Sunday, February 6, 2011

QUEENSTOWN-A PLACE OF MEMORIES

Behind the Scenes


The Journey Begins...

Roshan Khan
and his entourage embark on a trail of memories. A trail upon paths which the star had once walked on before, a trail of childhood filled with dreams and tons of young love and of success. This entry records their journey, behind the scenes through Queenstown, where the star and his crew scout for filming locations for Roshan's very own independent biographical film, 'Childhood' (in theatres September 2011).




Tanglin Halt

Tanglin Halt, which derived its name from Tanglin Road and the Malayan Railway, is so named as there used to be a stop( hence ‘halt’) on the Malayan Railway near the junction of Tanglin Halt Road and Tanglin Halt Close. The market was at full swing, catering to a mass crowd which were made up of mostly senior citizens. Tanglin Halt, although recently upgraded is witnessing a greying population as most of its inhabitants first moved in here in the 1970s. The younger generations had moved out of Queenstown into other upcoming housing estates. Nevertheless, there was still a certain amount of buzz and activity that is present in the market place.


Walkin
g through the neighbourhood centre, the crew came across a number of shops that Roshan frequently visited when he was a child, in particular, the Thin Huat ‘mama’ shop that sold just about everything, particularly his favourite childhood snacks of frozen ice pops. Such shops have been around since the 1960s when Queenstown was built and is the precursor to modern supermarkets and malls we see today. The warm feeling of nostalgia engulfed Roshan as he proceeded to spend a lot of money purchasing snacks for himself and his entourage!


Queenstown Baptist Church



The Queenstown Baptist Church was founded on 25th of November 1962 by the Malaya Baptist Mission of the Foreign Board (which originated from the United States). Its initial congregation was Cantonese-speaking so that the church could appeal to the local community. The church quickly gained memberships and in the 1980s membership was so substantial that the church had to start expanding its grounds, thus beginning phase one of its extension. In 1992, church extensions were completed. Today, the church continues to conduct Cantonese services and remain an active participant in community work, espicially in the Queenstown area. Roshan could remember a few of his church-going friends who would rush over to the soccer field to play soccer with him and his friends every Sunday, when the church's service ended.

Queenstown Secondary School


Roshan Khan's Alma mater was Queenstown Secondary School, which was initially known as Queenstown Technical Seconday School during the 1950s till 1993. It was completely operational in the year 1956 and was one of the first two technical schools to be built in Singapore. The school was temporarily using the premises at Jalan Eunos and Kallang West School and it was only later in the year 1957, January 14 when the school shifted to Strathmore Avenue. The main focus of the school was to educate students and prepare them for engineering and technical working sectors. It started off as all boys' school but later changed to a co-education school due to changes in the education curriculum in 1971. In the year 1993, the school was already offering both academic and technical education and had three streams which were; Express, Normal Academic and Technical. The school was later renamed as Queenstown Secondary School.



The QUEST Museum is a trademark of the school. It contain materials such as school magazines which record certain events and achievements of the school. There are also pictures of the principals who had served in the school for the past years. The QUEST Museum was opened by the Minister of Information and the Arts and Minister for the Environment, Mr Lee Yock Suan on 9 July 1999.



The school was also a platform where talents grew. One good example would be the famous band, The Quest. The band consisted of two members who were students of Queenstown Secondary. They were Raymond Leong and Jap Chong. The band was the top seller of their time. They named their band after the school magazine which was entitled 'The Quest'. Undoubtedly the greatest talent to ever rise from Queenstown Secondary, was none other than Roshan Khan, Star of Bollywood!



There was an increase in the number of classrooms, a new library and other reading rooms in 1968. Other facilities such as Science laboratories and a hall were also constructed. It was crystal clear that the facilities in the school were constantly upgraded.

Masjid Jamek Queenstown


Located at 946 Margaret Drive, Masjid Jamek Mosque is one of the sacred places in that area. the unique feature about this mosque is that its architectural elements were derived from Javanese and minaret origins and one good example to illustrate this point would be the mosque's tiered roof. Due to the need of a place for worship, the Muslim community in Singapore, together with the Federation of Malaya raised funds to facilitate the construction of the mosque. On December 1964, Masjid Jamek was offically opened. Standing at a cost of $35 000, the mosque continues to grow stronger day by day with the larger number of Muslims who attend their prayers there. Religious classes are also conducted in the mosque.

