainwater, damaging vehicles parked there.48 In response to the flood, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) installed flood sensors and called for tenders to further widen Bukit Timah Canal in 2010.49 Despite these anti-flooding efforts, the same junction flooded in December 2011.50 In 2012, CCTV cameras were installed at Sixth Avenue to monitor flooding and provide early warnings and updates.51 Subsequently, PUB announced plans to expand the Bukit Timah diversion canal at Sixth Avenue by 2016 for increased drainage capacity.52

Recent developments
Private properties

In 1988, the Ministry of National Development began to redevelop Bukit Timah into a predominantly low- to medium-density residential area, with industrial activity phased out and institutional use kept to a minimum.53 The URA provided financial incentives for industrial buildings to move out of the area.54 Residential facilities improved following the opening of a Cold Storage supermarket at Jalan Jelita (near the junction of Sixth Avenue with Holland Road) in 1981 and a post office in Sixth Avenue Centre in 1987.55

In 1991, the URA put up for sale 1.67 ha of land in Sixth Avenue that was reserved for the development of private properties. Property developer Ng Teng Fong acquired the land and built the Regent Villas condominium.56 In 1996, the Fifth Avenue condominium off Sixth Avenue set a record price of S$1,300 per sq ft for the Bukit Timah area , and the freehold sale of Avenue Park condominium on Sixth Avenue became the largest site for an en-bloc sale with its land area of more than 172,000 sq ft.57

Sixth Avenue MRT Station

Plans to construct the Sixth Avenue MRT Station as part of the Downtown Line 2 were announced in July 2008.58 The station – sited at the junction of nearby Fourth Avenue and Bukit Timah Road – became the first to be situated within a private residential area. It was officially opened in December 2015.59

Bukit Timah-Holland GRC
Sixth Avenue currently stands as the dividing line between the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) on its eastern side, and the Ulu Pandan ward of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC on its western end.60 From 2006 to 2011, Sixth Avenue fell within the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC as a result of redrawn electoral boundaries ahead of the 2011 general election.61 Previously, Sixth Avenue was part of the Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC (2001–06), Bukit Timah GRC (1996–2001) and Ulu Pandan Single Member Constituency (1988–96).62



