This is an entry contributed by one of our heritage bloggers, Mr James Seah. He talks about his childhood living in Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.


These old photos of Blk 9 (above) and Blk 7 (below) at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee were taken over 50 years ago by the Facebook friends and shared on this blog with thanks and gratitude.


What is the purpose of talking about the boring old days of Bukit Ho Swee?  Several of my old friends asked me.

Like Alice in Wonderland, we have many things in life to learn, to experience, to grow at every stage of our life to improve ourselves to become a better different person.

Here then, are the reasons to blog on thought moments to those friends who are interested to know because they have never been born and grown up in Bukit Ho Swee.

Blk 9, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee

After the Bukit Ho Swee fire on 25 May, 1961, my family and I were allocated 2-room HDB rented flat at Margaret Drive temporarily while the 1-room “emergency flats” at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee for the fire victims were being built.  It took the Jalan Bukit Ho Swee housing estate 9 months to construct and completed in 1962.


There were 5 blocks under Phase I of the public housing program by HDB at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, Blk 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9.  The slab blocks of these buildings with simple, similar designs with nothing fanciful or ergonomic.

For the residents to live for the first time in their lives in HDB flats since they lived at the former Bukit Ho Swee kampong.  The new homes had changed their lifestyles  and the environment for everyone.


This is another photo of Blk 9, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee taken from Boon Tiong Road and there was a long and steep staircase to lead to Tiong Bahru Road.  There was another shorter staircase from Blk 9 to Blk 7.  Blk 9 was elevated and higher ground than the other blocks.

Blog with Quotes

As I grow older, I think I have become more like my late father’s character … a simple man with few words … talk less than whatever necessary, avoid noisy people with loud voices to harm my ears.

Maybe because I am getting too lazy to think and avoid too wordy blogs to post.

When asked about my childhood days experiences in Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, a few of the following meaningful favorite quotes learned from my thoughtmoments.

I mentioned that my heritage blogs for selective memories, mostly in the first person from personal experiences and there are many interesting, touching stories and collective memories by former residents of Bukit Ho Swee kampong shared in various medias and publications.  Jalan Bukit Ho Swee today is vastly changed and different for those who lived there at various times over 50 years ago.

In 2013, I revisited Jalan Bukit Ho Swee and posted a blog here .

Last Days of the 1-Room “emergency flats” at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee


One of the first major tasks of the Housing Board in the early 1960s was building large numbers of flats quickly and at minimum cost to meet the urgent housing needs of Singaporeans then.

This gave rise to 19,400 one-room emergency units, built mainly to house the lower-income families and to ease the slum dwellers out of their deplorable housing environment.

As Singapore became more affluent and people’s expectations rose, most of these cubicles have outgrown the purpose for which they were built.

Today, residents of Singapore’s public housing estate are no longer concerned with basic shelter and essential services, but with the quality of building workmanship and estates’ services.

No longer are people waiting for their first home but for the opportunity to upgrade to better flats.

As residents upgrade themselves by moving into larger flats, the one-room emergency flats are being phased out.

Since 1979, the board has demolished 16,464 of the 80,500 one-room flats so that bigger and better flats could take their place.  Seventy per cent of these were emergency units.

Those which were not “beyond redemption” were converted to bigger units.  These included 3000 emergency flats.

The bulk of these one-room rental units are in “ageing” estates such as Alexandra Hill, Redhill, Bukit Ho Swee, Macpherson and Kampong Tiong Bahru.

Source:  The Straits Times, 29 November, 1985



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