Did you know that Queenstown, which is Singapore’s very first satellite town, was named to mark the 1952 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II? Before that, the estate was simply known as “Bo Buay Hor” (which translates to “No Tail River” in English) because the residents then could never find the estuary of the river that runs through it (it actually leads in to the Singapore River).
Interestingly, Margaret Drive (one of the smaller roads in the Queenstown estate) is also named after royalty. It was named after Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowdon.
There are many interesting stories that are weaved into the storied history of Queenstown, making it on of the most heritage-rich areas in Singapore. The town also saw many firsts in the country’s development.
The First HDB Flats
Queenstown housed the first public housing flats built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
These flats at Blks 45, 46, and 47 Stirling Road were one of the first few seven-storey blocks of flats were used to house the displaced residents of the Bukit Ho Swee Fire incident of 1961. Being a dominant presence on an undeveloped piece of swamp land, it quickly earned the affectionate nickname “qik lao”, which translates to “seven storey”. Even today, if you grab a cab and say “qik lao”, the older taxi drivers will know where you intend to go.
The First Satellite Library
The Queenstown Public Library, which was opened by the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, was the first satellite library after the main National Library. It is now the oldest existing library in Singapore. This library, which still preserves its’ original facade, experienced many firsts as well.
It was the first public library in Singapore to have indoor air-conditioning, it was the first public library in Singapore to have VCR rentals, and it was the first public library in Singapore to have internet access search.
The library now runs alternate gardening and movie screening weekends as part of its efforts to engage the community. The back wall of the building have been renovated to feature a full-glass panel with a view of the garden.
The Queenstown Public Library have been gazetted for conservation in 2014.
Besides these, Queenstown was also home to the first secondary technical school (the Queenstown Secondary Technical School), the first special education school (the Lee Kong Chian Gardens School), and the first applied arts vocational institute (Baharuddin Vocational Institute, currently occupied by MDIS).
There are a total of 40 heritage sites located all over the Queenstown estate, including the Queenstown Sports Complex and the Black and White Colonial Bungalows in the Wessex area.
If you would like to know more about the heritage of Queenstown, there is a free tour conducted by My Community (a charity grassroots organisation) which you can sign up for here.
PS, nope this is not a sponsored post. =)