Author

Dan Koh



References
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4. Survey Department, Singapore, Map of Singapore Showing Jurong, Bukit Timah, Tanglin, Ulu Pandan and Pandan Area, 1938–1943, survey map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. SP001622)
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7. “In Search of Sally,” Straits Times, 22 August 1971, 17 (From NewspaperSG); Chen Say Jame, oral history interview by Lim Lai Hwa, 24 March 2006, transcript and MP3 audio, 43:13, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 003038-1), 6.
8. Soh Guan Bee, oral history interview by Low Lay Leng, 19 October 1983, transcript and MP3 audio, 29:33, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 000310-10), 154.
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10. “50 People Homeless,” Straits Times, 18 December 1962, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Low Tiow Lye, oral history interview by Irene Lim Ai Lin, 20 May 1988, transcript and MP3 audio, 27:34, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 000913-4), 28–29.
12. “Another Local Cosmetic Factory,” Straits Times, 25 March 1966, 8; “Yardley Opens $1M Factory,” Straits Times, 13 May 1967, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Police and Military Units Kept Up the Pressure with Security Sweeps in Various Parts of the Island All Day to Contain Unruly Elements behind the Violent Incidents of the Past Few Day…, 4 June 1969, photograph, National Archives of Singapore (media-image no. PCD0431 – 0006); Jackie Sam and Philip Khoo, “300 Held as Clean-Up Raids Go On,” Straits Times, 6 June 1969, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Survey Department, Singapore, Singapore. Instrumental Plot – Holland, 1970, topographic map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. TM000843)
15. Leslie Wong Sze Ying, “Trying to Reduce Traffic Hazards,” Straits Times, 3 July 1970, 12; Citizen, “Prompt Action Could Have Saved a Life,” Straits Times, 20 June 1970, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Survey Department, Singapore, Singapore Street Directory: 2000/2001 (Singapore: SNP Publishing, 2000), map 275 (Call no. RSING 912.5957 SIN); Land Authority, Singapore, Singapore Street Directory (Singapore: SingTel Yellow Pages under the licence of the Singapore Land Authority, 2002–2003), map 275. (Call no. RSING 912.5957 SSD)
17. November Tan Peng Ting, Bukit Timah: A Heritage Trail (Singapore: National Heritage Board, 2007), 32. (Call no. RSING 915.957 Tan-[TRA])
18. “Hakkas to Protest Offer for Cemetery,” New Nation, 26 March 1971, 3; “Clinging to the Clan Associations,” New Nation, 4 January 1972, 8; “Still in Good Condition…,” New Nation, 20 August 1975, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Clan Picks 36-Member Team to Meet Lee on PSA Proposal,” Straits Times, 1 April 1971, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
20. “PSA Now Studying Hakka Proposal for Depot,” Straits Times, 17 July 1971, 2; Ngiam Tong Hai, “Hakkas Take Cemetery Case to Court,” Straits Times, 16 November 1971, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Still in Good Condition…”; Tan, Bukit Timah, 32.
22. “Grave Matters,” Business Times, 19 April 1996, 26 (From NewspaperSG); Tan, Bukit Timah, 32; Lorong Panchar Chinese Graveyard: General view [2], 5 March 1992, photograph, Lee Kip Lin, National Library Board.
23. National Archives (Singapore), Johore and Singapore, 1945, topographical map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. TM000404_6); Lam Chun See, “Bukit Timah Heritage Trail 4 – Sixth Avenue,” Blog, 19 September 2007.
24. “An Apocalyptic Jumble of Normality and Horror,” Straits Times, 28 February 1982, 12; David Baratham, “The Collapse,” Straits Times, 31 December 1961, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
25. “Page 6 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 10 February 1971, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
26. Vincent Fong and Asmah Hamid, “Kampung Shrinks but Its Value Rises,” Singapore Monitor, 22 April 1984, 41. (From NewspaperSG)
27. “Kampong Tempeh,” Al-Huda Mosque, accessed 1 June 2016.
28. Fong and Hamid, “Kampung Shrinks.”
29. “The Millionaire Shanty-Dwellers,” Singapore Monitor, 9 June 1985, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
30. Al-Huda Mosque, “Kampong Tempeh.”
31. Tan, Bukit Timah, 26; “History of Al-Huda Mosque,” Al-Huda Mosque, accessed 1 June 2016.
32. Tan, Bukit Timah, 26; Al-Huda Mosque, History of Al-Huda Mosque.”
33. Audrey Tan, “109-Year-Old Al-Huda Mosque to Be Upgraded,” Straits Times, 31 May 2014, 24; “Village Mosque Gets a Makeover,” Straits Times, 25 July 2015, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
34. Tan, Bukit Timah, 28; Al-Huda Mosque, “Kampong Tempeh.”
35. The Lim Tai See Temple built in 1901, 2009, photograph, National Library Board. (From BookSG) 
36. Tan, Bukit Timah, 28; Raymond Goh,Hoon San Temple, 1903, Needs Conservation,” Blog, 29 April 2005.
37. “Hong San Temple,” BeoKeng, n.d.
38. “Jalan Lim Tai See No. 27 (Hoon San Temple),” Urban Redevelopment Authority, accessed 15 June 2016.
39. Tsering Bhalla, “Sixth Avenue Turning into Gourmet's Paradise,” Straits Times, 18 September 1994, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
40. Magdalene Lum, “Brazilian Barbecue to Hit Bukit Timah,” Straits Times, 24 July 1994, 4 (From NewspaperSG); “About Us,” Brazil Churrasco, accessed 15 June 2016.