Lee Kong Chian Gardens School


Lee Kong Chian Gardens school, established in 1970 was yet another “first” that is trademark of the pioneer town Queenstown. It was built by SARC (Singapore Association for Retarded Children) and was the first special education school in Singapore devoted to teaching the intellectually disabled. The school, was where Roshan Khan volunteered during his spare time to help the needy. As a young boy he would often visit the school before heading home after school just to help. His altruistic personality was so addictive that not long after, even his friends started volunteering at the school. The school which was named after the philanthropist Lee Kong Chian who donated substantial amounts of money was built at a cost of $250 000. In 1985, SARC changed its name to MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled) and throughout the years, the school has since undergone various renovations and is today a full-facility school that remains a bastion for the education of the intellectually disabled. However, as a charity organization it still relies on donations from the public. In January 2011, the school along with six other charities received a record contribution by Singtel amounting to $2.48 million. It is the hope of Roshan Khan that such contributions would continue.

Blessed Sacrament Church



The
Church of the Blessed Sacrament, constructed in 1965, was one of the most beautifully designed structures in Queenstown. As a child, Roshan was always fascinated with the architecture of the building. Its blue slate roof is constructed in folds, resembling tents, with certain points of the roof appearing to touch the ground, similar to the pegs used to anchor tents to the ground. This time around, Roshan got to enter in the interior of the church (in fact, the church's staff gave him a very warm welcome).






Sri Muneeswaran Temple

Sri Muneeswaran Temple is now undergoing a major renovation. This temple in Singapore is the biggest shrine for Sri Muneeswaran in the South East Asia region and it was built by Indian workers of the Malayan Railway in 1932. Roshan recounted the scenery inside the temple, describing it as a magnificent sight. One key feature of the temple is the lack of central pillars in the inner sanctum, which allows devotees to have full view of rituals. With a shake of his head, Roshan ordered the continuation of the crew's journey. Hopefully this temple would have completely finished its renovations when filming starts in April.


Block 115A

Even though our Roshan has lived in the area for more than 15 years, his team had a hard time to locate this particular block. A couple of friendly residents were kind enough to show us the way but had brought us to the wrong location. With the help of some fans of Roshan we managed to locate the Block 115- the first flatted factory in Singapore, located along Commonwealth Drive.


This first flatted factory is a showcase of how the Singapore government presented innovative solutions in their efforts to overcome the industrial’s needs of the country. Singapore’s first Minister of Finance, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Chair-man of the Economic Development Board (EDB) developed the concept of “flatted” factories in multi-storey blocks. Light industries that are labor intensive in nature such as apparel maunfactuing and plastic production, offered and boosted the employment rate of Singapore. This pioneer block which was built in 1965, continues to serve the need of light industries such as printing and photographic processing.


Block 45,48,49 Stirling Road




Roshan was once told by his father that when the HDB was set up, their first project was his former house at Block 45. Even though he was born some twenty years after the flat was completed, he recounts the stories his father told him; of how difficult the transition was from the villages to the flats. It signifies a transition from SIT to HDB in the 1960s. Higher blocks were built to maximize land use. Today, we have the latest public housing at Duxton Road, the Pinnacle. Roshan sighed after telling his stories to us, telling us how upset he was that the history of Queenstown, especially these early HDB blocks, was long forgotten through the crude reality of time. Roshan marvelled at the preservation of these three flats and hoped that the government of Singapore could continue preserving them as a reminder of the successes of the HDB in providing affordable housing in the days of past.

Queenstown Town Centre


















Roshan was having mixed feelings when he came to the Queenstown Town Centre. This was known as THE neighbourhood during the 1980s. Conceptualized by the SIT in 1953 and completed in the mid-1970s, Queenstown Town Centre was the first satellite town in Singapore. It consisted of an entertainment and shopping centre. These included Golden City and Venus Cinemas, Commonwealth Food Centre (pending demolition), Tah Chung Emporium (demolished in 2002), HDB flats and markets. Later facilities included libraries, sport complexes and a community centre, where Roshan Khan was first talent spotted.


