Serangoon Gardens


5 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT SERANGOON GARDENS:

1. The beginning of Serangoon Gardens.

2. Initial monthly membership for Serangoon Gardens Country Club was only $2!

3. WWII war hero the then British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchchill’s house was situated on one of the road named in Serangoon Gardens!

4. How did Chomp Chomp get it’s name?

5. My Village Shopping Mall used to be a Movie Theatre.

 

1. The beginning of Serangoon Gardens.

Serangoon Gardens was formerly a residential estate for the British (and some Australian and New Zealand) soldiers and airmen, where some of them based in the nearby RAF (Royal Air Force) Chia Keng Camp, until the early seventies.

           

The name Serangoon is likely to be derived from Burong Ranggoon, referring to a species of black and white stork that lives around Sungei Serangoon (formerly known as Rangoon River). Satu, or one in Malay, was added to the name, thus becoming Saranggoon. This name was used for a long period of time before it eventually evolved to Serangoon. During the Japanese Occupation, large plots of flower farms were cultivated in this region, leading to the naming of the estate as Serangoon Gardens.

Serangoon Gardens is fondly known as Ang Sar Lee (红砂厘) by the local Chinese, referring to the red zinc roofs of the houses that once occupied this estate.

In the old days, the sector which have Groves in the road name; between Conway Grove to Colchester Grove were also known as Zhap Ji Cheng (十二千 in Hokkien). $12,000 was the average price of houses in this sector and the land area of each piece is about 1600sf.  The ‘Drive’ sector,between Medway Drive to Burghley Drive was referred as Zhap Si Cheng(十四千 in Hokkien). $14,000 was the average price of houses in this sector and the land area of each piece is about 2800sf.

 

2. Initial monthly membership for Serangoon Gardens Country Club was only $2!

Serangoon Gardens was developed in the early fifties by Steven Charles Macey, a British private developer who also worked as an engineer at RAF. Due to its limited accessibility from other parts of Singapore in its early days, and for the benefits of the residents, Macey sought approval from the Singapore Rural Board to build a recreational clubhouse on a 5.56 acres of land. Completes in 1956, Serangoon Garden Sports Club was opened exclusively to the residents of Serangoon Gardens at a monthly membership rate of $2.

The clubhouse underwent major changes over the decades. It was renamed as Serangoon Gardens Recreation Club after the British withdrew from Singapore in the early seventies. However, the clubhouse suffered a decline in membership and had difficulty maintaining its facilities due to a lack of funds. In 1981 it was given a makeover under the proposal of Lau Teik Soon, MP for Serangoon Gardens, and became the new Serangoon Gardens Country Club.

 

3. WWII war hero the then British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchchill’s house was situated on one of the road named in Serangoon Gardens!

Due to the historical ties with the British, the network of roads inside Serangoon Gardens, more than 40 of them cramped into this small estate, are mostly named after places in Britain (England, Scotland and Wales):

Alnwick Road                          English Market Town

Berwick Drive                          English Border Town

Blandford Drive                       English Market Town

Bodmin Drive                          English Parish Town

Borthwick Drive                       Scottish Village

Braemar Drive                         Scottish Village

Bridport Ave                            English Market Town

Brighton Ave                           English City

Brockhampton Drive               English Village

Burghley Drive                        English Village

Cardiff Grove                          Welsh County

Carishbrooke Grove               English Village

Chartwell Drive                       English Estate where home of Sir Winston Churchchill was at

Chepstow Drive                      Welsh Town

Chiselhurst Grove                   English Suburb

Colchester Grove                    English Town

Coniston Grove                       English Street

Conway Grove                        Welsh Market Town

Cooling Close                         English Village

Cowdray Ave                          English Ancient House

Crichton Drive                         Scottish Village

Farleigh Ave                            English Village

Hemsley Ave                           English Market Town

Huddington Ave                      Scottish Town

Hythe Rd                                 English Market Town

Licfield Road                           English City

Kensington Park Road            English District

Kingswear Ave                        English Village

Medway Drive                         English Town

Penshurst Place                     English Village

Portchester Ave                      English Suburb

Raglan Grove                          Welsh Village

Ripley Crescent                      English Town

St. Helier’s Ave                       English Town

Stokesay Drive                        English Village

Tavistock Ave                         English Market Town

Walmer Drive                          English Town

Worthing Road                        English Coastal Town

 

4. How did Chomp Chomp get it’s name?

 

         

The most prominent landmarks of Serangoon Garden are perhaps the Serangoon Garden Circus and the popular Chomp Chomp Food centre, which serves delicious local delights in BBQ stingray, BBQ chicken Wings, Satay and Hokkien Mee.

In the sixties, the street hawkers plied their trades at the location opposite where the hawker centre now stands. They were shifted and given stalls to continue their business after the new hawker centre was completed in 1972.

There are 2 version of the origin of how Chom Chomp got it’s name:

  1. The origin of the name “Chomp Chomp” was given when the then CCC Committee of the Serangoon Gardens Constituency decided to site a hawker centre in that location, they were quite certain that many residents and friends would frequent the food centre and delight in its delicious and savoury food. Visualising them tucking into their favourite orders like there is no more avail tomorrow, like Bugs Bunny Chomping his carrots away…… and so, they named the food centre “Chomp Chomp”! (As recounted by Mr Len P Rodrigo, Former MP of Serangoon Gardens)
  2. Chomp Chomp Food Centre was opened in 1972 and it was amongst the first purpose-built hawker centres. Before the food centre’s opening, its hawkers established a committee, which decided to name the centre “Chomp Chomp”, an apt English adaptation of the term stiong tiong in Teochew or zhong zhong in Mandarin, which mean “loyalty and righteousness”. When it first opened, students of Serangoon Garden Secondary School helped to put up a signboard engraved with “Chomp Chomp”. (As stated by the signboad erected outside Chomp Chomp)

 

5. My Village Shopping Mall used to be a Movie Theatre.

Serangoon Garden’s Paramount Theatre was one of the most popular hangouts for the residents in the old days. Located at Maju Ave, it was built in the late fifties. During that era, movie screenings in Singapore were not held at the same time island wide, Paramount being located at the relatively ulu estate, could not compete with the major cinemas like Shaws; but nevertheless it was able to provide a series of popular English and Chinese films to its audience.

    

The decline of the movie industry in the seventies saw part of Paramount Theatre leased out to othr retail business. Occupying a large 11,700sf, NTUC Fair Price opened its supermarket here in 1974. By 1983, the cinema could no longer survive and had to shut down. DBS set up a branch in the building in 1991, and subsequently, restaurants, cafes, confectioneries and tuition centers moved in. The Building was renamed Serangoon Gardens Village.

Today, the once sleepy neighbourhood is buzzing with life once more. A new Shopping Mall, My Village now stands at the old site of Paramount Theatre, which was demolished in 2009; with NTUC Finest as it’s anchor tenant and many restaurants and cafes inside. Many Banks and other shops lies along the streets around the circle, providing a mixture of modern and nostalgic feel to the estate.

With it’s unique identity, it has attracted many people to visit the place and also to own a house or 2 or 3 in this estate!