41. “FOODtrail,” New Paper, 19 May 1997, 30; Sandra Leong, “Oh for a Taste of Pulau Ubin,” Straits Times, 13 April 2008, 46 (From NewspaperSG); Kurt Ganapathy, “Explore Bukit Timah: Sixth Avenue,” accessed 17 December 2010;  B. Lee, “Very Good to Go: Pizza from a Hole in the Wall,” accessed 2 October 2005.
42. “Traffic Shortcut Poses Hazards for Pedestrians,” Straits Times, 21 January 1978, 15; “Call for Blitz against Inconsiderate Parking,” Singapore Monitor, 23 May 1985, 12; “How to Improve Traffic Situation on Race Days,” Straits Times, 3 November 1988, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
43. “No More Illegal Parking,” New Nation, 30 June 1976, 4; “New $400,000 Bridge Opens Today,” Straits Times, 16 August 1980, 17; Heng Hiang Hiang, “Lines to Be Extended,” Straits Times, 24 December 1982, 17; “Going Is Not Good for Cars Despite Wider Roads,” Singapore Monitor, 23 August 1983, 27; “Smooth Traffic Flow Soon from Napier Road to Pandan Valley,” Straits Times, 26 January 1985, 15; “Side Road to Be Made One Way,” Straits Times, 29 June 1986, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
44. “Flooding Strands Drivers,” Straits Times, 7 April 1953, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
45. “Bukit Timah Canal Will Be Widened under Phase 2,” Straits Times, 20 August 1985, 20; Amresh Gunasingham and Ang Yiying, “Deluge a ‘Once in 50 Years’ Event,” Straits Times, 21 November 2009, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
46. “Rain Leaves Thousands Stranded,” Straits Times, 19 July 1985, 13; Jeevarajah Yasotha, “Flooding ‘Not Caused By New Road Level’,” Straits Times, 23 July 1985, 10 (From NewspaperSG); “Bukit Timah Canal Will Be Widened.”
47. Yvonne Lim, “Six-Hour Storm Causes Accidents and Floods,” New Paper, 3 February 1996, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
48. Amresh Gunasingham, “Don’t Leave Home Without Your Umbrella,” Straits Times, 18 December 2009, 32; Amresh Gunasingham and Ang Yiying, “Deluge a 'Once in 50 Years' Event,” Straits Times, 21 November 2009, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
49. Amresh Gunasingham, “Work to Expand Canal Next Year,” Straits Times, 25 November 2009, 7; Gunasingham, “Don’t Leave Home Without Your Umbrella.” 
50. Annabelle Liang and Lediati Tan, “Mother Nature Trumps Men's Efforts,” New Paper, 24 December 2011, 16–17. (From NewspaperSG)
51. Feng Zengkun, “PUB to Install 162 CCTVs By Year-End,” Straits Times, 7 August 2012, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
52. Feng Zengkun, “Bukit Timah Diversion Canal to Be Expanded,” Straits Times, 21 September 2012, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
53. Collin Tan, “Residential Build-Up in Bukit Timah,” Business Times, 12 February 1992, 3; “Industrial Phase-Out Programme Started in 1988,” Business Times, 9 March 1993, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
54. Sylvia Wong, “Bukit Timah Area in for a Transformation,” Business Times, 9 March 1993, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
55. “Postal Agency at Bukit Timah,” Straits Times, 13 December 1987, 19; “Gedung Baru,” Berita Harian, 17 January 1981, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
56. “URA Offering Four Plots of Prime Land for Sale,” Business Times, 10 May 1991, 28; Eddie Toh and Chan Sue Meng, “Ng Teng Fong Successfully Bids $18M for Sixth Avenue Site,” Straits Times, 22 August 1991, 40; Sylvia Wong, “Keen Bidding for Leasehold Landed Sites,” Business Times, 15 October 1993, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
57. Ann Williams, “Would-Be Buyers Swamp Launch of Guthrie GTS Fifth Avenue Condo,” Straits Times, 27 March 1996, 38; Michelle Low, “Freehold Sixth Avenue Condo to be Sold En Bloc,” Business Times, 10 December 1996, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
58. “12 Stations for Stage 2 of Downtown Line,” New Paper, 16 July 2008, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
59. J. Yeo, “Residents Have Mixed Feelings over New Sixth Avenue MRT Station,” Channel NewsAsia, 6 July 2009 (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); “Sixth Avenue MRT Station,” Land Transport Guru, accessed 20 June 2016.
60. Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council, Our Town Map, accessed 1 June 2016. 
61. Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, Singapore,
Corrigendum to the Report of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, 2006 (Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., 2006) (Call no. RSING q324.63095957 SIN); Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, Singapore, The Report of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, 2011 (Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., 2011). (Call no. RSING 324.63095957 SIN)
62. See Electoral Boundaries Review Committee reports for 1988, 1991, 1996 and 2001. (Call no.: RSING q324.63095957 SIN)



Further resources
Bukit Timah Constituency, 50 Best Kept Secrets in Bukit Timah: An Insider’s Guide (Singapore: Epigram, 2015). (Call no. RSING 307.76095957 FIF)

Loh Keng Fatt, “From Car Showrooms to Condos,” Straits Times, 3 September 2000, 9. (From NewspaperSG)

Shirley Tan-Oehler, K.F. Seetoh and Celeste Tan, Bukit Timah: Established in 1955 (Singapore: OracleWorks for PAP Bukit Timah Branch, 1995). (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUK-[HIS])


The information in this article is valid as of 8 July 2016 and correct as far as we are able to 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
Land use--Singapore
City planning--Singapore