In its heyday, Queenstown was a 'swanky' new town . It consisted of two cinemas, namely Golden City (金城--Jingchen, pictured) and Venus (京都--Jingdu). Originally planned by SIT to be constructed at Dundee Road, it was later moved by the HDB to the town centre for greater accessibility. Opened in 1968, closed in 1984, Golden City and Venus cinemas are now converted to churches, namely The Fishermen of Christ Fellowship and The Church of Our Saviour. The cameraman Anthony Tak attended a wedding service in the former church, when he was 10. Queenstown Cinema opened later and is still standing today. It was the favourite after-school haunt for the three friends, Super Ong, Bazlee Berkely and Roshan Khan. While it was functioning, it had a gaming arcade, a bowling alley, a nightclub, a KFC outlet and a cinema. The last tenant moved out few years ago, and this former landmark of Queenstown is now left derelict. The crew left Super Ong, Bazlee Berkely and Roshan Khan for some time while the trio reminisced their teenage years in this once vibrant town centre. Once again Roshan expressed his regret for the Singapore government's neglect in preserving a vital and historic part of Queenstown.

Queenstown Library



This community library was opened on 8 February 1970 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Built by samsui women, it was the first full time regional library in the satellite town of Queenstown. Previously a mobile library in form of an old bus would drop by weekly to loan books to residents of Queenstown. The mobile library was often described as 'dark' and 'damp'. The opening of the library was indeed a welcome reprieve for students and bookworms of Queenstown. Costing $646,900 to build, it would aim to serve 180,000 people living in that area.

Click here to find out more on Queenstown Library.



Queenstown Polyclinic


The Queenstown Polyclinic was opened by then Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew on 13 January 1963. This clinic started as a combined clinic providing outpatient, maternal and child health care. In the late 1980s, these services were merged to form the polyclinic and dental clinic. Roshan Khan was born in one of these maternity wards in 1982. He just couldn't wait till his parents could get to a hospital!

The most distinctive feature of the clinic was its open concept. Built in an era where air-conditioning was a luxury, the pavilion-like structures optimized airflow and kept the surroundings cool. For over 40 years, the clinic provided outpatient healthcare services to Queenstown's residents. Today, many still return for treatment despite having moved to other parts of Singapore. The clinic has since moved to its new location at Stirling Road from December 2007.


Shuang Long Shan Wu Shu Ancestral Hall


The Hakka clan, Ying Fo Fui Kuan, bought the piece of land where Shuang Long Shan Wu Shu Ancestral Hall was located in 1887. Back then, it measured 40.5 hectares of land. It was used as a burial ground which they named Shuang Long Shan, meaning Twin Dragon Hill, for fellow Hakka kinsmen from Jia Ying prefecture in Canton, China, with the Ancestral Hall at the foot of the hill.



I
n 1968, the land was bought back by the government for development, mainly used to construct housing flats, leaving only 1.89 hectare site of the graves and the original ancestral hall. The caretaker of the Ancestral Hall for over 30 years, explained that the cemetery no longer contain corpses but were of urns of cremated ashes after the relocation project.

Former Archipelago Brewery Company


















Former Archipelago Brewery Company is known as the first commerical brewery which was setup in 1931 at Alexandra Road. It was this company that manufactured the well-known beer called; Anchor Beer! It's favourable location made exporting of the products convenient. In 1939, the British colonial government seized the company as it was seen as a property of their enemies. During the period of 1941, Heineken and Fraser & Neave worked as partners and established control over the company. Till the 1960s, the company was run by Dutch bussinessmen and the locals were assigned key positions such as supervisors, etc. The company had good labour management and the manufacturing process took place at the plant where Anchor point is currently located. In 1990, the manufacturing plant was re-located to Tuas.

Queensway Shopping Centre

















At the end of Queensway and at the junction of Alexandra Road, stands this landmark that bears the name of the road.
In satellite towns, neighbourhood shopping centres served the daily needs of residents. However, for more up-market purchases, one still had to make a trip downtown to Orchard Road or Chinatown up till the early 1970s. By then, suburban shopping centres had appeared, proving to be a hit with residents as they offered a large variety of goods at prices cheaper than in the city.
When Queensway S
hopping Centre opened its doors in 1975, it was, as many of the residents here put it, "as though Orchard had arrived on the doorstep", with over 160 shops providing goods from shoes and sporting gear to musical instruments and cosmetics. Today, Queensway Shopping Centre continues to be a favourite haunt for students, families and bargain-hunters from all over Singapore searching for sporting goods and other bargains. This shopping centre was the favourite haunt of Roshan Khan during his secondary school days. We took a picture of the shop he used to patronize as a schoolboy. The shop has not changed much from then; the only changes were the types of sporting gears. Roshan claims that they look 'more colourful and vibrant'.


Queesntown Neighbourhood Police Centre and Alexandra Fire Station




































Next to the Queensway Shopping Centre, you will spot a modern building. Opened in 2005, this complex was the first in Singapore to house both the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) under one roof.
The first fire-fighting force in this area dates back to 1939. The Auxiliary Fire Brigade of 15 officers and 60 firemen were stationed at the Archipelago Brewery Company until February 1954, when Alexandra Fire Station opened.
Alexandra Fire Station played a vital role in fighting kampong fires common during the 1960s, such as the Bukit Ho Swee fire of 1961. It was eventually demolished in 2002 to make way for the current headquarters of SCDF's 1st Division and its fire-fighters. It is housed in the right of the building.

Queenstown's former police station was opened in September 1963 along Queensway and housed the Royal Malaysia Police until Singapore's independence in 1965. Today, Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) is situated on the left of this complex.
Over the years, the relationship between the community and the police has been close and it was partly due to this that Queenstown was chosen to pilot the Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) system in 1997. Based on the Japanese system of Koban, NPCs allowed police officers on the ground to perform more duties, such as investigative work. The success of Queenstown's NPC was followed by other NPCs island-wide. Today, there are a total of 32 NPCs in Singapore.

My Childhood 5:47 PM
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    Roshan Khan, born in Queenstown Polyclinic in 1982 is a famous Bollywood star. He epitomizes the typical rags to riches story, spending his childhood in Queenstown, talent spotted in Queenstown CC in 1997 when he was 15. When he was 20, he flew to Bollywood in Mumbai where his fledgling career as an actor took off. He starred in many successful Hindi and Tamil films, and at age 29 in 2011, he was requested by his father and friends to make a film about his childhood. With the help of Idia (READ IDEA) Films, his new independent locally produced film titled 'Childhood' was made possible.

The Making of the Movie


    The managing director and the Liaison Officer of Idia Films happened to be his childhood friends. Super Ong and Bazlee Berkely decided to create this film, as a reminder of their wondrous childhood. Among them, the crew:

    Anthony Tak Sambeyong: Cameraman and film editor.Hailing from Korean and Khmer parentage, this cameraman seldom speaks and seldom appears in the films. Known to be an ardent supporter of Tom Cruise, little is known about him except his paunch, his obsession with cola and that he looks like Kim Jong Il from the side.

    Jon Athan: Also of mixed American and Chinese parentage, Jon is the researcher cum historian in this epic movie. A history graduate from the Normal Technological University of Singapore, he serves to keep all historical data in the film as accurate as possible. An outgoing person with a boyish grin, he never misses a photo op.

    Timothy Josh: Tallest member of the team, Timothy was the 2nd Runner-up of the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 with a photo about a tortoise which turned turtle in war torn Afghanistan. He is responsible for taking all the still shots of Roshan Khan. His hopes of finding a 'nice local girl' in Queenstown was momentarily dashed when the hottest chick in town was an auntie driving an Audi. But given his charming voice and unyielding personality finding a 'nice local girl' shouldn't be too difficult.

    Kaleb Kian: The team bouncer and personal aide to Mr Khan. He acts as the translator and backup photographer for the crew. He is also the Liaison Officer for certain matters. He has a smile wider than the population of India. .



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